Because Hydlide is a comparatively small game, it's difficult to guide walkthrough directions that won't spoil some of the secrets in the game. As with every walkthrough, it is best to attempt to solve as many puzzles in the game yourself before referencing any of the information presented here in order to maximize your enjoyment of the games.
Spoiler warning! This section of the article contains spoilers, or hints about the game's storyline or progression.
You might want to skip down to the next heading if you do not want facts about the game's storyline or plot revealed to you.
Combat: to Attack or to Defend
Early on in the game, you cannot hope to damage even the weakest Slime unless you are in Attack mode. Until you reach level 3, it's not very possible to attack an enemy in Defend mode and beat it before it beats you. Because of this, you may become conditioned early on to rely on Attack mode to destroy enemies. Naturally, if you are fighting many weaker enemies, and trying to dispatch as many as you can quickly, Attack mode is the preferred mode to be in. However, as you become stronger, you will find that you don't need to rely on solely Attack mode in order to defeat an opponent.
Certainly if your only goal is to travel across a region of the world, it makes more sense to remain in Defend mode so that you minimize the amount of damage that you receive. However, there are particular fights where you may wish to rely more of Defend mode than Attack mode. More difficult fights like your encounter with the Dragon may be better handled by relying on Defend mode than Attack mode. You can chip away at an enemies health and retreat when you health becomes too low. Unlike you, enemies can't regenerate their hit points, so they will remain at whatever level of damage you left them at while you recharge. Then return to battle in Defend mode and finish the enemy off.
The importance of leveling
Jim may be the destined hero of Hydlide, but compared to some of monsters he must face throughout the game, he is considerably weak. There are only two items that improve your stats throughout the whole game, so leveling is about the only method you have at your disposal to become stronger. The fact is, you can train all the way up to the highest experience level before you even bother collecting the first item in the game. You may choose the break up your training with a few errands, so the walkthrough below will provide good level approximations for you to reach before attempting each mission.
You begin at level 1. Raising your level typically involves a very slow and repetitive process of killing as many of a certain creature as you can until you sustain too much damage to continue fighting, then moving to a safe tile of grass where you can (slowly) restore your hit points, quick saving the game (you will be very sorry if you don't do this often), and returning to battle until the next level is reached. Refer to the table below for the best approach to reaching each level.
Rescue the Fairies
Naturally, you can't simply walk up to Varalys and beat him up to win the game. There are several objectives that you must accomplish before that time. The following presents one logical progression through the game, but it is not the only one. You can attempt several of the options presented here in whatever order you like.
As mentioned above, before you even attempt to do anything, it is wise to fight Slimes until you reach level 3. In doing so, you will become strong enough to withstand some of the attacks that you will face in the process of completing the missions.
Light from a Vampire
Once you reach level 3, you should seek out an easily accessible treasure chest. It lies in a corner of a field directly below the maze. Proceed to A-2 to find the chest, and open it to collect the Cross. With the Cross, you will be able to take on the Vampire who guards the next valuable item that you will need.
Many of the caves in Hydlide are pitch black. There is one cave that happens to have more light, and it ironically belongs to a Vampire. The Vampire has taken residence in the dungeon of a castle to the east of the maze. Visit D-2 and walk to the hole in the ground. Hold to enter the hole. Inside you will find a maze occupies by a flock of blood-sucking Stirges. Don't pay too much attention to them and head immediately to the room to the south. Once there, you will probably notice the Vampire wandering the halls. Even with the Cross, he is still dangerous to attack head-on. However, you can use the maze to your advantage. Enemies in Hydlide don't show which direction they're facing (unless you command them to with the Turn spell). Getting behind the Vampire should be pretty easy since you are a little faster than him. Enter Attack mode while you follow him from behind and kill him. His death will reveal a treasure chest, which you can open to find the Lamp, which illuminates dark dungeons.
Finding the key
With the lamp in hand, you may wish to investigate the cave directly to the north of the Vampire's Castle. Be sure to save before every visit that you make to the cave at D-1. The cave contains Wisps which are rather deadly to you even at high levels. However, they can be lured away and avoided if you are patient enough. Once you've saved, enter the cave and prepare to make a mad dash for the treasure chest in the south. Doing your best to avoid the Wisps as much as possible, open the chest to discover the Sword inside. This is the only enhancement to your offensive level other than through training. (You may wish to save inside the cave at this point unless you're in a hopeless situation and can't get out alive.) Work your way back out of the cave and return to the outside. Save the game with your new possession.
