Coming out simultaneously for the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Playstation Vita, Habroxia is a retro-inspired arcade shooter that we tested out on the Vita.
A cross-buy with the PS4 version, Habroxia was developed by Canadian developer Lillymo Games and is being published by Eastasiasoft – who are also putting out a limited physical edition of the game that collectors will want to get their hands on.
Habroxia immediately establishes itself as a classic arcade shoot ’em up, with menus and in-game graphics that evoke memories of the 8/16-bit era of gaming. If you fondly remember the original Gradius and R-Type games, then this is for you. The developers clearly love the classics as well, since a lot of elements from various games come together in Lillymo’s take on the genre.
The game is mostly a traditional horizontal scroller, where you go through levels from left to right – but certain sections are played vertically after your ship suddenly makes a 90 degree turn. This mode, inspired by the likes of Xevious and Xenon 2, allows for slightly different gameplay – especially when it comes to boss fights, where you suddenly have the entire width of the screen to maneuver.
Habroxia’s 15 levels are often straight up shoot ’em levels with a boss at the end, but some are exclusively dedicated to a boss fight with others giving you the task to rescue astronauts floating around in space. There are over 50 different enemy types to shoot down, and you can use three different firing modes to do so. One is your basic forward salvo, another fires sideways (handy for ceiling/surface mounted enemies when you’re playing horizontally and a third option makes for a larger spread of your primary fire mode.
The controls took a bit of getting used to, because instead of having the X button to fire shots I had to hold down R1 to keep firing, switch to L1 for my sideways options and hold both trigger buttons for the third option. It didn’t take long for it to feel normal, but it did feel somewhat inconsistent to how the old button-mashing arcade games in the same genre used to play.
There is a nice upgrade system in Habroxia as well, where you can spend credits to permanently upgrade your ship (in addition to the temporary power-ups you grab during the levels). If you happen to hit a difficulty wall (the game isn’t that hard), this is nice way of making the game less challenging on a subsequent playthrough. Regret you choice or want to make the game harder again? You can sell your upgrades back for a reduced rate.
The visuals in Habroxia are relatively plain and unlikely to impress. If you prefer a more modern arcade shooter for the Vita then I’d suggest either Sine Mora or Dariusburst, but if you want to scratch that retro arcade itch then Habroxia’s a nice little throwback at a budget price (because Dariusburst is waaaay more expensive than Habroxia). Tons of different influences, but it all comes together nicely in a 16-bit kind of way for a neat Vita shooter.