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 Post subject: Habroxia (PlayStation 4 - PS Vita - Nintendo Switch)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:43 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 359
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Looks like reviewing PlayStation 4 indie shmups is just like in the XBOX: Untamed territories where you don't know what to expect. This is where newcomers to Sony's console are the "Frontiersmen" of some sorts, as they explore these unexpected games where you don't know what you'll find. It could be a good game like Resogun and Takotan: Hoshi no Tako or trash that wants your money for a few trophies.

Habroxia by Lillymo Games is one of those games.

Back to the basics.

To begin with, it gives you the option of selecting one of four modes, but two of them are locked until you reach a certain stage in Story Mode.

For a mode called "Story Mode", there's nothing that justifies the name. No plot, no lore, not even a briefing, nothing. Just the "Destroy All Enemy Ships" on almost every stage tossing your ship towards enemies as if it was a "Use your imagination" where you have to make your own plot. When I said "almost" in the stage objectives, I mean it 'cos sometimes it will switch to rescuing astronauts in stages 6 and 12 or a boss fight only stage. Level progression is different from your traiditonal shooters, 'cos you are not forced to navigate through the whole game like in Triggerheart Exelica, instead, you can select the stages you've unlock through stage progression like in Ginga Force.

You've got three shoot types.

SHOT 1: (Hold either L1 or L2) The basic full-frontal fire.
SHOT 2: (Hold either R1 or R2) Side shot that provides vertical fire in horizontal stages and lateral on vertical ones, It can fire a twin shot on a side depending on which side the ship's moving.
SHOT 3: (Hold both L1/L2 and R1/R2) The basic 3 Way Spread shot that provides a wide frontal attack.

The gameplay can best be described as a basic textbook shmup which relies on the very very basics of the early years of shooting. It was good to have a ship with hit points, but unlike some classic shmups like Phalanx, you only have one life and you'll have to start the selected stage all over again. A major complain that I have with this game is that the game sends you with 3 of 10 HP. An almost empty life gauge just like in Metroid and Run Saber. The ship's fire rate is somewhat slow, but semi-automatic as it fires 2 shots with a 1 second interval for the next firing. There's power ups that grant you stage-only advantages like the Rockets which adds a homing missile shot that fires automatically, Shields which are pods that rotate around your ship, the screen clearing bomb and a short ranged beam that acts as a lightsaber of some sorts, also, you have a dash function that increases your speed as long as you don't empty the booster gauge. Fortunately it refills itself if that happens.
What can be considered the most attractive feature of the game is the score multiplier. Any destroyed enemy adds 1 point to the multiplier, so the objective is to destroy all of them before they leave the screen. If they leave the screen or if you take a hit, the multiplier resets. Difficulty ranges from easy to average as we have stages that are easy to complete and sometimes they feel boring, especially some of the last stages due to their length. You will rarely have to pass from the offensive stance to a defensive one.

Switching to Vertical like in the good old Konami arcades.

Like Salamander, Habroxia relies on switching from horizontal to vertical scrolling during a stage, adding a little variety to an already dull and boring shootout. It is quite good to make the transition during a stage rather than have "one is vertical, next is horizontal". Not to mention, the ship animation during the scroll change is very solid and well made.

No stage is complete without a boss battle.

Some of the stages have a boss fight in the end, in some of those cases, they can be exploited to get multipliers, like the mines this boss shoots.

Peace sells...but who's buying?

Before progressing further in the game, let's talk about the Ship Upgrades screen. This is where you can buy upgrades for your ship like starting with 1 more hit point, increase the firepower of your ship and its fire rate, this means reduce the intervals between double shots of your semi-automatic blaster. Unlike most shmups, you can "downgrade" your ship by selling the upgrade and decide to buy something else or keep it and buy a better one. Starting with more energy is extremely useful to pick a boost in your overall results during boss-only stages, the only problem is that the store will only solve 90% of the life bar problem 'cos once the upgrading is maxed out, your starting amount of life will be 9/10 HP.

Boss Fight only stages. When the game needs to sum things up.

Although there's stages with boss fights at the end of them, there's Boss fight only levels in the game. These ones are useful for some credit grinding and practice multiplier exploitation in the case of Urd. Multiplier exploitation grants you higher chances of reaching 1st place in the results.

