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 Post subject: Super Hydorah (XBOX One - PS4 - PSVita - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:55 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 352
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Revvin' up your engine. Listen to her howlin' roar.
Metal under tension, begging you to touch and go...

Time to review one of the games that I have in my XBOX One, and this one is as enraging as Darius Twin.
I'm talking Super Hydorah, the enhanced version of the PC shmup Hydorah.

Classic Gradius-styled Shootout!

Super Hydorah is an horizontal scrolled shooter that borrows elements from Konami's shooters, mostly from Gradius III, Gradius Gaiden and Lifeforce, starting off with the enemy formations, the "Space first, then surface" level segments, along with the use of multi-screen sized areas in most of the stages. However, the Power up system is more of a traditional shooter such as Darius, where constantly picking the same color will upgrade the ship's strength. At first you'll only be able to power up your shots. This is helpful because you're gonna need to be fully powered up for the next level because you'll have to power up your Sub-Weapon. Like in the Megaman games, you'll get Sub-Weapons and Weapons after defeating a boss.
Powering up your ship work like this: Green tokens power up your shots, while the Red ones provides a boost to your Sub-Weapon. Once they're fully powered up, you'll get 100 points after picking any color. Like in some modern shooters, you're capable of use a Bomb-like Special Weapon, this one is obtained by picking a circle with a thunder bolt, you can carry a maximum of 3 Special Weapons. The Blue item with an arrow is the Speed Up item, Like the Special Weapon, you can pick three of them, and finally there's the Purple "S" that grants you a Shield which looks like the Arm from Darius rather than the Force Field of the Gradius series. Unlike the Special Weapon or the Speed Up, you can only pick one, getting any of the Special Items once they're maxed out they grants you 500 points. Scattered across the levels are Hearts that grants you an Extra Ship, these ones are very useful if you want to increase the room for error in this game.

Zone A is over, Now rush in the Zone of your preference!
Be on your guard.

Like in Darius, specially Super Nova / Darius Force, you can select where do you want to go, but unlike the Darius series, you can go back to a previous unvisited stage, this is good if you want to defeat a boss with a better weapon like the Laser instead of the Rail Gun or Spread. Also, this is where you can save your progress as long as you don't die and let the countdown drop to zero. Remember this isn't The Legend of Zelda to pull a "Got Game Over, i'll return to where i left off later".

Pick from an array of deadly weapons at your disposal and create your very own weapon combinations!

After selecting your stage, you're given the option of select your Weapon, Sub-Weapon and Special Weapon. This is where the game goes tactical as each stage might require to use a certain weapon instead of picking "Your favorite one".

Dodge the bullet, don't get hit... [Crashes] *in Captain Maroon's voice* ¡¡KISAMAAAAAAAAAA!!

Dying is one of the main problems that i have with Super Hydorah, the annoying R-Type "Die-and-go back" thing that makes things more frustrating than they should be, and i say more frustrating because sometimes you're sent back at the beginning of the level. At least your weapon power levels are not dropped all the way down to zero, so you can recover for the counterattack. Also, this is one of those shmups where Life 1 is the 0 of the game, so if you lose that life you'll be on the continue screen. A good idea to stay alive for a little longer would be to have a shield, but guess what? Locomalito, in his "eternal wisdom" decided to make the shield a "one hit and it's gone" barrier. This is what you can call "Useless Defense" So, anyone would think having a brittle shield like this doesn't help much when your force field is as strong as a 90 year old grandma's bones in a football match, but having a shield or not is the difference between progressing a while and clear the stage or getting killed, get Game Over and end up yelling "KISAMAAAAA!!" (Damn you) like Captain Maroon from Natsuki Chronicles while throwing the controller in anger rants.
The best strategy would be to play the game in 2 Player Mode since it is a simultaneous game and that removes the start back if you die thing.

Lose your score and rank or lose the game. Your choice.

If dying and being pushed back wasn't already a hassle, continuing only sinks the knife deeper, because it will reset your hard earned score and rank as if you were a simple n00b. An arbitrary punishment like this only makes you think it was more, much more convenient to let the timer ran out and start all over again.
Gunnery SGT: From now on, your callsign is "The n00bM@STER". ¿Do you like that name?

Oh, thanks, Obi-Wan Hydorobi. Next time tell us something useful like "I'm gonna order some pizzas, ¿How do you want'em guys?".

Everytime you get Game Over, the game will give you a hint of some sorts to help you in your next gameplay like "Observe the enemy movements and you will have a great advantage" or "Into a fierce battle, keep your mind calm and clear" (Easier say than done), but if i have to complain about this, i'd criticize Locomalito's idea of making the Game Over screen unskippable. You'll have to wait like 20 seconds or so until the Game Over fanfare ends and finally sends you to the Top Fighters screen and intro sequence if you're ranked out.

