The game takes place in Hover City, a High-tech city with a number of different district’s inhabitants. The Great Admin has cut communication with the Galactic Union and has established harsh and punishing dictatorship over all its people. Having any sort of fun has been made illegal and all entertainment is prohibited under this new law.
However you’re a rogue gamer, who will have move up through the ranks and assembles a team of young rebels who will fight against The Great Admin, restoring peace, fun and entertainment back into the city, the only way you know how!
When you begin the game you only have two basic characters to pick from: a boy and a girl. You can edit their colour patterns and their name, as well as your team name. You will notice there are multiple other characters that can be unlocked as you progress through the game, and these can be added to your team which once unlocked, can be selected at any time, used in any city. Each character can be levelled up and equip chips to their individual skill trees.
Also, every mission you complete will remain completed with others in your team. Which is useful as new characters are better at certain tasks, have unique buffs that basic characters haven’t got. However, I should point out it is possible to complete all challengers with basic boy or girl starter character. But it’s an option for people who may be struggling on certain missions or want a change of face.
Practice makes perfect!
After creating a character you are taken to the lab where the adventure begins. You’ve just awoken from a test tube in a laboratory, you’re told that your a clone, asked if you would like to possibly join the resistance if you can prove your worth. This is a practice area that gives you a chance to learn the basics of movement/parkour, advanced techniques that will help you out later on. There are help cubes scattered throughout this area and each will tell you little more in-depth information about your surroundings. All this information will be stored in your codex, which you can look at by pressing the + button.
Sky’s the limit!
Once the tutorial is over, you’re thrown into the hover city with no direction at all. If you can see it you can go there… but how? That’s one thing you will discover. By using your parkour skills is the only way you will be able to traverse across the city. There’s a lot vertically to hover city. Slums can be located on the ground, but as you go higher you will encounter far more prestige social. Bars, shops, sushi bars, hotels, freeways. Hover cars will be flying over your head, loads of different types of civilians are walking around. Makes the city feel alive. It can be quiet daunting at the beginning as some areas seem completely out of reach, but everywhere can be reached, it just requires you to use your skills to get there.
As you complete the main objectives, which are always present in the top right hand corner, you will get to explore more locations such as: Sewer/Rebels HQ and a prison as well as administrative district which is surprising beautiful to run through. Each location is different enough to explore and find new missions, collectables and challengers within them, keep things interesting.
So how do you control your hero? Well, here’s the low-down:
You move your character with the left analogue stick, you can jump with the ZR trigger. You can crouch and walk quietly by holding the Y button. However, the Y button has multiple uses such as grinding near rails, after running you can press the Y button to skate around, if your in the air you can press Y button multiple times to perform tricks. Doing this will net you energy, which powers up your – speed, parkour skills which can be visible in meter in corner. If you press the Y button multiple times you can also activate your charge ability which increase your energy while standing still. This is good to do before a race or challenger as it gives you boasts in your skills, will also deplete over time. One of the most useful abilities is the reset button which can help you out in a pinch, say you’ve missed a jump or want to retrace your steps, simple press and hold the X button.
Other useful input is the scan option which you can use with ether A or left bummer button. This helps you see objectives and the locations of missions, characters, important structures and even online players. It can also help you scan and hack into chip boxes; these can hold chips, rare items that you can equip once levelled up. You can even hack into the police scanner boxes and wipe your information off the system which can lower you wanted level.
You view equipment, codex, team, online information, as well send message with the Y button online by pressing + button.
You can also pick teammates you’ve unlocked, in the pause menu by selecting team and picking a different character, which then will be loaded into your game.
There are other options to play around with, in this menu.
And, last but not least, you can spray paint with double tap of A or left bummer.
Of course there will be things you will learn when exploring, such as the ability to wall jump, run along walls, cling, boast jump among other things.
There’s a lot different type of missions that you will have to complete in hover city. These range from helping locals with some standard fetch quests or taking their pets for a run around the city… I kid you not! To some quite difficult challenges, like using your tricks to charge up antennas scatter around slums to help out a old lady so she can watch TV. Or retrieve items from high places, to name a few. There’s quite a lot to do, it just requires you to search them out!
GameBall, Race challengers!
But there are 2 challenges that you will see constantly in the city. These are gameball and race.
Gameball is a sport like challenge, is pretty straight forward. Pick up a ball or package and take it to mail box! Throwing it with ether the bummer or A button to score a point. Of course things are never that easy.
There are two Gameball like challenges, one is a delivery sort of challenger where you need to deliver packages to homes across the city, in a rather strict time limit. You will need all your parkour skills as each successful delivery means you need to get back to the quest given to retrieve another package and on to the next delivery. It can get quite intense as it requires you to know the layout of the city and the best possible route to get there and back within the time limit, these can be played offline or online co-op.
And latter is a challenge or sport were you must pick up a gameball and throw it in to a small mail box located on either side of a large court or an area while trying to avoid other players trying to do the same. Feels like a sort of basketball experience, just without the rules. Its normally a team based game which can be played online with real people or offline with CPU characters.
You can tackle others by simple running into them, however having stats that help you in this situation is advised. As you will be knocked about with each collision. Areas where these challenges take place are filled with hazards or obstacles to overcome, but can be pretty fun as it’s extremely hectic.
The game doesn’t hold your hand at all, and normally when you start a mission, apart from the directional arrow at the bottom of the screen, there’s no other hints given. Thankfully all missions can played with real people online if you get stuck.
Some guy helped me out on a quite difficult delivery mission, group helped me out on a intense match of gameball and races that required some good grinding abilities which at the time I didn’t have. But online community seem so far to want to help out people which I appreciated a lot.
