I can't remember where I read about Hydorah. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I have it, and I can play it. And you've probably never heard of it before now, either. You're probably at a complete loss as to what I'm talking about. So I will elaborate.
Hydorah is the best arcade game you've never played. You've never played it because it wasn't actually in the arcades. But from just one play, you'll feel as though it should have been. You'd have ploughed countless tens into it, and come away bruised but satisfied. Just like you did with most of the best arcade games.
It all looks quite sedate here. Aren't the trees pretty?
At this point, I should actually describe the game. It's Nemesis. Or Gradius, if you prefer. That's the core (haha! See what I did there?), although it's got a few bits of R-Type in there too, but yes, it's pretty much a new, independent entry into the Gradius series. And it's absolutely awesome.
The programmers have deliberately made Hydorah as 80s as possible. And they've done a stunning job. It looks, sounds and plays the part to absolute perfection. That means it's hard. Very hard. It's sixteen levels of arse-kicking. Well, they say it is... I haven't seen a quarter of them, if that's the case. But it's not unfairly difficult. I knew what I was doing wrong every time, I was just too rubbish to cope.
Eye-eye! What's going on here, then?
In fact, if anything, Hydorah is quite generous with its difficulty. There's never too much filling the screen, there's no harsh collision detection, no cheap deaths. Just a feeling of "next time, I'll do better". It's a bit naughty in one way, I discovered... shoot the wrong stuff, and you'll lose points. Again, it's not done in a cheap way... if you think about it when you're playing, you should know better.
It does have a bit of a weird weapons upgrade system, which might be a detraction for some. You collect tokens, much like in Gradius, but you can't instantly "spend" them on stuff... you have to accumulate a certain number of them, and once you have, your lasers are powered up. If you die, you lose some of your tokens, setting you back a bit.
It does all look a bit familiar, but comfortingly so.
There are some insta-perks though, such as shields or an extra ship. And as you progress, there's a nice choice system in effect, where you can take your pick of earned weapons for the next level. It might have been nicer to go out there fully tooled-up, but it would also be easier...
Hydorah is a really lovely Gradius-type game. It looks and sounds absolutely superb, and it plays like an 80s dream, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I guarantee that if you have any kind of love for these kinds of games, you'll lose best part of your first afternoon with it, and will re-develop that long-lost trigger finger cramp. Best of all? It's absolutely free. There's no reason not to play this at all. So head over to developer Locomalito's website, and download Hydorah right now.