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Do You Remember: Hybrid Heaven

Posted 01-27-2012 at 09:06 PM by Anenome

I'm, kicking off a new theme called "Do you Remember" where I, and anyone who wants to join in, will do a quick review piece on an ancient title, acting as the ghost of video-gaming past:

Yes, that's the ghost of videogaming past ^_^

Today I'd like to talk about an awesome game from way back when, good ol' 1999 B.F., that's 'Before Facebook'.

Developed by Konami, back when that name meant something more than another lousy SNAAAKE! sequel, Hybrid Heaven pre-release press had me whipped into a frenzy ready to buy this game and buy I did. What resulted was... well read on to find out

When you popped the Hybrid Heaven cartridge (remember those) into your N64, you immediately knew the game was awesome, because it was so demanding on the N64 hardware that it could use the N64 expansion pack to continue, which you may recall raised the system's memory from, get this, 4 megabytes to 8 megabytes!!!

Now that's you've finished laughing, let's move on

Hybrid Heaven had a lot of things that we think of as standard today. It could be switched into 'hi-res' mode, to 640x480. And it actually had voice-acting! Here's a video of the intro sequence of HH, in hi-res mode:

Plot: You play Mr. Diaz, an alien-created human-alien hybrid. You turn on your alien masters and the fight begins. But, actually, you're not Diaz at all you're, well, it's a bit confusing. Wikipedia, can you explain please.
As the game progresses, it is revealed that the player is actually assuming the role of Slater, who was disguised as Diaz by the Gargatuans. The Gargatuans are an alien race around three feet tall who, after being betrayed by a member of their species who awoke from hypersleep and piloted the ship to Earth, are forced to help said traitor with his genetic experiments. The alien creates clones and hybrids (a genetic mix of human and Gargatuan DNA, resulting in extra-powerful creatures) and intends to conquer the earth through a replacement of its leaders, beginning with the United States. A few Gargatuans have escaped the traitor, and conduct a underground resistance in the woodwork. They found Johnny after he had been cloned and disguised him as Diaz, who they incapacitated and kept unconscious. Johnny regains his memories, which were blocked while he was disguised. The player then must travel even further down the bunker in the hopes of stopping the aliens from replacing the president with a clone and by request of the Gargatuans to defeat the traitor. Johnny's personal motive to help him stay focused is that he must make it back in time to meet his girlfriend under the christmas tree in Times Square.
Because aliens. That's all you need to know :P

Gameplay is corridor-based with a rather good follow-camera, with the typical annoying system of needing to grab keys to advance.

What's incredibly unique about Hybrid Heaven is that it is a menu-driven beat-em-up RPG game!

The game starts reeeeeally slow too, violating one of the major principles of good-game design: get players into the action ASAP. It's literally 19 minutes before your first actual hand-to-hand fight where the game gets interesting. This probably accounts for its middling reception. But once you get into it, it's addicting and unique.

Then things really get out of hand when the genetic experiments accidentally get released from their cages.

Check out the fighting in the video below (skip to 24:20):

If you didn't watch the video above, I really suggest you do! Skip to 24 minutes and watch that fight! Menu-based RPG hand-to-hand combat allows a level of control not possible in Street Fighter, Tekken, or other real-time games.

Imagine if someone resurrected this genre today and turned it into a multiplayer-turn-based game. Would be interesting. Also interesting that I don't like playing SF and Tekken style fighting games, yet really enjoyed Hybrid Heaven.

So, long story short, Hybrid Heaven is equal parts WWF wrestling, Final Fantasy, and Scifi Alien Invasion story. I give it an 8 out of 10 with points for originality.
And to this day, I still remember it
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