New Challenger has arrived!
Competing in certain quests for key characters will unlock their DNA, which will let you play as the quest given, add them to your team. You can change their colours and give them a new name as well as this all the progress up to that point will still be unlocked once you return to the city. However, the character that you’ve just unlocked will need to be levelled up again, and each character has their own unique skill trees. Thankfully all items you’ve gather from that point, can be used on any unlockable characters.
Next big challenge is race missions. These are intense and a lot more enjoyable in my opinion. You have to race through large gates that appear all over the city. You’re normally racing against either the clock, or other gamers/rebels. Your parkour skills will be required here too, as some gates are up high and you’ll need to use the skills you learnt this far to get through them. Also you can play this in online play.
Hover city – Chips, Pet’s, missions!
But there’s so much more to see and do in hover city. You can own an apartment; this is where you will start every game from, by using teleportation devices around the city to take you back to that location. There’s a swap shop booth location on every corner, somewhere in the city. That lets you swap chips in a sort of gamble game of chance. Chips are your main form of equipment in the game. They can be equipped to your skill tree. These chips can boast key features like jumping, speed and hacking in your character. Once placed in the skill tree, though, they cannot be removed, unless you’re willing to destroy it to replace it with something better. Also, each of these chips come in different classes, some being rarer than others. If you have some broken or basic chips, you can put them all into a swap shop and see if you can unlock something better. Sometimes you can, however not all swap shops are equal, and some will give you something worse back… its gamble to even use them, specially with rarer chips!
There’s even pets you can acquire that you need to feed chocolate with. Which can be unlocked through missions, swap shops, chests. These can boast effects in your characters but keep in mind, if you forget to feed them, they might run away. To feed a pet simply press the + button and press the X bringing up the chocolate menu, pick which one you want to feed them, then press the X button. There’s also a range of graffiti patterns to unlock that can be equipped to.
Completing challenges, missions, in par times can gift you medals which will be displayed on the team menu. Unlocking these can net you some pretty rare chips, pets so you want to be always aiming to pick these up. If you don’t win any, don’t fret as all missions can be replayed at any time.
Search high & low!
Not only can you win chips for characters, but you can find them located around the city in various different containers that you need to open with your scan ability.
Some chests need a higher scan ability to unlock or it can require a different method.
One thing that I really like is, I’m still finding new areas, hidden collectables in ever nook and crannie of the city.
The city is a huge playground, and as well as completing main objectives in each district, it also has a variety of extra side challenges like: catching all security bots or painting over propaganda posters or getting highest trick count! Completing these will get you XP points which will hopeful level your character up.
And seamless online play is great, yes there’s hiccups but it works great most of time. This allows other gamers to join the server and play in your world. You can mess about or go and explore with others. Help others with missions, join someone else’s race or gameball challenge. It really adds to overall feel of a living and breathing world, and I like it a lot!
I know will expect other games follow suit. As cant get enough of playing online just improve’s overall gameplay.
It’s not all plane sailing!
However, the game does have some issues such as slowdowns, which I have experienced when people are joining the server, or when there’s a lot going on. Doesn’t happen all time but sometimes it is noticeable.
Also, Hover doesn’t hold your hand and there’s no story driven narrative. There is a story, but told amongst missions, but I never really felt like the great admin was that bigger threat.
Also when you’re scanning, looking for objectives or objects, the tiny writing is really small and it can be difficult to see what’s what. And without no point to point mission structure I can imagine some players may get lost or have no idea what to do.
Jet set radio is that you?
One of my most favourite games on Dreamcast was Jet Set Radio, and Hover screams of that very title in its music, overall gameplay and I can’t deny that I love it! Reminds me so much of that game!
Yes, both games while similar, are very different in terms of structure, but if you’ve ever played JSR you own it to yourself to try out Hover as the game feels like a love letter to JSR fans. And while does stumble in few areas, the huge world you get to explore is pretty fantastic!
I love the music in Hover, it’s just pumping and fits high-tech vibe that runs through the city itself.
Legendary Hideki Naganuma composer who wrote music for jet set radio has composed a few tracks for Hover and they are sooo good!
Visuals & Performance
Visual in Hover looks like very high-tech neon lights, flashy billboards and cast of quirky characters. I love the look of the world, everything for me just fits nicely. You do truly feel as though you’re running through a living breathing city.
Performance is OK… offline I havent experienced anything bad, everything ran smoothly. Online, however, is mixed in my experience. When people enter the server there is a noticeable slowdown, and when there’s a lot of people playing, then I did feel like the game drops down to at least 30 FPS. However, doesn’t happen all the time, and for the most part the game ran fine. The game is so much better online than off, though as having real world people help out on them tougher missions is appreciated.
The game also supports screenshots and well as video capture.
The game isn’t ruined due these issues, and the game is more than playable even with these issues. Fingers crossed that new updates and/or Nintendo online service may be able to sort these issues out, in the future.
What’s on offer is a massive city to run, jump to your heart’s content! Play missions, help civilians or help out rebels with delivery challenges or races throughout the city skyline. Play with a vast online community of gamers, exploring together or play some co-op missions, it’s your choice. Collectables, unlocking characters there’s a lot to do!
And for $24.99/£22.49 it is at higher price point on the eShop, but there is a lot here to enjoy. And its not like anything on eShop at the moment. Freedom to do what you want is definitely something to try!
Massive city to explore
Online, offline community
Tons of collectables, side missions, challengers
No clear objectives
Some issues with pacing
Some slowdown during online play