Super Hexagon full review
With the vast majority of games positively screaming about how elaborate their features, in-app purchases or overwraught backstory is, there's probably a reason the single-concept likes of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja have done so well. Reflex-based iPhone and iPad action-puzzler Super Hexagon goes even further - eschewing cartoon characters or extra modes in favour of, quite simply, a series of rotating hexagons shown in just a handful of colours.
That's it. That's all there is to Super Hexagon. And that's why it's brilliant.
It's a score attack game, with your only interaction being to tap on the left or right of the screen in order to spin the screen towards the one open side of the next rapidly-approaching hexagon. Get it right and you'll pass through, to another hexagon; get it wrong and it's game over. You will get it wrong often and very, very quickly: success in Super Hexagon is measured in fractions of a second. Make it to 10 seconds on the easiest setting without dying and you'll feel like a god - but a long, long road of greater self-improvement lies ahead.
Harder difficulties (maxing out at 'Hexagonest') mean faster speeds and more elaborate 'mazes', but fundamentally you're testing your reflexes and your tapping fine-control throughout. It's horrifyingly easy to 'over-tap' and end up beyond the hexagon side you were aiming for, so it's necessary to take in a rapidly-changing, rapidly-spinning scene with a single glance.
In other words, if you're a slow-paced, lackadaisical sort of gamer, you're going to have a horrible time with Super Hexagon. It's for fast fingers rather than sharp brains. If you crave steep challenge, you'll find that it holds the values of the most demanding arcade games despite the to-the-bone simplicity of both concept and controls.
If the idea of competing with purely your own times isn't appealing, then you'll be glad to hear that its ever-changing global leaderboards are a constant battleground of one-upmanship, with the game's creator Terry Cavanagh (a big name on the indie gaming scene) often up there himself.
The lo-fi look suits the game perfectly - it might look tedious and outdated in screenshots, but in practice the lack of any other visual distractions is absolutely vital to the focus needed if you're going to approach any kind of success. You need to be in the zone, and flashing lights or whimsical characters would only be in the way of that.
A minor classic then: perhaps too brutal for some, but it understands the platform on it's on well, and makes a single, shining idea feel more substantial a dozen 100-hour roleplaying games ever could.
Super Hexagon: Specs
- Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.