Synthesize your paradigm…
So everyone is drooling over the new flashy high-dollar games myself included but there comes a time (Like when your 360 goes Red-Rings-Of-Death) that you find yourself going back to the basics, finding the Old School so to speak. I was lucky enough to have that experience during April when my 360 went belly up. In my possession at the time I had a sketchy Sega Dreamcast, that I customized so it’s a bit temperamental and then I had the trusty N64.
Say what you will about the system having cartridges when everyone else went to disc the system produced games that defined what gaming is today. Super Mario 64, Goldeneye, Wave Race, Star Fox 64, and the list goes on. Unfortunately with the failing medium that the games were stored on it fell from favor with a life of 4 short years. The lack of popularity caused several good games to fall through the cracks. One that is a personal favorite of mine.
Hybrid Heaven is true to its namesake delivering a Hybridized type of game that hadn’t been attempted before or since. Developed by KOEi it cobbles together several types of game. The RPG is represented by the leveling system and the menu based fighting. The fighting genre is shown with the combo system and the fact that most of the attacks look like Virtua Fighter rip-offs. The 3rd person action aspect, while not really needing any introduction is also used in pushing the story along.
The story begins in mystery as you watch the president on TV, take a shower, then watch on as the person you think to be the main character is shot in front of a young woman an in a Manhattan Subway station. The opening cut scene just abridged above is fully voiced, something that didn’t happen often in that day and age.
Ok so the story is a little hard to grasp at first but play through the game and the clichés do become obvious and get a good laugh. If you follow Video Games seriously as I do then you may know that Hybrid Heaven garnered some negative reviews scoring on the low half of the spectrum by the ‘professionals’ and there is some merit to this.
The game’s fighting system is unorthodox, not bad. Most of the guys who review games for the big guys (Game Informer, GameSpot, 1UP) are against innovation and only enjoy the old, the certain and the safe. The combat is hard to explain but I’ll give it a shot.
So you come to face your enemy and at the top of the screen is a charge bar that shows your power, after it clears a certain point you can attack. Get close to your enemy and press A, the action stops and a menu appears giving you your actions; Item or Attack. Then you choose from there with a few simple flicks of the Analog Stick (called the 3D stick in game) Then you choose your move and depending on your opponents reaction the attack is successful or not. There are a variety of moves to learn that make your character assume different stances and the like adding a bit of customization to your character the main 3 types being Boxer, Wrestler, Kicker. I enjoy an MMA approach beat ‘em with the jabs and kicks then slam ‘em with a nice grapple move. The combat may seem intimidating at first but once you get into it you’ll find it enjoyable. The pace is slow so lots of people griped about that but the pace was part of what made the game fun to play.
A sour point for me and others that reviewed the game was the camera. When you were in ‘explore’ mode for lack of a better mode at times the Camera got annoying and jerked all over the place, and with the 3D world still in its infancy its to be expected but it makes certain parts of the game (IE running from the big blue monster) very difficult to play especially when the platforms beneath you decided to glitch and you loose your bearings and fall, then start all over again. Annoying? Absolutely. Annoying enough to give the game a horrendously low score? Not nearly.
The game is expansion pack enhanced but all it does is enhance the resolutions with its extra 4MB of ram and the heightened resolutions effectively break the game so it really doesn’t require it to enjoy the game. The lack of save points is also another thing I have issues with there is one save point per stage and if you die you go ALL the way back to that save. That right there is my biggest qualm with the game.
So should reviewers punish innovation? No, unfortunately it happens. So should you have an N64 lying around your house go to your local classic game shop and see if you can’t snap up a copy of this hidden gem.