In an industry overloaded with choice, there’s a modesty to Habroxia 2 that’s easy to appreciate. The successor to Lillymo Games retro-inspired arcade shooter humbly thanks you for playing the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita release each time you load it up, and while cynics could hand-wave the gratitude and declare it disingenuous, we get the distinct impression that the developer is being sincere here: it knows that there are lots of options on Sony’s consoles, and it genuinely appreciates being your pick.
The title rewards your time with a confident and likeable intergalactic escapade that will run you about four or five hours to see through once. Beyond that, there’s a New Game Plus mode designed to encourage a second run, and because the game is built around persistent upgrades, it’s something you’ll probably want to beat as you blast your way towards the title’s Platinum Trophy. The plot – about an intrepid interstellar explorer searching for her father – takes a backseat, allowing the old-school action to take centre stage.
Combat is entertaining, and enhanced by a loadout system that allows you to select from a pool of different secondary fire options. Levels transition between horizontal skirmishes and vertical shootouts, and always end with a boss fight. Some have multiple bounties hidden within them, encouraging replayability. Everything is done in service of tokens, which can then be spent on enhancing your space-craft, adding amenities like additional health or reinforcing your fire rate. Stages that seemed tough initially will quickly become a breeze.
Because of this the game can seem a little easy at times, but it’s rewarding in the right way, and a staggering number of unique enemy types makes for fun encounters regardless. There’s a Boss Rush mode and Boost Rush mode to extend the lifespan of the title once you’ve completed all of its core stages, and the entire experience is complemented by a bone-shaking chiptune soundtrack. The sprites look big and chunky on a 4K television, but the gameplay transitions to the PS Vita tidily – there are just some forgivable framerate judders on Sony’s handheld to keep in mind.
All in all, Habroxia 2 knows it’s not reinventing the wheel, but it settles for a fulfilling campaign that will hold your attention from beginning through New Game Plus. With a rewarding upgrade system and sturdy presentation, this is gaming comfort food for those who grew up in the arcade era, and it comes recommended if you’re looking for an old-school shooter to blast through in a few sittings.