There hasn't been a worthwhile indie shoot 'em up for a while but that's about to change. Super Hydorah will bring you back to a time when pure skill is all you needed to master a game so let's get ready to shoot!
Super Hydorah's developer (Locomalito) crafted the fantastic Ghosts 'n Goblins inspired gem Maldita Castilla EX: Cursed Castile and now they're taking on a retro shoot 'em up. Upon booting it up, everything from the sound to the font immediately reminded me of Gradius. Although the in-game ship certainly looks like Vic Viper, the gameplay is thankfully original. Basically, you hold a button to shoot an array of both regular shots and bombs and tap another button to unleash a special blast if you happen to have one in stock. The power-ups consist of green and pink collectibles that upgrade your primary and secondary weapons as well as speed upgrades and shields. However, if you ever bite the dust then some of your collected power-ups will disappear so be careful out there! Overall, the gameplay is handled perfectly to create an addictive and satisfying dynamic that's sure to delight genre fans and retro gaming enthusiasts in general.
Super Hydorah simply looks awesome. The 2D visuals are spot-on for a retro shoot 'em up and watching your ship roll up and down as it flies throughout each distinct stage is delightful. Considering there are plenty of levels, the world of Super Hydorah never gets old or repetitive. Additionally, the audio is superb with plenty of arcade-style tunes that make the gameplay feel all the more authentic and satisfying sound effects that add a layer of immersion to every onscreen occurrence. It looks and sounds so great that I'm excited to see what Locomalito will come up with next. They truly are masters of creating classic game experiences in a modern age.
If you're tired of shooting solo, Super Hydorah can thankfully be played cooperatively with a friend. I found doing so to be a ton of fun but the continue system kind of perplexed me. Whereas most shoot 'em ups allow a player to rejoin immediately after perishing, you have to wait either for your buddy to crash or for them to collect a cross power-up that will revive you. On top of this, if you're out of lives then you have to push start to continue but a lot of the time, we didn't realise that we had a game over because the difference between being dead and having a game over is so slight that you have to actually read what's in the corner of the screen. It may seem trivial but this overly convoluted system caused a lot of confusion while I played with a pal.
Thankfully, there's an added mini-game known as Robot Chase where you play as a father and son robot who try to destroy "Jellies" with a laser link that connects between the two bots. It's fun stuff and could be a downloadable game on its own.
Finally, if you're the kind of gamer who gets easily frustrated then Super Hydorah is not a game for you. Considering I'm a huge fan of the genre with decades of shoot 'em up experience and I regularly got pissed off playing this, you can trust that it's an extremely tough game. Sure, the first couple of stages are a breeze but then the difficulty gets turned up to eleven. In fact, many moments frankly feel unfair. Having to weave through an onslaught of projectiles and enemies within tight spaces is a regular event. Also, there are a few surprises such as enemies that unexpectedly shoot up from the floor. Therefore, you'll have to memorize a lot of these stages before you can finish them. Seeing as there is no difficulty option whatsoever, non-hardcore gamers need not apply.
Simply put, Super Hydorah is a must-buy game if you're a hardcore retro shoot 'em up fan. That being said, it certainly lacks wide appeal due to its insanely high difficulty so if you don't fit that description then it's sure to frustrate.
- + Addictive, challenging, and rewarding classic shoot 'em up gameplay
- + Spot-on visuals and fantastic audio
- + Local co-op and mini-game are fun
- - Extremely high level of challenge with no difficulty option
- - Confusing co-op continue system
- - Unfair moments require memorization