Super Hexagon Turns 10

🎶 And the reason is you. 🎶

Game designer Terry Cavanagh via this blog post:

So, hey! Today is the 10th anniversary of Super Hexagon’s original release. I know, I can barely believe it either. I don’t have any big plans today, sorry – but I wanted to mark the occasion here. <3

I still don’t really know how to think about Super Hexagon, sometimes. It was a game that just sort of came along, while I was working on something else, a game I very much made for myself, tuned to my own reflexes. I didn’t expect any kind of reaction to it, let alone the one it got. I would never have imagined that anyone would still be playing it 10 years on. I’m unbelievably proud of this thing.

I consider Super Hexagon to be one of my more formative game experiences, and without it I'm not sure I'd be writing blog posts like this or hosting podcast episodes about video games on a weekly basis. Even back in 2012 I remember its aesthetic directly changing my relationship with games and the kinds of works I wanted to create. Chipzel's unreal soundtrack inspired a track of my own as I started to experiment with creating chiptune music. Visually, the bold and geometric art style influenced my own design sensibilities. Even my brief foray into working on smaller indie game projects was in some ways brought about by the simple fact that I couldn't put Super Hexagon down, and I dreamed of creating something that would make others feel the same way.

In retrospect I can identify an eventual fan of FromSoftware's particular brand of masochistic game design through the lens of my score-chase-driven obsession with proving I can master a video game that uses a majority of its sparse copywriting to telegraph its own insurmountable difficulty. To this day I have a shockingly vivid memory¹ of finally surviving a run for one endless minute in the blistering "Hexagonest" difficulty level after weeks of attempts, a feat I just tried and failed to replicate while writing this.

And it’s a miracle I can try to beat "Hexagonest" at all in 2022 given the ways in which Apple has slowly eradicated the App Store's own legacy through forced deprecation and obsolescence over the years. That Terry consistently updates the game and ensures we as its players can continue to go cross-eyed in the pursuit of a seemingly impossible high score is a blessing, and one unfortunately not shared by many of the other apps I loved from that era.

So here's to you Super Hexagon. Happy tenth birthday.

Thank you for everything.

¹ I was waiting for a friend to return from the bathroom at a pub in our hometown, it was the middle of the afternoon and I had the day off from working at the movie theater where I spent most of my time. Because I spent most of my time there working doubles to chip away at my student loans, it also meant that's where I spent most of my time playing Super Hexagon. Waiting in the wings of the theater between showings for the last patrons to finish watching the credits (there's always at least one person who does this in every screening of every movie, no exceptions), I'd turn my phone's brightness all the way down and try my best to hit sixty seconds in Hexagonest. So imagine my surprise when it was in the brief moment a friend stepped away to use the john that I finally found victory, in between bites of burgers and musing about our futures.