App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Super Hydorah is new to the App Store, but it’s not exactly a new side-scrolling shooter. Originally developed for the PC in 2010 as simply Hydorah before being remastered and brought to consoles in 2017 under the name Super Hydorah, this game has finally made its way to the App Store and serves up some quality, old school shooter action. It may have a bit of a weird difficulty curve, but Super Hydorah is otherwise a really great shooter.
Scrolling in space
Super Hydorah wastes no time getting you into the action. After an extremely brief cutscene, you take control of Delta Lance, a star pilot who is fighting an evil force known as the Metropians, and you’re thrown right into the thick of things. Generally speaking, this means cruising through side-scrolling levels while blasting away at enemy ships, hostile creatures, and just about anything else that gets in your way.
Much like the classic Gradius games, Super Hydorah is a 2D side-scrolling game where you see the profile of your ship and it moves across a level by automatically advancing your screen across the level. You can control your ship by touching and dragging around on the screen while your ship fires automatically, but you can touch the screen with a second finger to stop shooting and tap in the lower right corner of the screen to unleash super attacks that can do massive damage or otherwise clear the screen of foes.
In a lot of ways, Super Hydorah doesn’t do too much differently than other side-scrolling shooters, but it does have a few little tricks up its sleeve to keep things interesting. Certain levels have environmental effects, you can pick up new weapons to equip your ship with between levels, and there are even sections of the game where you actually want to avoid firing at everything indiscriminately.
Super Hydorah also has a pretty interesting structure. The game gives you a certain amount of lives to get through the whole game. If you ever die in a level, you have to start at the beginning of the section you were on, but if you lose too many lives, you can opt to either the start the whole game over again or sacrifice some of your high score to continue from where you last died. This allows content tourists to see the entirety of the game without having to invest time practicing the game while also maintaining a good amount of challenge for score chasers and perfectionists.
The only confusing thing about Super Hydorah is that there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the game’s difficulty progression. While most games tend to start with easy levels and gradually progress to increasingly difficult ones, Super Hydorah doesn’t really do this. There are some early stages that are brutally difficult and quite a few late-game areas that are a complete breeze, with no discernible reasoning behind it.
Another thing to note about Super Hydorah is that it’s not the most narratively interesting game out there. This generally isn’t a problem if you just want to fly around and blast baddies, but if you are looking for some kind of grand space adventure, you should probably look elsewhere. The story in Super Hydorah is super barebones, and what is there isn’t particularly well executed.
The bottom line
The thing to know about Super Hydorah is that it’s a game that checks the boxes in all of the right places. It’s a side-scrolling shooter with a retro feel, but just enough of its own clever ideas to make it stand out. It may not have a difficulty curve that makes sense, and its story may be very weak, but those things don’t register as problems while you’re playing it. Instead, you focus in on the tight controls, classic presentation, and inventive level design that makes this simple shooter formula work.