Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2007-11-01


Developer: T&E Soft Publisher: FCI
Release Date: June 20, 1989 Also On: None

There comes a time in every reviewer's life when he has to warn his constituency that a game might not be worth their time. Since I am doing a run of NES reviews now, I thought I would take just such an opportunity. Hydlide is a game that gives meaning to the phrase "what were they thinking?". Almost everything that the creators of the game could have done wrong, they did do wrong. But anyway, enough of my vague negative comments, let's get into the meat of what made this game so bad.

Let's start with the graphics. Okay, the graphics are decent for an early-period NES title. You can clearly tell whether you are in a forest, a plain, or a desert and you can tell the difference between the terrain and the enemies. However, the enemy designs aren't terribly inspired, and the hero looks like they took a generic knight sprite and pasted it into the game. The graphics are good enough that they would be forgivable if the other categories fared better.

The sounds, however, are not. The sound effects are mediocre, but not atrocious. However, for the entire duration of the game, you hear one short theme. By the time you beat the game though, you'll be tired of this theme because it finishes and reloops about once every fifteen to twenty seconds, if that. It is this same theme for the entire game, no matter where you are.

And now for where the game really suffers, the gameplay. You are this knight who needs to defeat a demon to save the princess, or something like that. To confront this demon, you get to collect stuff: three jewels, three fairies, and various other assorted items. Sounds like a Zelda game, doesn't it? However, there are differences.

First of all, your attack system is very simplistic. You have a button that you press to switch from defend mode to attack mode. When you are in defend mode, you take less damage but deal out significantly less damage to enemies. When you are in attack mode, you do more damage to enemies but take more damage yourself. This use of modes requires you to actually run into your enemy in attack mode to do damage to it, which in turn will also do damage to you. You might be thinking then that it might be safer to just avoid enemies until you get to the end boss, but that is not the case. You have to attack enemies because you have to gain experience to level up.

When the game starts, your character is a total wuss. If you run into the weakest enemy in attack mode at the beginning of the game, he will possibly die before you, if you're lucky, but you will be at the brink of death afterward. Luckily, the makers of this game did think to include a life-bar that recovers when you're not in combat with enemies. So the first level up will be a matter of running into an enemy and almost dying while defeating it, and then running from enemies while your life-bar regenerates. After you level up this first time (which increases all attributes evenly), you will be able to increase yet another level with these same enemies before they stop giving you experience, but this time you can practically just turn on attack mode and walk through them. Okay, maybe not, but by the end of the game these weak enemies can be walked through in defend mode without even a moment's hesitation. Actually, by the time you reach maximum level, you can walk through a lot of the normal enemies without too much trouble.

When you have leveled up a few times, you can even use spells on your enemies, the strongest of which destroys all normal enemies on the screen, the weakest of which just turns the enemies so they head in a different direction. You have a magic bar that increases with each level up. At the beginning of the game, you don't even have enough magic to cast the turning spell. The magic bar also regenerates when you cast a spell.

However, beyond this it is somewhat of a Zelda clone. You have an overworld, and you have caves that you can go through to get from one part of the overworld to another, some of which require a lamp to see in. However, the overworld is very small, and the caves aren't particularly long. Basically, most of the game has you increasing your abilities and searching for treasure chests containing items and also items which are found in other ways. There are no towns to help you with information, so it's basically blind searching. As small as the overworld is, that's not so bad with the treasure chests, but with the other things, you would likely need to consult a walkthrough unless you tried everything on everything, which is basically what it would take to find everything.

Like I said, the overworld is small, so it stands to reason that the game isn't particularly long, which is true. You also have the option to save your progress at any time. By the time you have beaten this game, however, you will likely wish you had spent the time playing something else, although it might entertain you for an hour or two if you are into this kind of game.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 3
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 3
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 4
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely