Hydorah

By: Derek Yu

On: June 4th, 2010

Hydorah

Hydorah is here! If you’ve been following the game’s development, I think that’s all you need to hear. It’s great – go download it.

If you’ve never heard of Locomalito, they’re a Spanish indie game crew that has a very well-defined philosophy of creating freeware games that try to redefine arcade gaming for today. Their influences are very clear. In Hydorah’s case, it’s a horizontal shoot ’em up that, at first glance, seems most inspired by Konami’s 1985 arcade hit Gradius.

Aside from some superficial similarities, however, Hydorah is actually fairly different. The game employs three types of weapons: primary, secondary, and “bomb”. The primary and secondary weapons can be upgraded by separate power-ups (red and green). However, a red power-up will turn into green and back if you leave it, giving you some choice about how you want to upgrade. Bomb weapons (yellow) and speed power-ups (blue) are similarly flipped during the game. There’s one other power-up, a purple shield that allows you to take one hit.

Hydorah has 16 levels, but since there are branching paths you needn’t play every one to complete the game. The levels vary in size, from one segment to three or more. Each segment is short but challenging, and ends with a big boss battle. At the end of each level you’re rewarded with a new weapon, either primary, secondary, or bomb, which you can select at the beginning of the next level. There’s some strategy to the weapons that you pick, although they generally seem to get better as you progress. I haven’t collected all the weapons, but it seems like pretty standard fair (wide shot, laser, missiles, etc.).

One of Hydorah’s biggest innovations is its save system. Now, having a save system at all is pretty unique for a shoot ’em up, and might be a turn-off for arcade purists (especially since highscore is also saved), but in my opinion it works pretty well in practice, and is much preferable to having even limited continues. In Hydorah you start with just three saves, and there’s only one save slot. This limited save system forces you to get pretty good at the game but gives you some choice about how you practice. While it may not necessarily redefine the arcade genre, I think it’s a step in the right direction, and a nice concession to more casual players who want to see the game.

The graphics and music are fantastic. Gryzor87’s soundtrack, in particular, deserves mention, especially since it never loops – each track was composed specifically to last as long as the segment of the level it’s played over. The levels themselves are extremely varied, and take you from deep space to planetary surfaces to underground caves, each with a unique backdrops, enemies, and bosses. Some levels even have unique weather that affect your movement. If I have one complaint, it’s that a technical issue with the game causes the graphics to be a bit blurry on my computer (there are some suggestions on how to fix this in the readme, but they didn’t work perfectly).

Hydorah comes highly recommended. It’s a challenging game with an incredible amount of polish and enough new content and features to make it stand-out from the old games it’s based on. Between this and 8-bit Killer Locomalito is definitely a developer to watch. Can’t wait to see what comes out of them next.

TIGdb: Entry for Hydorah

  • rinkuhero

    ya, just how many people missed that it was sarcasm (or called him pseudointellectual after realizing it was sarcasm, and, feeling dumb for missing it, were psychologically forced to call him pretending to be smart) was the funniest thing on the frontpage in a while

  • rinkuhero

    although it also actually reminds me of how, when i first posted an earlier game of mine (alphasix) on the game maker community forums, people complained that it was 17 megabytes — SEVENTEEN. and demanded that i create a version without music and voice acting so they could download it.

  • Hidden

    This game would be fun if there was a way to control your speed. Like, a slow down button like in most bullet hell shmups. As is, the game stops being fun the second you pick up too many of the speed powerups. Once you get going too fast there's now way to make fine adjustments to your position, which makes grabbing the powerups that are close to the walls, or dodging bullets that are close together almost impossible.

    A save system that actually made sense would be nice too.

  • rinkuhero

    i agree with this partially. indie shmups have advanced the shmup genre far beyond what the mainstream shmups did in the 80s, adding lots of important innovations, but this game seems to be intentionally ignoring those advancements in favor of making it feel like an 80s shmup rather than a modern shmup, so even though in isolation the feature sounds great to add, adding it may have taken away from the retro nostalgia they were going for.

  • Wenis Martin

    Also the bastion of pseudohumor.

  • Wenis Martin

    Wow you really analyze the crap out of aggregate frontpage interactions…scary impressive. Any charts for us mister?

