Hacha Mecha Fighter
Hacha Mecha Fighter (Japanese: Hacha Mecha Faitā はちゃめちゃファイター "Nonsense Fighter") is a shmup developed and published by NMK in 1991. The cute and colorful theme of the game stands in stark contrast to its high difficulty. As the game makes several references to P-47 (developed by NMK in 1988), it can be considered to be somewhat of a parody shmup in NMK's catalogue.
As part of the Arcade Archives series by Hamster Corporation, Hacha Mecha Fighter was ported to PS4 and Switch and thereby received a home console release for the first time ever.
- 1 Gameplay Overview
- 2 Strategy
- 3 Version Differences
- 4 References & Contributors
Hacha Mecha Fighter is a two-button game.
- A: Shot (with internal autofire)
- B: Bomb
It's worthwhile to have an autofire A button at 30Hz, as it is much faster than the internal autofire.
The player can choose between an otter (game start on 1p side) or an aardvark (game start on 2p side). These two characters are sometimes referred to by their Japanese designations Kawauso and Tsuchibuta respectively. There are no gameplay differences between the two so the choice can be made purely on visual preferences. All shot levels of the otter are sea animals while the aardvark has a vegetable/fruit theme.
The shot power starts at level 1 and can be gradually increased by picking up Power Up items up to level 7 (1p side: sunfish; 2p side: daikon radish).
The game starts with 1 option accompanying the player sprite up to a maximum of 4 options. The options follow the player along and fire the same shot as the main sprite.
Using a bomb temporarily increases the size of the character sprite and hitbox. For the duration of the bomb the player becomes invincible and the shot power jumps to level 7.
Depending on the language version chosen, some items look differently. This is a purely visual effect.
Increases your shot level by 1 (max power is shot level 7)
Increases your bomb stock by 1 (max number of bombs is 8)
Adds an option to your ship (max number of options is 4)
Score item. The value starts at 1,000 and then gradually increases up to 10,000. The value resets to 1,000 after a death. Picking up five Flower items (regardless of point value) makes a Bomb item appear
|image||image||Max Power Up|
Grants max power and max options (only appears after losing the last life)
When the player picks up any excess item, the item is worth 10,000.
After a death, either a Power Up or an Option item will spawn on screen. Since this is decided on alternating frames, it is essentially random which one you get.
There are no item pick ups to gain extra lives. The player is awarded with an extra live once for reaching 1,000,000 points and a second time for reaching 77,777,777 points (effectively 77,777,780 points).
Rank in Hacha Mecha Fighter is tied to survival time. It mainly affects the number and the speed of enemy bullets. Dying reduces rank.
On low rank, the midboss of stage 1 will only drop 4 flower items. However, when the destruction of the midboss is delayed for long enough, it will drop 8 flower items instead due to the higher rank resulting from the increased survival time.
Hacha Mecha Fighter loops infinitely. Any loop after the first one is a simple repetition of the second loop. Therefore, the difficulty stays the same.
There are only two changes from the first to the second loop
- All enemy HP values are increased by x4.
- The rank is fixed at maximum value and cannot be decreased again.
These two changes lead to a drastically different approach to the game. For instance, from 2-4 onwards a more pacifist play, leaving certain enemies behind is the only viable way to survive.
Apart from obvious scoring sources such as destroying enemies, the scoring system revolves around two main mechanics: Wall hugging and fruit items.
Pressing into the right edge of the screen makes the player earn 100 points per frame, which is pretty significant, but also hard to leverage. For example, on a lot of (mid)bosses this can be exploited and the player can spend the majority of the fights hugging the edge instead of fighting the bosses. Moreover, on stages with a floor (except stage 8), touching the ground will trigger a walking animation (pushing into it is not required, just touching it is enough) for 10 points per frame. These two things can be combined in the bottom right corner of stages with a floor for a total of 110 points per frame.
Fruit items are worth 1,000 points each on pick up and result in an additional 10,000 bonus for every fruit collected at the end of one stage. The end of stage bonus for number of fruits is capped at 99 fruits. Every additional fruit item beyond that is only worth the 1,000 on pick up. There is also a special bonus of 1,000,000 points when the player manages to not pick up a single fruit during a stage.
As one fruit item is essentially worth 11,000 (1,000 on pick up and 10,000 end of stage bonus), going for fruit collection is preferred for scoring from 91 fruits onwards (total gain 1,001,000). Otherwise, obtaining the special no fruit bonus is better for scoring.
The game can be counterstopped at 99,999,999 points.
End of Loop Bonus
After defeating the last boss at the end of every loop the player is awarded with a bonus that is tied to the present score counter. The bonus consists of 1,000,000 + the last six digits of the score counter. For example, if the final score is 20,000,100 the bonus is 1,000,100, but if the score counter is at 19,999,900 the bonus is 1,999,900 instead. This bonus is distinct from the no fruit bonus, which is also awarded after the last stage and which consistently is 1,000,000 points.
Due to this great fluctuation in score, advanced players want to plan ahead to get the maximum number of points from this bonus. As explained below, you gain about 1.4 million points from wall hugging when timing out the last boss. Moreover, you can get an additional 200,000 points from wall hugging before and after the boss, totalling to 1.6 million points to work with when planning ahead for the end bonus.
