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Hyperkin Hyper Blaster Gun Review: The NES Zapper Meets VR

by David Jagneaux • December 14th, 2017
Platforms: HTC Vive
Positives

- Great, sturdy form factor
- Good controller design
- Excellent button and trigger response

Negatives

- Requires a Vive tracker to use
- Limited software support
- Lack of long-term usage

The peripheral market is a bizarre one. In the case of established platforms such as the handheld and console gaming markets you had things like light guns in the early days, plastic guitars, and even bongo drums. At one point in time there may have even been a lot of money to be made selling specially designed plastic peripherals that were created to work with only certain games, but after spending some time with the Hyperkin Hyper Blaster gun I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore.

Don’t get me wrong: the Hyperkin Hyper Blaster is a great little device. Once it’s all setup and good to go games like Duck Season, Operation Warcade, and Practisim all play great and feel even more immersive. Looking down at my hand between levels in Duck Season and seeing what resembles an NES Zapper and feeling the same gun in my real life hand was just fantastic. It really felt like being inside the game like never before.

The Hyperkin Hyper Blaster gun works by having you attach a Vive tracker to the top. In doing so the gun is tracked in VR just like one of your Vive wands. The trigger and other various buttons work just as you’d expect, creating a much more natural and tactile experience. Holding the grip of a gun and pulling the trigger back on something that’s designed to feel just like a gun is much more convincing than an awkward shaped wand.

Tracking with a Vive tracker is, as expected, flawless. I never had to worry about any drifting like you see on PSVR with the PS Aim controller and it always responded accurately. The technology from a functionality and features perspective is great, I’ve got no qualms with it at all. In fact, the games that do use the Hyper Blaster are certainly better because of it. Duck Season is the real standout among the bunch, but even Arizona Sunshine is experimenting with support right now and The American Dream will be as well.

But I just really, really wish the gun worked natively with the lighthouses and Vive headset without the need for a Vive tracker screwed on top. I get the requirement from a technical perspective and it makes sense, but it’s an unattractive and wonky solution. The gun feels a little top heavy with the puck on top of it and dramatically inflates the setup process — not to mention the hefty price tag.

Realistically a gun peripheral that only works with a handful of games shouldn’t cost a whole lot, you’d think. Unfortunately, the Hyper Blaster is the exception to that rule. You currently need to drop $150 to get your hands on one of these guns. Granted, the package also contains a Steam code for Duck Season and a Vive tracker, but that price point is just too high for most reasonable people.

Final Recommendation: Niche Status

I’m honestly not sure the VR peripheral market is going to be that appealing to most people. Given the presumably small market size of the HTC Vive specifically and the need to not only own specific games that support the gun but also the need to use it with a Vive tracker as well, there’s a tricky niche of a niche situation that likely isn’t sustainable. I don’t think I’d recommend the average, every day consumer to rush out and buy a Hyper Blaster, no matter how great it works and feels.

The two scenarios in which I think buying a Hyper Blaster makes sense are if 1) you want to use them in your VR arcade, or 2) you really want a Vive tracker in and of itself. In the latter case the gun is coming along cheaply since Trackers alone cost $100. But other than that, I just don’t see it. If you own an HTC Vive at home right now then you’ve already got the Vive wands and those are honestly good enough for most VR experiences.

You can purchase a Hyperkin Hyper Blaster with a copy of Duck Season and the required Vive tracker in a bundle on Amazon for $149. Let us know what you think down in the comments below!

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  • jarjarplinks

    It’s good to finally see a VR gun come to market and a shame that there’s such a negative view by the reviewer but I do get the apprehension. Other devs need to get on board and retroactively add support for this gun to gain interest. Just 2 games supporting this device won’t convince anybody. But this is a start at least, VR really needs a decent universal gun device. With so many gun titles I’m really surprised HTC hasn’t produced a official one.

    • I would agree with you if it didn’t require screwing on an external tracking puck. That isn’t the future, imo. Once that tech is embedded into peripherals or tracking systems can just recognize peripheral devices, then I’ll be more on board with the concept. I think that path, similar to the PS Aim, is more along the lines of where the industry should be headed. The trackers are neat and great for a lot of stuff, but I don’t think they’re very attractive as consumer products.

      • jarjarplinks

        I don’t mind the puck, it opens up the potential to save money by using the puck on other objects. But sure I’d still prefer a standardised gun device which is as easy to add to games as the wands so developers don’t need to put much effort into adopting.

        • G-man

          exactly, getting the tracker will save people money. to get this controller with the tracking tech inside it would cost the same, possibly even more. and the whole issue of money. it’s a £600 vr headset that was previously £800-900 with the head strap. who are these people who can’t afford a £150 controller and tracker who also already spent nearly a grand on a headset and probably over a grand on a pc?

      • Brian Brown

        “I think that path, similar to the PS Aim, is more along the lines of where the industry should be headed”

        I’ve noticed that you seem to say nothing negative about anything related to PSVR, in fact the opposite. I have both an HTC Vive and PSVR, and I just don’t agree with most of what you’ve said from my own experience. Especially that Skyrim on PSVR is better than Fallout 4 on the Vive. Credibility is crucial when reviewing VR hardware and software.

        • iUserProfile

          He states in the article that he had drifting issues with the Aim (which I haven’t). Other than that you may unconsiously reading selective to come to that conclusion. My selective impression im that this site shits on PSVR out of custom and without hesitation or reason – like in this article on the Aim as stated above.

  • Fred Johnson

    Article / Review question – Haptic Feedback.
    The gun stats makes reference to Haptic Feedback on the gun, but it doesn’t go much into details. The questions I have…

    1) What does the gun actually do besides being a gun?
    2) What is the haptic feedback? Are we talking just vibrations, or (in my dreams) something more on the lines of a Time Crisis arcade gun?
    3) How loud is the trigger?
    Are we talking like the old NES controller with the spring trigger, or is it quiet?

    To the rest of the article, I really believe this is the first consumer “proof of concept” for the Vive Tracker, and I think this is going to be a part of a greater VR experience in Vive(2).
    Just imaging warehouse VR experiences with 100 vive trackers and v2 lighthouses? **lol** Whole outside areas as recreations of L4D. 🙂

    The future is awesome!

    • 1) It has a trigger, grip buttons, and menu buttons. So once you attach the Vive Tracker it basically does what what the Vive wand does.
      2) Just vibration as far as I could tell.
      3) When I was in VR wearing my headphones I couldn’t hear the click, but it is definitely audible if you aren’t wearing headphones. There is a pretty good threshold to when it registers as a full click.

      • G-man

        didnt think to put any of these details in your “review” of the product? rather than just bitch about the price?

  • i sure wish it had more game support. i also wish amazon would ship it to hawaii. imo the tracker is $100 alone, the game $15 so the zapper is effectively $35.

    • koenshaku

      That is the same way I looked at it and the reason I purchased one, because I may get another tracker to use my legs in VR if there is enough support for them. I’d love to see a latin dance training game with them or something like that lol.