Side scrolling space shooters are nothing new. In fact, they’ve been around for decades with little change. Super Hydorah is another one to add to the genre’s list and if I’m being honest, it delivers an experience that we’ve all seen before. But is it still worth a little play?
Well if you’re a fan of the tough difficulty that the majority of games set in this genre deliver, then I’d have to say yes. But to the everyday casual gamer? I’m not too sure.
Super Hydorah tells the usual story too. When an evil force launches an invasion over the Omios star, it falls to one man to face the universe, planet by planet. That man would be you; the most skilled and deadly pilot in the entire galaxy and you’ll need to bring your A-game to the table should you wish to rid each planet of the evil Meroptians, a race of bio-mechanical creatures set on a ruthless crusade of conquest.
Like I say then, something which we’ve seen in various forms a million times over.
And it doesn’t stop there either as Super Hydorah also sees you manning a little ship before progressing in a left to right fashion with all guns blazing. With an initial front facing weapon all you really need to rid the universe of evil, you may begin to think that this scroller is going to be done in just a few short hours. But the quick, and steep, ramp up in difficulty ensures that death will rear its head multiple times.
Thankfully an infinite number of continues sees Super Hydorah take pity on its challengers, giving all fans the chance to partake many times over. Should you lose a life then all is not lost as it’s simple enough, and quick enough, to get back into the action. But even then, if you’re anything like me, you may still struggle to ever make it through certain sections or ever see its conclusion.
Good reactions and quick fingers are the keys to your success and I have to admit that both of those qualities left me a good couple of decades ago. That in turn means that, for the most part, I’ve been left in nothing but a world of side scrolling pain.
Even the addition of weapon upgrades, secondary weapons and super powerful add ons have failed to allow me to enjoy Super Hydorah as much as I should. You see, without upgrades your little ship is just a little too slow to respond and that puts a huge amount of importance on your collecting abilities.
Whilst not every enemy drops collectables, those which do should be sought out and embraced. Green floating orbs increase the firepower of your primary weapon, whilst the red equivalent sorts your secondary destroyer. Hearts do the usual trick and increase your life expectancy, and the odd super powerful pickups will see increases to your speed and special weapons, with a shield also available. Should you have the pleasure of a local companion who is up for a bit of alien destroying then you’ll also find the opportunity to revive teammates who have gone down in battle.
I can’t fault the developers at Abylight or Locomalito one bit in terms of the enemy factions. With a huge variety of foes being drip fed in as you progress through the levels, even though Super Hydorah requires nothing but a constant hold of the trigger, you’ll still need to think about the best course of action in order to get past the waves ahead.
Unfortunately, whilst the toughness incorporated into the standard stages is just about bearable, the end of stage bosses that frequent the game very much border on the unfair. Again, things are considerably easier with a few ship upgrades, but should you struggle to get through things on your first life, will be left to try and defeat hardcore opponents without the help of weapon upgrades. When you’ve already found yourself struggling first time round, you’ll understand the problems it brings when Super Hydorah leaves you with the same boss, but less powerful weaponry.
Aside from the single player campaign that has caused me to delve into a mind-eating chasm, there is the opportunity to take on the Meroptians of Super Hydorah with a local multiplayer mate alongside you. This obviously makes things a little easier, especially if you can work out how to best fiddle the continues and lives system in order for one of you to always be in play. But even then, Super Hydorah is a tough ask and you will never find yourself flying through things with ease.
It has to be said that it’s a much more enjoyable experience with a friend tagging along and I’ve had some great moments of joy interspersed through the madness. In fact, the euphoria at the destruction and subsequent open path that led past a couple of end of stage bosses whilst teamed up with a local friend may well stick with me for the rest of my gaming days.
Whether you reach the end of Super Hydorah this century or not matters little, for there is also a nifty little Robot Chase mode included and this lets two players enjoy even more fun.
Doing away with the usual scrolling game mechanic, you and a partner will need to head on out to collect jellies – strangely. These turn to points and are your primary goal. In order to grab them though, you’ll need to work together as a team, creating a laser link between you and gobbling up the floating gems. Move too far apart, and you’ll collect nothing, but work in tandem, increasing your personal best scores sees a decent amount of fun had. It may seem like this Robot Chase mode is a tacked on extra – in a way that’s exactly what it is – and being honest, it’s strange to see, but at the same time it’s all good fun and lets you get away from the manic tendencies of the campaign, if only for five minutes.
So the big question boils down to whether you should buy Super Hydorah or not. Well, it’s quite a simple one really – if you like this genre and don’t mind a big challenge then you should be buying it in a heartbeat. You see, at the end of the day, it does the job intended of it without any massive issues, the 21 stages will see you busy for some time, the weapon upgrades are something interesting to go for and the retro soundtrack is more than acceptable and suitably placed. But, and this is a huge but, if you aren’t a hardcore shooting fan then the difficulty curve might just mean it’s best for you to stay away.
Super Hydorah is sold on the premise that it is a challenging opponent. I have no issues with that – but you need to be sure this is a game for you before you drop that all-important cash!