If the post office can't do it, call in...

Hydra logo

Publisher: Domark Price: £24.99

Being a courier may not seem like a very exciting job. About the most fun you will get is delivering those suspiciously shaped "plain brown wrappings" to old men in trench coats. But in the 21st Century all this has changed. Standard couriers just couldn't make the grade any more, their methods of delivery weren't reliable. One man rose above the rest for security and speed of service. No one knows his real name, but if the various governments can find him, they can hire Hydra.

The roads, airways and waterways are now ruled by terrorists. Nowhere it is safe because they plunder anyone who does to travel those routes. It's up to Hydra to run the gauntlet of terrorists and deliver sensitive and top secret packages to their destination.

The game puts you in the role of the great courier himself as he tries to deliver these packages. At the beginning you pick up cargo in your jet boat and then you're off.

The terrorists know you're coming and throw all they have a you. Of course, you're not unprepared yourself and your boat is equipped with the very latest state-of-the-art firepower, so let those lowlife terrorists have it.
They will attack either singularly or in groups but these attack patterns are predictable so there's no real problem. When they're shot some of these craft very conveniently drop either fuel boosts or money icons.

As your own fuel supply is very limited you will need to pick up as many of these as you can to finish up as many of these as you can to finish the mission. The boosts can be used to make your boat leap out of the water for a short time and catch the money balloons that sometimes appear in the sky.

There are nine missions with a total of 31 levels to go through to deliver cargo which varies from the Crown Jewels to a top-secret nuclear device. Cor, aren't these governments trusting! At the end of each stage there is a shop were, if you have enough money, you can buy extra weaponry for your boat.

Hydra should have been an enjoyable 3d shoot-'em-up arcade conversion, but unfortunately it isn't. The action is quite slow and the gameplay is very repetitive and boring.
This seems to be the norm lately with Domark's arcade coin-op conversions, this and Skull And Crossbones being the latest. Give this one a miss.

Hydra logo

Wenn Terroristen sämtliche See- und Luftwege unsicher machen, wie kommt dann wichtige Fracht an die richtige Adresse? Domarks Automaten-Umsetzung weiß Rat: Bewaffnete Schnellboot-Kuriere müssen her!

Pilot und Boot sollen insgesamt 31 Level durchmessen, die in je neun Missionen unterteilt sind. Während man also z.B. Queen Lisbeth die geklauten Kronjuwelen wiederbringt, geht es durch Flüsse, Küstenlandschaften und das offene Meer - bloß schaut es halt irgendwie überall gleich aus. Unterwegs bekommt man es mit feindlichen Schiffen, Minen, Baumstämmen usw. Zu tun, außerdem entpuppt sich der Antrieb als extremer Spritoholiker. Und wenn es Benzin alle ist, darf man sich von einem der drei Bildschirmleben verabschieden!

Aber fürsorgliche Gegner hinterlassen Fuel-Kristalle, sobald mann so frei war, sie abzumurksen; auch der Einsatz der (anfänglich vier) Boost-Raketen hilt bei leerem Tank noch ein Stück weiter.

Eigentlich sind die Boosts jedoch für kurzfristige Höchstgeschwindigkeiten gedacht, dazu gibt es noch Extrawaffen (Flammenwerfer, Uzi, Bomben, etc.) und Bonussequenzen, aber kein Zeitlimit.

Leider alles kein Grund zur Freude: Die Landschaft ruckelt übel vor sich hin, und das Steuerungsprinzip ist auch nicht so das Gelbe.

Überhaupt reagiert der Kahn ziemlich verschlafen auf den Stick, gelegentlich bleibt er sogar einfach stehen und wartet, bis der Amiga nachgeladen hat. Dazu macht die Bordkanone alle Extrawaffen überflüssig, sobald das Dauerfeuer eingeschaltet wird.

Musik und FX klingen zwar hektisch, können den Kapitano nicht mehr aus dem Tiefschlaf reißen - wenn es nach dem Unterhaltungswert geht, müßte Hydra eher Hydrant heißen... (jn)

Hydra logo

I can't claim to know exactly how this works, but let's assume for a minute that when a software house ties up a potentially lucrative licensing deal with a coin-op firm, part of the deal has it that they're forced to take some real duffers along with the good stuff.

Domark's set-up with Atari/Tengen seems to be a perfect illustration of that - for every Klax or Planet Of The Robot Monsters there's a Skull And Crossbones or a Hydra. Yes, this is dreadful, easily down to the standards of last month's hopeless pirate hack 'n' slash game.

So, Hydra. The arcade machine was a not particularly well-received Roadblasters clone, the twist being that it told the story of a water-based DHL-style deliery firm rather than any road-based action, allowing for lots of speedboats, mines and so on.

Not a particularly promising start - even converted perfectly it's the sort of game that would seriously struggle to justify anything like a 25 quid price tag - but its simplicity could conceivably make for a half-way fun home conversion. (It would make a change from seeing the Amiga struggling to emulate the latest state-of-the-art dedicated coin-op hardware, that's for sure). I'd say the whole venture was doomed from the start as a full price proposition, but it could still make for a satisfying game at a reasonable price.

But it doesn't. This is a completely tragic attempt at a computer game. Its good points include an innovative and fairly successful attempt at representing moving water on screen in a different sort of way, and erm, that's it. Its bad points take up rather more room - chalk down a total lack of a sense of speed, a total lack of a sense of excitement, some truly pitiful blocky, jerky graphics, gameplay so one-dimensional it can hardly be said to exist at all, and hopless, unresponsive controls for starters.
Sorry, but you're wasting my time, Domark.

Hydra logo

Set in the 21st century, a band of terrorists haven stolen a series of top-secret documents and objects, all of which must be retrieved. Ranging from nuclear devices to the crown jewels the assorted stolen goodies are handed to the player at the start of each game, and the player must then run the gauntlet through wave after wave of enemy sprites until the loot is safely returned.

However, while all this makes Hydra sound like a frantic car racing game, it has the novelty of actually being set in a boat with the cars and motorbikes that are associated with the many car games replaced by boats and jet-skis.

Apart from the water-bound scenario, though, there is very little to recommend about Hydra, and it is basically another run-of-the-mill race game.

ICE Software, the team behind SCI and Turbo Outrun, have produced a very workman-like conversion, and whilst everything from the coin-op is preent, the actual 3D update is jerky and cluttered, killing off any real feeling of speed.

In addition, and although this is a fault of the original coin-op, the actual gamplay is tired and repetitive and made even more annoying thanks to some unavoidable collisions and extremely lax sprite detection.

That's not to say that no enjoyment can be gleamed from Hydra. It is fairly playable despite these faults, it's just in terms of presentation and value for money, Hydra can't cut it.