As the table on the right shows, the ideal score before the wall hugging milk is between x,400,000-x,000,000, which would then essentially result in the same bonus and even out the scores when a partial wall milk as close to the next x,999,990 as possible is performed. If the score before the milk is between x,000,000-x,400,000 instead, a full wall milk is the best option while inevitably also losing a couple of points.
Death Animation Points
When the player loses a life in stages with water (stage 2 and stage 5), 300 points per frame are awarded for every option after they have dropped into the water for a total duration of 66 frames. This means that a death with 4 options yields 79,200 points.
The same 300 points per frame are awarded when an option falls on the ground and runs away to the left side of the screen. This animation takes longer depending on how far to the right the player has died (vertical position does not matter), resulting in a maximum run animation of 87 frames for a straight run to the escape point. As the options sometimes slip in their running animation, the time frame the player is awarded with points extends to 96 or 97 frames, which is particularly prone to happen with 3 or 4 options. This results in a maximum point gain of about 115,000~116,000 points.
If the options neither fall into water nor drop to the ground (e.g. in stage 1 or the beginning of stage 3), no such points are awarded after a death.
All things considered, these points are negligible in the main game but they can become crucial for scoring high in the Caravan mode of the port.
As a general approach to the game, it is highly advisable to make active use of all bombs available. As early as in the last part of stage 3 with the ring-tailed lemurs, the game starts to throw almost impossible bullet patterns at the player. Due to the many Flower items, the player gets several bombs back in every stage. Particularly the midpoint section of stage 5 almost guarantees a large refill of the bombstock. This is essential for the second half of stage 5 and both, stages 6 and 7 as all of them are very resource-heavy. Progressing far in Hacha Mecha Fighter means to have a solid plan when to use your bombs preemptively.
Aiming for the Animals
Bosses and some midsize enemies commonly consist of a vehicle (e.g. plane, submarine, train, tank) and an animal controling it. Both are two separate targets and can be detached as well. However, they share the same underlying HP value. Hitting the animal deals twice the amount of damage than simply shooting the vehicle does. Therefore, it is always crucial to target the animal whenever possible which in some cases requires very specific aim.
As a case in point, the submarine bosses in stages 2 and 5 can be destroyed twice as fast when shooting the controlling sea otter that enters and leaves the submarine and always stays in the center of the group shooting a 3-way pattern. The other two sea otters are distinct enemies with their own HP values each and can be destroyed merely for extra points.
Likewise, the midsize tanks in stages 3 and 6 can be taken out much quicker with carefully targeting the driving animal when it peeks out of the vehicle.
Keeping the Midboss Off Screen (stages 2 & 5)
The helicopter midboss of stage 2 (ditto for its return in stage 5) can be prevented from fully entering the screen. This is done by dealing enough damage the very moment it comes on screen. To do this, place your options in front of you and stay close to the right edge of the screen as shown in the image below.
This is only really feasible with a high autofire frequency such as 30Hz. If you have the resources to spare, a setup with a bomb is making this even more lenient. Having succeeded, the majority of the bullets fired from the sloth rope will not spawn, making this midboss much easier to deal with. Moreover, this trick can be exploited for scoring as you can wall hug easily for the whole duration of the fight as long as the sloths are off screen for well over 600,000 points.
Stalling the Screen (stage 6)
In stage 6 right before the train is rolling in at the midpoint section, two warthogs will enter the screen. If you manage to push one warthog off screen without actually killing it, the screen will continue scrolling but no new enemies enter the screen for a while. As the section right before these warthogs is very busy, it is best to use a bomb and hit either of the warthogs the exact moment they enter the screen.
If done correctly, the screen keeps scrolling but the train will not enter the screen for little bit over 2 minutes. This can be exploited for scoring by staying in the lower right corner and wall hugging for about 800,000 points. Moreover, it can be used as a break before the hectic latter half of the stage starts and also gives you enough time to find the right option placement setup for the train. By counting the clouds in the background graphics you can anticipate when the enemies enter the screen again.
Going Behind the Big Wheel
The final boss can be very difficult due to the high number of bullets appearing relatively late on screen and the homing orb constantly chasing the player around. Fortunantely, the boss can be completely trivialized by going behind him.
In order to go behind the boss, you simply have to use a bomb and then push yourself into the right edge of the screen. When the bomb effect wears off you will find the player sprite to be half off screen as you can move further to the right during the bomb animation than normally possible. Now you simply have to evade the homing orb by moving up and down but will be safe from everything else as long as your sprite stays half off screen. The boss will eventually time out after some time. This trick is not only useful for survival alone but is also very lucrative for scoring as you can get about 1.4 million points from wall hugging during the whole fight.
There are two different versions of Hacha Mecha Fighter. Those can be distinguished by the size of the NMK logo on the title screen. Besides these two, a bootleg and a prototype have also been documented but they seem to be identical or at least similar to the version with the small logo. Due to the internal changes it can be hypothesized that the version with the small logo was produced first. Therefore the labels Old Version and New Version can be applied accordingly.
References & Contributors
- Page created and written by Plasmo.
- Information on version differences provided by Trap15 based on messages posted on Discord dated February 7th, 2021.