Sunday, June 30, 2013

Game 14: Super Hydlide (Genesis) - Final Rating

Combat is all over the place in this game. It's either too hard or too easy. A good balance is rarely achieved. Within a few hits the life bar is nearly depleted, but this isn't reflective of the current HP. There are a number of helpful features for combat: multiple pieces of equipment for melee or range, magic to cure or confuse the enemies, and the ability to dodge projectiles. However, all of those options are locked out during boss battles (i.e. everything interesting about combat is gone).

The world is filled with hostile and docile monsters. The only way to tell the difference is to wait and see if they attack first. Killing a docile monster reduces the moral fiber stat, which influences item cost, the ability to collect something called the Sacred Light, and possible dialogue. I went through most of the game with a very low score, so it isn't completely debilitating; it just doesn't seem like a fully fleshed out idea.

Leveling up to get better stats is necessary. As defense is raised the character becomes immune to some regular attacks, and as attack power rises the character will actually be able to damage higher level monsters. Imagine rushing off to the boss and finding out nothing will damage it. Yes, this is a possibility. Some grinding is required for this reason.
Rating: 4
I suppose being able to dodge his projectiles might have been too powerful
It's hard to admire the character sprite when it's so small. I was surprised to see a paper doll effect in this game. Armor, helmet, shield, and weapons were all represented and changed based on the current equipment.

When first creating a character a class is chosen from four available. Once selected, the character is stuck along a specific path. All characters can learn the same first six spells, but only two can learn an additional six. All characters seem to advance in class name, but it's in name only; there doesn't seem to be an additional benefit. There's no equipment restrictions beyond weight capacity.

Controlling the character is a bit clunky as initial momentum is delayed a fraction of a second. Precise movement would improve boss fights quite a bit, especially the final one.
Rating: 4
After level 20 there were barely any stat increases
Once again we have a game with virtually no puzzles. There are two repeated throughout the game: use the correct item at the correct place, and search the correct spot on the ground. Both can be interesting with clues and riddles. Super Hydlide lacks in this department relying on direct instructions or complete lack of direction.

The main quest has some interesting twists to it, and it makes the world feel larger than it is. I felt there was a lack of activities beyond the grind of fighting monsters for gold to get better equipment so I could fight later monsters for better equipment.
Rating: 2
This is the game's idea of a puzzle
The story takes some time to evolve. I like that it isn't a direct "kill the evil bad guy" quest. While it does turn out that way in the end, we get a nice build up from a lowly adventurer exploring the cause of an explosion to saving a doomed race to eek out an existence.

The NPCs do well to give some flavor, but many of them are useless: they'll either say nothing, something meaningless, or repeat something help someone else says. There aren't any descriptions, and there's no way to influence the game world.

Rating: 3
Due to translation problems the game can be hard to understand
There are a good number of items, but there's no way to collect more than what's necessary for the adventure. The introduction of weight drags down the idea of getting all the items in the game. The developers had some fun by throwing in joke items, but there's no reason to keep them. With no way to store anything the only option is to drop things, which irrevocably destroys it. When will we ever get to game with a trophy room?

Gold will weigh down the character as well, so it'd be nice if it didn't suddenly become useless. Well, not completely; just in excess. Cost is a good indication of attack or defense power for equipment, and it's easy enough to see an increase as stats are visibly listed in the main screen. There's a bank to store gold, but it's basically useless. Another half-baked idea; 1% / day interest is gained on current the deposit, which maxes out at 250K, but by the time the max is reached there's no need for money.
Rating: 2
At least I get my collection of magic
The music in the game is unique. Many of the tracks didn't appeal to me, and detracted from my enjoyment. The title music is probably my favorite, but most of the dungeon and cave music was completely disjointed from what was happening in the game. The graphics are mediocre.

The world at large lends itself well for the explorer. Hidden items, chests, and the ability to leap over plot points rewards the curious. There's still the hindrance of fighting tougher monsters underleveled (a losing strategy), but the idea of getting to the end of the game early is intriguing.
Rating: 4
You're not supposed to be here yet...
Final Rating: 19 (32%)

Overall I think the sum of the parts is greater, if only slightly, than the enjoyment of one area. Everything meshes well in a melting pot sort of way. I'm glad to have played it, and a small part of me wants to try to get through with a different character. For now though, we must move on. Crystalis is up next.

