Hypercharge: Unboxed Review: I Love The Smell Of Burning Plastic In The Morning

Hypercharge: Unboxed continues the long-running tradition of games where toys violently murder each other. This particular little sub-genre was started by the formerly ubiquitous and awful Army Men series, and done much better in the franchise that Hypercharge is most similar to, Toy Soldiers. It’s a great idea because you can have characters blasting each other apart, but not have to worry about any blood or gore since everyone is made of plastic. It’s a great way to introduce children to warfare.

Hypercharge: Unboxed takes the concept even further by making it a full-on cooperative FPS, and it has some solid ideas, even if the overall package is somewhat unspectacular.

As far as I could tell, there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot to Hypercharge: Unboxed. You play as an action figure who is evidently tasked with protecting some objectives – delightfully known as HYPER-CORES – from being destroyed by other toys. I can’t say I know why these other toys hate these objectives. Heck, I can’t even say for sure that we’re the good guys in this situation. We might have betrayed our toy brethren and are now working against the better interests of all toy-kind. Who knows?

I do like the game’s devotion to making you feel like you’re embroiled in an all-out toy war. The maps are usually areas like a toy store, messy bedroom, or backyard littered with lawn ornaments and one of those big plastic blue benches that every parent buys for their kids. There are also a ton of references to other toys that the developers obviously couldn’t get the rights to. These include enemies that look like Boglins, or this world’s unlicensed LEGO equivalent, Bildo. The scale of Hypercharge makes the whole experience feel like a Small Soldiers movie tie-in game or what would happen if a Toy Story sequel decided to end with a Terminator-style skirmish. It’s incredibly charming, but there is the odd texture that needs to load in once the game begins.

War Never Changes Its Batteries

Much like Toy Soldiers, Hypercharge is a tower defense game with lots of shooting. However, while that Xbox Live Arcade title was more of a third-person shooter, this is an FPS with a heavy focus on multiplayer. There is a single-player component, but it’s essentially just a multiplayer match that you do on your own. As such, I wouldn’t recommend getting this game if you’re looking to play it by yourself.

You start out in a building phase where you set up traps and defensive structures to stop the invading forces from reaching the HYPER-CORES. Personally, this phase feels like it goes on for a little too long as you get about three minutes to get set up. You can skip it if you want, but if everyone else wants to spend more time building, then you’re stuck waiting. After that’s done, waves of enemies begin slowly pouring in to take out the HYPER-CORES. You then grab your adorable little gun and start sending the plastic hordes to toy hell.

The actual gameplay is fairly decent considering this is a multiplayer shooter on the Switch. The gun-play feels weighty and fun, and teaming up with three other people to mow down crowds of baddies feels pretty good. I was also pleasantly surprised by how lively the game’s online multiplayer scene is right now. It wasn’t too hard to find a wave match and they were usually full of players who seemed to know what they were doing. It also supports split-screen, which is nice if you want to play some couch co-op.

That said, I wouldn’t declare Hypercharge to be all that innovative or unique when it comes to the FPS genre. It handles the basics well and there’s really nothing wrong with it, but I don’t feel like I would choose this over any other first-person shooter available right now. The only real advantage it has going for it is that it’s a decent multiplayer FPS on the Switch, which is definitely a niche on Nintendo’s system right now.

There’s also competitive multiplayer if you’re not into all that friendship and teamwork junk. There’s your standard Deathmatch, as well as a mode called, Plague, which is like a zombie survival game. These were fine, but I didn’t find them to be all that enthralling. The other issue was that wait times to find other players for these modes felt pretty long, although that might be a result of people not swarming to the Switch for their fast-paced shooter fix.

Some Assembly Required

As for progression, you unlock more skins, maps, and forms of traps as the game goes on. The downside to this is that it means your first few games will be a little sparse when it comes to content. Having to play the game for a good while just to unlock more levels is kind of a bummer. Getting maps to unlock is also dependent on your performance in a match, so if you lose any of the objectives, it might take even longer before you can play on the air hockey table level.

I do wish there was a better tutorial system. There’s a very thin one available from the menu that’s basically just a six-part slideshow that explains the basics of the game. But even without a thorough tutorial, the game never felt particularly difficult. Some of the harder difficulties would occasionally offer up a challenge, but playing with three other adequate people was usually a cakewalk. Sometimes, there wasn’t even a need to set up defenses, as everyone was able to just blast enemies apart before they even reached the HYPER-CORES.

I should also point out that despite this being an actual release on the Switch, Hypercharge is still in Early Access on Steam. Nintendo doesn’t have any kind of early access program, so it seems odd to put out a game that’s a work in progress on other platforms. I hope whatever changes or additions that the PC version receives will be added to this version as well.

At Least Better Than Any Army Men Game

Hypercharge: Unboxed surprised me with how fun and functional it ended up being. But as much as it surpassed my expectations, it didn’t blow me away. This is a perfectly capable little shooter, yet I don’t feel like I’ll be compelled to come back to it. At least not until it’s fully out of Early Access and the Switch version is on par with the PC release.

If you have three friends who love tower defense, or you’re desperate for an FPS to play on the go, then you could do worse than Hypercharge: Unboxed. It’s just not the shiniest toy in the toybox.

A Nintendo Switch copy of Hypercharge: Unboxed was purchased by TheGamer for this review. Hypercharge: Unboxed is available for Nintendo Switch and PC.

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