October 9, 2013
Gaming Like Its 1995
Can you believe Hover is back? It is time to game like its 1995. Wait, you don’t remember Hover? Well, don’t feel bad. I actually didn’t remember it either. That game came out back in the mid-1990s, during the summer that O.J. dominated the news and Seinfeld was doing its thing.
The game didn’t actually get a commercial release. It was an Easter Egg that was hidden in the “Fun Stuff” folder on the Windows 95 CD-ROM. That disc also included a Weezer video and the trailer to the movie Rob Roy. And if you found it, you might have played it for five minutes and then forgotten about it. In other words, it is one of those things that could have, maybe even should have, been lost to oblivion.
However, the game did develop a cult following and various totally unofficial updates have been created over the years. Now, Microsoft has released a new web-based version that plays in Internet Explorer 11 or any WebGL supported browser, such as Chrome.
And that’s where this is directed. Browsers are moving toward WebGL, and games are a good way to promote the technologies by showing off the features. In the past, you used to have Flash, an add on. With WebGL, the technology is built into the browser and doesn’t get all wonky when you have to update it.
To this end, Google’s Chrome browser has seen the arrival of some nifty games in recent months (see games in Google’s Chrome Store, and clearly Microsoft wanted to keep pace. Though the update surely has some better gameplay, it is more retro than responsive on the controls. Use the arrow keys to steer through an arena and capture three of your opponent’s flags before he captures yours. This is a little reminiscent of Tron or Return to Castle Wolfenstein where you run through an arena (or in this case fly though on a hovercraft) and try to hit power-ups and flags on the way.
Hover works with the arrow keys, but it is meant to be played on a touch screen as Windows 8 allows. While the game itself may be a way for Microsoft to tout the benefits of WebGL operating in a browser, the touch controls of the game are a way for Microsoft to promote the touch screen of its new OS. This is done in the same way that Solitaire was originally included in early versions of Windows to help you learn to use the mouse. Of course, you mastered the mouse and kept on playing Solitaire. We’re just not sure that you’ll keep playing Hover after you’ve captured your first flag. There are plenty of other more engaging games out there to learn to master the touch screen of your computer. And if you’re playing using the arrow keys, you will probably get a little tired of the physics in the game dragging down the controls, and go back to Solitaire.
Image Credit: Microsoft