For anyone interested in seeing me play through Hydlide, I'm going to take the advice a commenter from that post and play through it. I'm planning to have a gaming weekend in the middle of October, and this is definitely in the mix for consideration.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Game 14: Super Hydlide (Genesis) - Finished!

Thanks to the help of readers and viewers I have finished. I apologize for the length of this post. Judging by the length of my outline, I should have posted an interim update.
Not the most creative final screen, but I'll take it
Ilmari helped out with a hint that pointed me towards the space compass. Technically, I had found the compass already; however, after getting a cryptic message twice, I promptly forgot to return to a certain chest. Would I have found it on my own? Possibly, but not in the timely manner I did; I immediately knew where to look once I read the hint.
Checked this twice with the same result. One guess what was eventually in here.
With the compass in hand it was an easy matter of locating the ship. All the fairies inside had turned into monsters... it was too late to save them. Their final message told me to seek the first dimension, and I should go 7 steps south and 4 west from the ruins (sic) written on the wall in the Cave of Death. I also found a fairy-made helmet, which offered as much defense as the space suit, and a horn, which was not a joke item.
Go that way. 13 left 13 up (I wonder if it's always in the same place)
The door to the first dimension was easy enough to identify. It was a translucent doorway between two pillars. Entering this previously had sent me on a teleportation ride across the land. The purpose of it was lost on me until I read that message. With the time-door amulet in hand I vanished to the first dimension.
Was this just sitting here the whole time?
The land here was much different. The enemies were tougher. The landscape was barren. I found two caves: one was a trap (poison) and the another transported me back to Fairyland. It had changed. The monsters took on a mutated form. I went back to the first town to raise my levels and prepare to grind.

I had no idea what to do in the First Dimension. Some supreme evil was supposed to be there, but neither his dark cave nor his treacherous tower jutted from the ground. On a whim, I decided to talk to all the townsfolk again. They all had the same thing to say, except for one or two per screen.
Who knew he'd learn to speak throughout the game
Now the majority of townspeople had absolutely nothing to say. "!?...." is their default response. At first I dismissed this as trying to fill the screen without adding dialogue. After one of the past plot events it seems this has changed; now they had something to say.
Why hide this information until now?
Most notable was the mention of the Town of Illusion in the First Dimension, located in the middle of the land. It's not a very large plot of land, 5x5 screens, and in the middle was a small island with two tombstones. I'm certain I'd stood on that island and searched before. One thing I hadn't done is go through all of my quest items and try to use... well look at that, the horn somehow granted access.
That's what they said in the Heavenly City
Once again I faced the blank stares of the townspeople. Luckily the shop owner offered up some new items. Cat's eyes are equal to Flash, Fake Medicine is equal to Invincible, and Holy Water dispels seals; all are one-time use. Well, I think I know where to use the Holy Water, and those hanging outside of it confirm my inklings with lore of what awaits inside.
Yes, need pretty statue
Inside is another dark cave. It's more maze-like than the previous, with a handful of hidden areas (not so hidden with Flash) and a physics bending horizontal wrap around. A chest here contained the Flame Sword. A lightweight weapon slightly less powerful than my current weapon, but with the added benefit of range.
What in the world does this mean?
I never did find any "Sacred Light"
Varalys was the only other point of interest. The fight seemed to be going very quickly at first. Varalys teleported randomly over the screen; however, I wasn't taking much damage and he was nearly dead. On my next attack, he was back up to full life. I still don't quite understand, but he seemed to heal automatically after a certain amount of damage. This happened 13 times. Just as I was beginning to think I needed to search for these Sacred Lights, he died.
Yes! I almost have him...
...what just happened?
With Varalys defeated I picked up the statue which lay at his feet. With it I could now... I actually don't know what I'm supposed to do with this thing. I was lost again for a bit, grinded out some experience since it was once again getting good.
Yeah, might as well
I wondered back through the city of Illusion and once again happened to start speaking to the townsfolk. I should have known their silence would be broken.
Not a peep out of you...
...and now you're finishing each other's sentences
The statue opens a time door. A man imprisoned for an unnamed crime tells me he traveled there with a fairy. The only way he got back was with an exit talisman. I can confirm there's no teleporting out.
North east where?
Finding the final dungeon took some time. I think the game started taking pity on me as there were now audible chimes whenever I walked over something of importance. Maybe it only happens late in the game, or maybe this was only the first time I really took notice. In any case, I heard the chime and tried to use the statue.
Is he doing an interpretive dance?
Using Time magic, I jumped ahead to the middle of the night (I found it doesn't have to be exactly midnight). I found a computer terminal that mentioned an imprisoned fairy on floor two, the fairy on floor three, and the locking mechanism on floor four. The fairy joined me as I headed towards the final confrontation.
Nearing the end game
At one point I found some camping gear, which allowed me to save outside the boss' room. This was crucial as I had a rough time punching through to the end. It's actually a bit silly though, the first time I found it I used it right away, and I didn't even realize it was one-time use. I ended up dying and reloading to find the camping gear still there. It seems the save is made before removing the camping gear.
Gaining levels really wasn't that big a deal by this point
Before diving in to fight the boss, I headed back to town at to gain some levels. I noticed something was off about my location choices. The City of Illusion was no longer available. To make room for the camping gear I had to lighten my load a bit. I figured the horn I used to enter the town was now useless since I could teleport in... apparently not.

