Super Hydorah (PC,Switch) Review

Click here to view the Super Hydorah (PC, Switch) description page for guides, screenshots, and more information.

Review by Cowboy Yojimbo (March 2019)

   Super Hydorah is an old school, horizontal shoot-em-up, made in the vein of classics like Gradius and R-Type, and is one of the finest the genre has to offer. Developers Locomalito and Gryzor87 last impressed me with their love letter to Ghouls and Ghosts, Cursed Castilla, a game that I very vocally praised and swore at from time to time. They now return channelling a different beast. The days of yesteryear were ripe with shoot-em-ups, coming out of the quarter eating arcade days. There is a whole generation of gamers with fond memories of the genre. Sitting with their siblings or cousins, returning for countless sessions, practicing and practicing, and cursing your co-op partner’s blunder. In the instructions, the creator of Super Hydorah mentions that is one of the games of his dreams and he hopes you enjoy it. This is what you receive, your childhood dream space shoot-em-up, filled with everything the genre can offer and refined beautifully. An act of nostalgic time travel.

   The set-up is this: an evil bio-mechanical force known as the Meroptians have invaded the sector of Omios Star. You, the most skilled and deadly pilot of the fleet must pilot your Delta Lance through the solar system and stop the menace. It’s a journey that will take you through a variety of planets, each with their own natural hazards and indigenous life forms, along with the invading Meroptian fleet. There are twenty-one incredibly varied levels with thirty-five bosses. They will take you through the middle of a war in space, a living tree with hostile flora, icy caverns with falling debris, a mining facility with hazardous machinery, the inside of a organism with a dutiful immune system, and the turbulent winds of a hostile desert planet, among others. Whatever your sci-fi or shoot-em-up taste is, you will find it somewhere.

   At the end of the level, you are rewarded with a new weapon, sub-weapon, or special to equip to your Delta Lance, including rapid fire, spread shots, object piercing waves, homing missiles, projectile guarding escorts, bouncing mines, and more allowing you to equip your own load-out tailored to your style or the level. Enemies drop upgrade power for your speed, primary weapon or sub-weapon as well as a special. Death will result in losing a shot of your special and some strength from your weapons. It’s a punishment that keeps up the tension and rewards skill and patience. Branching paths in the level selection allows you to skip levels you are struggling with and return with a more helpful and suitable weapon at your disposal. The right combination can make all the difference. Players that return to the game multiple times will start to find an ideal order to the mission selection, and there is a lot to return for. The game totes three different endings, a ranking system based on score, and a hidden secret collectible in every location. Thorough exploration and completion will grant you a better ending, and doing so without using a continue will carry an extra reward.

   The game can be tackled solo or co-op, with a separate save file for each. Co-op feels balanced as you and your partner must split the power-ups between you, and losing them in death will result in weaker ships. Snagging a revive means taking it over a power-up. It’s a perfect set-up for team work or classic bickering. Our close bonds were forged in the fires of old co-op gaming after all and it’s in full glory here. Super Hydorah, like the classics that inspired it, rewards practice and knowledge. I found myself enjoying the game more and more with each play through. Learning the best load-out for each mission allowed me to rack up more upgrades, which are saved to a weapon even if I switch for another level. Staying powerful meant more lives, and a larger score. It’s all very rewarding and retro.

   Retro is the aesthetic of Super Hydorah. It’s a return to the Arcade and Super Nintendo days, and achieves the style with incredible accuracy down to the enemy design, the colors and those classic SNES explosions. Locomalito develops his games with the limitations of that era in mind to create something that feels authentic in gameplay and presentation. There is even the option to throw on CRT scan lines, which I highly, highly recommend. The soundtrack by Gryzor87 is retro-futuristic, using real synthesizer models and is astounding in its variety and spectrum of mood. There are over sixty tracks that transport the player to an era both forward and backwards in time.

Super Hydorah takes everything that was great from every old shoot-em-up, and polishes it into a package that feels new and retro at the same time. Whether you are a fan of the genre, or looking to start, Super Hydorah is an excellent choice and sits with the best of the genre, hands down.

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