Today we’re looking at Habroxia 2 from Lillymo Games and Eastasiasoft, which is out now for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PCs – and is compatible with next gen consoles as well! Here’s what we thought.
The videogame industry sees plenty of sequels, but every now and day you’ll see one pop up that you didn’t think was going to happen. Because the first Habroxia was a fine retro arcade shooter it’s not too surprising that a sequel was made, but when the announcement for it said it was also coming to the trusted Vita it certainly became an instant pleasant surprise. After all, in the past year or so Sony stopped production on physical cartridges, and late last year they completely got rid of the web-based PlayStation store for the Vita and the PS3.
Habroxia 2 doesn’t just defy the direction that Sony’s going in for their handheld, it’s also a sequel to a solid arcade shooter for the platform that we enjoyed reviewing back in 2019 – a game that earned its place among the handful of decent arcade shooters for the Vita. The sequel doesn’t do things very differently and still has familiar twin stick controls, but those who enjoyed the first game will see no reason not to pick this one up as well.
As with most games of this type, the story in the campaign mode is largely forgettable, and gets set up in the tutorial when you meet your protagonist Sabrina and her father – who later goes missing and starts off Sabrina’s quest across space. What’s different from a traditional arcade shooter is that you’re relatively free to select your next level rather than progress through them in a linear fashion. Part of that is because there’s a lot more content here than you’d find in an arcade game (a campaign will run for several hours), but the mechanic also supports the availability of upgrades.
Collecting tokens means you can gradually upgrade your ship and weapons, so any spike in difficulty will eventually be negated by your upgrades as you play and replay levels and gain more tokens to spend. It’s a good gameplay hook that certainly kept my interest level high, although at the end I felt a bit too overpowered for some of the game’s levels and bosses as a result.
There’s a New Game+ mode that ramps up the difficulty level once you complete the campaign though, so in terms of content and lasting appeal Habroxia 2 is a very well-designed shooter. You’ll also find that the game has optional objectives that you’re likely to miss during an initial playthrough of a level, encouraging even more replays there. If that wasn’t enough, you’ve also got Boss Rush and Boost Rush modes to tackle, emphasizing boss fights and your agility/reflexes respectively.
The gameplay in Habroxia 2 is very reminiscent of the first game, and includes transitions between horizontal scrolling sections and vertical scrolling ones – still a rather unique mechanic within the genre. And, as with the first game, there’s a retro-flavored audiovisual layer that includes detailed 1990-style visuals as well as lovely chiptune music that echoes that same era in gaming. The transitions from horizontal to vertical scrolling can feel a little stuttery, but in a way that completely adds to the retro appeal because it doesn’t affect the gameplay either.
With its wealth in upgrades, levels, weapons and game modes, Habroxia 2 single-handedly keeps the Vita relevant in 2021. If you enjoy classic shooters then – even though it follows very closely in the footsteps of its predecessor – this is a great reason to dust off the Vita again.