Since its release in March, the Nintendo Switch has managed what the Wii U never achieved: to remain relevant and desirable by media outlets and consumers alike. Part of that is attributed to its early release roster, where The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild played a big role by coming out concurrently with the console. However, there’s no denying that Nintendo owes most of its recent success to whoever had the brilliant idea of developing a platform that extends as a handheld. The Switch is a versatile machine, so it’s only natural that owners want to see their favorite games ported to it.
The console has a promising library of first-party titles and interesting third-party releases, such as Sonic Mania, Stardew Valley, and even the classic Cave Story. Most of these games are easily recognizable, but there’s one port currently in the works that may elude most Switch owners. Officially released in May 2017, Hover: Revolt of Gamers is an open-world parkour sandbox that’s somewhat obscure even for PC gamers, in part due to its title. I mean, yeah — “Revolt of Gamers” doesn’t inspire much confidence. It’s almost at the same level of “Movie: The Game,” and since we’re materialistic jerks who can’t help but judge a book by its cover, it’s only natural that Hover gets dismissed by many people who would otherwise love it.
There are many reasons to love Hover: Revolt of Gamers — although the title and storytelling aren’t some of them. For starters, it’s heavily inspired by cult classics Jet Set Radio and Mirror’s Edge, but instead of putting something-other together and calling it the child of this and that, Midgar Studio and Fusty Game crafted an ingenious title that moves this unusual genre of street sports forward. The inspirations are clear, yes, but Revolt of Gamers manages to set itself apart with fluid mechanics, original art direction, and a lore that is actually quite interesting if one decides to delve deeper into it. The developers will be showcasing their progress with the Switch port at Gamescom 2017, and after almost 40 hours with the PC version, I feel very confident saying why Switch owners should reserve a copy.
I first discovered Hover when it came out on Steam’s Early Access, and it remained on my wishlist until its official release when I bought it without a second thought. I was never a big fan of Jet Set Radio and enjoyed Mirror’s Edge enough not to hate it. Yet the idea of exploring a futuristic city in an alien planet appeals to me, especially when parkour is how we get around.
In Hover, players take control of a newly-produced clone taken in by the Gamers shortly after its conception. The Gamers are pretty much what the title entails: gamers. They used to stay home playing video games and minding their own business until The Great Admin arrived at ECP17, a.k.a. Hover City. Following his rise to power, he cut the city’s communications with the Galactic Union and issued tyrannical laws against any type of fun activities, including video games. Eventually, the Gamers band together to take down The Great Admin’s dictatorship with parkour, graffiti, and the throwing of old game consoles because apparently, retro games aren’t worth much over there.
These days, the thought of “open-world” causes a lot of gamers to frown in discontent. In an era post-Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed, the sub-genre is anything but appealing to a lot of people. Triple-A developers rely so much on the formula that it becomes increasingly difficult to find something that counts on quality over quantity (more specifically if we’re looking at Ubisoft’s catalog). Hover could’ve very easily fallen for the same shenanigans its big brothers and sisters are famed for, but after an hour or so it becomes clear that the developers knew what they were doing with the money invested in them.
The parkour elements are not just a fancy way to say this game is different. Revolt of Gamers doesn’t rely solely on cool tricks that the majority of us can’t even dream of performing in real life—instead, they are deeply related to the world and how we explore it. Whereas Assassin’s Creed maps are horizontal worlds with vertical possibilities, Hover City is mainly a vertical world with some horizontal possibilities. It may seem shallow to invert the roles and call it a day, but by making the map tight and tall, the developers guarantee that its novelty doesn’t go to waste. There are a lot of walls to climb, alleys to uncover, quests, and vistas.
While the residents of Hover City may ask for deliveries every once in a while, the quests are diverse enough to avoid becoming stale. Racing is the most common type of quest, but citizens may also challenge players to gameball matches (a sport that mixes basketball with parkour), chases, request the spraying of propaganda, or even the recharging of power modules. If any of this gets old, all it takes for something more is hitting the multiplayer option on the main menu to be instantly connected to other players, be they, strangers or friends. Through the level editor tool, you can create your own matches and challenges that can vary from a simple gameball match in a confined space to a crazy chase-slash-race-slash-delivery across the district.
And of course, this wouldn’t be a proper open-world game without collectibles. Each area of each zone counts with a number of micro-objectives, most of which revolve around collecting GameGirls (Game Boy’s sister), spraying satellite dishes, propaganda, or even accumulating a specific trick score.
Hover: Revolt of Gamers is not without its flaws, but that’s not to say people should keep their distance. For open-world fans, it actually presents something interesting with large intricate areas filled with varied content. Those who love unconventional sports games and have always wanted a worthy successor to Jet Set Radio will most likely find a cozy home in Hover City. There’s even something interesting for speedrunners since the game relies entirely on player skill—especially those damned sewer missions. Although there are mild RPG elements with the addition of chips (used to enhance character attributes), knowing the tracks and what moves you can pull off are crucial for good scores.
It’s a shame Hover: Revolt of Gamers didn’t become the talk of the town upon its release on Steam. Though relatively popular, it certainly deserves more attention for being such a bold and carefree game and, perhaps most importantly, such a consistent product, which is critical for projects coming out of Kickstarter and Steam Early Access. Perhaps its release on the Switch, which is currently the hottest console around the block, will boost its popularity and put it on the pedestal it deserves to be. If you get a chance, be sure to check it running on the Nintendo Switch!