Game Over Online ~ HyperSpace Delivery Boy!

GameOver Game Reviews - HyperSpace Delivery Boy! (c) Monkeystone, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher HyperSpace Delivery Boy! (c) Monkeystone
System Requirements Pocket PC, 4MB Memory, 8MB Storage
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Wednesday, January 9th, 2002 at 10:24 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Hyperspace Delivery Boy! (HDB) is one of the first solid forays by PC developers onto the Pocket PC platform. There have been ports and re-creations but this is a genuine product designed for the handheld format. The premise of HDB is about as ambiguous as its name. I certainly didn't know what to expect from it and despite its sudden overnight announcement from last quarter, it has all the trappings and polish that denotes a veteran developer. HDB follows the chronicles of a young budding courier working for the Hyperspace Delivery Service. Unlike my first impression (which was an interstellar pizza delivery game), the Hyperspace Delivery Service is like an interstellar version of your local FedEx office. The story follows a character known as Guy Carrington who is posted on a delivery ship under the helm of a female captain. Your job is pretty simple: you must deliver your packages to certain people in various locales.

Of course, you will eventually run into a myriad of problems. Recipients of your package may be unreachable due to some obstacles and this creates the rationale for more, smaller, FedEx-style quests. One piles up on another until you achieve your objective. Along the way, you meet a variety of strange customers and their even stranger locales. Although many of these are absurd, it has the fun spirit of Matt Groening's Futurama. In fact, the whole concept of the game is uncannily like a whole slew of Futurama episodes strung together; minus Bender. There is a wealth of wacky humour including the 'grrl-power' endowed captain you work for to a rail system where you sit in someone's (something's?) slimy mouth. The charm keeps much of the adventuring fresh and that's good because you'll be doing lots of exploring. HDB is not so much an action game as it is a non-violent adventure game. There is an option for "action mode" but the pacing of the game (and Carrington's anemic attacks) makes it more of a way to remove obstacles (and only temporarily) than anything else. The puzzle mode only serves to remove the action elements but suffice to say, HDB was clearly designed from the ground up to be more of a puzzle game than a 2D arcade shoot ‘em up.

The 2D world is extremely colourful and vibrant. The creative design and wonderfully written dialog helps create an atmosphere that gets you into Carrington's world. Carrington has to do quite a bit of wandering around. HDB's levels reward the careful explorer though. There are plenty of hidden or obscure avenues to gain extra points, Monkeystone idols and other bonus items. You can even unlock secret "Panic Zone" mini-games. The most annoying thing about his travels would be the lack of a run button. Often you must do three levels of sub-quests before returning to the primary character and to return, you must re-trace all your steps back to the beginning of a stage; a very time-consuming process considering Carrington is (ironically) not as swift as Hermes or Mercury. The gameplay area, however, is massive. Though this allows for more playing time, much of the playing time is relegated to re-tracing your steps and seeing the same old graphics all over again. Once I got past the first world, I got the idea that the real estate Carrington has to walk in could easily be shrunk by a factor of two. The FedEx style quests take you to every nook and cranny of the map, so at the very least, you'll get to see all three worlds quite thoroughly.

You manipulate Carrington using the PDA keys (directional pad and associated buttons) or using the stylus. Both are easy to grasp and functional too. There are copious amounts of help screens and the first ten minutes of the game serve purely as a tutorial to prepare you for the actual quests you will embark on. With so many FedEx style quests, you'd think you'd get mired by all of them. HDB features a quest tracker so you know what to return to whom. This is a great tool and HDB's level design is good enough that you cannot take on too many quests at once. Because of the puzzle nature, your manipulation of Carrington depends more on preciseness rather than swift reflexes. Carrington has to navigate through electro-shock fields, stationary sentries, moving sentries and a host of other obstacles. At first, many of the puzzles seem mind-numbingly insane but HDB has a gentle learning curve. It also helps through appropriately placed save vortices. For example, a save point is usually found right before a string of hazardous obstacles you must dodge. The one thing I don't like about the puzzles is the lack of feedback on the ones involving crates. Anyone who has played a game that involves pushing crates will know that some crates can easily get stuck against walls and certain crates must be removed before clearing a path. If you end up in a situation where you are permanently stuck, it appears that HDB has no way of informing you of such a setback and the only way to unravel appears to be to reload from a previous saved game.

With that said, HDB has a fairly flexible save-game system even though at first glance, it appears to have its roots in the console world. Admittedly, someone who looks at the credits of this title will be disappointed this game isn't the latest in 3D technology for the Pocket PC. My answer to this query or postulation is: I don't think 3D would help much with the style of design here at all. The only thing it would add is a sense of elevation so that overhead bridges are more easily identified. The one thing that should and will impress even the staunchest critics is the copious use of aural cues. There simply is a lot of care put into this department including an ongoing ambient score, crisp sound and countless numbers of effects included. That, in itself, almost justifies the almost nine megabyte package that HDB takes up. Unfortunately, HDB can't be broken up into separate chapters but at least it can be loaded on to external media (CompactFlash) and is not as megalithic in size as say Fade.

Holistically speaking, HDB is an intriguing merger of puzzle and adventure games on the Pocket PC. Its presentation is heavily influenced by older console titles. The gameplay is fun and perhaps the most interesting aspect, aside from some of the best sound and music, par excellence, for a Pocket PC title, is the charming motif. It is a humorous and light-hearted game that can easily be picked up and let go. For a game that rests on threaded multi-layered quests, many things could go wrong but they don't, and so credit must be given to the level design. The only caveat I have to provide are those thinking this is the next greatest action title. It is not, despite the inclusion of action modes. HDB was released at the tail end of an extraordinary year for Pocket PC titles. Many titles emerged to solidify the Pocket PC platform as the premier PDA gaming platform. HDB represents an excellent synthesis of some of the year's best ideas into one package that is a bold and entertaining foray into handheld gaming.

[09/10] Addictiveness
[17/20] Gameplay
[14/15] Graphics
[09/10] Interface/controls
[08/10] Program Size
[05/05] Sound
[05/05] Discreetness
[14/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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