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 Post subject: Habroxia 2 (PS4 - XB1 - Series X|S - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:49 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 376
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Well, looks like they have consideration towards the gamer.

This is how this game starts, just hope Lillymo Games have really learned their lesson and put that on practice. I really hate when a developer makes trash while they promise and addicting and challenging experience.
Y'know, my line of thought when it comes to shmup reviews it's like Stratovarius said in the song "Burn Me Down": I won't eat the lies they're trying to feed me.
So, anyway. Time to review Habroxia 2.

A brief introduction to the world of Habroxia.

Now it has a plot? Well, its good to see they've bothered to included a storyline, something that I've criticized in the first game which had a deceptively called "Story Mode". This time they've addressed that flaw and despite being quite short, it provides with some basics of the universe of the Habroxia series.

This game wants to talk a little. Good to know.

As soon as we hit the Tutorial, we will notice there's text dialogues, adding a little more of plot to the overall aspects of the game and mostly the game's new mechanics, and lemme tell ya, they've remade the game from scratch this time.

Looks like we're gonna have another "Oruriba-to-Kyokkuho" tour again.

Like in the CS Mode of Dariusburst CS: Chronicle Saviours, the game takes place on a map which splits on different paths as we take different routes throughout the stage we're playing. Like in Dariusburst CS, there's paths that lead to dead ends without having an ending and there's only one true route which gives you the ending, in this game, there's four dead ends (better dead ends than bad endings). Like in the previous Habroxia, you can revisit any level you've cleared to get more money, rescue astronauts and get the bounty kill you've missed.

There's plenty of activities on each stage.

With a brief description of what's ahead on the stage, the game gives you a list of lost astronauts, bounty enemies to kill and the total of bosses in the stage. All the stages have 1 lost astronaut and 1 bounty kill, only the bosses are the exception as some stages will feature 2 bosses.

Select Weapon Array.

Once you've selected the stage, you'll be granted the option of selecting both Front-facing and Rear-facing special weapons of your ship. What was once your default main weapons now they've become special ones. Better than that, you can select if you want bombs, homing missiles, lasers or a short ranged sword attack, the former sub-weapons of the first game are now included in the list.

Habroxia is back in style and vastly improved.

Time to talk about the gameplay. While the concept of horizontal-vertical scroll switching in the style of Salamander is still retained in the game, the weaponry was heavily improved. Starting off with your main weapon, a straight shot which utilizes the Right Analog stick, granting a 360° aiming, making it a perfect weapon as it adresses both air and ground and is effective for any direction. Like I've said before, the former frontal and rear weapons are now the special weapons which can be fired and they have to reload before you can use them again, acting more as sub-weapons.
Another feature included is the Boost Attack, which is the Dash-kill attack of the game, as you can use it to avoid damages as a provisional force field, break through destructible walls faster than using the regular shots and what's better, ram and destroy your enemies, even bosses. It also speeds the level scrolling while it is used, making it a sort of speed-running tool for those who want to complete the game fast.

Time to go vertical, and this game is action packed.

The combo system was also improved. While in the first game, missing an enemy meant the resetting of the counter, this time you can keep the combo count if an enemy escapes, but if you take a hit it will reset.
There's also secondary weapons that are both defensive and offensive, the defensive ones are the Bubble Shield, which is the force field that protects your ship from enemy attacks and the Orbital Shield that grants you a pair of pods that go down with one shot kinda like the Rolling Shield from Gradius III. The offensive weaponry is the Laser which is more like the Sword Over Weapon beam that inflicts heavy damages and kills the small enemies in sight, and the Bomb which is the screen clearing bomb attack.

There was a prize for that guy?, That was an unexpected surprise.

During your gameplay, there's other activities along with the enemy shootout. Hidden on each stage there's a Bounty enemy that you can kill, While the Bounty Kill adds points and completes the list of things to do in a stage, they're also part of the achievement/trophy unlocking as killing your first bounty unlocks "Obstacle 1" and killing all of them unlocks "The Hunter". The same can be said for the Astronaut rescuing across the stages. While you can save all of them, you can revisit the stages and kill them. Fortunately, the rescued astronaut is saved on the list and he'll not be deleted if he dies. Also, saving/killing astronauts unlocks achievements/trophies too.

Getting all the achievements/trophies are once again quite easy, yet fun to get, as it requires to unlock all the routes with their respective bosses, rescuing astronauts, killing them, killing all the Bounty enemies and finishing the game. In total, 40 XBOX Achievements and 41 PlayStation 4 Trophies waiting to be claimed, so if you're a new PS4 shmupper, these will come in handy.

How to execute Stage Branching on a shmup #1: The basic splitting path.

Remember the route thing?, The game has its ways to split the flight path, and the "take the upper or lower route" is the first of them. For instance, taking the upper route will send you to fight Sif and unlocks Stage 2A, while the lower route leads to Thor and Stage 2B. This basic stage splitting is used twice in the whole game.

How to execute Stage Branching on a shmup #2: Destructible Obstacles.

The most common method used in the game will be the hidden destructible rocks in pure Super Metroid style. This will require to fire your main weapon to the boulders in order to unlock those hidden paths and unlock new areas.

Boss Fight, the required feature of any shooter. ¿What would be a game without them?

At the end of each stage, you'll be facing a boss. Depending on which route you've chose, the boss will vary. Along with the traditional end-of-stage boss encounter, there's four dead-end levels which are boss only levels. To increase the variety, you'll be revisiting old enemies along with the new ones.

The Megadeth Principle: Peace sells, but who's buying?

