– A NEW ODYSSEY FOR CLASSIC SHMUPS PLAYERS –
Hydora is a game that I stumbled across in the archives of my favorite game blog, Indiegames.com. Hydora was made by Locomalito, a game company that has made several other interesting and creative games of varying genre and styles. The group produces a lot of cool merchandise in addition to bringing interesting and innovative retro-style games into today’s modern world. Although you can purchase the merch and disks of the games with covers, you can also download this specific game directly from their website, completely free.
Hydora is a side-scrolling shooter game that is sort of a mix between an 80’s style arcade game and a modern art project. The game holds more complexity and individuality than that of a true arcade game, yet still holds to simple game play and basic upgrades such as a simple primary and secondary weapon. (you pick your first and second weapon before each level), all with in game-play power-ups. I got the game because I was looking for a good game to play when I needed a break from stress, and I love old scrolling shooter games. The thing that really got my attention about this one was the excellence in pixel art. I love the practical and aesthetic value of the level design and am surprised this game is not more well known, as it is truly excellent.
Story/Setting – An old favorite with a new style. The setting of the game starts in a very simple and traditional space-shooter setting that feels natural and fitting. But as you continue playing the setting quickly becomes more interesting and rapidly deviates from player expectations. There are no “worlds” or chunks of levels with single themes, but rather every level spills into the next and features a very unique and strong theme, often with completely original enemies and environmental hazards. The setting is as skillful re-imagining of a familiar style and genre.
Gameplay – If it ain’t broke… The gamplay it’s-self could be described as simple and solid. Though much of the game is very original, the game play is actually completely traditional for a scrolling shooter; movement, guns, and a super bomb type weapon you collect in the level. One innovation to this traditional method was that you collect a new weapon (either primary, secondary, or super bomb) after every level, and select your choice a the beginning of each stage. This was clever and interesting, and though not hugely necessary, it was fun. The weapon selection and gameplay works well as a solid foundation for the rest of the game to be built on.
Difficulty – 80’s style arcade brutality. As a part of the game’s self-described 80’s arcade roots, it can be sincerely difficult. unless you have a shield, which is very hard to obtain, a single hit from anything will kill you, (and even then, 2 hits kills you). Every death will also rob you of some gun power and movement speed you will have to struggle to earn back. This is fun, but at times can also be frustrating.
Overall, Hydora is one of my favorites. For a retro style shooter I would give it a 9/10. It’s not super long, but it’s high difficulty will keep you battling to finish this beautifully created modern space adventure. Everyone interested in indie games should give this one a try, and being that it is free to download, there is nothing stopping you from engaging in this bizarre galactic struggle. Suit up and join the fight to save the human race, you’ll be glad you did!