Hydlide Special Permadeath%

Started by Princess Rescuer, February 23, 2022, 04:55:26 PM

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Princess Rescuer

Hydlide. Ugh, HYDLIDE! It sounds so wretched and foul, like you're puking as you say it. HYDLIDE!

At least that's the impression one would get from the general consensus of Hydlide on the internet. This comes from a lot of it being from vocal Western gamers who got the game in 1989 rather than 1986, when it was already greatly dated compared to its contemporaries, especially The Legend Of Zelda 1 and 2.

There's a rumor going on around this small forum that I am hard to please. Not really. I've actually stuck up for some of the most maligned games ever in the past. It's not that my standards are high, it's that my tastes do not match most other people. Case in point, the Famicom game Hydlide Special. In North America on the NES, the game is just "Hydlide", though the Famicom version is Hydlide Special in order to differentiate it from the MSX version. I will be referring to this one specifically, using the "Special" title, the way modern Zelda fans add the subtitle "The Hyrule Fantasy" to Zelda 1 to make it more specific, or add "64" to the titles of N64 games.

One serious issue I have is not living up to my name enough with my tastes. I'm guessing it's because plenty of these games are already so popular as to not need my input. Hydlide Special is... still a popular game. Popular enough for NES cartridges to be cheap and Famicom cartridges to be dirt cheap. It's mainstream by my standards anyway. Probably one of the most mainstream (in East Asia at least) games I like, surpassed only by the likes of Wii Sports. It is not a "Zelda clone" but rather the entire Zelda series is a "Hydlide clone".

In Hydlide Special, you control Jim, one of the weakest characters in any action-adventure game. While he is a weakling (and a coward who's bad at fighting, which we'll get into), I find him far more compelling to play as compared to the overwrought power fantasies of today, and even ones that would come soon after. Having a main character who dies easily, even at max level, and doesn't have the most game-breaking abilities ever is REFRESHING. And completing the Permadeath challenge with such a vulnerable character, which I'll get into, is immensely empowering in ways that the game-breaking abilities in so many other games could only fantasize of being.

Jim's main weakness comes from the fact that he is terrible at face-to-face conflicts. Facing enemies head-on will most likely result in them biting off a large chunk of Jim's small, oh-so-precious amount of health, which he needs to stand in grass to slowly regenerate. The best way to deal with every enemy is to stab them in the back. I'm guessing that before Varalys's invasion of Hydlide, Jim was probably not a noble hero and more likely part of a craven criminal gang, which is where he learned such cheap and dishonorable battle tactics. When running behind an enemy and attacking, they are defenseless to counter him and will go down quick. You don't even need the back, you can just attack from the side. This is the strategy for every enemy in the game, regardless of strength, and given how tight some of the environments are, it's not always simple to do.

In addition to that, Jim also has five magic abilities, unlocked when he has enough magic power to use them. The most useful ability, by far, is Turn, which spins enemies around and sends them in the opposite direction. It sounds like the most useless ability in gaming history, but in this game, making enemies face the back so you can easily attack them unhindered is very important. It's the first magic ability you unlock and it's the least costly by far, which adds to its usefulness. The others are purely situational and there are two, Wave and Fire, that only need to be used once in an entire playthrough.

Despite the aforementioned problems, Hydlide is actually quite an easy game to beat normally. You have the greatest power of all: in-game savestates. Not only that, they're BETTER than normal savestates because they can reset enemy and item positions. They're quick and easy, and you can use them an unlimited amount of times. The only danger is hitting "Save" when you meant to hit "Load" or in reverse. Other than that, they're a potent tool for greatly reducing the game's overall difficulty.

That's why the new challenge, Permadeath%, which I'm not sure has been completed by anyone, is so compelling.

In Permadeath%, there is only one rule- no use of the Save command and no Passwords. No other changes than that, except that trivial challenges have now become sources of grave danger. Your health drains shockingly fast in battles, so one careless mistake can end your run. The game has suddenly gone from Agent to Dark License to Kill. It can be outright unfair sometimes as you can go into a cave, or a screen transition in a cave, and be cornered by monsters that eat you for breakfast. This can even happen with the final boss.

