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"All I ask is a starship, and space to steer her by..."
Detailed information on one of the best space simulation adventures ever made.
Sure there have been plenty of space simulations that have given you a craft to control... But very few good ones truly succeeded in supplying you with that actual feeling of really "being in your own ship". In the early 1990s, the now gone masters of PC simulations: MicroProse, did it right with a huge 15,000 foot long spacecraft sim - the product was first released as: Lightspeed... and later perfected to its final incarnation: Hyperspeed. On top of an excellent large space vessel to control, the designers created a wonderful galaxy of aliens, interesting game plots, and other ships to interact with...

Questions mainly for those who are familiar with the space simulation genre...

What is/was it? A fun and challenging "first person" - in cockpit space sim / space adventure / space combat / simulation, with emphasis on exploration and discovery. A great fun vintage DOS PC game for those who liked Frontier Elite II, but missed aliens and a lot of character interaction...
Does it have a free play mode like the Elite series, Privateer, or Starflight did? Well, you do have a mission to accomplish, but the program is very open in nature, thus allowing for many approaches... You pick one of four clusters to work in - (each cluster is a separate game essentially). Then, you are pretty much free to go and do what you want; however, there is an eventual time constraint regarding the lives of the colonists... but it is quite a long time.
What about Trading and Missions? Yeah, its here and perhaps a bit more fun than in a lot of other space trading treatments of this element of the genre. Basically, you trade to get parts for your ship, which are uniquely well implemented or used by the player - utilizing an cool "engine room" interactive animated screen interface. You plug these components into different subsystems in the engine room (to improve performance, etc.), or store in the hold area. You also are trading for "resources" your colony will need... as each cluster requires so much of each type of resource to win once you have found the right planet for ultimate colonization. As far as missions within each cluster... you talk to the aliens, make decisions... then things begin to happen... also, most combat encounters have consequences.
Is there the ability of mine planets? Yup. This is done when you first explore an unknown system. If it has not been claimed by another race, you can raid the system for whatever resources it has, and trade them for other resources you will need later.
I liked how in Frontier Elite II, and in some other space games, they use real star system names, not made up stuff... Well, its all made up here... but done very well (hey, could be in an unknown part of our galaxy... or another galaxy.) I would not really call this a negative... but it does bug some folks, I know.
Does it support "Elite Type" flight controls... (Ya'know: roll left, roll right, pull up, etc.) Yes, a full 3D sim to control, you can do all sorts of fighter moves... but the Trailblazer is more of a heavy dreadnought class vessel.
How many folks these days are still playing Hyperspeed on the planet do you think? Ha! Probably around 10, including me... before you read this. Perhaps someday soon, you could be number 11! That would sure be lucky for you... (It's such a shame nothing is being made as cool as the old stuff was.)
Surely it cannot have asteroid mining ? Nope, no asteroid mining. In fact - "in system travel" is not really present at all - except in combat. Most movement consists on hyper jumps with the Spindrive, or as I said, combat...
Can I fly different ships? Well yes... there is your primary ship: the 3400 meter "Trailblazer" class vessel. She also carries 10 missile chassis which can be additionally "configured" as fighters or kamikazes (which you can fly and retrieve). Unlike Frontier Elite II, you cannot completely "change out" your ship - which in one respect is a nice TITLEernate of game focus (than this sometimes dominating concern within FE2).
I want to be able to have more than one ship active at a time... You're in luck! You can have up to four chassis (configured as you like) launched and toggle between the cockpits for them all... as well as controlling the Trailblazer and her blaster turret bay! That's more than enough to make your head spin!
I do so love a big brick of a program manual... Micropose did not disappoint in this area (much better with Hyperspeed than with Lightspeed - as far as manual size and details). Hyperspeed has a wonderful manual: 112 pages of shear fun and much needed ship, game, and alien information. The book is excellently written by gaming designer/genius: Sandy Petersen. The nice manual really adds to the overall enjoyment of the product, draws the player in, and helps to smooth out the learning curve. (Unfortunately for the PC gaming world: such physical manuals and ALL valued box contents for the most part, became a sorely missed aspect of software shortly after CD's and Windows infected the gaming world - grrrrrrrr. Do I sound bitter??? No, just sad now.)
Can I play it forever? There is a "finite" story for each cluster, so - not really. But an occasional replay is still damn fun and you can take several approaches to the same problem!
Are there any patches? The initial Lightspeed did have a patch... Hyperspeed is essentially a tweaked, patched, and much improved version of Lightspeed with a lot more goodies pumped in... (so, no patch).
How's the combat? The space combat is really fun, challenging, and interesting. Its a very nice balance... often not found in other space combat environments. Each type of ship has certain vulnerabilities which much be discovered and exploited. Some alien ship behaviors are quite surprising!
What about the jump drive? Yeah, a very cool thing called the: "Spindrive". A neat and well refined idea... much of the engine room is geared to this - of course! Just take a look at this sniglet from the manual concerning the spindrive...
     "... The Spindrive is composed of a central Vespucci Navigator, surrounded by three turbine / accelerator pairs... The Spindrive derives its energy form the controlled destruction of a complex antimatter clathrate which contains numerous molecules of anti-Xenon. The energy created by the destruction is used to twist the fabric of space-time into a four-dimensional spindle. As the twisting effect accelerates, it eventually splits the ship off into a separate universe."
