Terry Cavanagh, the cunning soul behind VVVVVV, captures the art of simplicity with Super Hexagon, a playable equalizer wrapped in a techno bow both aurally delighting and visually mesmerizing. But unlike the maddening challenge of Cavanagh’s spike-based platformer, Super Hexagon’s rhythmic tempos and touchscreen controls entice more than they irritate.
Super Hexagon models the chronic joy of losing your mind in a video game trance. Players tap left or right on their iDevices to rotate a triangle about its immovable axis, eluding the reverberating assaults of hexagons and other multi-sided shapes careening towards the screen’s center. Sometimes a path through the barrage of polygons opens immediately. Other times, the shapes split at the last second, and only your reflexes will avoid a disheartening game over. That disappointment then retires instantly, as a quick tap throws you back into the hypnotic gauntlet.
The patterns are rarely the same, negating any form of pattern memorization. Soon, the camera itself starts rotating, often counter-clockwise to the spinning geometry. Practicing on the tougher levels makes for a good warm-up even if you fail in the first five seconds. Exercise your eyesight and you may well see a substantial two-second improvement in your previous bests.
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There’s no easy mode, however (just Hard, Harder, and Hardest), so expect frequent restarts. You’ll be lucky to last more than three seconds on your initial attempts, and if that wasn’t enough, every ten seconds adds another set (point to line to triangle to square and so on) of shapes to test you. Should the timer eclipse sixty seconds, the game enters a bonus round that defies mental reasoning. You’ll also unlock that difficulty’s Hyper mode as a consolation.
But those achievements wait hundreds, possibly thousands, of retries down the road. On Hard, Chipzel’s electronic soundtrack begins slow, the hexagons rarely pulsing in time to the beat. Then, as the seconds pass, the geometry pulsates faster, the colors shifting into a psychedelic reverie. The more taxing difficulties then break off the training wheels, forsaking all pleasantries.
Players that prefer a moderately paced experience should be wary of Terry Cavanagh’s magnum opus. Super Hexagon demands peak reflexes that correspond with other rhythm titles and endless runners, but the kaleidoscopic visuals and terrific chiptunes should soothe the easily agitated. What’s more, the app’s universal. Now get downloading.
Publisher: Terry Cavanagh
Developer: Terry Cavanagh
Release Date: September 6, 2012
Number of Players: 1
Platforms: iPad (Reviewed), iPhone