Save the spacemen.

Two of the stages will focus on one specific priority: Save the drifting astronauts. Although they're only 6 on each level, you have to be very, very careful when you rescue them, 'cos they are prone to friendly fire. Yeah, the poor little bastards can be killed by your own shots, including the auto-firing missiles.

You've wasted 1 hour of your life for nothing.
To quote Count: "So Wiseman died for nothing."

If the whole game lacked of a story to be called STORY Mode, the ending is no different, after defeating the final boss, the game will switch to vertical scrolling, making you think you'll face one more boss, but guess what?, it plays the credits. No ending, no epilogue, no nothing, just watch "Who was responsible for this" and get the "Thank you for playing" as your usual "A Winner is You!" cliché.

Invasion Mode is a survival mode that uses some of the game mechanics of Space Invaders, especially the "don't let the enemy reach the bottom of the screen", if one small ship reaches the bottom, the game ends. Unlike Story Mode you can't carry your upgrades and your firepower is the same as the initial configuration of the ship. Also, you can only move to the sides. This mode is unlocked by completing Level 5

Rescue Mode is another variation of the survival mode where the priority is to rescue Astronauts scattered in a never-ending stage. You only need to rescue 8 to get the "Crowded Ship" trophy. This mode is unlocked by completing Level 10.

Shield Maiden mode is the (indeed) Survival mode where the game decides to be a cruel prankster sending you with 1 HP, at the lowest power level possible and you have to survive as long as possible. You only need to survive 180 seconds to get the "Safety First" trophy. You'll unlock this mode after finishing all the 15 levels.

Graphically, this game is one of those "retro-inspired" shooters that aims to the nostalgia by using 16 bit graphics, which sometimes reminds me of both the Sega Genesis and the TurboGrafx-16 due to the color palettes used. This game is another of those shmups where the whole thing takes place on space, so don't expect to see bright skies or sunsets 'cos this game will only show black space with stars and a few planets. The only detail variety can be found in the surface of the "space station" where the stages take place.
For some reason, the game's horizontal stages have your ship in a "vertical" scroll kinda like a Tate mode of some sorts, I could say it reminds me of the Garm stage from Natsuki Chronicles, but it looks more like the atrocious Darius+ for the Amiga ¿Remember the abomination it was?.

I swear I've saw these buddies before.

There's always a room for shmup references on indie games, like this one. Those spinning enemies are very reminiscent of the Fans from Gradius.

I am the Eye in the sky looking at you, I can read your mind.
I am the maker of rules. Dealing with fools, I can cheat you blind, and I don't need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at yooooooouuuuuuu), I can read your mind (looking at yooooooouuuuuuu)...

To complete the shmup deja vu, Verdandi looks like a rip off of Lar from Aero Fighters 2, the big bad evil eye boss that deploys weapons out of nowhere.

As for the sound department, the music is basically your generic NES styled soundtrack, and when I say generic, I mean it since the music is quite boring and repetitive like if you're hearing a bad unlicensed puzzle game rather than the fast paced rhythms that you'd hear in shmups like Gradius or Thunderbirds. Some of the sounds are out of place, like the Castlevania-like "Humph!" you hear everytime your ship gets hit by a bullet.

- Tyr, Urd, Verdandi and Skuld are names of deities of Nordic mythology.
- The last three names are mostly famous in pop culture due to the anime Ah! My Goddess, where Verdandi was written as Belldandy.

Habroxia is basically a Trophy Milker that does nothing that give you trash gameplay in exchange of 31 trophies. I hate to call it a bad game 'cos at least it has a few good ideas like the Salamander-like scroll switching and the weapon system, but the truth is that the game is not worthy of your time or money. If you're urged for PS4 shmups, pick Dariusburst CS: Chronicle Saviors, Darius Cozmic Collection: Console, ACA Neogeo Aero Fighters 2 and Ginga Force. Just forget this stupid thing, even on discount is not worthy.

That's a Hell no, folks!

What we've learned here?: 31 quick PlayStation Trophies are not the Sun on its eyes that makes some of the game worth playing.

UPDATE 1 - 12 - 2020: Habroxia will be released on XBOX One.
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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