  • rinkuhero

    post whatever you want about me if that makes you feel good about yourself, i don't care and that comes with the territory of being an editor, just try not to attack other commenters, thanks

  • Dodger

    I actually agree with the idea of being able to slow down your ship or having the ability to select variable speeds e.g. Einhander. However, the 3 saves idea is actually pretty smart. First of all, this shmup is pretty large, even by todays standards. There are branching paths and 16 levels in total. Classic shmups would give you the option of continuing (usually an unlimited amount of times in the arcade – depending on how many quarters you had left) while pc and eventually console shmups slowly geared towards having limited continues. From my recollection, this was done on purpose to:

    A) add longevity to what would normally be a short game (there were always cheat codes – but they're for the weak) ;-)

    B) forced the player to become better at the game learning the patterns and methodology behind enemies in order to rack up higher scores and gain bigger bonuses which included increasing weapon strength and power-ups while trying to maintain those power-ups.

    C) Dying late in the game always made it more difficult to proceed any further, which sometimes forced people to start over from the beginning. I admit, that probably doesn't exactly seem fair, but it was all part of the game and forcing the player to get better at it.

    Some of the most memorable shmups would fall just shy of being very difficult to master while also giving players the ability to recognize that they are getting better ever time (or every few times) they attempt to play and get farther. I think life force did this very well even though it was one of the easier shooters (in the series) it was also very apparent (to me) that I kept getting better and better as I learned the level layout and patterns of the enemies and bosses all while understanding which weapons worked best where and when – with that said, you could never have too many “options”. :-) That last statement is purely based on personal opinion, but it could be applied to any classic shooter that someone was very fond of and required persistence in order to become better at it.

    So perhaps there is a slightly better way to implement a save game system without ruining the difficulty or learning process.

    Looking back at it all this game is very tame in many ways but I believe that's part of its appeal and that nostalgic feelings only adds to the memory of those classics even though this title is very much a game of it's own. I think it's a great achievement to have such a full featured shmup that is also a freeware indie game. The adjustable speed feature would be a welcome addition, but I don't think there is very much else that needs to be changed. It's a memorable title and experience as part of this classic genre.

  • http://jamesgecko.com/ James

    This is pretty amazing. Very high quality all around. Much improved from the demo that was released a while back.

    The only complaint I've got is the boss on the insect level. It enters very quickly from the *back* of the screen, where your ship is. There's no warning and previous bosses have entered from the front of the screen. This means that the first time you get to that boss with your snazzy, powered up ship, you're going to die. Sure it's easy to avoid on subsequent attempts, but getting instantly crushed by something you had no way of knowing about feels like a cheap shot in an otherwise very polished game.

  • judgespear

    is this game still a euroshmup trying to act like it's an oldschool gradius game? the demo shown on tigsource a while back was pretty much was that. i can't stand euroshmups.

  • judgespear

    nevermind, it's actually a lot better now. it *almost* actually feels like an actual konami j-shmup now. though I can't help but to laugh at the fake japanese accents and Engrish thrown in, they are trying way too hard to be j.

  • Jotaf

    THIS IS BOSS. Enough said!!

  • bradf

    WAIT. The bastion of sarcasm which is part of the fortification of irony which are both part of the larger bastion of pseudointelligence. Or would that be a kingdom of pseudointelligence…? And now there is the bastion of pseudohumor? Is the bastion of pseudohumor part of the fortification of irony, thus putting on the same level of the bastion of sarcasm?

    I am not sure what you are getting at….

    !

    Oh you FIEND! You're just confusing me with your high degree of intelligence. I see what you are up to, you devil! Much like how a cat plays with a doomed rat giving the rat a false sense of hope before finally killing it with its claws of inevitability, you seek to bamboozle and confound a hopeless moron such as myself with an impressive array of architectural metaphors, before shaming me in front of the Community of Indie Gamers and exposing me as the idiot I am, hopelessly (and naively) trying to speak as if I was on the same level as upstanding Intellectuals such as yourself.
    OH, what a fool I have been!!

  • Wenis Martin

    If you're worried about my comments shaming you don't worry! You're doing well enough for yourself already!

