HACK9 by wahiko is a relatively old Cave Story inspired platformer that is more difficult than it should be. I liked the basic gameplay and the variety of music, but grinding shouldn’t be a core requirement for getting through a Metroidvania. Additionally, there is so much Japanese dialogue in the game that it’s easy for players of other first languages to not know what to do next.
For months it sat ignored on my hard drive after I gave up on exploring the game’s world, since I couldn’t unlock any areas beyond the default availability. However, one dedicated player (nintendofan100) made a video walkthrough, with aid of some helpful comments on the Indiegames.com Blog post on HACK9, which has made the game much more accessible and has allowed me to appreciate the game more.
The video at the top, however, isn’t part of the walkthrough linked before but was chosen to present how confusing the game’s language and design barriers can be and because it contains the game’s audio (unlike the walkthrough).
In the walkthrough, the videos and the details described in the info sections are full of all the routes, secrets, and specifics on rare drops you need to get through the game. But here’s a tip for for those who want to play the game without viewing the walkthrough: sell the knife you start with to the merchant standing in the corridor beneath your saving/healing room to buy the knife that is listed under the P99 gun for 60 Yen, since it will boost your close range attack up to 2.
As for the controls, jump and select with ‘Z’, shoot and cancel with ‘X’, ‘A’ brings up the inventory menu, and ‘Q’ cycles the weapons. The down key allows you to interact with doors, computers, NPCs, etc…
The more recent HACKER9 is a spiritual sequel to the first game from which it borrows a lot: much of the first enemy level is the same. But there are also many drastically different additions: new rooms and areas, a quest system, new enemies and items, and Box2D has been integrated to provide some physics. It has a new selection of diverse BGM from Piano DauGe (Google Translation), and the spaceship base has been replace with a ground base. However, you must still grind.
I’m clueless about what to do next after exploring every obvious path available early on in the game, and deaths can be a pain: your inventory is dropped where you die, so dying on spikes means you’ll never get it back. However, I welcome you to get further than me.
So far, I’ve gotten a mysterious key, finished a couple of quests, and unlocked this: