Probably few of you know that Windows 95 came with an entertaining 3D hovercar “capture-the-flag” game. It was called, appropriately, “Hover!” In the game you drive your hovercraft around (named, not surprisingly, the “Hover 950″) and try to capture the AI’s flags while guarding your own flags from the AI.
Hover was not installed with Windows 95 by default, but rather was buried on the Windows 95 CD-ROM. Much like Microsoft’s Backup program is buried in the Windows XP Home Edition CD-ROM.
Thankfully, at the time when our family had our Windows 95 computer, I had enough computer knowledge to take the program off of the CD-ROM and save it. I don’t even remember how, when, or why; so long ago it was (5+ years ago). I’m just glad I did, considering our Windows 95 CD has long since been lost.
Hover has been passed down our lineage of computers and I still have a playable copy today (Figure). It appears I’m really lucky to have a copy; I did a Google search and it looks like there are a lot of people that want one. (No, I’m not going to give a copy to anyone that wants one. The game was included with Windows 95, so I don’t think that it would be legal for me to distribute a game that was included with a commercial operating system. If you own a Windows 95 CD, do a search for “hover.exe” to find it. If you don’t, you can buy a CD on eBay for under $10; make sure it’s not an upgrade CD.)
I find it very amazing that this game works on both Windows 95 and XP, and probably all operating systems in between. So that means I can still play it!
Anyway, enough with the fond memories. Let’s play the game!
When I first start the game, it gives me a nice warning — complete with a Windows XP exclamation icon — that my 16-million-color display just won’t cut it. I need 256 colors (Figure). Yawn. Couldn’t those Microsoft people just have used the >= operator instead of == when they were programming?
The splash screen, shown at the top of the post, looks pretty cool, although the image quality isn’t the best (Figure).
Naturally, I start out at level 1, with mountains rising above a maze that looks as if it were set in the Medieval period (Figure). Although the mountains look quite pretty, to tell you the truth I didn’t even notice the mountains until I started taking screenshots for this post.
Level 1 is complete with stairs (Figure) and platforms (Figure). There are special squares that you can run over (Figure), some of them good and some of them bad. There are also floating bubbles (don’t know what else to call them) (Figure), that when run into, can do one of several different things: temporarily speed up or slow down your hovercraft, temporarily remove any effects that special squares have on you, or give you a special tool: a wall (a temporarily-existing wall that can be used to block enemies), a spring (used for bouncing, of course), or a cloak (makes your hovercraft temporarily invisible).
I moved on to level 2. Though I didn’t take the time to finish level 1. I used Hover’s “Start At” dialog box (Figure) to jump ahead.
When you get to level 4, it’s the same medieval-themed maze from level 1 (Figure). And the levels keep cycling through the environments, unless you set the “maze type” setting to “random” instead of “sequential” in the “Customize Game” dialog box (Figure).
I checked the default high scores list (Figure) to see if there were any special names in the list. Nope, no “Bill Gates” entry in sight.
However, I found something else that was very interesting and rather amusing. The “About Hover!” dialog, accessed by clicking “About Hover!” on the Help menu, says that Hover is part of Windows XP! (Figure) Hover obviously utilizes the same “About” dialogs that other Windows utilities did (in 95) and still do (in XP).
Still on the topic of “About Hover,” I also took a screenshot of the “Version” tab in the Properties dialog for the hover.exe file (Figure) .
The Help menu (Figure) gives a slew of options. However, the Help Topics dialog doesn’t have a lot of documentation, though it has a fair amount (Figure). And the “How to Use Help” (read: “Help on Using Help”), which I would assume would help me to use the help system, opens help documentation in the help system! (Figure) Not very helpful. No sir.
Hover is a cool game, with graphics that were certainly exceptional for its time, but I’ve been thinking: Why did Microsoft hide Hover on the Windows 95 disk? And why did Microsoft not include Hover in any future Windows versions?
Hmm… the unsolved mysteries in the Legend of Microsoft Hover.