Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review Super Hydorah

Somewhere, there's a universe where R-Type and Raiden came to the Vita in arcade perfect form, and I'm a happy gamer. But stuck in this reality, Super Hydorah makes a welcome appearance for fans of retro shooters. It can easily sit alongside the likes of Sine Mora, Soldner, Sky Force and many others as a challenging, high-quality, blast.

Be warned though, Super Hydorah is hard, very hard. And even with unlimited continues, and a range of lasers, bombs and missiles at your disposal, you'll (if you're as bad as me) be hitting the same brick wall enemies again and again and again, until you get that lucky break or master the boss. But in the levels that I have played, this is superb fun, with deeply-detailed little pixel ships and spot-on sound effects and gorgeous detailing on each level.

Visually, we have pure-pixel fun here with no forced or pseudo-3D, and a scanline mode to make it look even more retro, if you like that kind of thing. Super Hydorah starts off at the Outer Wall of the enemy empire, with that typical Nemesis-style first couple of waves. We then roll into a series of caves, with asteroids to dodge and secret routes to find. There's some height to the level, so you can race up and down to find cover, or blast the most dangerous enemies first.

A few plays of the early levels and you learn where to go and how to fight. The early bosses aren't too bad, but take a little effort to dodge their fire patterns and keep an aim on the vulnerable spots. New weapons are awarded as you progress and power-ups confer shields, stronger lasers and other goodies.

As you progress, multiple routes through the game open up, but, like I said, its tough. Most ground enemies track you relentlessly while the flying ones stick to fixed patterns, making it easy to prioritise, as long as you can dodge their combined fire.

Into Cyclades, a human outpost where you lose points if you hit friendly installations. While there are plenty of power-ups around, there's also bats and even the local greenery and aquatic life taking pot-shots at you, adding subtle new dimensions to the battle. In total, there are 21 levels divided into 35 sublevels, with bosses for each and over 100 enemy types to discover and beat.

All of that is fine, but being sent back to the start of the sub-level, again and again, gets pretty depressing after a while. And using the continues sends you back to the start of the whole level, which is probably too much punishment for what's otherwise a fine game. If you do finish the level you get a rating and can replay them to find hidden extra lives, or secrets.

So, you need to be super-good or super-lucky to get very far into the game, and judging by the trophy distribution, few players are really seeing the best the game has to offer. Some sort of tourist mode in an update might be a good idea.

Footage of the further levels shows wondrous alien worlds, crystal asteroid belts and giant space fleets, all with further imaginative enemies and local wildlife, all to the spacey tunes of Gryzor87's excellent soundtrack. 

There's also a bonus game Robot Chase, for those times when you're really stuck and need to de-stress. Here, you twin-stick control a pair of space robots, linked by a laser rope, if they're close enough. This can cut up the floating enemies, so you need to move each one independently to create waves of destruction, or just dodge long enough to survive, great fun and a welcome bonus.

Score: 8/10
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Price: £15.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Locomalito/Abylight
File size 186MB
Progress: Skutter of death

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