Retro Review: Hover Strike on the Atari Jaguar

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TL;DR: Some games can stand the test of time. Some games, however, are best left where they are.

Hover Strike is a futuristic semi-open 3D shooter game similar to Battlezone and T-MEK in which players pilot an armed hovercraft vehicle in order to complete a series of 30 missions, each one taking place across on different terrain types, as attempts to overthrow the Terrakian Pirates from a colonized foreign planet and rescue the remaining captured colonists before the Federation’s armada arrives into the location to decimate the invading alien forces.

Hover Strike 2
It’s a bit like Battlezone and T-MEK.

When Joel asked for volunteers to do a retro review on Hover Strike, I had no idea why I raised my hand. Maybe I was itching to play a few classic games or maybe I was just afraid that he would take away my bathroom privileges at the office. Anywho, here I am, writing a paragraph or two about Hover Strike and for the first time, I don’t know where to begin.

My English teacher used to tell me that whenever I had writer’s block, the best way to overcome it was to simply write down the first sentences that come to mind. Ok then, here it goes. What the hell happened to this game? I mean, wasn’t this title suppose to showcase the strengths of the Jaguar? Instead, it validated what we all knew about it — that it was a slow piece of hardware disguised as a 64-bit machine and none of Atari’s fancy marketing lingo would convince games otherwise.

This title was supposed to showcase the strengths of the Jaguar. Instead, it validated what we all knew about it — that it was a slow piece of hardware disguised as a 64-bit machine and none of Atari’s fancy marketing lingo would convince games otherwise.

Where do I even start? The controls aren’t responsive, the graphics are worse than any title on the old NES, and the slowdown is mind-numbingly aggravating like driving a semi-truck with four flat tires. I couldn’t even force myself to finish the first few levels. With games like this representing the Jaguar back in the day, I can see why the system died a miserable and quick death.

Yeah, well, the game isn’t -that- bad especially when you consider it was released roughly 26+ years ago. But it does have some serious gameplay flaws. The graphics are ok (at least for its time) and the sound effects range from tiny beep bop bops to muffled explosions that sound a lot like taking a plunger to the toilet. There’s a subtle female voice that guides you throughout the game, but after a while, it starts to sound like your little sister nagging you to take her to the mall.

My biggest complaint is with the God-awful controls in which you have to select a weapon then press a number on the keypad to fire it. Whomever at Atari thought this control scheme would work should be strung upside down.

If you were a Jaguar owner back in the day, then you most likely owned this game. But reading the history of the game, it’s safe to wager that it did not sell well at all, given that the development of the sequel (Hover Strike 2) was quickly canceled just mere weeks after it was announced. Even for a retro lover like me, Hover Strike….strikes out.

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