System: NES Publisher: FCI Developer: T&E Soft
Genre: RPG Type: Oldschool RPG Circa: 1989
Ah, crap!...I hope you like that castle sprite - It's about the only thing in the game that looks somewhat decent

I still remember the very day I brought home Hydlide. Back in those days, videogame magazines rarely printed a bad word about a game, and there was no internet. I knew nothing about Hydlide. Only that it is an RPG. So, I had no real idea what to expect when I went to play it...and was I ever in for a shock!
GRAPHICS: 1.5/10
O_o Uh.....well.....the castle sprite looked nice....and at least I could tell what was a tree and what was a rock. But it's extremely difficult for me to describe just how bad these graphics really are, and still have you take me seriously. It's a good thing I have screenshots, (even if they are of Hydlide Special, but the two games are identical.) First of all, you have only a small portion of the screen dedicated to actual game graphics. This isn't entirely a bad thing, since other games, like Shadowgate, have pulled it off nicely. But in Hydlide's case, it makes everything appear very tiny and difficult to discern. Most of the enemies and objects are just one or two colors. Luckily, there's an indicator at the bottom of the screen that tells you the name of the monster you're fighting. Otherwise, I'd have no clue what I'm looking at. The screen scrolling is so jerky, it's practically headache-inducing. There are several different types of terrain, such as forest, castle, and desert, and at least it's easy to understand when you're in one or the other. But there is literally no "style", as only the very basic of tiles and sprites are used to define the backgrounds and characters.
Still pictures can't show you how jerky the screen scrolling and character movement are...A graveyard with more crosses that Nintendo didn't censor
SOUND: 1.5/10
Hydlide's music consists of one ever-looping song that sounds suspiciously similar to the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark. As far as I can tell, it never changes. This is the music that's on the title screen, in the overworld, in the caves, the castles, the mazes, the desert, and everywhere else. The music, itself, sounds as though it's emanating from a child's toy. The sound effects are about as basic as they can get: Walk into an enemy, hear a little Atari 2600-style sound effect. While Hydlide's sound is far below the standards of almost any other NES game I've played, there's almost something endearing about that goofy little theme song...until I heard it loop for about the 15 millionth time.
CONTROL: 3.5/10
The idea behind Hydlide's play control is that you are supposed to hold down a button, then run into the enemies to defeat them. It can be very difficult to do this without getting killed. The trick is that you must hit the enemies while they are moving away from you. If you hit them while they are moving towards you, chances are, you'll take damage and be dead in a matter of seconds. This control is interesting, but it's not exactly intuitive or fun. I have, on occasion, died for no apparent reason while just running around. When I originally mentioned this oddity awhile ago, there was some controversy, as some people said this never happens to them, and others said it only happens when walking on desert or swamp areas. I would like to make it clear that this has happened to me no less than three times. Twice when it happened, I was in the normal green grass, and the other time I was standing on the grey brick tile in front of a castle. I do not know what causes this, but since it's happened three times, I consider it a definite flaw that can have the effect of making the game unplayable, especially since when you die, you start the game all over again! There's another hideous bug in the programming that sometimes causes you to run into a monster off-screen while it's scrolling over. This can end up causing an "instant death", since you can't attack it as it's scrolling through your character's body. Manipulating the menus is also somewhat confusing.
I can't believe Nintendo Power writers thought that a Save the Princess plot was bizarre and beyond what they were used to seeing...Sigh...
The dragon, Varalys, transforms the Princess of Hydlide into three fairies, and now it's up to the young knight Jim to rescue her. If I lived in the videogame world, one job I would definitely not want is "Princess". Despite being RPG-like, there is no real in-game story for Hydlide. Incidentally, I remember reading in Nintendo Power magazine a long time ago that this game had a really bizarre plot that was beyond even what they were used to seeing. I am still unable to figure out what they meant by that. A "save the princess" plot isn't exactly anything new. Because of Hydlide's simplicty, it lacks atmosphere just as much as it does plot.
It is difficult in Hydlide to figure out what to do, where to go, and how to defeat enemies. But these are the very basic elements of the game, and the actual gameplay is not very challenging or rewarding. Ramming into enemies to see if you win or lose doesn't take a whole lot of skill or strategy. Like many RPGs, you can only defeat tougher enemies once you have leveled up by beating many of the weaker enemies. Hydlide's basic philosophy is like that of Dragon Warrior 1, in that you spend most of the game just leveling up. Level-building is not something I am overly fond of, and I'm even less tolerant of it in a game that is so badly put together as Hydlide.
FUN: 1/10
I have given Hydlide every possible last chance that I could. I wanted so badly to like this game. But I just cannot stand the jerky screen scrolling, the endless waves of boring enemies, the frustrating battle system, annoying glitches, and uneventful game world. At this point, I am trying to decide if Hydlide truly was a serious attempt by the designers to create a good game, or if it was made overnight. I even went so far as to plug in a password that gives you everything necessary to beat the game...and still found that nothing had changed. Maybe this game really isn't quite as bad I've often heard. If you know exactly how to attack the enemies, and if you don't get caught off-guard by the glitches, then it is possible to play it and make progress in it. But whether or not it's possible to actually have fun with it is still debatable.
It's too bad you can't make Jim fall in the river...I hear those things that look like slippers are supposed to be sandworms

I wanted to give Hydlide a chance, but instead, I feel I ended up giving it more attention than it deserves. Goodbye, Hydlide, and may you ever rest in the bottom stacks of my NES cartridge collection.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 1/10



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