It's time to head to the maze. Access the entrance at A-2. At this time, you should attempt to increase your experience to level 5 by fighting Ropers. When that task is complete, enter the maze in order to collect the treasure chest in B-1. You'll need to take the northern most route though A-1 to reach it. Inside the chest is the magic pot which grants you the ability to see and enter the cave in the middle of the maze. In order to reach the cave, you need to return to the entrance and take the southern route through B-2. An opening will appear in the walls of the maze that will help you reach the cave.
Inside the cave, you will find an army of Goldams, and quite a number of treasure chests. Don't get too excited, only one treasure chest contains an item, but it is a important item. The chests are not limited to the screen that you see, there are several more below as well. You'll have to visit each and every treasure chest until you locate the key. While you do, you must be very careful of the Goldams. You can defeat them if you attack from behind, but if they manage to strike you, they will do a lot of damage. As soon as you find the key, return to the north exit (the south exit deposits you near the desert region).
The 1st Fairy
With the key in hand, exit the maze. Make your way south to the cemetery. Your next goal is the treasure chest at B-4. The otherwise locked chest will reveal its contents to you thanks to the key. Inside, you will find the first of three Jewels. At this time, you should be level 5, going on level 6, and the cemetery is as good a place as any to achieve it. Fight the zombies carefully as they can deal a lot of damage. Follow the strategy mentioned above for fighting zombies and save frequently.
Right nearby, the empty field at C-3 will be the site of your first fairy rescue. There are no enemies here, but there are a number of trees. You'll need to examine them. To do that, walk up to the bottom of each one and press . Unfortunately, by examining most of the trees, you will disturb a swarm of wasps. At level 6, the wasps should be little more than a nuisance, but monitor your health. Eventually you'll find one tree that does not contain wasps. Instead, you'll find the first of the three fairies. Only two remain.
Now that you are level 6, Hypers will begin to replace Slimes after you defeat them in the field. From now until the end of the game, these are the best enemies to fight until you can reach the highest level of experience, level 9. Take as much time as you are willing to dedicate to reaching that level before continuing.
The cave of Armors
Your next destination is the cave to the north, appearing on the south row of the map at B-5. Here you will enter a cave with two parts, a right portion and a left portion. In this cave, you will encounter an army composed of two different Armors. Each type of Armor hides a secret, and each in a different portion of the maze. You enter from the bottom of the right portion. First cross over to the left.
The left portion is where the Ladyams hide their secret. If you defeat enough of them, you will collect their very strong shield. While it doesn't enhance your defense by any great means, every little bit helps, so be sure to collect it before moving on. On the right side, you will have to defeat enough Goldams to reveal the treasure they hide. As you defeat each Goldam, be careful: once the treasure chest is revealed, it will be hidden again if you defeat another Armor. If this happens, you must simply continue to fight Goldams until it reappears. Go to the chest to gather the contents, and you'll be rewarded with the Ring, which is actually the second of the three jewels, grafted on to a ring with the magic power to increase your regenerative abilities.
Once you have obtained both treasures from the armor cave, escape from the north corner exit in the left portion of the maze.
The 2nd Fairy
Once you leave the Armor cave, you'll find yourself on the edge of the vast Hydlide desert at D-3. Desert Worms road throughout the sand, looking for their next meal (in the original version, the worms were scorpions). From the cave entrance, travel due east until you completely cross the desert and end up at A-3, a region where the trees seem to be alive. They are in fact, and quite dangerous. They can hurt you, and you can't hurt them. Despite this, you are require to search each of them until you discover which of them is holding the second fairy that you seek. If you take too much damage while searching, go north or south to rest and restore your health before you returning to try again. When you return, you'll have to check every tree out once more, but it's better than dying.
The 3rd Fairy
To reach the final fairy, you'll need to explore the very water-ways of Hydlide itself. To do that, you must visit the castle just below the cave where you entered the desert. Visit D-4, and make your way to the cave below the castle. Enter it, and you will suddenly find yourself deposited in the water to the left of the castle. Your only concern while you are in here is the giant Eel that roams the waters. Hopefully, you are at level 9 by this time, but even so, the Eel is quite powerful and should be avoided as much as possible.
You need start by traveling south one screen, and then east as much as you can until you reach a section of land that you can climb on to in A-4. Climb on to this small portion of land in the bottom left corner and heal up. You must prepare yourself for a difficult task, the fight with the Wizard (if at any time, you wish to return to the other portions of Hydlide, you must travel to D-2, where you will find an opening from the water to the desert).
