Craboid is an iteration of one of the bosses in Super Stardust HD that had long arms and was able to stretch them around the player’s ship.
In Super Stardust HD the players’ first reaction/intuition was always to stay outside of Craboid‘s reach, when the best tactic was actually to just bravely dive inside those long arms and start blasting away at his weak spot.
For SSDelta we made several changes to his behaviour and since we were there we decided to give him some new tricks as well.
First we modified his old attack patterns, making him shoot bullets at different angles. Then something unexpected happenend. One day one of the gameplay programmers accidentally submitted a version of the code that made Craboid shoot way more bullets than he was supposed to do, in an interesting and fun sort of “mirror” pattern. Our reaction was: “Hey, that’s it, that plays great!”.
Finally, we decided to add more depth to the boss experience by having him shoot indestructible steel orbs at the player while the ship is inside the ring Craboid forms with his arms. That was the final magic touch and Craboid became ready to take on players again in SSDelta!
Finally, we come to SSDelta‘s last boss.
Hydra Cube evolved from an idea already present in Super Stardust HD, where the final planet itself turns into the end-of-game boss.
In the other boss battles of SSD, there was always some place on the planet orbit where the player could momentarily escape, but for this final boss battle we wanted to channel the feeling that there was no place to hide. From there it wasn’t hard to take the next step: the planet itself will transform into the boss and start weaving his tentacles around the orbit.
Some of the first things we tested were how long can we make the tentacles and how fast can we spin the boss around without it getting too difficult for the player. Unlike Buzzsaw, whose giant energy “tentacles” do not harm the player, it was important to get Hydra Cube‘s tentacles and movement speed just right.
There are many phases to the final battle: the boss shoots bullets at the ship, spawns enemies, tries to grab the player, so we went through a lot of iterations and different attack patterns before being satisfied with him.
One of the funniest things that happened when testing and tweaking was when the tentacles would get all entangled with each other, almost tying themselves into a knot and basically resulting into the boss making a fool of himself…
In the end everything turned out great and we feel that Hydra Cube is the zenith of the game: he creates a pretty intense and appropriate climax for the final battle, and we hope players will see him that way too.