The Ship Upgrade screen is back with the buy and sell upgrades like before, and it now covers the efficiency of not just your main shots, but also the power of your Special weapons, the reduced consumption of the Boost gauge and the shield efficiency of both Bubble and Orbital Shields. What's best, you can enter the store at anytime by visiting the space station on the map, making it more available than just clearing or failing a stage.


That's it?, "A Winner is You" like in first one? This gotta some kind of sick joke, they've bothered to add some plot to the game and they've just threw all away with that?
Well, there's "more" after that crappy screen.

It's just a ball of dust underneath my feet.
It rolls around the sun, it doesn't mean that much to me.
Take a chance on the edge of life just like all the rest.
I look inside and dig it out 'cos theres no points for second best!

Yes, looks like they did it again. Just the staff roll and the thanks for playing. At least they've bothered to add a small "Pick the Staff-tronauts" minigame. But it's kinda disappointing to realize how they've indeed threw all the plot away when they came up with the "No ending required" stuff, but the game has one surprise after the credits.

To quote Count: "So Wiseman died for nothing".

That's right, the epilogue is after the credits, and unfortunately, is not a happy one. After all the troubles, it's kinda sad to learn that Sabrina didn't saved her father.
After the battle comes to an end, we've unlocked three more zones. One of them is New Game+ which will reset the map so you can play in a more harder variant of the stages, You can return to the regular game if you want to replay the original stages making this a back-and-forth option.

It's an All-Out Boss Fight.

Boss Rush Mode is the second unlockable mode, and like its name says, it is a fight after fight against the bosses of the game, even with the New Game+ ones. It is highly recommended to fully upgrade your ship and special weapons to reach the Rank S.

We're going ballistic, Mav. Go get him!

Boost Rush Mode is the third unlockable of the game. This one is a race throughout a long stage using the Boost, the only way to die here is if you crash with the walls or the ground. This requires to know what is Boost-destructible and what's not.

Is Habroxia 3 on the way?, Looks like it.

Finishing the game in New Game+ adds an extended ending that reveals there's a new and greater enemy being fought by the aliens, also hinting a Habroxia 3. Well, I hope Lillymo Games bring a third entry 'cos this one was already a great game for all the reasons mentioned throughout this review. Don't let us down, dudes.

This is what the Hard ending of Ginga Force should be.
Learn from that, Qute and Yukino Umesato!

Like in the Angeraze series of doujin shmups, the game's true ending adds a little extra by showing Sabrina relaxing on the beach. Looks like someone decided to put some slight fanservice which works quite well with the anime style this game is aiming to. When I said this is what the Hard ending of Ginga Force should be, I mean it. 'Cos reading and hearing Nina saying the same thing Margaret and Alex told us feels kinda repetitive, almost like a kindergarten choral recitation. Not to mention the "Though I plan on continuing down this path, that's a story for another day. Well then, until the day we've meet again!" feels like what the Angry Video Game Nerd said about The Karate Kid: "It's like coming out of a brutal fight, being the winner, but achieving nothing for all your troubles but some bloody bruises and broken bones".

Graphically, while the game is advertised as an 8-bit graphic shooter, the sprite art is more on the 8-16 bit transitional phase in the style of the PC Engine shooters like Soldier Blade and the MSX shooter Aleste 2, and indeed it feels like if Compile did this game as we have these multi-layered scrolling stages that add a sense of depth to the scenery just like Zanac A.I. and Super Aleste/Space Megaforce, making the whole game look not just more detailed, but also more alive and fast paced.
Something that the first game didn't mentioned was the character style used, as if the game pulled the "You are the pilot" or like Super R-Type said "R-9 Pilot: Performed by you!". For Habroxia 2, the game not just reveals the pilot and her father, but also it reveals the style used which is the anime style, which is always well received in any gaming community. The re-use of the bosses from the first game makes the whole game to feel like a more complete version of the original Habroxia rather than a sequel.

It's Konami Nostalgia!

Looks like Habroxia 2 nods Gradius not just in one of the enemies, but also in the stages, like this one that evokes the fourth level of Gradius II/Vulcan Venture, and there's a song in the game that sounds like it came out of Gradius.

A very familiar reference for oldschoolers.

That's how I can describe Sabrina's hand holding her father's dog tags, since it reminds me of that scene from Top Gun where Maverick holds Viper's dog tag before throwing it to the sea near the end of the movie and of course the opening scene of Axelay and the family pendant in the nameless pilot's hand.

The sound department this time really improved as the 8-bit tunes are more Famicom-based rather than NES-like as they feature more "instruments" on the soundtrack and the percussion used in the game feels like in between the sound drivers of NES Tecmo and Konami's games since we have stages that have a Ninja Gaiden style and some Gradius inspired tracks that put some upbeat action to the overall game. The game also included NES-styled rendered voice samples for the power up items (Orbital!, Shield!, Laser!).

This was an entertaining game and a great return for a game that had a lame start. Yet there's still some aspects you've might still criticize. A somewhat lackluster ending? Yeah, Possible Gamerscore/Throphy Milker?, Could be, but at least those 40 achievements were much fun to get and more challenging than the Project Starship series and what's better: The gameplay is far more complete and greatly enhanced than the first game. Habroxia 2 feels more like "What Habroxia was originally meant to be" rather than a sequel as if the first game was a demo or an incomplete prototype. It's another example of how a developer can learn and improve much further on its work bringing a more complete game as a result. If Lillymo Games has Habroxia 3 in mind, they only need to improve the plot element just a little further to have a great story packed shmup while keeping the gameplay mechanics of this game.
In conclusion, this game is a nice acquisition to the shmup collection on any console.

Looks like Lillymo Games have redeem themselves. Great Work and hope we can see Habroxia 3 one of these days.

The "Lea Scale" is on its best today.
If Lea likes this game, I'm sure you'll like this game too.
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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