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.


  1. Honestly? It's a better score than I expected - though to be fair, I've never played this version, just the NES version, which was amazingly bad.

    1. I think this is a pretty fair assesment. But comparing this to the first game is like comparing Mario Bros (The single screen arcade game) to Super Mario Bros 3. This is so much better its not worth comparing. After all this is really Hydlide 3 in Japan. I think its an ok game with faults. Its certainly not the horrible game people make it out to be but it isnt cutting edge eigther. To me it was a somewhat enjoyable but bland game. Certainly not one of the great or even above memorable RPG's of the 16 bit era. (I think this game may have actually had a Famicom release in Japan only as well.)

    2. I agree with this summary; "somewhat enjoyable but bland game" encapsulates my experience. This could have been a very good game on the NES, but with the name Hydlide I'm fairly sure sales would have been very bad.

    3. I guess if you wanted to see the Famicom version in action you could check out the brief section in Chrontendo episode 42 where he covers the game.

      It may have done alright over here.

    4. It's interesting to see the graphical hit an already graphically light game takes between 8 and 16 bit.

  2. Its actually worth noting that in Japan, this game came out in 1987. Just a year after Zelda and I honestly think this is a much better game than Zelda1. The Megadrive\Genesis version is little more than a spruced up 8-bit game (and it shows).

    The ending is also missing nearly all the next from the original release, too. Kinda kills it.

    Still a fair review, though. Looking ahead it had some really interesting ideas, especially for a game made in '87. The MD\Gens version deserved more work than it got, sadly.

    The sequel - Virtual Hydlide. Is a sin against gaming. Its awful.

    1. It's interesting how early this was, and the fact it was originally on PC makes sense for how much it accomplished. Strange that this was the final chapter in the series. Virtual Hydlide doesn't exist... plus it's only a 3D remake of the first game, right?