Hydorah-rah-rah!

By Kieron Gillen on June 7th, 2010 at 6:50 pm.

I was chatting to Mathew Kumar about the release of his new exp. zine when he mentioned that Hydorah has been finally released. I actually had a tab with its page open for a couple of months, as it was saying it was just about to release, and I knew that I would have to post about it when it was. It’s a freeware old-school shooter with a few modern twists – like limited saves and a sort of map-approach to level selection (Which reminded me – and probably only me – of Xain’d Sleena aka Soldier of Light). You also gather extra weapons when completing missions, with you selecting which one you want to arm up with each time you go in. I’ve only played a couple of levels of this, but I really like it. Go get here, or watch the trailer below…

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60 Comments »

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  1. cdm says:

    Rad. It’s like Gradius.

  2. Helm says:

    Hm. Getting no music though the mp3s are there in the folder. Hm Hm. Also this game needs a pause button! And to default in windowed mode once set at it.

    The production values of this as far as pixel art goes are amazing, the music I’ve heard from the trailers is equally good and the people invovled have a specific game design in mind that they seem to have achieved. So these few front-end fixes will be perfect for the game.

    • Wilson says:

      @Helm – I seem to recall reading about some people having music issues in the comments about it on http://www.tigsource.com/. They might link to a solution there.

    • Helm says:

      Wilson, thank you. I downloaded and put those two files needed in the /music/ folder but no dice. I’ve played through up to the first fork (where the game really begins to become taxing) and I don’t want to play it more until the music issue is resolved. It’s too good to play on top of my mp3 collection shuffling through uh, let’s see Fates Warning – Monument, Black Sabbath – Supernaut, Bolt Thrower – In Battle There Is No Law, Steve Reich – Desert Music Third Movement, Autopsy – Dark Crusade, Buckethead & Hellborg – Kidogo, Jester’s March – No Man’s Land (in the least half an hour I’ve been playing) and stuff like that. Not that I don’t adore my music collection, but this needs *its soundtrack* not mine.

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      zak canard says:

      Enter or (Start if you’ve got a 360 pad) is your pause button.

    • Helm says:

      Appreciated Zak :)

  3. Helm says:

    Also Kieron, I’m also familiar with Xain’d Sleena / Soldier of Light. It was one of the first coin-ops I played as a child (along with Rastan) and they both had a huge effect on me. I drew sidescrolling crayon drawings of barbarians slicing up thri-kreen and little space commandos shooting walker robots in a prone position for a couple of years exclusively. I coinfed it on Mame recently and I was surprised how awfully balanced it was, it’s practically impossible to finish unless you’ve memorized the whole thing AND are extremely lucky with enemy spawns AND have the best reflexes in the universe.

    :~(

  4. Brumisator says:

    OLDE SKOOL!

    *air guitar solo*

    F YEAH!

    • Dominic White says:

      And I emailed Jim (who wrote about 8-Bit Killer, the previous game by Locomalito) about it, but apparently he wasn’t interested.

  5. Shazbut says:

    Hell yes! Downloading now…

  6. Shazbut says:

    Uh oh, I appear to have forgotten I’m shit

  7. Premium User Badge

    zak canard says:

    Great little shooter. All my base are belong to this.

  8. fishyjoes says:

    Wow this is hard, isn’t it IS’NT IT?!

    Someone tell me it’s hard so I dont feel miserable!

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      I can’t get past the first boss.

      It’s real hard man.

    • Psychopomp says:

      It’s not Bullet Hell hard, but, yes, it’s still quite the bitch.

    • Renzatic says:

      At first I thought it was gonna be a little too easy. I flew through the first level and a half (just past the second stage mini-boss) on my first playthrough without losing a single life. Thought I was bad ‘n rad ‘n grand. Then I got to this one part I just can’t seem to get past. Every time I get to about the exact same spot, then get killed by one of those stupid birds hiding on the edge of the screen.

      So no, you don’t suck. The game is hard. Though hard in that oldschool fun way that reminds me of when games used to unapologetically hand you your ass on an hourly basis.

  9. ZeeKat says:

    Pixelled graphics and Jan-Hammer-on-speed music. Awesome :)

  10. Shadrach says:

    Hard indeed. My days of finishing R-Type is far gone I’m afraid…

  11. kulak says:

    Too hard

    Not enough saves, No sliding difficulty, one hit death.

    Whatever other qualities the game might have, this has killed it for me.

    Can’t reliably get to the end of the second stage.