I loved that cargo scoop thing in Elite... grabbing those canisters was a blast... Can the ships have Cargo Scoops? Not really, but after combat - the Trailblazer does "automatically" salvage cargo... that's fun; and you can trade what you get - or use them directly in your own engine room! In essence, you can repair combat damage right after combat if you can salvage what you need... cool!
Oh please, oh please... tell me there are planetary landings and bases to visit... Ooops - a big, "Thumbs Down"... it's not here... But, hold on - this is really not that type of game... The idea is this: Once you enter a system, you launch a probe. You don't have to physically travel to any planets in the system or go down to any planets - the probe does that. I know its a leap, and it does not sound like it would work... but the concept actually functions quite well from a gameplay aspect. (This is not a Frontier Elite II replacement - but what the frell is!!)
What about a multi-player mode? You got to be kidding me... this is 1991 stuff. (Besides, how secure do you think new Multi-player games are... could hackers rip into a game to get access to other players online?)
Is it complex to learn? Well, you really need to read through the manual to have an excellent grasp and appreciation of everything, but the reading is not very much of a chore, in fact, its a delight. Best thing is to play a little... then you will be ready to wed the manual with glee! Additionally, there is a nice quick reference card which can help out - thank you MicroProse!
Is there a Tutorial? But of course... it gets you started - and hooked! The "follow along with a printed manual tutorial" really still has no equal for complex sims (but now they make you build your own book via printer and PDF file).
How did you get your copy of Lightspeed and Hyperspeed? Well Sonny (Grampa voice...) I actually bought Lightspeed when it first came out in 1990! I believe it was the third game I ever bought - and was the initial reason for getting a sound card. (I, like the rest of the world, got a Soundblaster 1.5 ISA, for about $170 bucks then... and yes, the card still works - flawlessly!) I always wanted to pick up Hyperspeed... but it was a bit high priced for me in the early 90s... ($59.95) and, I had just bought Lightspeed, it seemed; then poof - a month or two later - Hyperspeed showed up! It was a tad annoying... I waited a short while (hoping for a price drop at Electronic Boutique) and then it was gone... But, remembering it fondly years later - and searching eBay for a while - one day this nice fellow posted a pristine copy: I snagged it! You just gotta love eBay for finding old software! Get yours while there is still a market for this stuff...
How come all my annoying space simming buddies never incessantly jabbered about this on their exclusive bulletin board systems, forums, etc.? Dun'no. Perhaps some of them did play it... A lot of folks get terribly "branded" and never seem to look at other products. Of course, for many possible players... they were in primary school when it first came out! So for you guys - here's something totally new and great!!
How are the graphics, I want to see some screen grabs... Graphics are nicely done in 256 VGA/MCGA... Good use of animation to be sure in the cockpit and engine room screens. Just have a look here.
How's the background music? The songs in Frontier were quite inspirational... There are some delightful and unique midi tunes; indeed - each alien race has essentially their own score (another cool idea). The sound effect routines are outstanding and very appropriate for ship sounds: engines, weapons, etc. - Engine sound uniquely well implemented... it really sounds like a Spindrive!
Okay, you sold me. Where can I find it? I just might have an extra copy right here I can sell you... check out the Hyperspeed: For Sale area on the More... page. Also, you might get lucky and "rarely" find a nice copy for sale on eBay. Actually, its NOT very easy to find Hyperspeed at all and it is still seriously protected from abandonware status by the current copyright holders (Infogames - now Atari) - so not offered for download here - Sorry.
Hey, I already have the game, but my installation disks are bad. Can you help me? Yes. If you are a true owner of the program and you have the original program manual, you can download a replacement copy here.
So, is there copyright protection? Yeah - perhaps another reason it is not up for download... it does have the typical - answer the question via manual lookup (i.e. finish the word on page 17, paragraph 4, line 2, word 1)... so the manual (or a complete copy of it is needed for gameplay). (At least it is not that terrible "Key Disk" routine MicroProse was using in the late 1980s - required you to keep the original installation disk in the drive each time you booted the game!)
What's not to like? You kind a need to run this thing on an older platform for maximum enjoyment... or mess around with DOSBOX or other virtual older PC emulation software.
I'm gon'na wait for Elite IV to come out... You could be dead before that happens... Frontier Elite II (FE2) was more than ten years ago now (Frontier First Encounters - just a gaffed version of FE2 a year or two later. - I can't wait to read the on-line manual for Frontier IV! Not.)
Okay what do I need to run Hyperspeed properly... Well, a 486 PC desktop machine - like a 486DX33 through 486DX4-100 makes a nice older PC software platform... (for a 486DX4-100: keep the thing flipped "out" of Turbo, and set with the BIOS on LOW speed at the boot -- this is what I am using and the game speed is perfect). Basically, a vintage machine PC of ISA or VESA motherboard nature with a 1 meg or greater VGA card running blessed DOS (6.22 is best) with a simple older ISA Soundblaster card (CT1320, CT1350s preferred). The game was mainly sold on 5.25 inch HD disks, so you will want a system that can handle that medium - meaning a nifty 5.25" HD Drive. Now, you can get such drives and complete working as above on eBay - often working perfectly... for next to nothing! Or, build your own from junk parts (not that difficult - really)... also on eBay or at your local computer repair store.
I still have more questions... For even more info. - also check out the Box, Ad, Review page for additional game play details as well as the 1992 review from Computer Gaming World on the product.
Thanks for all the information! Wow, thanks for reading this far down the page! You must really want Hyperspeed!

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