With Halloween safely behind us this year, I decided to get into the holiday spirit a bit, But, what game on the Vectrex best embodies the holidays? “Hyperchase” of course. Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go – in a supercharged formula one racer; that is. Grandma appreciates punctuality and the last one to her house may have to sit at the kids table.
Hyperchase is a visual delight and often featured in Vectrex advertising. The game takes full advantage of the Vectrex’s strengths – offering players a dynamic 3D perspective of racing into the horizon. The game’s overlay provides a vibrant green background that is far more engaging than playing without the overlay in black and white. Throughout the game, the player zips through a variety of landscapes ranging from urban streets to cliff-side roads. The graphics cleverly depict: trees, lampposts, telephone poles, and other scenery. If there is a visual weakness, it is the cars themselves. Although other racers fly by at such speed that it is difficult to make out the details, the player’s own vehicle isn’t anything too special. Basically it is a triangle with wheels. At least that is how it seemed to me in between explosions.
Sound is nothing special, but isn’t annoying. You get varying degrees of humming depending on the gear that you’re in And, if you’re me, you’ll frequently listen to the sound of your car hitting other objects. There isn’t much in the way of music.
Hyperchase isn’t easy but I didn’t find it frustrating either. The game requires a light touch on the controls. Gentle taps to the joystick are all that are needed to careen from one side of the road to the other. When you’re racing along at full throttle, you overtake other vehicles with lightning speed. It is very easy to accidentally crash into them or the lethal sides of the road. As opposed to other more simplified racing games of the time, your vehicle comes equipped with a four speed transmission. Herein lies the biggest challenge of Hyperchase. It is difficult to accelerate, manoeuvre, and shift gears all at the same time. A third hand would come in very handy – or at least a few extra fingers. Whereas some games on the Vectrex have annoying control schemes, I think this layout is challenging on purpose. Am I giving Hyperchase too much credit? Possibly, but those graphics have won me over.
With only two (that I’m aware of) racing games for the Vectrex, you may wonder whether to play Hyperchase or Pole Position. Pole Position is an excellent game and also features outstanding Vectrex graphics. I think it comes down to what sort of mood you’re in. Do you want to race on a closed track, or along city streets? I usually prefer streets and so I’ll typically opt for Hyperchase.
If you’re a fan of Turbo for the Colecovision, you’ll instantly feel at home with Hyperchase. So much so, in fact, that if you happen to be the patent holder for Turbo, you may want to call an attorney. This seems to be a vector based rip off… I mean homage to that title. Geez, this started off as a nice trip to Grandma’s house and has devolved into the possibility of legal action. I’m hopping in my triangle car and getting out of here.