This week, it's finally time to get hands-on with the action-figure-shooter game Hypercharge Unboxed on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, with the game releasing across all three platforms this Friday.

Ahead of launch, we had a chance to speak with Joe Henson (Creative Gameplay & Marketing Director for Hypercharge Unboxed) about the team's journey bringing the game to Xbox over the past few years. You may have seen some snippets from this over the past few days here at Pure Xbox, but now we're publishing the full interview.

So, here's the entire chat in which we talk Xbox, Halo and a whole lot more!

Pure Xbox: Hello! First off, could you introduce yourself and your role on the Hypercharge Unboxed team?

Joe Henson: Hello! I'm Joe Henson, a game designer, and the marketing guy at Digital Cybercherries. I'm also the Creative Gameplay and Marketing Director! Being part of a small indie team of six means we all wear a lot of hats and juggle different roles, which honestly, makes every day pretty exciting and super rewarding!

Pure Xbox: In a nutshell, what is Hypercharge Unboxed and why do you think Xbox fans should be excited for it?

Joe Henson: In simple terms, Hypercharge is both a first and third-person action figure shooter game where you battle against waves of weaponized toys. But it's so much more than that - it's a labour of love designed to stir up nostalgia.

Why should Xbox fans be excited? Hypercharge is a throwback to the golden age of action shooters, where gameplay was just… simple! Forget about complicated manoeuvres like tactical slide cancelling - here, it's all about the basics: jump, double jump, and shoot! It’s incredibly easy to pick up, making it perfect for gamers of all levels.

Plus, with its full split-screen support, Hypercharge offers a unique opportunity for adults to revisit the cherished memories of their own playtimes, and at the same time, create new, happy moments with their children. It’s an invitation to share the magic of your childhood with the next generation, all while enjoying a game that feels both familiar and excitingly new.

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Pure Xbox: Where did the inspiration come from for this game, and when did you first decide to turn the idea into a reality?

Joe Henson: That's a great question! We drew inspiration from various sources - both games and films. Some of our favourites are classics like Toy Story, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Toy Commander, Sarge's Heroes, and even Halo. It's amazing how many childhood films and games can ignite your imagination. But one film stood out as our primary inspiration: Small Soldiers.

Back in 2015, our team was just getting off the ground. We decided to meet up in Edinburgh, Scotland, to brainstorm in person and discuss what kind of games we wanted to create. We rented a meeting room, equipped with whiteboards and a TV, ready to let our ideas flow. Over some good laughs and pizza, we ended up reminiscing about 'rat maps' from Counter-Strike 1.6, which led to a chat about action figures, and eventually, to Small Soldiers. We couldn't help ourselves - we put the movie on and were instantly captivated, just like when we were kids. By the time the credits rolled, we knew we had to make a game where you play as action figures!

Pure Xbox: The game has been on Switch and PC for a few years now - how has it evolved since then?

Joe Henson: The game has really come a long way! Since its release on Switch and PC, we've rolled out 13 major content updates (all free) - plus a bunch of smaller ones. We've shaped the game by closely listening to our players and incorporating their feedback. Fun fact: Hypercharge didn't even start with a third-person camera mode or player bots. Adding those features, especially the bots, was a huge technical challenge. Most of our updates were sparked by what our community wanted; without their input, the game wouldn't be the hidden gem it is today!

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Pure Xbox: What are the different ways to play in Hypercharge (campaign, split-screen, online, etc?)

Joe Henson: Hypercharge offers loads of ways to dive in and have fun! (Takes deep breath!) - You can tackle a wave-based story campaign either solo with player bot teammates or with up to four players in co-op. This mode is available both offline and online. If you're into sharing the screen, we've got split-screen options for local and online play too.

For those who love a good classic PvP action, we have several versus modes. You can go head-to-head in Deathmatch, team up in Team Deathmatch, strategise in Capture the Battery, reign supreme in King of the Hill, or survive the onslaught in Infection. Like the campaign, these modes are playable both offline with bots and online, and yes, split-screen works here too!

