Horgihugh and Friends (Switch)

Originally released as simply Horgihugh back in 2019 on PC, the cute em up has now landed on Nintendo Switch with a slightly reworked name, but with the style and challenge seemingly intact. A successful flight? Lets find out.

At the end of the last great war, countries decided to dismantle their weapons. When the Gozareans attack, two retired pilots dust off their trusty vintage fighter planes and head out to combat the alien’s powerful weapon-nullifying technologies. Taking to the skies, Hugh and Figaro are the world’s last hope.

You get a nice retro intro detailing the story and then that’s about it as the real battle starts – as you would expect of a shmup. There’s also only half a dozen stages to get through, but each one is challenging and can have multiple boss and mid-boss encounters. You also get a couple of characters to play as, so there’s at least several hours of entertainment here with some re playability for scores etc Oddly enough considering there’s two characters, it does lack a 2 player coop mode

The game sports a colourful and vibrant style with a cast of animal characters to help it stand out from the crowd of typically styled shmups – a cute-em-up if you will. Aiming for a 16-Bit look certainly helps with the visual appeal, with the stages not being too busy and enemies styled in a way that they won’t get lost. The explosions and shrapnel can sometimes mask enemy attacks a little too much, but I guess that’s where the invincible loop comes in.

Music is a highlight, produced by Motoaki Furukawa of Gradius & MGS fame, that’s perfectly melodic to go with the rest of the presentation. Performance is also good for the most part, though there is the odd occasion when the game drops frames for a moment. This happens both docked & portable, so things play out the same either way you choose to play – portable may be best in this situation for the crisper small display.

Horgihugh doesn’t do much to reinvigorate the shmup genre, but what it does do it does well. Playing out more like a Gradius instead of going the bullet hell route, you may be forgiven for thinking its going to be an easy ride. It’s not really, especially when you factor in there’s double the amount of bosses to stages, but as expected it does ease up once you figure out attack patterns and formations. The game has this neat addition of a friend who’ll occasionally fly in on a stage and allow you to buy upgrades. Those gems dropped by enemies come in handy as you can buy all manner of upgrades, from lasers to ricocheting waves and projectile shields. You can’t equip everything so always best to think of what you may need for the road ahead, just be quick about it as there’s an in-store timer.

The game does also have an underdeveloped diversion of sorts, a mode that allows you to save up gems and upgrade a town of animal folk. Its good for getting some additional powerups, but nothing else really as you can’t actually do much else. The one curiosity for me is that it seems to suffer from what I call convenient malarkey. For example you’ll hear a bouncing enemy while fighting a boss and move a little in anticipation of it, only to have it emerge from behind on a conveniently perfect trajectory for your new position. The game has differing convenient situations on occasion each run, and maybe that’s just me, but even the invincible loop manoeuvre won’t always save you if your jedi reflexes are lacking momentarily.

Horgihue and Friends is a good cute em up with plenty of style and a challenging set of stages & bosses to blast through. There’s only 6 stages though, and a town-building diversion, so you will likely only get a few hours before repetition starts to kick in. Until then its fun, and while it didn’t really click with me, it could make for a good distraction for shmup fans wanting to take a somewhat challenging breather.

3

Summary

A short & sweet shmup that has some nice ideas that it doesn’t take full advantage of.

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.