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Hydra Castle Labyrinth is more enjoyable if you know what you're getting into. This is a mini-guide to get you started.
Download the game from http://www.vector.co.jp/download/file/win95/game/fh549490.html
Rough English Translation Patch at http://www.mediafire.com/?rgs6noj5hze6f4r
Straight from the official site filtered through Google Translate.
Not so complicated, and you can change them with the IniKaeru program that comes free with each free download of HCL. Even set it up for gamepads!
Second: The items and what they do.
What, you want to know where they are? Tough shit. You get that bell, the items will start coming to you like you were a hot supermodel.
Third: The first dungeon location
You'll need to find a key first to open it, but there's only one key to find, so that's the one you need.
Fourth: The first boss, a Chicken.
You don't beat this egghead, you ain't getting nowhere. The chicken chokes up a key once he's fried, which opens up the second dungeon. The same pattern follows for successive bosses, but this one's the key to the rest... of the keys.
- Surprisingly, not every item is necessary for beating the game. For example: A number of puzzles assume you don't have the double-jump. If you want to, once you beat the game, you may want to attempt a low-item speedrun.
- If certain bosses give you trouble, do a little exploration. There are a number of items that nullify certain status effects that you can get before facing the bosses. However, these tend to be in dangerous places. For example: The cloak that prevents being stunned from shock damage is in a lava area! Try to find a close save point ahead of time if you feel you can't get the timing quite right, or you are unsure you can obtain an item without another. Said cloak needs at least the double jump and an item to quickly break blocks (charge attack or the second pickaxe) to obtain.
- Once you find the necessary scroll, The Charge Attack is a decent substitute for sub-weapon spam. During the attack proper, you gain a tiny number of invulnerability frames, while doing about 4-5 normal attacks worth of damage, depending on your position. Beware! Before and after the attack itself, you are still quite vulnerable. The key to playing it safe is to time and position the assault so only that the tip of the blade hits the enemy.
- Once you have both necessary items, a somewhat handy technique is to jump in mid-air, unleash your charge attack, then double jump. I personally call this a "Double and a Quarter Jump" (sounds stupid, but hey). You can use this evasively in boss fights but also to navigate as well, making mid-air turn jumps not normally possible. It's only really useful for a few areas, but if you're low on health and don't want to slog through foes, it may be a life saver.
- This one seems to give people a bit of trouble, so I'll explain it: When you get to the fourth dungeon, which is water-based, you will not have the the flipper or fin (gill). This is because you find the flipper half-way in the dungeon. Once you get it, there's a shortcut to the dungeon entrance. Backtrack a little and you should be able to reach the chest below the dungeon entrance door. Defeat the enemies, then grab the chest. It contains the fin/gill, which will let you complete the dungeon with relative ease (provided you can take the boss on without much trouble).
- Bombs can hurt you! You'd find this out soon enough, but nothing beats an advanced warning, right? That said, they are quite powerful, and with good timing, can do a good chunk of damage to enemies and bosses alike.
- It is possible to do a sort of quick save. Simply close the game. It will create a temporary save file. The game will resume where you last left off, but erase the temporary save. This is best if you're about to quit, but don't want to retread your steps if you haven't saved for a while and are far from a save point.
Bonus: If you're still having trouble, give your old pal, Deceased Crab, some video views (YouTube). He'll help you out something good. But if you just use the videos without any exploration of your own, then that's a shameful display.
A german Playtrough made by DasSaffe is also available. Check the Playlist here
Buster, who in no way is a busta for making this game with his posse
Deceased Crab for his LP linked above
The posters of http://www.indiegames.com for their discussions and figuring out what items do what
Gary the Krampus, for his patch at http://www.mediafire.com/?rgs6noj5hze6f4r
/v/ for showing enough interest in this game.