Microsoft is bringing its classic Hover! game back to life, on the web. The game combines bumper cars and capture the flag, and originally shipped on Windows 95 CDs in a special folder called fun stuff. Microsoft has worked with Dan Church, an independent developer, to bring Hover! to the web. It took around eight weeks to get it ready in time for the launch today, and Hover! fans will be able to play the PC classic in retro and modern modes.
"Dan actually approached Microsoft when he read about IE11 and WebGL," says Microsoft's senior director of IE marketing, Roger Capriotti, in an interview with The Verge. The partnership led to a new Hover! version built using the latest WebGL technologies, and it looks very different than the original game. However, the gameplay, physics engine, and original levels are all still in place so while there's a modern twist on a PC classic, it will feel all too familiar. Microsoft has also built in a new multiplayer option and touch support for its Hover! web version, allowing Internet Explorer 11 users on Windows 8.1 to make use of a touchscreen to play the game.
The most impressive part, at least for fans of the classic Hover! version, is that Microsoft has also built in a "secret" retro mode to activate a web version of Windows 95 complete with the original. If you visit the site and type bambi at the main screen, the original codename for the Windows 95 game release and a nod to an old Easter egg, it will activate the retro mode. While it's not a full version of Windows 95, you can also double click on share_fb.exe and tweet.exe from the desktop and Windows 95-style setup wizards will appear allowing you to share the site to Facebook and Twitter. It's all very retro and executed perfectly for those who remember using Windows 18 years ago.
For Microsoft, the project is mainly about reviving a classic game to showcase WebGL and IE11. "We build these experiences to showcase what the web can be," says Capriotti. While it's promoting Internet Explorer, the new Hover! web version will work with any browser that supports WebGL. Microsoft thinks the new site will highlight its work with WebGL, but also generate some nostalgia amongst fans. "There's over 10 unofficial versions of it [Hover!] floating around the web," says Capriotti, noting that it has a cult following. Hundreds of Hover! fans took to Reddit recently in a nostalgic thread to highlight the game. "There's a big fan base and we think folks are gonna share the game and talk about what the game was like in the '90s."