At least I was at a point I didn't need the last town for anymore. I faced off against the final boss multiple times. At first I thought the only place I could effectively attack was his mouth, but this got me nowhere. My tactic was to use invincibility (I found the duration stacks) and find a weak point. Many times I accidentally stepped into his mouth, which is guaranteed death. The invincibility kept me alive for some time, but it wore off and I was worn down.
Trapped inside his mouth
At some point I noticed the nodules on his back would blow up. My strategy then changed to focus on hitting that part. It was still helpful to shoot his mouth as it momentarily halted the projectiles coming out. Try as I might, I couldn't destroy more than three before meeting my end.

I then remembered a suggestion from the book, slow the game speed down. So, I set it to the slowest setting and crawled towards the boss encounter. The boss was unaffected. He moved and shot at me with the same ferocity. It seems strange that the only encounter that so far could benefit from changing the game speed would not change. I then tried speeding up the game and set myself to fast. This worked.
How about it? Let's call this a draw.
I now had the means to dodge and take out the lumps on his back and legs. Once all four were destroyed he was immobilized. I took aim and shot in his mouth. Days of in-game time passed. No change. I was missing something. Luckily I had viewer cheering me on, and one looked up a walkthrough after locking the boss in this position a second time.

The key was to do something completely unexpected: walk into his mouth and fire from the inside. While this hadn't worked before, it worked this time. I died the first time as I didn't have quite enough health to survive (even though I saw the experience gain).
Crystal? Did I miss something?
Me alone... and the fairy
Not the most creative name I know, but I grew up reading the Peanuts
And somehow the world is fine again
And so another game reaches its conclusion. It's time to move on. The game was a lot more enjoyable than I thought coming in. Even with the annoying elements working against me (e.g. revisiting areas I already covered, bad translations) we managed to work through it. Thanks to all for the support. Rating to come out this weekend and I'll stream Crystalis on Sunday.

Session Time: Session Time: 5h50m (Total Time: 13h00m)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Game 14: Super Hydlide (Genesis) - Magic Among the Clouds or Robots Underneath the Lake

