I didn’t expect to like Hover: Revolt of Gamers as much as I do. It’s an online experience calling out to the days of Jet Set Radio, and one I enjoyed right until the final hours of the game where the difficulty spikes and fun turns into frustration.
Your custom character enters a war between gamers and administrators. Admins have taken over and are banning all types of fun and excitement. Gamers have started a rebellion and are fighting back by spraying graffiti, disabling technology, and causing all around mayhem. If that sounds ridiculous that’s because it is. The entire premise of Hover is comical, but that’s not a knock on it. In fact, I found the game charming even through its cringeworthy dialogue and all around lack of compelling story elements.
The story pushes you through different zones each with their own theme to hop around in. A variety of side missions tag along including racing, tagging, collect-a-thons, and Hover’s own take on the sport handball, Gameball, among others. Races and delivery missions are the strongest ones as they focus on going fast and tricking around the city. There’s nothing like hitting a grind to gain speed, flipping off to wall-ride and launching yourself over a whole plaza to land in the goal circle. These moments become common as you learn the intricacies of movement.
Unfortunately, this fun is lost in other game modes that force you to slow down and be finicky with your gameplay. It’s not that these modes are unplayable, rather they don’t emphasize the best parts of Hover. Gameball is prevalent as much as racing, and it admittedly has fun ideas. A ball drops in the middle of an arena and two teams fight to get it in the other’s goal. Most of these arenas are tightly packed, and everyone rushing to the same spot makes them feel even tighter. It turns into a cluster of players bumping into each other and utter chaos ensuing. On the off chance you break away with the ball, it makes you too slow to engage in any parkour. There are bright spots in each game, but overall it feels like a slog with any standout moments feeling more like chance than player skill.
Each area iterates on the story missions from beforehand. The races are longer, collectibles are harder to get, etc, but you know what to expect. I found the difficulty scaling too slow for my taste until the final area. Here everything I’ve learned is thrown out the window and getting through sections turns into a crapshoot. Crafting a clever way to the next room is now me throwing myself across a pit until I land on the tiny platform. The challenges turn linear and creative pathfinding becomes nonexistent. This area had tons of players in chat asking what to do and complaining.
You’ll want to find players online as often as possible, as playing the A.I. is a droll affair. They are easily overpowered and the games move slowly. Fortunately, the community in Hover is a strong one. Players ask and answer questions, help each other out, and meet up for events. There was always someone out there to chat with. Though it’s sad to see how many people pirated the game. Pirates have a red name with some phrase stating they stole it. Each server had one or two which is frustrating.
How you’ll fare against players depends on your build. Every level unlocks upgrade slots, of which you fill with stat boosts you win from events. You must maintain a balance of boosts, however, as the more you stack into one stat the less effective consecutive boosts will be. Creating a well-rounded character is your best bet.
That doesn’t mean your extra stat boosts go to waste, however. A large part of Hover is creating a team of different characters that excel in certain stats such as speed or jump. You can trade your extra boosts between your team and craft them together to create higher leveled ones.
Player interaction is definitely one of the game’s strengths. Not only can you compete in every mission together, but you can create and share your own events with the world. Let me tell you, player created races can be pretty demanding, but it’s fun checking the different ones out with friends. While the game can be played in solo offline mode, multiplayer is definitely the way to go.
Hover doesn’t demand much from your computer. IIt’sstylistic sci-fi world looks straight out of Futurama, though with more pinks and yellows. Character models range from standard humans to towering dinosaurs. There seems to be no standard for the different races, they all just… exist in the world of Hover. Each area differs enough in style, with all the rainbow’s colors covered in some respect.
This wouldn’t be a Jet Set Radio throwback without a killer soundtrack, and while it could be stronger, the in-game tracks definitely pump me up and keep me going. In fact, the composer from Jet Set created a few tracks for Hover, which are among the best of the small offering here.
Those searching for a modern Jet Set Radio will be more than satisfied with Hover. It takes all the addicting mechanics from then and improves on them here. Despite its overly-cheesy story and some weak game modes, Hover feels good to play, and it nails the parkour elements fans have come for. Now, who’s up for a couple races?
This review was based on a digital review code of Hover: Revolt of Gamers provided by Playdius and Plug In Digital