Hyper Meteor Review – Review

Asteroids in meteor form.

High-score-chasing arcade-style games are one of the core foundations of video games, as back in the day the likes of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Asteroids were based primarily on who could get the highest score and stay on the cabinet leaderboards. It’s a well that I enjoy returning to every so often on modern platforms. I have fond memories of being sucked into the legendary Xbox Live Arcade game Geometry Wars 2. In the same vein of that retro-futuristic style, the developer Vertex Pop has been peppering Switch with indelible slices of arcade goodness with games such as their 2017 release Graceful Explosion Machine and the 2020 port of We Are Doomed. Their latest Switch release, Hyper Meteor, is a simple but engrossing ride that draws heavy inspiration from the classic Asteroids. It’s electric to play, with an intuitive design and good online leaderboard integration.

Hyper Meteor is also weird in that it is a port of a Playdate game. To the unfamiliar, the Playdate is the little yellow handheld with a monochromatic screen and a crank. It’s very much a system that has more in common with the Game Boy or Game & Watch than any other console released in the past three decades; so that makes Hyper Meteor’s Switch version an interesting experiment. Does the black-and-white stylings translate well to Switch? It does indeed, especially thanks to added modes and co-op.

It’s a two-button game, where one boosts your ship forward and the other deploys a limited-use screen-clearing bomb. You boost your ship into the lighter-shaded areas of meteors or enemies while you avoid ramming into the darker-shaded side or villainous fire. The basic mode is an endless one, where you just keep going until you run out of lives. That’s all that is available at the start, but playing the game quickly unlocks the other three modes. Meteor mode revolves around deploying explosions to wipe out the untouchable meteors that populate the screen. Countdown is a challenge to get the highest score in a three-minute time limit. Lastly is Waves mode where you try to get the highest score possible while trying to survive 40 waves of foes.

That is, more or less, the whole game. Flourishes exist along the way in the form of unlockable color palettes and music. An array of in-game achievements offer additional goals. The online leaderboards are present for every mode, and while I’m currently playing pre-release, I am already suckered into trying to top the few high scores out there and look forward to seeing if any friends pick this up.

What I appreciate the most about Hyper Meteor is that it perfectly walks the line of being dazzling and fun to play without achieving mastery. That’s something that carries through every Vertex Pop game, but it was also something that stood out to me as I first played this in its simpler form on Playdate. It just feels good to zoom around the screen and ram some meteors and enemies. Extra lives and bombs show up at a frequent enough clip that you usually have a buffer. Of course you can also go psycho mode and just aim for never breaking your multiplier and restarting when you do. I don’t recommend doing that in the local co-op lest you lose your partner. That being said, the local co-op is a great addition, especially as you’re plotting strategy in the time-limited or meteor-exploding modes.

Hyper Meteor rocks as it succeeds at being a fun arcade high-score chaser with a lot of good vibes and enjoyable details. Even if you only put a few hours into it exploring each mode and visual flourish, it’s still a worthwhile game. But if you go down the rabbit hole of chasing high scores, you’ll be rocketing into meteors for days.

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