Hopefully you will all have been playing the fabulous Maldita Castilla, the Ghosts 'N Goblins inspired 2D platformer available this month. If not, then why not? Secondly, there is more Locomalito news with the release of version 1.1 of his epic shoot-em-up Hydorah.
Hydorah is not only my favourite indie shoot-em-up (or shmup if you want to be a part of the cool crowd), but my favourite horizontal shooter ever. Usually I go for the more 'bullet hell' orientated variants of this niche genre, but Hydorah absolutely blew me away. With its wonderful pixel graphics, and excellent Japanese style soundtrack by the talented Gryzor87, Hydorah captures both the style and spirit of the 80's coin-ops perfectly. It is bastard hard too, with enemies and projectiles coming at you from every angle. Even the environment hates you, with alien plants spitting bullets at you, and rocks getting in your way.
Luckily it is such an enjoyable game to play that you will keep continuing until you have a decent strategy for surviving a level and defeating its large guardian who awaits you at the end. The level of polish on display here is typical of Locomalito's usual high standards, with everything put together with the utmost care and consideration. It's clearly inspired by games such as Gradius and R-Type, but personally I find it more enjoyable than both of those classic titles. I found Hydorah's method of instant use power ups more convenient than the manual selections required by Gradius. Here enemies drop power ups that alternate colours until you collect them, different colours giving you either speed up, weapon, or drone ship assistance power ups. The branching paths you can take through the game adds a nice level of variety and strategy to proceedings, and you will have master your preferred route if you are to succeed. Many levels are extremely large, allowing you to, not only scroll to the right, but move up multiple screens to reach the top. It creates a more immersive and open world compared to the single screen height stages usually seen in this genre.
I am sure many of you will have already experienced this excellent game, but what does this new 1.1 update bestow upon us? Well, firstly there are a few graphical tweaks, and extra display options. The excellent scan lines in particular are a welcome addition and result in Hydorah looking even closer to an original horizontal arcade screen. You can now configure your controller buttons, though using an Xbox 360 controller on the default settings is my control method of choice. Gameplay wise, Locomalito has listened to feedback from the gaming community about the game's intense difficulty, as has there fore toned the difficulty UP. Yes that's right, he has made it slightly harder. You have to love this guy's ability to stick to his guns. There is some assistance in the two extra saves that you are allowed though, and your little ship escorts that help you can now shoot through obstacles, hitting targets that you otherwise wouldn't be able to get. There are also some tweaks to the score system and other minor behind the scenes fixes that help everything run more smoothly.
Hydorah is simply one of the best indie games out there, and in its new, updated, guise it is even more impressive and enjoyable.
Head over to Locomalito’s website and download Hydorah immediately. Just be prepared for the mighty challenge that awaits you.