Based on Sean's suggestion to aim for the head I managed to best the dragon. I tried a bow at first, but didn't have any better luck. My second attempt with the sword went much smoother.
My hard earned reward, a dragon fang... it had no visible use. Once again I was without a lead. Well, time to get back out there and see what I can find. It didn't take long. I decided to return to the tower to find the city in the clouds.
Oh, there it is... just outside the window
I hadn't realized I could actually walk out the windows of the tower, but seeing the cloud sitting outside of one I just had to try. I think I missed this the first time as it's on the 198th floor, and since the elevator went to the 199th I may have passed it. It's also possible I completely missed the visual clue as I wasn't looking for it the first time up.
Most of the townspeople were stunned to see me
The city in the clouds is called Heavenly City. It has an inn, a general store that doesn't offer any better equipment, a magic store for the next six spells, and a palace. Rumors around town are sparse; they're probably too distracted by the view.
So, you're saying if I jump from right here
The people inside the palace told me about the town under the cemetery, which was a nice confirmation I taken the sequence of events out of order somewhere. The king here is very generous, and gives out an unlimited supply of magic herbs. I grabbed a bunch, as much as I could hold, and jumped down the gap in the clouds.
Oh noes!
The cloud stone protected me during the descent, and I landed directly outside the water palace. I hadn't found an ID yet, but I really didn't need one anymore.
You want a dragon's fang? Well, fancy that; I just happen to have a dragon's fang
The Water Palace was much more interesting than the Heavenly Palace: it had even more hints and treasures. The king was an avid collector of interesting and useless items, so I was eager to give him my dragon's fang (current useless item) in exchange for everything in his treasure room (future useless items). I thought the stick in the cemetery was going to be the only joke in the game, but I can see someone had fun here.
To brush all the grime off my smelly feet! Haha...
Hi Yumi! I'm "it's a joke!"
A Sega reference... was this a requirement in all Sega RPGs?
Wow, that thing is heavy
Jokes aside, the residents gave me some good insight into what to do next.
Reveal... I'm sorry, I didn't catch that last part
Well, partial insight anyway. I mean knowing the scroll of Jeem reveals something hidden really narrows the possible uses from anything to everything. I found the scroll in the king's treasury. I traveled back to the runes in the Cave of Death, but still couldn't make them out. I'm probably too stupid to understand them or something.
Apparently that's quite accurate
Well, I'll keep an eye out for things that need revealing. I'm not sure how to educate myself in order to read the runes, so I don't think I'll uncover that mystery quite yet.
The seal... yes, yes... what seal, exactly?
This is the second time someone mentioned a seal. In the first town a guard warned me not to break the seal. Well, if I happen to go against his wishes, then I'll definitely keep an eye out for a valuable statue. Probably one used to trade for wings so I can fly to space.
Lost ID card? I'll be sure to use it
I tried to do the right thing and return the ID pass card, but she already got another one by the time I returned. At least now I had a way to exit the castle without magic. The Move spell is so useful that I'll never need the ID, but I can see other characters that don't have as much magic needing to recover it.

With the scroll of Jeem as my only lead, I once again thought of all the possible places to use it. The only likely spot was to reveal a path to the submerged palace. At least this time it was less stumbling upon the next location and more process of elimination (the crevice was the next spot to try).
I command you... PART!
or... RISE!
I spent a good number of in-game days exploring the robot infested lake palace. It was tough going once again. I think my lack of proper armor coupled with low HP caused most of that trouble. So, I grabbed all the spells I could from cloud city (my name and I'm sticking with it) and returned to the cave of death. I grinded out a couple of days worth of zombies.
With the help of the Flash spell I can see everything
I gathered enough experience to purchase all the spells and another level. I was now rightly equipped to handle the lake palace.
Sleep and Slow are obvious; Defeat destroys all enemies; Weight prevents encumbrance; and Invincible is a godsend
I felt like I was nearing the end, so I went invincible throughout most of the palace and ran through most of the guards. In the end I found a room I was locked into.
Not sure if it's visible, but I'm locked inside
In the upper portion of this room is a panel to the right and in the center the tiles make noise on the left side. I'm not sure what to make of all this. In fact, I would have been stuck there if not for the collected of herbs I hadn't used yet. They gave me enough magic to cure myself while I gathered my wits.
I'm here... now what?
Enemies kept spawning, so I couldn't explore without obstacle and I wasn't getting anywhere in any case. I teleported back to town and called it a night.
I checked the panel, but this was the only message I got
I must be missing some crucial step in the process. What is the point of that room? I know I haven't fully explore the palace, so I must have skipped over an item to energize or unlock something in this room. I'll try again another day. I still feel like I'm close.

Session Time: 2h20m (Total Time: 7h10m)