bomba's House Of Flancakes

Posted on Aug 28th 2014 at 08:56:56 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Hydlide, history, Hydlide, pain, help, danger, frustration, boredom


Enter 1990 (maybe early 1991). Hot from months of playing Final Fantasy (my introduction to the genre), I needed a new RPG to play, but I found my funds seriously lacking. So what do I turn to? The small wall of $20 games at the local game store. Of that lean selection of 15 or so games, there was one that caught my eye, with a description of "Action fantasy role playing" on the back of the box. With a joy that only children with extra funds can know, I bought Hydlide, unaware in the slightest the impact this game would have on my life as a gamer.




Oddly enough, on the car ride home I began to feel a bit of trepidation about my purchase. See, that particular wall of cheap games had bitten me before when I purchased King's Knight. Lured in by the price and the promise of "Action Adventure" on the cover, I had bought it without any research. It turned out the game wasn't bad, rather I didn't agree with the "Action Adventure" wording on the front of the box. As I sat in the back seat of my parent's station wagon with my new game, I tried to console myself and was sure that this time would be different. I had read the tiny review in Nintendo Power, and everything seemed fine, and the people at NP surely wouldn't steer me wrong. I opened the box, and everything changed forever.

Hydlide is an action-rpg developed by T&E Soft and published by FCI (in North America) in June of 1989. While the reception in the West was less than warm, Hydlide is a well liked and well respected game in its native Japan. Often seen as the successor of Dragon Slayer and the predecessor to Ys, Hydlide helped innovate this unique branch of action-RPG with regenerating health and two modes of action (attack and defend). This made progress much easier than in Dragon Slayer, where one had to stay close to shelter or risk loosing it all. In Hydlide one merely has to disengage the enemy, hide and wait for your health to come back. Easy-peasy. Fight, hide, fight, hide, rinse and repeat. Jim (the character you are controlling) will slowly gain experience until you level up and you can tackle stronger monsters. And you will be running and hiding. A lot.

While Hydlide is progressive for its genre (in its own day), from 1989 and beyond, it is a punishing and tedious game that offers little reward outside of The Grind. You remember The Grind, right? Created in a different time, Hydlide could have been subtitled The Grind. However, grinding in Hydlide is very different than in many of it's predecessors and contemporaries. In Hydlide, one must be very patient and crafty in your movements. Remembering to click on the "Save" button (which allows you to load from that point should you die) is essential to success, as otherwise death is permanent. Die in this game without saving or generating a password and all will be lost. Taking on too many enemies with too little health or no escape and you will die. Neglect to use magic on certain enemies or explore (which will net you essectial items) and you will die. Press an attack too much head-on on an enemy (pretty much any enemy) and you will die. Yet even with all this, there is a certain something about this game that kept it in my mind.


Video by Crabmaster2000

Within a few minutes of playing Hydlide, I knew that I had made a massive mistake. Granted, I was very well versed in making horrible gaming decisions (Victory Road instead of Simon's Quest, King's Knight, ignoring Dragon Warrior until 1994), but there was something else going on here. For the first time, I was told to turn down the sound when playing a game. After an hour, the sense of dread was amazing in it's visibility. I imagined I was almost green. I imagined my parents would have used this as an object lesson. $20. Gone forever, never to be seen again. Thinking about another game I could have gotten, all those quarters for the arcade, all those rentals at $3 a day, made me physically sick. I felt helpless and sick. And I would play this game, because that is what I did back in those days. Little did I know, there was a missing piece to this puzzle.

So disgusted in my poor choice of games, I kept pressing forward to finish the game (and perhaps bury it in the backyard) without saving my game. I was using the password, but I was dying constantly and having to start over. I would play for an hour, record my password, and turn the game off, having only made a bit of progress (if any at all). I was not playing the game the way it was meant to be played. See, a conservative and dedicated person correctly utilizing the save system can finish the game in a few hours. A stupid kid only basically understands the mechanics of the game and uses the save system perhaps every six or seven hours. I played the game for several months in one hour sessions, never getting far. Within the year, I decided to punish the game in the harshest way I could think of: I removed the game chip and buried the Hydlide case in the backyard, a fate not even reserved for the likes of broken Cobra and Foot Clan action figures. As for the game chip, I kept it in a case near my other NES games, just so it would know how much I hated it (as if that was a thing). I wouldn't play Hydlide again for over twenty years. But I still thought about it. Occasionally.

Part of the reason I like to share my personal anecdotes on gaming subjects is to help me understand how this wonderful, yet often expensive hobby fits into and affects my life. So how does one deal with a game that one abjectively hates so much that one would actively shun it?  My eventual answer was repurchase a copy of it, along with the Japanese version, a sequel, and a remake. Makes sense, right?  No, I don't understand it either. I still cannot deny the fact that while this is a frustrating and often tortuously plodding game, it still has its place in history, not only for the NES (and Famicom), but in the action-RPG genre as well. Now I'm not suggesting you should buy the game, or if you already own it, that you should actually play it. What I am saying is that the next time you pass it in your collection, the next time you see it at your local game store, the next time you see it on a garage sale table or thrift store shelf, maybe spare a thought for it, knowing the importance that this game had and the ripples it created in some of the games that you enjoy.



