Monday, November 19

Review: Super Hydorah [Nintendo Switch eShop]

When it comes to classic side-scrolling arcade shooters two iconic series that come to mind the easiest are usually R-Type and Gradius. Both were challenging, pretty creative, and had a smart progressive power-up system where you’d collect orbs and other items as you took out key enemies to build up your ship. To date on the Switch while the vertical shooters have been well-represented the side-scrollers haven’t really had much to offer. That changes with the release of Super Hydorah, a game whose look, play style, and sensibilities make it feel like a cousin of the other two classics.

Starting out you’ll have the option to play in Pilot or Rookie mode, essentially giving you the difficulty more akin to classic arcade play or something a little more forgiving my loading you up with a few more shields. There’s no shame in initially trying out Rookie, it will help you get a feel for things before getting quite so frustrated if nothing else. Level layouts are pretty diverse but definitely have an appreciation for the classics with floating land masses that have enemies both in the air and on the ground that you’ll need to deal with and often allowing for multiple routes.

The power-up system is somewhat its own thing with orbs you’ll want to collect that can juice up your firepower a bit to a limit but your major acquisitions will be after you complete stages, typically requiring that you first take out a boss. There will also be periodic orbs that will offer you either a speed boost, another shield, or a one-time use of your special, these special orbs will slowly cycle between the options so be sure not to grab them too quickly. What’s interesting is that you’ll end up with 3 types of power-ups once you’ve progressed a bit, a primary weapon, secondary weapon, and special that you’ll then get to choose from before starting each stage. Learning which combination corresponds better to specific stages can be vital as you progress since things like multi take much more time to knock out harder targets while the laser may make you move around more but obviously packs more of a punch.

Overall I really can’t find any significant fault of note in the game, it plays well, borrows some classic concepts while still doing things its own way, and even offers hidden bonuses in each level that more obsessed fans should enjoy trying to find. The branching paths don’t simply make you choose to move ahead, you can circle back and hit everything if you’re determined to give yourself as many options as possible. Make no mistake, this has old school arcade sensibilities so while it won’t be stealing your quarters the first time you try to get through some stages you’re going to get taken down by some environmental surprises in some stages. All in all it’s a great arcade shooting experience that feels like it was lost back in the 80s and just rediscovered. Highly recommended for classic arcade shooter fans!

Score: 8.5

  • Many nods to classic arcade shooting sensibilities while still doing its own thing
  • The ability to choose your earned power-ups between stages lends itself to some strategy in tougher stages
  • Tough stages and bosses without being cruel

  • This has a retro look and feel which may not be as appealing for some folks
  • If you’re struggling early the rate of power-up acquisition is a bit slower than in its classic contemporaries