    Don’t want to play the same section over and over just to reach the same boss fight i reached 15 minutes ago.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Pff, just keep playing, youll get better.
      What sort of R Type player needs saves?
      And why would a ship need to survive more than one bullet? Just dont get hit.
      ;)

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      Okami says:

      How did you ever survive the 1980s?

    • kulak says:

      Why does having to repeat a level over and over equate to good gameplay?

      I will in all likelyhood never get past the 2nd level of this game if I don’t cheat. I simply don’t have the time to spend hours replaying until I get good enough to do so.

      This is the kind of bullshit machismo that says it good to be able to drink lots of alcohol without getting drunk.

      I would also expect that if you did a steam style analytics, you’d find the majority of people who play the game never get past the 2nd/3rd stage. well done, 3 years work in order for most people never to see more than 1/8th of it.

      How does it hurt your gameplay anymore if there are two difficulty settings? I guess then it wouldn’t play into the egos of abnormally talented gamers, and gamers with lots of time to invest in practise.

      Even if I did have the time to sink hours into practising, I simply don’t find it enjoyable to repeat the same sections over and over again.

      In a game where everything is the same, then its not about “skilling up” its about memorizing where every enemy will appear, where every power up is. I do not equate repetative hours of memorization to fun.

      If I got really good at Hydorah, would I really be able to complete R-Type on my first try? Or would I have to go through the same lazy game design bullshit of playing over and over till i have memorized correctly.

      Spelunky is a fairly difficult game, with no saves and similar one hit kills, yet its enjoyable because

      A) You get a new experience every time you have to replay.
      B) You get rewarded with the ability to start at later stages for good play.

      Spelunky also provides rewards for playing the whole game start to finish, which I have done, and probably would not have done if it weren’t for A and B

      Hydorah not having either of these, or an equivalent feature is a massive flaw in game design. A design that could only be appreciated by egomaniacs who pride themselves in a meaningless achievement.

      Making you play the same level over and over for an hour is not the same as proving an hours worth of gameplay.

    • Dominic White says:

      Kulak, please get over yourself. And mull over this fact:

      By retro shooter standards, Hydorah is easy. You’ve got five saves to play with, and it hands out extra lives like candy. The levels are short, the bullet patterns are simple and slow-moving. You’re basically ranting and raving and flailing around over something that would have been considered a walk in the park back when I was growing up.

    • kulak says:

      @ Dominic

      So I should be thankful that the design is slightly less crap than a massively flawed design from 20+ years ago?

      Do you contest that the majority of people who play won’t be able to get past the 2nd/3rd level?

      And do you have a reason why it takes ANYTHING away from your gameplay experience to have two difficulty levels?

      Maybe I’m wrong and there are legion of uber skilled players who get past every stage on the 1-3rd try. I simply am not having enough fun playing the same stage 20+ times and getting nowhere.

      This design is great for ego-maniacs who get a thrill from being able to do something few others have the time or ability for.

      However, for the vast majority of the rest of us, we’ll play up to about 2nd-3rd level, get stuck, quit the game and probably never return.

      If you think a design that precludes the vast majority of players from ever seeing the majority of game is a good one, you have some very faulty thinking going on.

    • Dominic White says:

      I was beating games harder than this when I was 8 years old. It’s not some herculean challenge. It’s not some egotists playground. It’s marginally tougher than the ‘everyones a winner, everyones the hero’ stuff that gets churned out today, but it’s not that hard.

      Grow a spine already.

  12. Coded One says:

    I would love it if I could get infinite saves. I don’t like replaying a level over and over, and if that makes me suck, then I’m sorry.

    Anyone know of some sort of hack to get infinite saves?

    • Dominic White says:

      You start with three saves, and get another two at the halfway point. Compare this to, say, the Gradius series, where you got zero saves. Five saves is plenty to beat the game. And yes, you’ll have to replay levels, but you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll do better each time.

  13. Primar says:

    Any idea what the blue boost thingers are for?

    • Spacewalk says:

      The in-game instructions say it’s for turbo units so it’s probably speed ups. I’ve been avoiding picking them up so this this will only be an assumption.

    • Primar says:

      Yeah, was just curious – I assumed it wouldn’t be a simple “make shit faster” thing, since surely you wouldn’t want it in that case?

      ./shrug

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It’s like Gradius’ turbo – it makes your ship manoeuvre faster, so you can move backwards/forwards/sideways faster and better avoid enemy fire. It doesn’t speed up the scrolling.

