Hover Strike

One of the first things I published here at Do The Math was a gameplay video of Hover Strike. I also wrote a little bit of blurb about how it was one of the 'better looking' games on the Jaguar, what with its fully textured environments and basic light-sourcing effects.

But I wrote that back in another time - a time before Battlemorph (which I like to call TBB. Not to be confused with Tuberculosis), and since Battlemorph entered my life, it has only served to show me the error of my ways when I described Hover Strike with such positive prose. But before I launch into a scathing attack on the game, let me fill you in on the background story.

On some distant planet or another, colonists have gone missing; Pirates have taken over; deadly machines patrolling the surface; you are sent in to clear a path for the Federation forces...blah, waffle, drone. Yep - it's a story you've heard in a quidzillion and one (eh?!) other similar games (it even crops up in the aforementioned Battlemorph and it's prequel), so you know the drill. Choose a mission from the initial five which are spread across the planet in different environments such as the ice cap, deserts, 'industrial' zones etc., and once you've selected a location you're given an objective to destroy. In the case of Hover Strike it'll either be a strategic object or structure such as a gun turret or a missile silo, or a guarded convoy of some description - and then you're dropped into the gameplay level to start waging war. It is actually extremely similar to the set up used in both Cybermorph and Battlemorph (and pretty much every other mission based shooter on the Jag) and shows a complete lack of originality on the part of the developers.

Originality aside though, I guess it was a tried and trusted method of setting up the story, the location and the reason for the game existing in the first place, so I totally 'get' why this structure was employed. Standard stuff so far. The issues begin once you start playing Hover strike though. Your heavily armed hovercraft (why is a hovercraft?!) is dropped on the planet's surface and then you careen around pinging off walls and hills, without any sort of idea where you're meant to be going or what you should be looking for. The controls are pretty horrid and the inertia-based handling of your craft, while probably intended to be 'realistic,' in fact make the game very difficult to actually play. The field of view is limited too, so you'll constantly find yourself facing the sky, the floor, the sky again, the wall, maybe catch a glimpse of an enemy as it takes pot-shots at you, and then the wall again as you furiously hit the 'shoot' button and try desperately to get away from whatever's firing at you with the accuracy of that sniper in Saving Private Ryan. Once you do find yourself in a quiet area of the map and have time to get to grip with the controls (you can drive forward and slide around as you would imagine a hovercraft can), you'll notice that the game can look quite impressive at times.

As I stated previously, the whole game world is fully texture-mapped, as are the enemies and items that are littered throughout. The draw distance is quite short, but that's probably to be expected on this system. It's a shame then that the game handles so badly. The environments are full of divots and angled rises that will throw your craft all over the place and the way you have to move your target reticle up and down to fire at airborne enemies (whilst being chucked around and shot at) will drive you up the wall (yes - pun intended). As an early glimpse at what the Jag could do with fully textured 3D environments, Hover Strike is an interesting showcase, but the real problems come from the controls and the inertia engine employed. The graphics are actually quite good when it's not doing an impression of a flipbook animation, and you can see that the game does run quite well when you're in the external view (although it does have DOOM 32X style borders, and then some!), but as a pure gaming experience? Hmm. Hover Strike is hard to recommend. The music is alright though. And that's all I have to say about that, M'lud. On that note though, I wonder how the Jaguar CD version compares?

Only one way to find out...!

Oh, and apologies for the over-use of (here I go again!) brackets, grammar-fans!


  1. Get the CD version, not only is it cheap but it's far superior to the cart version!

    1. Yeah - I've got it, and will be reviewing it next, as well as doing a comparison vid! Thanks for reading!