New App Lets You Watch, Taunt AR-Clad Friends You Race in Space

Beating your friends in video games is always fun. But it becomes even more satisfying when they can hear your taunts and you can see their disappointed faces. Add augmented reality (AR) face masks, spaceships and the need for speed, and you’ve got yourself a party. At least that’s the hope behind Hyperspeed, a free, new mobile gaming app.

Hyperspeed launched today for Android and iOS, The game lets you race through space against one of your real friends, who you can watch and talk to as you play. All the while you get to don an AR facemask called a "Gameface."

When my colleague and I played, I opted for the Ultraviolet Shades, pink cat-eye sunglasses, while he put on Cosmic Outlaw, which looks like a celestially colored motorcycle helmet. There's also Blue Steel, blue glasses filtering through futuristic graphics, and Catstronaut, ‘nuff said.

While you and a friend take turns racing through the cosmic racetrack, you earn points and upgrades, like the ability to slow your opponent’s progress. There are tricks like Inferno and Acid Spill, which obscure the opponent’s view with all-encompassing flames or green gloops, and Meteor Drop, a spaceship-killing move my colleague was particularly fond of. Win by either earning the highest score or by killing your opponent’s spaceship. 

In addition to random messages inexplicably hovering above the space-track, such as “BELIEVE” with a unicorn and “BE KIND” with a heart, what most impressed me were the game’s communication capabilities. I could clearly and easily hear my opponent talking through the app. But I bet being able to race simultaneously (instead of taking turns) would give players more to talk about. There’s also a messaging feature for when you’re not racing.

Hyperspeed’s livestream video of my opponent was also pretty clear, although, admittedly, I found it hard to keep an eye on my opponent’s face while also looking for opportunities to end his run with different attacks.

The game itself is fun and simple enough. And there’s reason to keep coming back with planets / racetracks to unlock. But since it’s a typical racing game, it’s not so exciting that I’d care to schedule a time to play with a friend. Luckily, you can also let Hyperspeed pair you with a player from around the globe.

More AR Mobile Games to Come

Hyperspeed comes from Teatime Games, Iceland-based maker of QuizUp, a mobile game that got a lot of attention in 2013. In May, the company secured $9 million in Series A funding. The game is the first of what Teatime hopes is a line of mobile apps centered on interactivity and social gameplay.

Gunnar Holmsteinn, co-founder & COO of Teatime, told Tom’s Hardware the company is already working with “a few” gaming studios, including in Iceland, Japan and Spain, and hopes to release its next game within the next few months.

"The studios we're working with range from small indie developers to one of the biggest in mobile games,” Holmsteinn said.

Teatime is betting big on multiplayer games with a social aspect and is looking to expand across genres.

"We believe that in five years, it will be outdated to play a game with someone you can't see, hear, or speak with,” Holmsteinn said.

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