Todays game was played within the realm of the Cave Screen and the Komfy Kouch (whose reality of being comfy and a couch are indeed in question). The Cave Screen would like you to know that this is for "DEMONSTRATION" purposes only, and no Hydlide was played otherwise.  The Cave Screen would like you to know that it is no longer accepting questions on whether or not any further NES/Saturn Hydlide will ever appear again upon it's face.




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Comments
 
How about Super Hydlide on the Genesis? Wink
 
I had a similar experience with Hydlide as a kid. I received it for a gift, pretty sure my parents mistook it for the Zelda game I was enjoying at my father's friends house.

Played a lot of it and never seemed to accomplish anything other than being able to wander through the pitch black dungeon near the start by memory.

When I first started getting into collecting close to 10 years ago I bought a large lot of NES games off ebay specifically because Hydlide was one of them and I was determined to beat it. After MANY hours I was able to get to the final boss and just couldn't quite finish it.

Fast forward to 2011 and I really started hitting my NES library hard and put my best effort forward and was able to come up with that video that you posted in your article. Really felt good and still one of my favorite gaming achievements of all time. I was able to let go of a lot of the frustration that game held over me for about 2 decades. 
 
@Shadow Kisuragi: Actually I was already typing out an addendum that will include the other Hydlide games that I own (and three that I want to own).  Really just want a place to show pictures of the MSX Hydlide boxes, which are among my favorite covers.

@Crabmaster2000: I ended up writing this in a more anecdotal style to hopefully draw out personal stories from others about this game (good and bad). Most people say it is horrible, but I want to know how horrible!  Thanks for sharing, Crabby.
 
I really love how historical, and yet personalized, this review is. I feel like all of us can point to some (if not several) "Hydlides" from our gaming past. Great read!
 
I read this article very shortly after you posted it, and it was what allowed me to know what type of game Hydlide was, and your description of frustration and borderline hatred of the game was what drew me to it. Granted, I know very little outside of my personal experience, so if a game I didn't experience as a child is so much as named somewhere on the site by one of about ten people, I will usually take notice. Because of this article, when I saw the game locally a few days ago, it was a no-brainer to snag it.

Difficulty and frustration have always drawn me to love games. Dragon Warrior was an absolute pain in my ass as a child, and to this day have never completed it, but like Crabby mentioned with Hydlide, I am continually able to push forward and get a little further each time I play.

I will be playing this game over the weekend, and I know I will enjoy it. Thank you for the read, bombatomba!
 
Based on conversations I have had with Crabmaster, Hydlide will NEVER be a game that I add to my collection.
 
I do so enjoy these glimpses of personal gaming past.  Thanks! 
My only experience with Hydlide on NES as a kid was a rental from a local movie store.  I remember playing for all of about ten to fifteen minutes, and I was so disappointed I didn't play again before returning it.  Past that, I tested the copy in our collection (as I do every game we pick up) and haven't touched it otherwise.

Hmmm...

*walks over to NES shelf, grabs Hydlide and Famicom converter, puts them into Famicom, loads it up.*

Huh.  An opening with a dragon vomiting an unfurling length of twine at a nice looking lady in a wedding gown.  OH DEAR, SHE'S HAVING A SIEZURE.  And now she's disappeared and three fairies are wandering about, which I assume the dragon will capture in bottles for a quick health regen later.  OoohhKay.  Seen weirder intros. 

And start... hey, this feels sorta roguelike, kinda nifty, hello original Ys combat system, what-the-why-did-I-die?  Er, well, maybe I just didn't- I just pressed start why am I flashing red what-the I lost half my life by pressing start.

I, uh, yeah.  Back to the shelf for now. 

 
@slackur: It's amazing just how many people have the exact same experience, up to quietly placing the game back into their collection, slightly confused.  I kind of wish I had metrics to back this up, but I like to think that this was the initial reaction that most gamers had with the game (East or West), though the length of time between picking the game up again mirrors the age of the player (i.e., the only people who played this game more than once were young).  Except Crabby.
 
Wish I had the metrics for how many statements could end with 'except Crabby.' Wink
 
I love you guys

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So I'm an odd ball. So I am usually the last to post on a blog/forum. So I only post about weird games on weird platforms. So I have a strange relationship with commas and parenthesis. So what? Hey, at least you don't have to car pool with me to work, right? So have a heart, eat a blueberry, and don't forget to drop the empties in the box on the way out. I get deposit on those.
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