  • Wenis Martin

    Ok…so it's apparently ok if someone posts a tired sarcastic remark that adds nothing to the discussion? Nice double standard there! Thanks. (at least I have the courtesy to spend some capitalization here and there, mr. EDITOR)

  • bradf

    Although it is clearly a homage, it is worth playing and a very very fun game in its own right! If you are a Gradius or Thunderforce fan, you should enjoy this.

    @judgespear
    I'm not sure if their trying to put on a Japanese accent, but I suspect it is due to the voice actors not being native English speakers.

  • Wenis Martin

    But at the same time think about this possibility: someone else out there manages to avoid this boss on the first try, and feels SUPER good about themselves.

    I think that's what balances this out.

  • bradf

    You are delightful!

    In order to avoid further confusion I will rephrase what you wrote:

    WENIS MARTIN ENTERS LEFT

    WENIS MARTIN: You are worried about me constructing a bastion of shame for you? HA!HA! Fear not! For you are merely expanding your fortress of irony by building a bastion of shame on your own volition! And futhermore – you are making a fine job of it!

    HE SLOSHES WINE ONTO THE DEFEATED FORM OF BRADF

    BRADF: Alas! All this time I thought Sir Wenis was constructing me a bastion of shame before the Esteemed Community of TIGSource, he was merely humoring me! It was I that was constructing my own bastion of shame, as he watched my efforts with detatched amusement! Damn my humble origins! I thought I could converse with the gentry upon equal terms, how deluded I was! OH! How I curse the day I was born a fool!

    BRADF COLLAPSES IN DESPAIR

  • DalaranJ

    Eh, 4 out of 5, should have included a reference to phenomenon 32.

  • cpt.justice

    What is wrong with you people?
    This is a fucking masterpiece right there. A rare gem.

    I boot it up, and the whole vibe about – the intro, the title screen, the menu, the music and the first level – it all sends chills down my spine, and i go like “fuck yeah!” in an instant – i know i'm in for a treat!

    It's that good.

    Only peasants with lowly dial-up connections can complain about the dl size of measly 80 megs (it takes no more than a minute to download this for normal people)

  • Robert

    That's not Engrish, the developers are Spanish and the voices are in Spanish-accented English.

  • http://jamesgecko.com/ James

    Is it really worth randomly killing everyone else though? It only affects players who've never seen the boss before; the people most likely to not have a lot of lives.

  • Ninomojo

    It's 2010. I'll download anything any size, especially if it's free and made with love, and I won't bitch about it.

  • SirNiko

    This is a pretty amazing game. Everyone's already touched on the good stuff, the music, the graphics, the variety of stages…

    But I gotta say, the way the cutscenes and voice acting are slipped into the game is absolutely top notch. Short, short scenes with pretty graphics and short sound clips, you're not left feeling like you downloaded a movie with some game attached. You have absolutely the perfect amount. Enough to be fun and exciting without getting in the way. I've probably started half a dozen new games now, and I watch the intro scenes every time because they're sexy without being so bloated to make me want to get them out of the way.

    Absolutely perfect on that, guys!

    -SirNiko

  • http://www.bywombats.com Ryan Szrama

    Brilliant. Thanks for writing it up!

  • rz.

    Hahahahah, bradf is fucking amazing. +333338938383 internets

  • judgespear

    pay close attention to the launch sequence, right after it jumps to the level. then again you probably don't even understand what it's blatantly referencing so I'm not going to bother explaining.

  • Handsome Smug

    Oh shit I didn't get the sarcasm, better make something up…

    Errr…

    PSUEDOINTELLIGENCE

    Yeah, that'll throw em off.

  • http://mjr-blayne.livejournal.com Ilya Chentsov

    So this IS Game Maker after all. I started suspecting it after the ridiculously long load time. Stuttering music made me sure.

  • PhasmaFelis

    Man, that save system is genius. It lets you practice a tricky level as necessary without letting you just brute-force your way through on unlimited continues. Removes the boredom without removing the challenge. Perfect.

    My only two complaints have to do with the low-res (unscaled) mode. It ought to display in 2x 640×480 instead of 320×240, to improve compatibility; and it ought to remember settings between sessions.

    Other than that, love it. :)

  • Jonathan

    “Ok…so it's apparently ok if someone posts a tired sarcastic remark that adds nothing to the discussion?”

