Hover Strike: Unconquered Lands (CD)

Atari Jaguar CD

by Scott Call

This is not so much a review as a collection of observations and opinions. Oh wait... That IS a review :)

For those who don't know about the cart version of HS, here's a quick lo-down:

Hoverstrike is a 1st person 3d hover-tank battle game (it mutated out of efforts to make a "BattleZone 2000") in which you battle to complete a series of progressively harder levels to destroy the "Terrakian"(SP) pirates who have taken over the colony world.

The game, although pretty fun, got dinged a lot for it's somewhat slow frame-rate, short horizon, and controls. Atari seems to have justified themselves in this re-release.

The CD comes up with an FMV "Prepare to Launch" sequence, followed by a "Star-Wars" style scrolling intro and credits sequence.

The game includes the levels from the cart, as well as 10 new ones mixed into the 6 sets of levels.

The controls are now configurable, addressing many of the problems people cited with the first release of the game.

  1. You can now toggle "Hover" mode on and off. A lot of people could not get used to the fact the a hovercraft continues to move along the vector it was heading, even if ou steer it. With hover turned off, you stop almost instantly after releasing the accelerator.
  2. You can now toggle "Damage from terrain" Which turns on and off collision damage from running into steep grades, falling off of them, or sitting in a pool of lava.
  3. You can toggle the affects of enemy fire on your tank. If you set it to on, you will be pushed around by enemy fire, otherwise you won't be.

You can also completely configure the joypad directions and buttons.

I started playing this game on one of the new levels not in the cart "Steath Attack"

The first few things I noticed:

  1. Frame rate seems to be much higher than in the Cart version.
  2. The lighting effects of shots, explosions, etc that was only in the Gouraud-Shaded "night" levels of the cart is present in every level.
  3. Overall lighting and textures appear much better. I am getting my S-Video compatable TV next week, so hopefully some of the artifacting will vanish.
  4. Music is MUCH better than the cart (same tunes, but CD audio now)
  5. There are 2 save slots, and it only takes up 512 bytes in a Memory Track to hold both games and all the options.

Playing onwards I found that the night missions are now fully texture mapped as well.


I was pretty non-plussed by the cart version because it lacked an instant gratification, and didn't seem to offer enough to work towards.

The new control options, plus the updated game engine, however, have made the CD version a very enjoyable game for me. New Enemies and Levels, plus even better T-Mapping, make me think I'll be playing this for a while.

If the cart HS just wasn't enough to suck you in, but you like a good 3d battle game, the CD version might be for you. If you dislike the whole concept of 3d gaming, or tanks, you might want to steer clear.

The FMV seems (so far) to only be in the intro, and then at the end of every level. It can be toggled off. Seems to be rendered, of slightly higher object/texturing quality then Blue Lightning.

Tech Observation:

Although load time is about the same as it was on the cart (I guess the cart had to decompress the levels), I noticed the CD spinning up and down during the mission briefing screens. I don't know why, but it's an interesting observation (someone before had mentioned they thought the CD always spun).

If anyone has any more questions about this title, feel free to ask.

(No scores provided...)

-Scott Call

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