This article is part of my ongoing “Indie Fighting Game Thursday” review/retrospective series, now on supercombo.gg! Today we talk about HYPERFIGHT, a one-hit-KO, 2D pixel art game available on Steam! This article was originally published on my Medium blog and has been ported to Supercombo.gg for preservation and sharing it with more people in the fighting game community!
Serendipity is a nasty piece of work. Something completely unexpected happens, out of nowhere, linked by a thin, subtle chain of events you have no idea of, until it is too late — and you can do nothing but stare puzzled at the end result.
This was the first thought that crossed my mind when the Schwarzerblitz Discord server was flooded with several new users, all coming from another, completely unrelated community. All due to one, stupid gameplay video featuring Random, a literal floating cube with a “?” printed on its surface, sweeping through Schwarzerblitz’s arcade mode.
This is the video in question. Yes, that’s a true character. No, I didn’t do drugs while creating it, why do you ask?
Apparently, in their community, they had a meme: that selecting “random” in their game would still be better than choosing the lowest tier character, because you had at least five chances over six NOT to get it. Thus, “random” was added to their tier list and placed ABOVE the lowest tier character. When they found out that there existed a game where Random was actually playable, they got curious and decided all together to pay it a visit.
“Which community did those guys come from?” you may ask. Well, you are lucky, because this is exactly what this article is about: the absolutely chaotic, fast paced world of HYPERFIGHT.
Sacrifices must be made
HYPERFIGHT is an atypical fighting game. As every hit which connects with the opponent is an instant round win, you could call it “dive kick on steroids”, and you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Except, you would be, but for all the wrong reasons.
This game was originally created by one developer, Joh, as a part of the Ludum Dare 43 game jam, and published on itch.io for free. The theme of the jam was the ominous-sounding “SACRIFICES MUST BE MADE”, which won against the equally ominous-sounding “It only changes when you aren’t looking”, that would make every Doctor Who fan gasp (either in excitement or pain. Or both).
How does a one-hit kill fighting game featuring a drunken Japanese salaryman as its main character fit into this apocalyptic view? Well, in HYPERFIGHT, your round win counter is your super meter.
Take a second to elaborate on what you have just read: your round win counter is your super meter.
That’s right: In order to have access to your best moves, you need to wager your round wins. Each special costs one round win counter, while your super costs two of them. The points you use to “pay” for those moves are marked in red in your score bar, and cannot be waged again until the end of the round. If you win a round, you get back all the wagered points. If you lose a round, you also lose all the points you wagered.
Since the first who gets to five points wins the match, you know where this is going: a back and forth high-speed poker match, with carefully calculated specials and industrial level of salt at each missed super.
Yeah, a missed super hits you right in the feels twice as hard, as super moves in this game are equivalent to Guilty Gear insta-kills: one of them connecting with the opponent nets five points, automatically sealing the match. Most of them are kinda telegraphed, but the reward you get is more than worth the risk you take in performing them.
While the control scheme is simple (direction + two buttons at its minimum, plus one optional button for easing dashes and one optional macro for supers), HYPERFIGHT manages to condense a lot of tech in a minimalistic setup thanks to an intelligent use of its resources. Each character has access to a couple normal moves, one or two specials and one or two super moves.
Notice that I nowhere mentioned anything about how to block. That’s because you can’t. There is no block option — you have to either jump or make use of the invincible dashes to travel unscathed through the projectiles and hazards.
But do not fret! The game offers a surprisingly huge amount of mobility options. You have dashes, jumps, air-dashes, and even a fairly technical hyper hop technique (by jumping after a downward air-dash, right as you touch the ground).
You can move your character as soon as the READY sign pops out, and, in some specific circumstances, you can also set up your attacks to hit in two consecutive rounds, due to the fact that certain projectiles remain on-screen for THAT long — I’m looking at you, Dr. Kero, and at your *bleeping* bouncing gravity balls.
A ragtag bunch of misfits
HYPERFIGHT boasts a roster of eight characters, seven available from the beginning plus one that can be unlocked by clearing arcade mode with all other characters (or by a handy notepad edit on the save file wink wink nudge nudge). You have Shoto Goto, the LITERAL shoto character of the game — who’s in reality just a drunken Japanese salaryman — down to having a fireball, an uppercut, a 1-point special parry and a super fireball; Don McRon, a shady CEO who can stop time and uses fries, ketchup bags and a giant hamburger as his main tools; Yo-yona, a school girl with a yo-yo, that can be used for nasty setups and advanced mobility options; Dr. Kero, a frog scientist who feels a bit like Venom from Guilty Gear, since he can alter the momentum of his slime balls by hitting them; Vince Volt, a rushdown character with a power up state; Slime Bros, a gimmicky duo of slimes that can split and rejoin to attack the opponent from two sides at once; Reaper Angel, a fairly technical character with wide scythe attacks and teleports; and, finally, Dark Goto, Shoto’s evil alter ego, who shoots diagonal fireballs and has a more aggressive playstyle, while losing full screen zoning tools.
Overall, the cast has more than enough variety, despite the small number of fighters, as no two characters play the same way. You have fairly aggressive characters like Dark and Vince, setup-heavy characters like Kero, wildcards like Slime and all-rounders like Shoto and Don. There are some pop culture references scattered here and there, with Don’s Clock Out time stop super being… well, a callback to a certain anime blond wryyyyyying vampire.
Time for you to clock out!
Playing a match of HYPERFIGHT against a veteran player is nothing short of an anime boss fight. Some matchups can feel quite lopsided (cough Frog vs Vince), but overall the cast is fairly balanced. The variety of tools means that two players can use the same character in fairly different ways. This is more pronounced for characters like Yo-Yona, Kero and Reaper Angel, who rely heavily on positioning and laying the groundwork for a surprise round steal.
I found myself at ease using Dr. Kero and his gravity ball setups. Altering their trajectories mid-stage with a careful jump and seeing the opponent being slammed down by a surprise bounce, feels extremely satisfying. Even in the most lopsided matches, a random hitting super can steal a win, so you need to constantly be on your toes and always ready to dash in or out at the first sign of a super flash.
How to play it?
The game is available for free on Steam and has a fairly serviceable delay-based netcode. There is also an HTML version of the game on itch.io, with no online capabilities, that can be played directly into your web browser.
There is a dedicated Discord server for matchmaking. Joh published the last update (version 3.1) in December 2020, together with the full Godot source code of the game. There has also been a fairly active modding community that has tried to build an extended version of the game, adding some custom characters in the process, so feel free to join the fun and contribute to it!
Now, excuse me but I need to go back to training mode and lab Kero setups. Sooner or later I WILL win that Vince matchup.
Name of the game: HYPERFIGHT
Available on: PC (Steam, itch.io)
Year of release: 2019
Netcode: delay-based netcode
In one sentence: pixel-art 1-hit-KO game where your round counter is your win counter
If you are interested in more coverage about indie fighting games, you can find me on Twitter at @AndreaDProjects