First off, un-plug your Audio cables and leave nothing except the Video cable in. Play the music or podcasts of your choice. If you are streaming the game, now's the opportunity for your viewers to Song Request.

Princess Ann of Hydlide has been turned into three fairies, rendering her ability to rid Hydlide of Varalys's armies of monsters completely useless. It's up to you to rescue all three. The first one can be gotten within seconds of starting, provided you search the correct tree. You should wait until you're at a high enough level to use Flash though. Also, you need to find a Cross in a treasure chest, which you will need later. It's out of the way, but out in the open and unguarded. You can now begin fighting slimes. I recommend grinding on the strip to the right of the screen where the Fairy 1 Trees are. It's small and manageable, with no rocks or Kobolds, not to mention there is only healing grass and no trees. Now, you're not completely restricted in what you can do. You do have the option to make the grinding much faster if you're capable of going into the Wisp Cave, collecting the Sword upgrade, and getting back out. Problem is, you'll need to be quick and have memorized the layout of the underground sub-area, as it's completely dark except for you and the enemies. I personally find it safer for players new to this game (and this challenge, basically everyone) to grind to Level 3 before battling the Vampire and then getting the Sword from the Wisp Cave.

As far as the Vampire goes, he's pretty simple. You should have the Cross by now, making him possible to defeat. Just wait and bait, and have a Turn at the ready to make him vulnerable. He should go down in a few hits. You'll have the Lamp, one of the most useful items. Before the Wisp Cave, you might want to go to the Armor Cave and get the Shield. You will need to kill 3 Lady Armors to get a Shield, which will make the Wisp Cave (and the rest of the game) much easier. You don't have to get them all in one go- you can kill one, go back out the bottom right exit you came in, and regenerate your health. If you're boxed in on the bottom right by a Gold Armor, you can leave the screen with the Armor Cave hole and come back to reset it. Make sure you kill 3 Lady Armors in a row- killing one other enemy will make you have to start over. Now for the Wisp cave. You have a tight and linear labyrinth to go through, meaning your dodging options are limited. In general, run in and out as quickly as possible and regenerate enough magic for a Turn in case you need it.

Now that you have the Sword, you can relax a bit more. Gain a few more levels on Zombies and use the Key to get the Jewel. Go into the Roper maze and make it into the cave with Gold Armors and Lady Armors. Defeat enough Gold Armors to make the Ring appear- one of the three items to make Varalys appear. You need more levels, in fact now is your opportunity to reach Level 9, which you will do by battling Eels. Wait in the water until an Eel comes up. And remember Turn is your friend. Once you're at the max level, you should have a Cross, a Lamp, a Sword, a Pot, a Key, a Jewel, a Ring, and a Shield. They Key will be in one of several chests, and you can't load savestates until the key is in the chest you start right next to, so save that one for later.

Now that you're nearly done, it's time to collect the Fairies. Fairy 1 is south of the starting screen. Search the trees and use Flash if the Wasps get too much. Fairy 2 is trapped in a random moving tree on one screen. It's obviously much safer to get it when you're this powerful. Fairy 3 is only obtained by defeating both Wizards on one screen with a single Wave, which shouldn't be too hard. You can stand in the canal or the land to the right of the canal to aim uninhibited. If you miss, you can just regenerate. Now you will fight the Dragon, one of the most surprisingly chill moments of the run. Run up, hit him, retreat, regenerate, repeat. After that, use Fire to burn the tree next to Varalys's Castle and go inside to break the Grave, which will drain the water in the water corridors. One more item to collect, a Ruby, and you're ready to battle Varalys.

Varalys is definitely intense in a Permadeath run, but not insurmountable. Even though you're probably desperate for this run to be over, take it slow and steady. Flash the enemies away, hit him a few times in defense mode, then go to back through the upper left enterance to regenerate health. This is a safe zone where no enemies can reach you. You are completely safe here because the enemies are so dumb. The Dragon gave you a Medicine, but try as hard as you can to keep it. Don't go into attack mode to get the battle done faster. Be as risk-averse as possible until you win.

After that, leave the TV and the Famicom on and don't press any button. Leave the game on the Congratulations screen with the reformed Princess Ann of Hydlide giving you congratulatory bows of gratitude for as many days as you like to remind yourself of your magnificent achievement.