      It also makes it so minor course-correction usually results in crashing.

  14. Spacewalk says:

    Kieron, are you aware that Xain’d got a remake a few years back?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I was. I still have an urge to write about it. Xain was an oddly influential game for me. Hell, one of my earliest pseudonyms was it. I certainly entered SOL as my three-letter name in high-score tables.

      KG

  15. Oddity says:

    At first, the game seemed easy; I’ve gotten past the first two bosses every time I’ve played (a couple of dozen times now), usually without losing a single life.But then the difficulty suddenly jumps from easy to ridiculously hard. Surviving the level with the birds (right after the “ufo boss”) seems impossible.

    • Psychopomp says:

      It took me about a dozen tries to get past that bit. Was a perfect run, too, until

      >Get to second boss of second level
      >Five lives
      >Fully powered up
      >ded
      >ded
      >ded
      >ded
      >ded
      >GAME OVER

      :[

  16. MartynEm says:

    I seem to recall (and this is certainly a special skill I’d trade in for one with some positive real-world application, much to my geek-shame) that Parkin’s Palace in Canvey Island had Xain’d Sleena back in The Day. It was rock-hard, but something about the weird syntax of the title always intrigued me – I mean, what was a Sleena? Is it my ship? If so, in what way has it been recently Xain’d?

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      Hodge says:

      I always thought Xain’d Sleena was the guy’s name (not that I would be entirely averse to being Xain’d, whatever that may entail).

      My memories are similar to Helm’s – the cinema where I lived had a Xain machine in the lobby and I was completely taken by it. I could never get anywhere in it, but I loved the graphics and was happy enough to just watch the attract mode over and over… the way kids did back then.

      Played it recently in MAME, and it still looks great, but frankly the game is rubbish. Hugely difficult, but also really random and unfair. It has one great idea in the double-jump mechanic (one of the earliest?), which in practice only serves to propel you more quickly to your demise. I have no idea what the spaceship levels are like, as I couldn’t finish any of the sidescroller ones.

      Anyone who thinks Hydorah is too hard should really give it a go…

  17. Whiskey Jak says:

    Any reason why I get an error message when I try the direct link and when I go to the home page it gives me an ad for the web hosting company that probably host locomalito.com?

    Help anyone?

  18. Huggster says:

    I thought this was an OIDS remake from the screenshot. Nevermind.

  19. Renzatic says:

    Ha! I thought the same thing. And here I was thinking I was the only person on the face of the planet who still remembers OIDS.

    I wish someone would remake that, complete with a map editor for full nostalgia/awesomeness value.

    • Huggster says:

      Hurray another OIDS fan! Yes the map editor was great, easy to use as well.
      Spent many hours on OIDS. the *boinkboink*boink*boink* during the loading screen !

      There was something special about OIDS – more fun than THRUST and cute as well. But still hard.

  20. DeepSleeper says:

    For those unfamiliar with the concept, this game requires Practice. It’s an arcane art in which you play a game multiple times, failing but obtaining experience enabling you to learn and develop skills, which are a component of success.

    The interesting thing is that skills learned by practicing this game may enable you to beat other, similar games. While in recent times Practice has fallen off in favor of inputting cheat codes, whining on the Internet about difficulty, and playing games on easy mode, it still has some vocal advocates.

  21. TheApplePie says:

    Simply amazing.

    As a side note, if you are fond of pretty, pixelated side-scrolling shooters I strongly suggest giving Thrustburst a try.

  22. PixelProspector says:

    you mentioend oids…
    therefore i recommend to check out gravitron and thrust extreme if you haven’t already.
    (both awesome freeware games)
    http://xout.blackened-interactive.com/Gravitron/Gravitron.html
    http://wiebo.wordpress.com/my-pc-games/

  23. Jes-21 says:

    Any Windows XP users that are having trouble with the music not playing -even after you’ve tried different fixes? (such as putting the 2 files saudio.dll and saud.gml – either in the game folder or the music folder, or adding Hydorah.exe to ffdshow…)

    What worked for me is having a media player open and having any song paused, then open Hydorah.

    I hope this works for anybody that is still having problems with the music.

  24. Oddity says:

    I can’t believe I fucking did it. I just fucking BEAT HYDORAH.

    I HAVE BECOME TRANSMUNDANE

    WOMEN WILL LIKE ME NOW

    • Dominic White says:

      Congratulations!

      Now the million dollar question: Did you get the good ending?

