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Hybrid Heaven

Rated T for Teen

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Konami

Developer:

KCEO

Released:

September 1999

ROM Size:

128 megabits

Players:

One (quest) or Two (battle)

Genre:

RPG/Adventure/Fighting

Save:

Controller Pak (53 pages)

Optional:

Expansion Pak, Rumble Pak

 

 

> Final Rating: 3.4 out of 5.0

Introduction

Konami still knows how to make action and adventure games. With other companies making 3D titles featuring cute characters, emphasizing the collection of items, and requiring much exploration, Konami seems to place greater importance on straightforward action and story. This was evident in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and Castlevania, and it's true with Hybrid Heaven as well. Hybrid Heaven may not do everything well, yet it does merit consideration as an enjoyable alternative to the numerous 3D action/adventure clones that populate the system.

 

Will the real RPG for N64 please stand up? Why isn't anyone standing? Oh wait, that's because there are no true RPGs on N64 as the next millennium approaches. One could make a case that Quest 64 is a role-playing game, but the lack of depth tarnishes its image. While Hybrid Heaven has been touted as an RPG/adventure/fighting game, you shouldn't make yourself think that you're getting a real RPG, because you're not.

 

Instead, Hybrid Heaven contains a very refreshing concept in the world of video games. It contains a solid story that would serve nicely as the backbone to any adventure game. It features some action since you have full control to move your character to get around obstacles and to destroy enemies in a three-dimensional world. It contains fighting elements within the battle system. And it features RPG aspects because you can "level-up" your hero along the way.

Gameplay & Control

After being treated to a very impressive five-minute introduction—rendered in real-time and complete with voice—you learn that this world is not only full of humans but clones as well. The clones, or "Hybrids," consider themselves a genetically superior species. In a wanton desire for power, they plot to replace the President with a clone of their own. To further complicate matters, the United States and Russia are negotiating pivotal agreements to reduce nuclear arms. It's up to you to save the world…or is it?

 

Hybrid Heaven is composed of two distinct styles of play: a Field screen and a Battle screen. Just like any RPG, the Field screen is where you explore, get information, and collect items. Therefore, as you might expect, the Battle screen is where you battle an enemy by taking turns issuing commands. Yes, even Hybrid Heaven uses a turn-based system where each character gets a chance to attack or defend.

 

Within the three-dimensional Field screen, you have full control over your character like any other 3D game. Some actions include the abilities to run, jump, climb, examine, open, crouch, talk, and more. You'll need these skills to get through the underground levels in Hybrid Heaven. They're made up of areas and blocks. You need a special code key to access each block, or it won't open. You must figure out how to open code key doors and how to open doors with red lamps by using keys or other methods. Doors with green lights are available for you to access immediately.

 

In addition to the aforementioned abilities, you're also equipped with a "Defuser" in the Field screen. You can stop, aim, and use this weapon to destroy surveillance devices and to blow open containers. Destroying enemies and containers may enable you to obtain helpful items for your quest.

 

When you an encounter an enemy (not just some minor surveillance device) on the Field screen, the Battle screen will appear. Enemies don't pop up as randomly as in most RPGs. You have power and stamina meters in addition to your regular HP meter. A battle can start from three different situations: Fight!, Advantage!, and Surprise Attack! You then have complete control to move around your enemy and even grab him.

 

Based on your timing and proximity to the enemy, pressing the A button will bring up the Attack Phase. In the beginning, you only can choose from a punch attack or a kick attack. Technique moves and combos eventually come into play. Once you pick a category, then you pick the actual move you want to perform. For example, maybe an uppercut with your right arm? Or maybe a mid-section punch with your left arm? Or maybe a high kick with your left leg? You get the picture.

 

Since the game features a turn-based RPG-like system, you enter the Defense Phase after you attack. Your choices are to Step, Counter, or Guard. The Step move attempts to dodge the enemy's attack by moving one of eight directions with the Control Stick. The Counter move, which risks injury, tries to turn the table on the enemy's attack. The Guard move hopes to reduce the amount of damage you take.