So, anyway. Here's the list of quotes:
- An ancient light can reveal more than one secret...
- Believe in yourself, you have the skills to beat Hydorah
- Don't despair, you can learn from every play
- Every beaten level is a victory, be proud of yourself
- Fight fire with fire, show no mercy!
- Into a fierce battle, keep your mind calm and clear
- Make your own strategy, select the appropriate route and equipment
- Observe the enemy movements and you will have a great advantage
- Patience is the key to find one of the secrets
- There are certain techniques to kill a boss quickly
- There are three possible endings: The Good, The Bad and The Glorious
- You can avoid enemy fire using landscape elements

At least some of the hints have a meaning, let me guide you in those: "An ancient light" refers to the "Light" Special Weapon which is required to be equipped in the Black Gate stage. "Make your own strategy" works in Red Eden, equipping the Twin Bomb is a required Sub-Weapon there. "Certain Techniques" like throwing a Missile against a boss weakpoint, that inflicts devastating damage, and combined with the standard weapon and bomb it's powerful enough to end a battle quickly. As for the "Possible endings" one, it works like this. The bad ending is only playing the required levels to reach Hydorah and defeat it, this unlocks the "Bad Ending". So, how do you unlock the Good and Glorious endings? Well, keep reading 'cos i'm gonna explain this.

That's not gonna work for a boiled egg dish if you ask me.

Those red eggs are Hydorah seeds. To reach the Good and Glorious endings you have to destroy all of them and complete all of the stages. To unlock the "Good Ending" you only have to clear all the stages and at least continue once, while the Glorious Ending can only be reached if you don't use continues. This is where a pilot's patience for idiocy reaches the limit, specially since the last level is a plethora of screwed situations tough enough to claim all your extra lives if you don't know what you're doing until you're down, making completing Triggerheart Exelica in Hard without dying look tame.

"In case some of you are wondering who the best is, they're up here on this plaque on the wall."
- Mike "Viper" Metcalf (Top Gun)

Like an old school shooter, you're given the chance of saving your personal score in rankings, so if you gave up on trying to finish the game, at least you can get some comfort of realizing you had a good score and ranking before going down.

Gradius Gaiden-esque, don't you think?

Graphics are the best part of Super Hydorah, as they are very reminiscent of old Konami's acrade and PlayStation games like Vulcan Venture, Gradius III and even Gradius Gaiden as some scenes are holding a reminiscence of said games, specially the ice stage that reminds me A LOT of Gradius Gaiden. Also, the ship looks vaguely similar to Lord British and it uses a lot of Mode 7-like sprite scaling at the point of feeling like a lost game from Konami rather than a fan game.

A very familiar ceiling.

The game isn't just homaging Gradius and Lifeforce, the stage Besieged Moon is very reminiscent of Zone F from Darius Gaiden as you fly upside down as the surface is the ceiling of the stage.

Texts so overpixelated you can't read them? Only in Super Hydorah.

One curious issue is the overpixelated text during the dialogue. Instead of using the font used on the score and ranking initials, the game uses a "cursive" font in the style of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but the problem is that the text looks overpixelated and is almost unreadable in some times.

The music is another point in favor of this game as it homages not just the Gradius III-onwards era, but also covers the hard rocking style of Thunder Force IV and also ventures in orchestration in the final stage so you have action and heavy pounding music that goes along with the space combat or the space serenity calm that follows the exploration of watery caverns.

There's voice acting in this game, and it sounds very cheesy, specially the colonel and the pilot. The female operator voice sounds like a Loquendo as it has a slight lifeless feel when she says "Unit 87 Take off".

- In the title screen, the announcer only says "Hydorah" since the game is just an update of the original Hydorah.
- The game's attract mode only has the intro, title screen and Top Fighters screens that loop forever, lacking of a demo play.
- Turriwall is a reference to the Line bomb from Turrican.
- Another Turrican reference can be found in one of the final stages of the game where the boss is a robotic hand.
- The Glorious Ending post credits scene features the Galaga ship, the Vic Viper (Gradius), the R-9A Arrowhead (R-Type), Turrican and a Silver Hawk (Darius) along with a brief fanfare based on their games.

In conclusion, we're with a game that homages the classic Konami arcade era, while i applaud the combination of elements from Gradius, Darius and even Thunder Force in gameplay, graphics and music, the difficulty levels of this game reaches degrees that only veteran Gradius players and R-Typers will enjoy.
So, if you can't withstand the concept of being pushed back after dying, then this is not gonna be the game for you.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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