The Wizard wanders around on the left side of A-5. He protects himself by splitting in two. Killing only one of his forms will not destroy him. You actually need to find a way to kill both forms at once. To make matters worse, he is incredibly resistant to most attacks. Only one attack will kill him. That attack happens to be the magic of Wave. If you have enough magic power, you can cast this spell. But since you need to kill the Wizard entirely, you need to make sure that you cast it when both of his forms are lined up horizontally. It certainly won't be easy, and you'll need to time your attack very well. The Wizard can't step onto the earth tiles, so you can wait there until the time is right to attack. Sometimes it is worth stepping out into the open to keep one Wizard preoccupied with attacking you until the other gets close enough for you to attack them both. Alternatively, you can travel back to the first continent north-west from the maze, and shoot the wizards from across the waterway.
If you succeed in this very difficult accomplishment, the 'third fairy will be rescued. At that moment, all three fairies will team up to lift you off the ground ad fly you over to Varalys' keep, at E-5.
Note: In the original computer version of the game, the method to defeat the Wizard and collect the fairy is different. Since you don't have magic, you can kill the Wizard with your sword. However, you will only truly defeat the Wizard if you allow either one of its forms to hit you with the Fireball spell at least five times before you kill it. Remain in Defend mode until five fireballs have struck you, and then attack the Wizard to defeat him.
Note: In the original computer version of the game, the next two steps are performed in the reverse order. You are able to fight the dragon as soon as you meet it in the original version. However, it does not give you the medicine. Instead, you must find it in the drained water-way. The entrance to the keep is hidden, just as it is in Hydlide Special, only you don't need to do anything special to access it. Simply examine the space in front of the castle to enter.
Drain the water
Varalys' keep, as you've no doubt noticed, is guarded by a fearsome dragon. Unfortunately, you will not be able to damage it as water is the source of its strength. Instead, you must find a way to access the keep without fighting the dragon. A tree appears in front of the keep where a cave entrance would normally be found. You must find a way to remove the tree. Fortunately, the spell of Fire works very well for that purpose. When the Dragon is beyond the tree and continuing to the right, burn the tree down and sneak inside the keep.
You will enter a new dungeon, guarded by fearsome Blackams. The first room of the dungeon is a maze. You must traverse from the upper left corner to the exit on the right. Use the usual strategies to defeat the Blackams by attacking them while they are still traveling towards you, but before they face you. When you reach the right exit, you will pass through to a new room that is fairly wide open. It is occupied by Blackams and Skeletons, which are just as dangerous. Make your way to the big opening to the south and visit the next room.
In the room below, you will find one lone tombstone, guarded by skeletons. Make your way carefully to the tombstone in the center, and examine it. The act of examining it will cause it to break, and the consequences of this will not be immediately clear. You must now return to the room above, and back through the maze to the outside of the keep.
Fight the Dragon
Once you return to the outside, you may realize what breaking the tombstone has done. All of the water that once filled the water-ways around Hydlide has been drained. With the source of the Dragon's powers gone, you can now attack it. The best strategy to employ against the Dragon is to attack strictly in Defend mode. You will do only a little damage to it, but it in turn can not do tremendous damage to you either. Back off when you've sustained too many injuries and heal yourself. When you are full again, resume the battle, and you will easily finish off the Dragon.
Your reward for defeating the Dragon will be the precious Medicine of Life. This medicine will restore your health meter just one time when your hit points reach zero. It is vitally important to save this medicine for the last battle with Varalys. But there's still one task left. You only possess two of the three jewels and you need all three to make Varalys appear. A path to the water-ways will have opened up in A-4 above the keep. Wander out into the water-ways and go in search of treasure. Not far from the keep, you should discover a chest, and when you open it, you will find the Ruby. Now you can fight Varalys.
The final battle
With every item in your possession, and hopefully nine levels of experience, it's time to return to the keep and face Varalys. Be sure to save the game before you enter. If you are not yet level 9, you may choose to fight Hypers outside, or Skeletons inside the keep. Re-enter the keep and travel through the Blackam maze until you reach the open room to the right. This time, you will actually see Varalys.
Varalys rarely attacks you directly, choosing instead to warp to some location in the room, fire a few fireballs in one direction, and warping to a new location. You will have to take the fight to him. Just like with the Dragon, you should remain in Defend mode when you attack. Allow yourself to die and use the Medicine of Life to restore your health and continue your attack. You may manage to defeat him before you die a second time, but more than likely, you will not. If that is the case, you will need to back off and heal. Because you possess the three jewels, you can still restore hit points in the dungeon, just not nearly as fast as if you were standing on grass. You may choose to heal in the room to the left or down below, it will not restore Varalys' lost hit points. When you are healthy again, continue your attack, and you will win the game.
(There is an alternative method that helps guarantee victory before your second death. Just before you die the first time, switch to Attack mode. If you time it correctly, you will deal a lot of damage to Varalys just before he kills you, making it possible to beat him after you drink the medicine.)