The arcade style shmup’s been around for a long time now. Space Invaders is nearly 50 years old, and Galaga isn’t far behind. To say that the gameplay ideas for the genre have been perfected at this point would be an understatement. How do you add something new to that? Enter Habroxia, which plays more or less like any other arcade shmup you’ve seen, but with a neat twist. Instead of only playing the game on a horizontal or vertical plane, the game combines the two, creating a tantalising, two-headed monster.
Apart from the neat literal and figurative inversion of gameplay, it plays like any other shmup you’ll come across, which is to say it’s totally fine. Upgrades and enemy strength progress at an expected pace, although the late levels feel far too easy once our ship is heavily upgraded. We were having enough fun that it wasn’t a problem in the moment, but since the “story” mode is only fifteen levels, we’d have hoped for a bit more balance.
While the game is an exercise in trimming the fat, there are a handful of bonus modes once the story mode is over. Despite the barebones menus, these extras are quite the sweetener. One of the modes is vertical-only, which means you essentially get Galaga shoved in there as an add-on, then a mode where you have to rescue trapped astronauts. But all of these modes feel like they build up towards “Shield Maiden”, which is where the real challenge in the game lies. With low health and weak weapons, your goal is to survive, and after finishing up the main mode, this is where we found ourselves wanting to spend most of our time. Overall, Habroxia is a neat little arcade title with some cool ideas.