Retro Review – HydroZone – Amiga
Publisher: Skull Army Software Developer: Skull Army Software Genre: First Person Runner
Players: 1 Other console/handheld formats: N/A
It’s time to take a nostalgic look back at a fairly obscure title for the Commodore Amiga, a little known game called HydroZone, which was originally released in 1994 as a full game with the Amiga Action magazine.
By popular demand, Hydrozone was released as an updated version on November 16th 2010, and is a game that proves that you can create a lot with very little, with only one person having worked on the game. HydroZone is a first person runner game, with the camera constantly moving forward through vast tunnels full of obstacles that the player must avoid. The controls are basic, with the player being able to move the camera left, right, up and down to dodge past brightly coloured blocks, and using the control button to shoot, when needed. Hitting the blocks reduces your energy bar, and colliding with the blocks enough times ends the game.
HydroZone is an addictive game, with vibrant 3D-style visuals. The game looks like it was created using MS Paint, though the brilliance is in its simplicity. The confinement of the flowing tunnels, set against a spacious backdrop, makes you feel as though you are soaring on a rollercoaster through the everlasting cosmos as you glide ever forwards. The aim is to escape the boundaries of the tunnels, and to free yourself from the enemies and dangers found within. There is a fair amount to experience, with bosses to defeat as you reach the end of different levels, a segment where you can play a mini-game based on the Atari game Breakout, with the screen acting as the paddle, and sections where you shoot at or collect targets in order to recharge your energy bar, ready for when you continue on your journey to freedom.
You’ll also be tapping your feet and bobbing your head to the lively techno music, a rhythmic beat still memorable to this day. HydroZone is a game that fully commands your attention as you play, and even from the start menu it draws you in with its bright, retro colours and thumping beat.
The game is linear, and could possibly be completed in a very short amount of time for advanced players. However, HydroZone is a learning curve for newer players, able to keep you on your toes and offering much challenge and replayability for those determined to complete the game; the game is ruthless, and a lot of practice will be needed in order to memorise the best manoeuvres in order to avoid every obstacle that stands in your way. If at any point you lose, you have to start again right from the beginning, though with the updated Special Edition, a checkpoint has been added at Level 4, which is still tricky to get to!
As a whole, HydroZone offers much variation in its gameplay, and with the combination of the catchy soundtrack and frenzied speed of the action, it is truly a colourful and fast-paced game that certainly makes you feel like you are on a rollercoaster ride of life or death. Many games these days try to replicate the simplistic design and excitement of past games, and if you would like to experience what a true, old-school Indie game can offer, then HydroZone is certainly worth a try. Much credit goes to the games creator, David J. Cruickshank. Good times, indeed!