Habroxia 2 Review: Reaching For the Stars
It feels like a lifetime ago when shoot 'em ups represented arcade gaming’s pinnacle, seeing Space Invaders dominate the battle for our hard-earned coins. Their popularity sunk in the 90s, but SHMUPs have retained a niche fanbase since, kept alive through notable efforts like Ikaruga, Geometry Wars and Jamestown+.
Now Lillymo Games have brought us Habroxia 2, a horizontal side scroller that comes almost two years after the original. Though it isn’t particularly ground-breaking, fans of older SHMUP titles will feel right at home here.
Habroxia 2’s story is relatively straightforward. Millennia after humanity reached the stars, this newfound peace was shattered by a brutal alien race attacking the galaxy, as seen in the first game. Through unprecedented co-operation, humanity eventually defeated them, pushing the aliens back to their star system.
Habroxia 2 Review: Reaching For the Stars
Twenty-five years later and nothing has been heard from this vicious force, leading humanity to deploy a scouting team into the depths of space, only for none of them to return. In Habroxia 2, you play as Sabrina, daughter to a missing scout that sets out to find him.
Piloting a space fighter, your left joystick controls movement during these missions and the right joystick for an aimed weapon. The control scheme feels a bit fiddly at first; for those used to pressing X to fire, aiming with the right stick is strange, but ultimately manaegable.
Your ship has a health bar, so there are no one-shot kills here, and that bar can be replenished via dropped items from enemy ships. Some foes will drop credits instead, which can be spent at Space Station Hermes to improve health, fire rate, boost speed, and more. Others give you bombs or shields to save for tough situations.
If you don’t have any pickups, there are other means to get yourself out of a pinch. You can boost your ship directly through incoming obstacles and enemies and special attacks are available via L1 and R1, which slowly recharge after use. R1 will fire the front facing weapon, L1 for the rear, and you can equip two separate ones between them.
Once you get the controls down, Habroxia 2’s campaign kicks off, presented in a mission-based format. Taking down waves of enemy fighters, survival is your ultimate goal, and each mission is capped off with a boss fight.
There are bonus objectives too and astronauts will need rescuing, which you collect by driving towards them, alongside enemy bounties which are completed by destroying particular ships.
Every mission is ranked around points you’ve earned, and you can build up combos by destroying enemies without taking damage.
After completing a mission, bonuses for weapon accuracy, combos, and remaining health are also handed out. Defeating a boss rewards you with new special weapons, offering variety like more concentrated lasers or bombs, alongside some additional credits.
It sounds formulaic, but Habroxia 2 successfully keeps things interesting, while also offering a good amount of replayability. Enemies are varied, levels are well-designed, and some stages have hidden bosses too, accessed by taking alternative routes.
You can finish the campaign in 6-7 hours but New Game+ unlocks after completing it, featuring harder enemies and bosses that’ll appeal to challenge seekers.
Whether you’re a high score chaser or just looking for a new SHMUP, it’s a great time. Weapon aiming aside, my only real gripe is that when compared to the shooters it takes inspiration from, Habroxia 2 isn’t that unique. But it’s still enjoyable where it counts.
That’s without going into the appealing retro aesthetic too, offering a smooth pixel graphic approach and fitting chiptune soundtrack.
Habroxia 2 Review — The Bottom Line
- SHMUP fans will love it
- Good upgrade system
- Appealing retro aesthetic
- Strong replayability
- Aiming shots with the right joystick is fiddly
- Not particularly original
Lillymo Games have made a great attempt with Habroxia 2. Capturing the spirit of old-school SHMUPS, it isn’t especially long, but these kinds of shooters rarely are. Focusing more on replayability with branching mission paths, a customizable ship, and New Game+, it fills a niche sorely missing on modern platforms.
There isn’t enough here to truly elevate it beyond its predecessors, but it comes recommended.
[Note: Lillymo Games provided the copy of Habroxia 2 used for this review.]