Developed By: Locomalito / Gryzor87 / Abylight
Published By: Abylight
Category: Arcade, Action, Multiplayer
Release Date: 11.15.18
Chase your dreams! They can come true! Just ask Locomalito, self-described “crazy man creating his own collection of classic-like games.” He’s been creating games for free on the PC for a few years now with friend and composer Gryzor87, including Hydorah and Maldita Castilla. They’ve recently collaborated on sequels to those games published through Abylight, including the subject of today’s review; Super Hydorah for the Nintendo Switch. They create the games they want to play, and it turns out, I want to play them, too. Or at least this one. It’s a tribute to old-school side-scrolling shooters like Gradius. I think the genre should be proud to welcome it.
Born Under the Omios Star
Meropticon is attac – you know what? The story isn’t really what we’re here for. I mean I don’t want to dump on the story, it’s fine and all, if a little generic. It’s just that if you’re picking up Super Hydorah, it’s because you want to shoot things. All you need to know is aliens are attacking. You’re an ace pilot. Shoot them down.
You Can’t Do A Barrel Roll
That’s pretty much the only thing I can say about Super Hydorah’s controls that I don’t like. It’s a 2D game so I’m not even sure how you could do a barrel roll, so it’s not even a legitimate complaint. The action doesn’t really stray too much from the formula of the aforementioned Gradius series. The screen slowly scrolls to the right, and you must maneuver your ship around the screen, dodging platforms and enemy fire while shooting the bad guys down in return. As you destroy enemies, they drop various types of power-up. Some dots build up either your primary or secondary weapons gauges; once those gauges fill, the corresponding weapons become stronger. Some power-ups provide additional speed for your ship, some surround your ship with a shield that can absorb one hit, and some provide extra uses for your special attack.
Loaded For Bear
Defeating a level’s boss unlocks a new weapon for use in future stages. You can change weapons in and out between missions, but not during them. This is generally not a big deal, but once in a while I tried out a weapon and it did not work with the level I was playing. For instance, one of the first weapons you unlock is a spread shot. When it powers up, it does not fire straight forward, only in six different angled shots. The boss fight of that level had narrow platforms in the boss area, so I had a really hard time hitting my target; I had to start the level over again with a new weapon. This problem is pretty rare; I really only came across it the once, but be warned that some weapons aren’t for every situation.
Super Hydorah has two different difficulty levels. The easy mode gives you three layers of shields so you can get hit three times before dying. Regular mode has no shields to start with; get hit once and you’re dead. Dying reduces your weapon power gauges slightly, as well as clearing out your speed bonuses and special weapons stock. I played on rookie mode for my playthrough; more accurately, I tried to play the regular mode and it kicked my ass thoroughly enough that I went back and started again on easy. Make no mistake; while the game is fun, it is also hard. Swarms of enemies with various attacks are hard enough to dodge, but the levels themselves are full of terrain hazards which you have to dodge, too. Staying away from bullets and baddies while squeezing through asteroids and returning fire of your own creates a hectic pace for the gameplay.
There are checkpoints throughout each level, and when you die, you respawn at a checkpoint. This might save time, but it actually kind of hurts you if you had any speed bonuses or special weapons uses because now there’s no way to get them back. If you have to replay a section, you can still recover the items you lost; but if you start in the middle of a level, all of the power-ups in the first section of the game are now denied to you. I guess the whole point of the game is not to get shot, but it does not forgive you if mess up.
Talk To Me, Goose
If the game gets too hard for you, just bring a friend! Super Hydorah allows for 2-player couch co-op in addition to its regular gameplay, and it might be even more fun that way. There is a bit of competition for the power-ups with another player, though, so play with someone who isn’t a jerk (me. Don’t play with me. I’m a power-up hog). There’s also a mini-game for two players called Robot Chase you can play. Both players have to work together to destroy robots and collect points; but points aren’t cumulative. It’s an interesting mix of co-operative and competitive play. It’s also not nearly as fun as the main game; still, it’s cool to include extra stuff like that in my book. Value added is nothing to complain about.
Advanced Starship Design
The full-on SNES style graphics of Super Hydorah are a joy to behold. I loved exploring each of the different levels of the game, marveling at the variety of enemies and the visual effects of various weapons. Sometimes I wished the game would slow down a little so I could appreciate the boss sprites a little better. The soundtrack, courtesy of Gryzor87, is a blistering hot chiptune score that accentuates the urgency of the action as well as you could possibly ask. The overall art direction of the game is a picture-perfect recreation of the SNES era; except it may be better, since it actually lives up to the quality promised by the nostalgia it invokes.
Super Hydorah has no touch or motion controls to worry about, so you can play it docked or undocked according to your preference. I didn’t think it looked appreciably better on the Switch’s screen than it did on my TV, so I really don’t have a preference in terms of the game’s visuals. If you have a Pro controller, however, I definitely recommend using that. Holding the trigger down on a Pro controller is a lot easier on the fingers than the Joycons, and you will need to hold that trigger a lot.
TL;DR: Excellent throwback shmup.