Retro Game Spotlight: Hybrid Heaven
Kojima’s Hidden Masterpiece?Hybrid Heaven is an action adventure role playing game that uses elements heavily influenced by Tomb Raider & other wrestling games of that time. The anticipation for this game during the production process was almost as interesting as the convoluted, yet concise, story telling that Hyrbid Heaven manages to deliver. At the time, Final Fantasy VII was revealed to be too grand of a project for the Nintendo 64 and Square Enix was moving all of its software to Sony, meanwhile Nintendo was super desperate to have a deep RPG experience on its latest platform. When the game was originally previewed during the beta stages of development it was presented more as a stealth action game. This along with the game being developed by Konami led to rumors that it was originally put into development as an N64 exclusive Metal Gear Solid title.
Official TrailerMore Clips
It was also strongly rumored that Hideo Kojima, creator of Metal Gear Solid, was the sole reason that the game was re-titled and changed to be a standalone franchise to avoid confusion between games having the same name, while also being different on the Playstation and N64. To further add to the hype leading up to the release of this game, Kojima was interviewed, and neither confirmed nor denied being an unaccredited writer for Hybrid Heaven. It was also advertised as an enhanced wide screen experience if used with the N64 expansion pack, though when used with it the game had such awful frame rate issues it was almost unplayable. All of these factors, along with the N64 not having any RPG titles to look forward to, led to the game being unable to deliver with all the hype it had built up by its 1999 release.
Hybrid Humorous Heaven
Despite it’s initial shortcomings, Hybrid Heaven is one of my highest recommended games to play on the N64. If you take out that expansion pack you will be treated to one of the most charming, hilarious and interesting games that the N64 has to offer. The game starts with an awkward cut scene of a naked man showering with some of the best bad dialogue for you to laugh at. When you get control of a character it isn’t even the man that they took the time to introduce you to, but someone waking up as confused as you are in an underground bunker. As you’re walking around getting use to the tank controls of the 90’s, you’ll eventually come across a humanoid monster called a hybrid just standing there until it sees you. When you’re spotted it will start running at you and start a battle, and this is where the game truly shines.
The fighting system that the game decided to use was a full on 90’s WCW/WWE wrestling move set with moving freely until you or the Hybrid decides to attack, the “a” menu will come up that allows you to choose which limbs to use and which type of attack you will do. They took this gimmick all the way with countless possibilities for your attacks, learning new ones as you level up. From suplexes to picking someone up and rolling them like a bowling ball, this game never stopped being silly. During these fights you are leveling each of your limbs up to unlock more powerful and ridiculous attacks. During my play through my right leg was unstoppable!
Tip – when you feel the need to learn a new move, purposely get knocked over by an enemy punch or technique. Then hold the run button and you will remain on the ground instead of getting up. This is a good way to allow your enemy to perform rare moves without continuously getting toppled.
I’ve never laughed so hard and consistently at a game from this era. The most amazing part of this game to me, even though the fighting was so hilarious, was the enticing story that is as good as any Metal Gear Solid game. Though they were just rumors, it feels like Kojima’s masterful writing is all over this game. There was varied gameplay and twists tied perfectly into the story that you would never expect such as clones, extraterrestrials, and even government espionage. This game will keep you interested as long as you can get through learning the battle system. Hybrid Heaven is one of a kind and I couldn’t recommend this game enough.
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