The Legend of Microsoft Hover

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! :-D

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? :-P

The splash screen, shown at the top of the post, looks pretty cool, although the image quality isn’t the best (Figure).

After the splash screen is finished splashing — that is, after it goes away — the Quick Help dialog appears (Figure). After that, I’m ready to start (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).

Soon I spot one of my automatically-positioned red flags (Figure), but an enemy hovercraft (Figure) hones in and swoops it away. Darn.

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.

Level 2 is set in a busy-city setting (Figure). After that comes level 3, set in an enclosed aquatic-themed environment (Figure).

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.

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25 Comments

  1. Thanks for that article, I remember playing this for hours when I was a kid, brought back many memories. But I don’t see why you and everyone else on the internet is saying that the game was ‘hidden’ on the CD. I have just put in my Windows 95 CD from back then (First public release, German version). It has an autostart application, with five big, fat buttons, and one of them sais “Hover!” and directly starts the game. I don’t know if other releases of Windows 95 didn’t feature that menu or that button, but I didn’t ever look at Hover as being a hidden game.

  2. Daniel,

    In my version of Windows 95 at least, the Hover game was hidden inside the folder hierarchy of the CD-ROM. The only way you would know it’s there is if someone told you about it or if you stumbled across it while browsing through the folders on the CD. That’s what I mean by it being a “hidden game.” Interesting that it wasn’t that way on all Win95 versions though.

    Glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

  3. John

    I loved that game!!
    By the way it’s up for download at Microsoft’s Public FTP server
    ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/deskapps/games/public/AAS/Hover.exe
    And is luckly still supported in Vista!!!

    I think its interesting though that there is a Easter egg for the game to view the developer’s heads/faces that has been lost over time if you know how to do, Please post it on wikipedia!!!

    The article’s name is Hover! (with explanation mark:)

  4. I didnt know so many people knew about this game?
    Its awsome though!

  5. Lee

    There is a level, I believe Level 3 (described above as aquatic) that has a flag on top of a cover that for the life of me I cannot figure out how to reach. Anyone experience that? Sure curious how to get to it.

    • Jacob

      Yeah, I remember being stumped on that for the longest time until I finally realized what to do. You need to have at least one spring pod handy, and as you are approaching the floating platform, hit the jump button (A by default) to launch yourself upward and you can grab the flag.

      Unlike platforms in the other environments, these are just barely low enough for you to reach in a jump.

      I must say, though, I always wished that a red flag would appear up there once in a while and I could just laugh at the enemy drones.

  6. Jim

    use your spring to bounce up and get the flag.

  7. Gabriel

    Thanx´s Jhon!!! ^^ I want know this game!!! :D They are a legend!!! ;)

  8. Wow! What a great game! Thank you for the post and thank you John for the link.

    I played this game so much when I was 8 or so back on my Sony PCV-130.
    Now I just need to poke around that ftp for Chips Challenge… :)

  9. Pingback: Juegos rarunos de ayer y hoy: Hover! · Dandel

  10. Alex TACO

    Man!, i remember playing this game for hours when i was like 3 or 4. It’s nice to know that i wasn’t the only one who liked that game

  11. Henré Botha

    MS Hover! nva 4get

    That is all.

  12. I also spent hours playing. My kids still play it now. Were any additional levels ever released?

  13. zachary

    this game scares me i dont know why 0_0

  14. Piers Kittel

    You can still download the game from Microsoft:

    ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/deskapps/games/public/AAS/Hover.exe

  15. Karen

    I played this game on my Win 95, 98 XP Pro, Home and now on Win 7.
    Easy game to play and relaxing, strange but true.
    I can still access the .exe file on my 95 disc. I also found that it was amongst the folder hierarchy and not in plain sight.

  16. sathacker

    Runs perfectly on Linux under wine……. Oh they joy :)

  17. Wow, this brings back SO many memories… memories of when i used to play Tom Clancy’s Rainbox Six from 1997 then i would play this :D it was awesome

  18. It’d be GREAT if some wiz could write/program the game with more levels,..

  19. actually, that wouldn’t be that hard :D if someone could find a way to decompile it they could just insert new levels real easy… or if Microsoft had the balls to release the source code.

    • Kyle

      If you don’t think it’s hard why not give it a shot? I know squat when it comes to programming.

      • Indru

        He just said the source code is needed, you can’t just put them in the game like SNAP!. :) You need the source code to know how things work. I wonder if Microsoft still has it. :P

  20. You can download hover off Microsoft’s public FTP server: ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/deskapps/games/public/AAS/Hover.EXE

    Here’s the wikipedia page with the link at the bottom: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hover!

    Aparently it still plays on all windows operating systems released since Windows 95.

  21. Kyle

    Like the Sim City crowd somebody needs to mod their own levels so the levels can be expanded on this legendary hidden game.

  22. Kyle

    Microsoft. I demand you release the source code to Hover so people can expand the game so it will be preserved for eternity. :)

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