    Beautiful, just beautiful. I think I love you.

  • Levi

    I don't get the problem, do you people still use dial-up or something? When 1.5 terabytes costs around a hundred bucks, and everyone on the face of the planet has broadband (or at LEAST DSL), it isn't an issue. Even on 1Mbps DSL it'll download overnight.

  • Flash Gordon

    By the way, it was painfully obvious that bradf was being sarcastic.

    Just sayin', yo.

  • Flash Gordon

    Also this game is fantastic.

  • Optrirominiluikus

    Yeah, I like. My only gripe so far is that the ship's hitbox is too big. Or maybe it's just that I suck at not hitting the damn walls all the time. Or platforms. You know, the brownish things that the yellow cannons walk on. The ground? BACKground… nah, the background's in the background.
    Anyway, I suck at not hitting it. Crashing, that is. Yes, much better.

  • Dodger

    I completely agree with the save feature. I love it.

    As for mapping the pause button to the gamepad, it actually does work on my gamepad. I didn't really even have to configure it. I'm using a Saitek gamepad and it appears to be mapped to button 8. Quite convenient actually, although a way to configure which button is the pause button (including all other buttons) would be great for other people. I got lucky though, the layout is perfect. :-)

  • Vattic

    I fixed the problem :D, ran it in compatibility mode XP sp3 and as an admin and it works flawlessly so far, music and all :D.

  • snooz

    I really want to be able to say that I'm ASTONISHED that so many people thought BradF was being serious. But this is the internet, and being incapable of recognizing sarcasm seems to be the status quo! Y'all are in painful need of reading comprehension lessons. :C

    As for this game: I downloaded it just for the music.

  • Beau

    Awesome game, but I remain under the impression that world 2 is harder than the next 3 of them. The boss at the end of world 2 is insanely hard for where he is in the game.

  • http://www.derekyu.com Derek Yu

    I had trouble with him, too… I think it's the green lasers. They always manage to psyche me out for some reason.

  • kloug

    >>Removes the boredom

    Really? I've given up, seeing how I still couldn't pass level 2 after spending a whole week-end on it. Maybe beause I suck or because I'm over 30 & lost all the required patience I don't know. This game would turn the Dalai Lama bitter, so I prefer to stop rather than start punching everything around me. Will wait a couple of months until all the kids are proud of having beaten it, & a cheat will be revealed for us mortals to have a chance to see level 3.

  • rinkuhero

    yes, there's a big difference between making a humorous, good-natured joke and calling someone pseudo-intelligent because you took the joke seriously.

  • rinkuhero

    ya — i was very surprised that even smithy took bradf literally, usually smithy's smarter than that

    i mean, when someone starts talking in absolutes and using all caps they're usually faking it

  • http://tedmartens.wordpress.com savethedinosaurs

    This is my kind of game. Thank you Locomalito! 3 years of development and free, you didn't have to do that. I am donating.

  • Green

    Are there any mirrors ? The site seems to be down.

  • Faind13

    It doesn't get any easier I am afraid to say. Just wait until level…whenever the paths re converge after the first split. Oh my goodness. Takes me back to Einhander's factory. But it's a bitch and a half.

  • Anothername

    I would download 84Mb of something that looked interesting, but not a gradius clone with bells and whistles. I don't give a shit about voice overs.

  • Coded One

    Am I the only person here that is brutally defeated by this game? Usually, I don't mind playing a game over and over to beat it. I played Spelunky over 700 times before I finally won. But I just run through the first few levels a couple of times and I'm already bored out of my mind. I understand the reason why: Repeating a level over and over and over again is never any fun.

    The limited save system doesn't make sense to me. It makes this tedious task all the more aggravating. Couldn't there be some sort of easy mode where I get unlimited saves? As it stands now, I have no interest to play this game. Well, technically I'm not playing the game, I'm just playing level 1 and 2.

  • Seikeden

    is it any easier than the demo?

    I must say I was well and truly humbled by it, considering i have finished every r-type, fantasy zone, ikaruga and a few others. Although I was always terrible at gradius so maybe there's something about that style.

  • Seikeden

    Just played it and I believe it is easier than the demo. Still hard, but I made it to the boss of level 2 at least.