    • Oddity says:

      Well, it certainly seemed like a good ending (I became a true hero).

      Locomalito, if you happen to see this, thank you for creating a truly great game for us. It nearly drove me crazy (and gave me aching wrists), but it was worth it.

  25. bonzo says:

    @ kulak

    jesus, man… you are whinning about stuff you cant be bothered to do? as in -> i cant be bothered to train for a marathon (its just no fun to me), but i want to run (and win) 41km just as the dudes who did train?

  26. zxspeccy says:

    Got stuck to level 7. Luckily for us gamers there is a cheat to start from any level you want (up to 7).

  27. zxspeccy says:

    cheat is

    [kaboom]

  28. KJ says:

    @ kulak

    Please, outgrow your sense of gamer’s entitlement. It is not a “massive flaw” or “bullshit” game design that everything is not catered directly to your specific personal preferences. It makes you look pompous and arrogant when you say such things about “one hit kills” instead of “this game just wasn’t for me.” If you’re playing a stage repeatedly and hating it, it’s clearly not for you. Just quit playing and play something you like. Accept that stuff can be different things to different people. I enjoyed Hydorah because it was short, fun, and easy. Your sensibilities are no more valid than mine.

    The point of indie game development is that you get to make the game you want, for the audience you want: the freedom not to have to bow to the lowest common denominator. The download page mentions influences like Space Manbow that I assume you’ve never heard of. Hydorah was made for shooter fans who, if anything, would find this game on the somewhat easy side. The first time I played, the first time I entered the final stage, I beat it and said “that’s it?” No repetition, no memorization. Not that memorization would be a design flaw either, just a developer decision. Personally I greatly prefer it to randomized elements (unfair) or beating everything first try (trivial).

    While I would have included multiple difficulty levels and infinite saves were this my own game, it’s the developer’s choice. He made it freeware for a reason, one that you don’t seem to respect. You put that one line in bold; even if true, which I highly doubt, do you think that is somehow supposed to bother the developer?? You want to know why there’s only one difficulty setting? Think outside your own shoes for a sec. If you’re making any game with multiple settings, there will be one (say, “normal”) that is the default or base difficulty — the true one — and everything else are variations around that. Multiple difficulties can be seen as a consession, trying to appeal to everyone with compromised versions instead of sticking with the developer’s original vision, the director’s cut. Again, you or I may not agree, but it’s a decision, not a design flaw.

    PS: If you present all your opinions as truths like “unlike Hydorah, Spelunky *is* enjoyable *because*…” then people like me with different opinions (like Spelunky being trash that people like because of who created it and because it’s fashionable) will find it hard to take anything you say seriously past all the smug self-assurance. Besides, there are no such things as universally enjoyable, superior games anyway.

  29. William says:

    My biggest issue with Hydorah is not merely that it’s hard. It’s that it’s hard in a cheap-shot, fake difficulty kind of way that 80s shooters tended to be in. It’s stuff like those invisible green things right after the level 2 midboss that just snipe you out of nowhere, and the fact that if you die against a boss you have to go against that same boss with three fewer weapon levels. (It’s not too bad if you die in the level parts since you can regain those weapon levels, but, I mean, this is why Cave Story bosses all spawned a bunch of smaller enemies, so that if you got hit you weren’t *completely* fucked)

    I mean, the game is beautiful, and I’m probably going to persist(and put a save right after the colony level), but I really wish more games would have *real* difficulty. (The hint to detecting real difficulty: If your playtersters blame the game, it’s more likely to be fake difficulty. If they blame themselves, you’re on the right path.)

  30. LICKITUNG says:

    This game is lovely. It’s very challenging but rewarding to play and beat. I didn’t know I would be getting more saves so I played up to galactic inferno without saving. Haha. I ended up finishing the game with some saves left over. Yes it’s memorization…god forbid you have to remember when enemies spawn and fire!

    Most fun I’ve had gaming in a really long time. Any other indy games on this level?

  31. Ink says:

    @kulak

    You are the exact reason why people bitch about not being able to beat games on their first try and games are too easy anymore. The exact reason.

    “Wah I don’t want to have to learn to play a game and be challenged please just let me walk through it and get achievements ;_;”

  32. blackswan77 says:

    i must have played so many of these games on just about every system thanks to emulation. This game is up there with the best, fantastic presentation and geat fun. Yes this game is hard, but if it was easy it wouldn’t be so rewarding, and less fun. Kulak go moan somewhere else.