Welcome to the competitive world of Ultra Hyperball; the latest sport in which players must use their head to bounce a hyperball as high into the air as they possibly can. To do this, you don’t have to rely on any complex button combos; you simply have to press one button at the right time. Sadly, Ultra Hyperball is about as dull as that description sounds, with very little to keep you sat in front of your TV for long.
As you do progress in the game, some levels mix things up a little. Rather than trying to get your hyperball as high as possible, you’ve got to juggle a number of hyperballs in order to stay alive. Whilst this does bring a little variance to the table, you’re still just pressing one button (or tapping the screen) over and over. Of course, Ultra Hyperball also adds motion control for movement, which ultimately makes the whole experience far worse than it was when simply using the buttons.
The pixelated art direction is gorgeous to look at, even if every other indie title seems to take this approach these days. One thing you have to give Ultra Hyperball credit for is how well the game is presented. There are many different sprite characters that you can unlock as you progress throughout the game, each offering their own charm. They also serve as somewhat of an incentive to keep playing.
There are also a lot of levels to unlock in the game, offering some longevity to the experience in their own right. Unfortunately, most players won’t even get to experience the vast majority of them as they will have likely been turned off long before getting to the end. Amazingly, there is even a story mode included within these levels – following a kid called Jay who is on a mission to become a professional hyperball player. It’s a commendable addition, but one that I found hard to care for.
Luckily, Ultra Hyperball does have one redeeming mode; the competitive and cooperative multiplayer. As with a lot of Switch titles, having four people crowded around the console with a Joy-Con in hand is often a fantastic experience – regardless of the game. If you’ve managed to stick with the single player long enough to unlock a variety of different characters, it can be a good giggle with a group of friends playing for a place on the pixel podium.
In all honesty, Ultra Hyperball is little more than a glorified hackey sack simulator; something that hit its peak in video game form with the Mega Drive release of California Games back in the 90s. Whilst there was nothing particularly offensive about the game, it’s just not something that I want to play on my Nintendo console. It’s a mobile game at heart, with very little substance – and that’s the biggest problem here.
Ultra Hyperball is a game that you’d expect to see on your smart phone; something you can pick up for pennies rather than pounds, and then put down when your train arrives. Whilst there is something of a mindless distraction on offer here, this really isn’t the sort of game that we should be encouraging for consoles. Having local multiplayer makes Ultra Hyperball a little more attractive, but it’s still an incredibly unappealing package overall.