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Hydro


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Rating: 3.2/5 (70 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (4)

PsychotronicHydroHydro, from Canadian design student Yohei Shimomae, is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up with a methodical pace and an odd premise. Armed with a water gun, a jet-pack, and a snazzy shorts 'n t-shirt combo, you must battle a horde of flying robots that are all shaped like sea-life and have names like "Roboctopus". Somebody must have forgotten to inform your unseen robot-making nemesis that sea creatures aren't known for their ability to maneuver in the air. That is why there are so few birds shaped like tuna. And if you absolutely must build an army of airborne fish robots, don't make them vulnerable to jets of water.

But you can't tell mad scientists anything these days. This one is probably just a big fan of Darius.

HydroControl your on-screen alter-ego with the arrow keys, and charge your water cannon by holding [space]. The longer you hold down the space bar, the better the range and duration of the blast when you release. All of your vital statistics — life bar, fuel, and weapon ammunition — have been condensed into a single tank of water. Your water supply depletes when you move, when you charge your weapon, and when you take a hit. You have but one life, but you only die when you fall off the bottom of the screen, either from running out of water completely or from an ill-timed pummeling.

Refill your water pack by picking up floating blue orbs. Destroy enough mechanical seafood, and a random bonus letter will appear. Grab it to power up your range, damage, charge time, or flight speed. And avoid getting hit, because you'll lose one of your bonuses if you do.

Analysis: Hydro has an unusual feel for a shooter. Because of your weapon's extremely short range and the enemy's almost total lack of projectiles, you have to confront your targets face to face. So you are always charging headlong into danger with limited resources. Although the water refills are spaced out regularly over the long run, their frequency has peaks and valleys. You can't afford to waste water moving around unnecessarily.

This makes Hydro into something of a thinking shooter, in which you must plan your moves and manage your resources. Well, your single resource. Don't get me wrong. This game won't put undue pressure on either your brain or your reflexes. It's just a simple, well-told story of a flying man and his deadly water pistol.

The presentation is appealing, with slick cartoony artwork, smooth animation, and a hypnotic throb of a soundtrack (which, again, sounds a lot like something from Darius). The end-level bosses are menacingly lovely, composed of rotating limbs and armor that often can be knocked off in pieces. The collision detection gets a little weird around some of the rotating creatures, but that's one of the few criticisms I have about the gameplay.

It's too bad that there's only three levels, but when you win, the game cycles you back through them with tougher enemies, so you can try for a high score and keep racking up bonuses. The random power-ups have a subtle effect on your strategy, enough to give the game a little replay value.

And like most side-scrolling action games, that's where it all falls down, of course. Once you beat the game, you'll be pretty much done with it. But it's a tasty bowl of bouillabaisse while it lasts.

Play Hydro

10 Comments

I like the strategic Rambo style of play in this game.

Ehh, for some reason, this game came up in my Google Feeds twice, but the second one linked to a broken link.

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That was a fun little adventure. That last boss startled me with the tail thing though.

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Kirkpad - we had a little mix up when we published this review, and it got published twice. Sorry about that. Not sure why the 2nd link was broken.

And yes to your other question, which I edited out of your comment. I would rather not have people visiting the development site for the redesign I'm working on. Cheers! :)

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This game is great but it has one balance issue: Power is the only powerup of the three that helps you avoid drowning, so therefore it is the most necessary powerup to get later in the game, when drowning is more frequent.

I don't know how he could fix this, but basically I play to get power powerups, if I don't, I Restart, and that kinda ruins the fun.

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A fun enough game, but severely unbalanced. The power-ups are a bit too powerful. What's worse progressively more and more important (the latter levels are unplayable without at least one charge and two power upgrades) yet are exponentially harder to get. This basically means is that you must play out your early levels perfectly AND get lucky with random upgrades to actually have a slim chance of surviving later, which kinda sucks. Couple that with botched collision detection which can decimate your hardly earned power-ups and you get quite a frustrating experience.

However, with a little tweaking this could be quite an enjoyable little shoot-em-up.

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I remember playing those fantasy video games: while walking along a beach, I'd encounter and have to fight fish that managed to hover in mid-air. I'm glad someone got to make a game around that trope.

Since all the other flying shooting games I've played tended to focus on avoiding glowing dots everyone would shoot, this looks to be an enticing and different idea.

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The concept of having your life bar, ammunition and fuel combined into one single meter is interesting, I haven't seen that done since Sewer Shark.

But the problem isn't a lack of fuel, it's the fact that the stupid water gun takes so long to charge up and then shoots out a few inches in a straight line for about eight nanoseconds, meanwhile, every enemy can take about 20 hits. Every enemy except the most basic one is already at the edge of the screen before I can get its HP down.

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Say you're fighting a giant robot prawn, and need to get a power-up that's coming by at the top of the screen; you move to get it, but the prawn moves forward and knocks you down past the power-up. You can't be hit while you're blinking, but neither can you move. This means that if you got hit once in the above example, there's still more prawn.

It's pretty minor, since most scrolling shooters would take off a life if you got hit in a boss fight, but I'd prefer it happening all at once than in a long, inescapable descent.

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I've added this game to my favorites, and the game icon in favorites links to "http://jayisgames.com/archives/2008/02/hydro.php" instead of http://jayisgames.com/archives/2008/01/hydro.php", can you fix it please? :)


[Edit: Thanks for bringing that to my attention. That was my typo, sorry for that. It is fixed now. -Jay]

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