 

Additionally, you can opt to use an item during your Attack Phase. Items can be used to refresh your character or to attack your enemy with a weapon.

 

Another RPG-like aspect Hybrid Heaven contains is the ability to "level-up" your character. Interestingly, this is done on individual body parts! Your head, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg, and body are rated in offense, defense, hit count, and damage count. You also have an overall status level with individual ratings in offense, defense, speed, and reflex. Hit point (life) and stamina indicators have been included, too.

 

At the end of a battle, a summary screen details your finishing move, the number of attacks attempted by you and your enemy, the number of attacks landed successfully, and the ranking of your battle. The highest rank is "SS" and the lowest is "E." You gain experience in Hybrid Heaven just like in other RPGs, so you'll be notified if you've learned any new fighting moves, if your fighting parameters increase, or if the level of your body parts go up.

 

The fighting portion of Hybrid Heaven, a.k.a. the Battle screen, is executed solidly. Compared to a regular RPG, you don't have the vast number of attacks, but you do have a range of motion over your character. It also puts a much more strategic spin on the fighting action compared to just pressing buttons mindlessly like in other fighting games. You're forced to manage your health, stamina, and power while figuring out the enemy's weaknesses. Some enemies are slow but strong, while others are quick but weak. Deciding the most effective method—whether it's lots of moving and dodging or just plain brute force—to battle an enemy is an ongoing process. Luck is important, too.

 

The Field screen of Hybrid Heaven, however, isn't quite so exciting. First off, the camera is a pain. It has to play catch up too often and can leave you disoriented. The fact that the vast majority of Hybrid Heaven takes place in an underground lair leads to boring level design and monotonous searches through similar looking areas. This is in spite of the fact that you have full control over your character, which doesn't control well enough to begin with. Finally, any type of non-playable character development or interaction happens on a limited basis. It's more like an adventure game than an RPG in this regard.

 

If you enjoy the Battle screen portion of Hybrid Heaven, then you'll be happy to know that the developers included a separate Battle Mode for one or two players. You can choose the two-player VS Mode to battle against a friend using saved data from your quest. Alternatively, you can choose the Creature Battle Mode if you're just playing by yourself. Within this mode, you can choose 5 Matches (fight against five enemies) or Survival (fight against enemies you faced in the main game). The Battle Mode in Hybrid Heaven is a nice thought, but it's rather limited.

Graphics & Sound

The real-time introduction paints the picture of a detailed, well-modeled world. Once you get inside the actual game, however, you'll realize that everything is going to feature a drab, monotonous look. The textures used in the game are very nice, but there are too few of them. You'll get lost from too many repetitive textures. Character animation is nice sometimes, but other times it falls victim to the low polygon count. Finally, Hybrid Heaven does support the Expansion Pak—in full screen and letterboxed options—but you'll have to ignore the noticeably slower and choppier frame rate.

 

Once again, when you view the introduction in Hybrid Heaven, you're given hope for an amazing audio experience, because of the full voice and real-life sound effects. Once you start playing the game, you realize voice was for the introduction only. Sound effects, however, continue to impress. Whether it's the sound of walking on metal grating or the sound of a beastie smacking on the glass because it wants to kill you, the sound effects do help immerse you into the world. The ambient music does a decent job of helping the mood, too.

Conclusion

Hybrid Heaven had enormous potential. Unfortunately, it comes up short because of a quest that's boring. If the Field screen were more varied and exciting by taking place aboveground as well as underground, then this game would be a true winner. Nevertheless, Hybrid Heaven is different enough that it warrants a look. You may enjoy the game if you give it enough time.

 

Graphics:

3.5

Sound:

3.6

Control:

3.3

Gameplay:

3.6

Lastability

2.5

OVERALL:

3.4

 

DOWN THE ROAD

Not available.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: June 29, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A

 

 

 

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