We also have some fun yet small local party modes. These are all about battling it out as controllable classic toys from a top-down perspective - super fun and chill. There’s also a Free Roam mode that emphasises platforming and exploration over combat, so you can enjoy the scenery without constant battles.

And hey, for a blast from the past, we've included cheat codes that can switch up the gameplay in exciting ways. I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff, but that should give you a good taste of what’s in store!

Pure Xbox: There's been a lot of hype around the Xbox release for years now - what was the development process like, and how have you found working with the Series X and Series S?

Joe Henson: Oh boy, the journey to bring Hypercharge to the Xbox Series X and S (and Xbox One!) has been quite the ride! It’s been both exciting and challenging. Working with this hardware was awesome because it allowed us to push our game's visuals and performance further than before, especially compared to our Switch release. The Series X, with its powerful specs, let us ramp up the details and effects, making everything look super crisp.

The Series S, while not as beefy, was still a cool challenge to optimise for, ensuring we delivered a great experience without compromising the fun. We wanted to make sure that regardless of which console you're playing on, the game would run smoothly and look fantastic.

Throughout the process, we learned a ton about what these consoles could handle and how to make the most of their capabilities. It's been a lot of trial and error, but seeing our game come to life on these platforms has been totally worth it. The hype from players has been incredibly encouraging, and it really motivated us to keep pushing forward!

Pure Xbox: Can you share what the exact performance specs are for Series X and Series S (Resolution, FPS)?

Joe Henson: It’s difficult for me to give the exact specs, so please don’t quote me word for word! But here’s a rough breakdown: The Xbox Series X generally runs in dynamic 2160p (4K), while the Xbox Series S usually hovers around 1728p but can potentially hit 2160p as well. The Xbox One X operates at 1080p, and the Xbox One S typically runs at around 972p, though it might reach 1080p on occasion. Across all these platforms, our target is always to hit 60fps.

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Pure Xbox: You've spoken a lot about your desire to put Hypercharge on Xbox - why were you so eager to bring the game to Microsoft's consoles?

Joe Henson: A big part of our excitement boils down to a couple of things: First off, we got our Xbox dev kits pretty early on (shoutout to Microsoft for the speedy delivery!). Plus, Halo had a huge influence on Hypercharge, especially when it comes to the movement mechanics. Xbox is basically the console of our childhood, you know? It’s also worth mentioning that we're planning to launch Hypercharge on PlayStation 4 and 5, hopefully by the end of this year - though I can't promise anything just yet!

Pure Xbox: What's the reaction been like from Team Xbox? Anyone in particular that's helped you along the way? Have you heard what Phil Spencer or Sarah Bond thinks of the game?

Joe Henson: The response has been incredible! I’m really grateful to everyone at Xbox who's helped us get Hypercharge onto the platform - they're some of the kindest people around! A huge shout out to Sarah Bond, too. She’s genuinely wonderful. During a tough time for me in 2022, she reached out with some really wise words that I'll always remember. We haven't heard from Phil Spencer yet, but hopefully, he'll give our game a shot once it launches, haha!

Pure Xbox: Finally, is there anything else you like to tell Xbox fans ahead of Hypercharge Unboxed's launch on May 31st?

Joe Henson: Absolutely! A huge thanks to everyone who's believed in us and stood by our side throughout this wild journey. It's truly been an incredible adventure getting to this point, and we couldn't have done it without our amazing fans. Also, get ready to be hit with a wave of nostalgia when you play Hypercharge - it really takes you back to the roots of action shooters. We just hope it brings a big smile to everyone's face who plays it!

We'd like to extend a huge thanks to Joe for chatting with us! Hypercharge Unboxed launches for Xbox consoles on May 31st, 2024, and it's available to pre-order right now on the Xbox Store for £22.49 / $24.99.