released on Dec 01, 1984

An evil demon named Varalys casts a curse upon the princess Ann, turning her into three fairies. You control Sir Jim and set out to find the fairies, and then slay Varalys. Only by vanquishing Varalys can the curse be lifted. Once the princess is restored the kingdom will be saved. The fighting is a little more in-depth than hack and slash. You can either fight with a defensive or offensive stance, or you can use magic spells.

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What? A 4 to Hydlide? Surely a mistake...
YES, it's impossible without a guide, YES it's janky as hell (god help you if you aren't using save states), but for 1984 it's an interesting game, and arguably there's a lot still interesting about it today that sticks with me.
There's so many weird little decisions that this game has. When it comes to action RPGs, I always think that if I have trouble or an interesting time killing the first slime... then it could be a good game. and that's the case here with hydlide, where I walked into a Slime while in "DEFEND" mode and promptly died. It felt like a weird puzzle trying to figure out how to get my first few levels.
Standing on forest tiles prevents you from regenerating health, and damages you. There's something moving in this simplicity of logic. Forests ARE dangerous, filled with unknown things, so of course you would get hurt while standing in one...right?
Attacking enemies based on where they're moving will hurt you more, back attacks are safer. But there's this absolute chaos to the chunky movement that makes it hard to consistently do.
As a result even the simple dungeons where you need to go two screens, pick up a chest, and leave... are remarkably tense. Sure it feels like a dice roll whether you'll just die, but there is an interesting layer of strategy that will increase your odds. So much personality and memorability in tiny, simple mazes. Each time you try to find the next place to grind it feels like a little microcosm of a 'new area' in a modern game - the zombie graveyard, the desert worms, etc... it feels like a big adventure shrunk down to this tiny size.
I'm a fan of the quiet narrative 'beats' - slimes being silently replaced by "HYPERS" on the overworld, upon reaching level 5 or 6.
I like some of the bizarre humor - the unexplained screens full of moving rocks and trees that will kill you even at max level. The screen of wasp-infested trees you need to investigate one by one to find a key item. Having to stand outside a cave of worms and slowly swat at them to grind out levels. Is it good? Not really, but the way Hydlide has these boiled-down, janky scenarios that we are familiar with today in action RPGs is sort of heartwarming. For example, the "standing outside a cave of worms" is very similar to cheese strategies for grinding hard enemies... The Elden Ring Moving Ball is similar to the Killer Rock in Hydlide.
The way this game gates stuff with obscure knowledge reminds me of Tower of Druaga, or arcade games in general. It's funny to know that you need to keep killing golden knights to get a key, but if you kill one more, the key vanishes. It's funny to learn that you have to drain the water around a moat to make a dragon vulnerable.
Ultimately, through the lens of 'is this playable and fun right away?' it's not a good game. But all the strange decisions and scenarios feel like they could be spun out and developed into interesting games of their own. So in that sense Hydlide feels like this box of possibilities.

A dificuldade excessiva e o grind limitado foram os detalhes que mais me incomodaram, e um está ligado ao outro, se tivesse um grind aberto como é na maioria dos jogos a dificuldade excessiva seria equilibrada. Mas é compreensível haver falhas, considerando que é um dos percursores do que seriam os JRPG como Dragon Quest 1 que lançou 2 anos depois.

I owned this game for some reason as a kid and I hated it.

Hydlide's reputation is peculiar: the title sits at the nexus of two different schools of game design and represents an important milestone in the history of the JRPG and action-RPG, yet it is generally ignored by the public. On the one hand, there is The Tower of Druaga (1984), credited with seminal qualities for the genre; on the other hand, The Legend of Zelda (1986) and Ys (1987), which were inspired by Hydlide's attempts, gave rise to much better known game franchises – not to mention Dragon Quest (1986) and Final Fantasy (1987). One explanation for this oversight, in the West, is certainly its very late release date, as the title was only ported across the Pacific in 1989. By that time, the American public had already experienced games that greatly developed the formula behind the success of Ultima III: Exodus (1983) and Hydlide seemed very obsolete, when compared with The Legend of Zelda or with the thematic duology of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985) and Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988). However, the game is accessible to newcomers, even though it feels rough by today's standards.
The player plays as Jim, in a realm where humans and fairies co-exist. When the demon Varalys awakens, he turns Princess Ann into three fairies, dispersing them across the land. It is the hero's duty to find these three fairies to free Ann from her enchantment, whilst also killing Varalys. The story is not further developed, as the game has no lines of dialogue. The player is immediately placed in this world, without any real indications. Unlike Ultima III or The Black Onyx (1984), which inherited the gameplay of the Wizardry series, Hydlide opts for an action-oriented gameplay, similar to The Tower of Druaga. To attack, the player must make Jim's sprite collide with an enemy: if they hold down the A button, Jim goes into attack mode, which increases his strength at the expense of his defence. The idea is thus to attack monsters from the side or from behind, to avoid being killed themselves. Unlike The Legend of Zelda, it is necessary to level up to increase Jim's various characteristics (life, strength, magic), making grinding a necessary part of the adventure. It's also worth mentioning that magic is an addition for the Famicom/NES port, to match the standards set by Hydlide II: Shine of Darkness (1985), but it is of relative use – only the sequence with the wizard compels its use.
In addition to this prerequisite, the player must also look for the fairies and the jewels to open the way to Varalys. This is where the adventure begins to get complex. Admittedly, the map of Hydlide is of a reasonable size, as it is 5x5 grid, but the progression is more or less linear, as certain items seem essential to progress, forcing a rather exhaustive exploration. Thus, to kill the vampire, the players needs the cross; they need to find the key to open the chest of one of the jewels; etc. This wouldn't be a problem, if the game had better gameplay. Hydlide suffers from its combat system, which very often and unfairly punishes the player. Progression through the game is a constant fight of attrition, as it is necessary to spend a lot of time regenerating one's life on the grass tiles. The pace suffers greatly, as it is already undermined by the grinding required to progress. On the other hand, items such as the shield or the sword only offer marginal improvements, contributing to the frustrating nature of the title.
The archaic nature of the combat system, with no attack button, is largely felt in the much more cramped sections. Indeed, Hydlide's battles require special awareness regarding positioning: this is unfortunately not possible in labyrinths or basements. There, the fights are particularly lethal and the lack of regeneration only aggravates the feeling of powerlessness. The duel with Varalys is a prime example of this issue, as he is flanked by four enemies – who constantly respawn. Getting close to him is hard enough and attacking him is even harder. As such, the game is forced to use its Medicine as a very artificial means to allow the player to triumph – or at least have a fighting chance.
Yet Hydlide remains an important game. It is still a cornerstone title for JRPGs, preceded by only a handful of other games. It also has the virtue of being more accessible than the majority of titles in the genre, with its smaller world and modest dungeons – a far cry from the oh-so-large maps that Japanese dungeon crawlers borrowed liberally from Wizardry. It manages to emulate a certain sense of adventure with its different environments and the mysterious side of the basements, whose OST strangely reminds me of the Jade Mask theme in Taiyō no ko Esuteban (1982) – a much deserved respite after the quickly intolerable overworld theme. Similarly, if the narrative depth of Ultima IV and Ultima V is missing, there is a charm to these games that leave the player free to populate the adventure with their own imagination. So, is Hydlide a good game? Certainly not, but it is easy to see why it became, for the Japanese public of the 1980s, an essential title, so crucial to the history of video games.

I give this game more respect than most people do, especially for the time and place it was released in, but it's still not amazing.

This game controls like a large box filled with a printer