SEGA’s Jet Set Radio last honored us with its presence in 2012 when the company released an HD port of the Dreamcast classic on Xbox 360, PS3, and the PlayStation Vita. During this extended absence, it became the responsibility of the indie development industry to create and deliver a compelling parkour-skating racer to fill the void. Enter Fusty Game and Midgar Studio to provide their unique take on the genre with the release of Hover for the Nintendo Switch.
The story and premise of Hover is that of a blend of Jet Set Radio meets Mirror’s Edge, as a group of gamers gather to fight against an oppressive government that has outlawed fun. The form of rebellion chosen by the group of youthful renegades is graffiti and parkour-racing. The narrative is by no means a deep or compelling, but it provides enough information to keep you interested and engaged, well, at least initially. Within the first hour, you will find that the story is slotted into a secondary role behind the parkour-racing emphasis of the title. Aspects of the story will blossom during missions and as you meet new characters, but it never feels like an essential element to the game.
Hover provides the player with a lot of freedom of choice, as the game lacks a core structure to guide you in any particular direction. Though there are story-based missions for you to participate in, the game doesn’t restrict you to any specific mission type. You are free to explore the world and accept courier and racing missions whenever you see fit. This lack of structure can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse. Freedom to play the game as you want suits this style of game as you explore the city and unearth what the game has to offer you; but the lack of guidance may have some feeling lost and overwhelmed. While the game does list key points of interest, the map fails to provide enough information to lead you towards these areas in order to advance the story.
Initially, Hover felt underwhelming due to the rudimentary mission design, but the more we played the game the more we came to appreciate what it had to offer. The opening hours can feel tedious; however, once you delve deeper into the city you will find that the races and competitions become more exciting and engaging.
Exploration becomes enjoyable once you grasp the controls and come to terms with the game’s less than perfect camera. The camera in Hover often finds itself positioned either too close to your character or at an awkward angle. This can make races or courier missions more challenging than necessary as you’ll find the frequently find your goal obstructed by the camera. Using the game’s optional gyro controls can assist in alleviating this concern, though those that choose to rely on the analog stick control may become frustrated and find themselves regularly fighting the camera.
Whereas the camera concerns can be addressed via gyro controls, there is no such luck when it comes to menu navigation. Designed with PC in mind, you have to move a cursor to the menu prompts of importance. This may sound like a minor inconvenience; however, the cursor speed is slow and the menu text and button prompts are small when playing in handheld mode. The type of user interface may work fine on PC, but it isn’t user-friendly when it comes to the Switch.
Hover offers online multiplayer; which allows you to race, explore and compete with friends. It’s a welcome secondary mode and certainly worth exploring if you have friends that have the game.
It may never reach the highs of a Mirror’s Edge or even a Jet Set Radio game, but Hover offers an entertaining parkour-skating racer to Nintendo Switch owners. The menu system needs to be fixed, the camera isn’t perfect, and the frame-rate can be a bit rough at times, but there is still fun to be had with Hover.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Playdius