Hyper Echelon is an old school shoot-em-up that reminds me of the classic shmups Tyrian and Raptor. It has its similarities and differences, but I’m enjoying it very much so far!
The game is divided into levels, and to progress you need to achieve certain goals to advance. You collect money as you defeat enemies, and even upon death that money is retained. After your mission is over (pass or fail), you can visit the shop where there are a lot of upgrades available for purchase. Instead of the familiar weapon replacements, we are upgrading the stats and performance of our current systems. Its not as exciting as Tyrian’s shops where there are mystery weapons up for grabs scattered across the galaxy, but it still feels good to be able to upgrade something after every run. There are many levels of advancement, which makes for a great “play once and quit” style of gameplay. I always felt that each run benefitted me somehow, even if ever so slightly.
You also unlock “wingmen” which are NPC sidekicks that fly along side you. These can optionally be controlled by a co-op player, which is a cool feature. They take damage and can be KO’d which makes for a much larger hit box, but hey its free help so I can’t complain.
The graphics are great. I am in love with the art style. The levels are gorgeous, and the menus + portraits + bosses all look fabulous. The boss fights themselves are really fun. It almost feels like a fight in punch out. Figuring out telegraphing attacks and developing counter strategies feels great once you’ve mastered each fight.
The gameplay itself feels just like it should. The controls are responsive, and unlike more modern shooters, there isn’t a mandatory screen full of bullets to dodge. Despite this fact, I never felt safe from danger and the levels so far feel challenging and fair.
As a kid not knowing any better, I played both Raptor and Tyrian using a mouse. Mouse control would be cool to have, but being a suboptimal control method I won’t hold my breath unless the game gains a wide audience.
All that said, I am really enjoying Hyper Echelon. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. If you’re on the fence, please pick this one up.