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Hydlide (NES) artwork

Hydlide (NES) review


"Hydlide is madness contained within a plastic gray cart. To play it for too long and contemplate its dimensions and features is to go insane. It's an RPG of the worst sort, one that pads its gameplay out with grinding and guessing and gives you nothing else--no plot, no side quests, no other clues or NPC. You explore the tiny area to which are confined, bump into scores of enemies in order to kill them, listen to the same looping and overly high-pitched music, and perish many times in ..."



Hydlide is madness contained within a plastic gray cart. To play it for too long and contemplate its dimensions and features is to go insane. It's an RPG of the worst sort, one that pads its gameplay out with grinding and guessing and gives you nothing else--no plot, no side quests, no other clues or NPC. You explore the tiny area to which are confined, bump into scores of enemies in order to kill them, listen to the same looping and overly high-pitched music, and perish many times in an attempt to fulfill the most banal of RPG quests.

On the wide, green plains are a vast population of slimes and kobolds. Everyone knows that these are the always the bottom-tier enemies for RPGs, and that in a game that looks like Legend of Zelda that hitting the attack button will make a little sword sprite pop out of your character, slicing and dicing said enemies. No one expects there to be no such animation in Hydlide. No, this is the game of the lackadaisical, developed by those who didn't think an simple animation was prudent. Why, you can just as easily hold down the attack button and bump into enemies. That would be just as effective.

It isn't. Bumping into enemies with the attack button held damages both you and them. You cannot avoid taking damage, and inevitably dying. Your only refuge is to wait for your HP to refill between killings, which is only a small wait at first, but as you gain more levels and more HP, that wait becomes astronomical.

Grinding is all you can do at the start, and oh yes you will grind. You will grind until bloody tears spill from your eyes and carpal tunnel sets in, only to gain a level and have to grind for much longer. Experience values depreciate, so you cannot grind off the same enemies forever. You have to move to bigger and better ones.

Grinding makes up about 95% of your play time. That's 95% you could devote to a better action-RPG on NES like Crystalis. And, as if to taunt you, you must listen to the worst rendition of the Indiana Jones theme play in a constant loop. We're not talking the whole theme either, but the first few notes played in endless repetition, sounding as though they are blasting from the diminutive speakers of a PlaySkool crib mobile. If this has the same effect on you as it did on me, you'll wind up hating Harrison Ford and not wanting children.

So let's get away from the grinding and explore a bit, shall we? There are quite a few sights to see, what with about four or five dungeons, a graveyard loaded with zombies, a desert complete with irritating sandworms, a lake filled with killer eels, an obligatory evil castle... Exploring them all, every bit of the game, should take you roughly ten to twenty minutes. Each of these areas are bite-sized compared to some of the monstrosities that would come out only a few years later. If you were to enter a password putting you at the level cap and you know the order of operations, then you could probably beat this game in roughly the same ten to twenty minute frame.

That's if you know what you're doing. If you don't, tough. You can't pull up to the nearest town and get any helpful hints from townsfolk, nor are there any hermits or old hags living in hidden tunnels that will tell you where anything is located. Unless you have a FAQ or an instruction manual, you have to guess your way from start to finish, and how would you ever know what to do? How would you know that the cross you find in the first treasure chest is used to damage the erratic-moving vampire? How would you know to check trees for the first two fairies? The final fairy can only be obtained by killing a pair of arbitrary wizards with a wave spell. Both must be killed at the exact same time, you have a very tight space to fire the spell in, and it can only be fired vertically. This must be the developers' attempt at challenge. It's more like an insult.

The toughest part about making it through Hydlide is trying not to lose interest. One could do so within the first hour, or even before they are able to grind up to the first level. Once you see the battle system, it's likely you'll want to shut the game off and get a lobotomy. Even if you were to continue playing, trying to figure out what the hell you're supposed to do is another kind of beast. No part of the game tells you to search for fairies, search for jewels, visit a grave or any of that jazz.

One cannot help but feel like this game was made using a toolkit. Even for the mid-80's, Hydlide looks, feels and plays like it's primitive and amateur, like a tween slapped it together in one night. The only thing it's missing is misspelled text. There isn't a shred of redeeming value. It's all downhill once you hit the start button and find out what a lovely, vapid mess it is.

Rating: 1/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (February 05, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Feedback

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EmP posted February 07, 2011:

I'm not sure how a game this bad got two follow-on titles in two different generations of console. It's a mystery!
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pickhut posted February 07, 2011:

Ha, the graphics may be simplistic, but after seeing images of Virtual Hydlide, or worse, see it in motion, you'll think this game is a work of art.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 07, 2011:

I have not played the other Hydlide games, but to be honest I have been curious about them. I think I've seen some screen shots of Virtual Hydlide, and I only shutter to think what playing it would be like. The most terrifying thought is that there are something like 5 Hydlide games in all. Why anyone thought it deserved even one sequel of any kind is beyond me. As EmP said, it's a mystery.

EDIT:
I've played the MSX versions of the second and third games. They are awful, but not nearly as bad as the original.

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