Review by Jotun

Reviewed: 06/05/03 | Updated: 06/05/03

For patient gamers only

Another game based on a movie? Gamer senses tingling... Luckily, The Hunt For Red October for the Game Boy manages not to sink (no pun intended) among the countless crappy tie.ins everyone of us has been loathing over the years. Actually this game can be surprisingly good, if you're in the right mood for it.

You play as Capt. Ramius (Sean Connery in the movie), although you actually play as Red October, but I think you got it ;)
Ramius's official mission is to test Red October's, the USSR's finest war machine ever. Somehow, Ramius makes the decision to escape and take the submarine to the USA. Of course the Red Army doesn't like it and will soon be after him. Pretty weak story, but hey, you have to blame it on the movie...

Nice job here. You can clearly seen what's going on on the screen, and very seldom you will mistake something for something else. There is also a good variation from one level to another, which is never bad. Slowdown is pretty rare, since the action is generally slow by its own... well, it's realistic, after all it's not a science fiction shoot-em-up.

The music is generally good, although it is barely mediocre in some levels; it generally fits the environment. The sound effects are pretty standard, a bit repetitive maybe, but far from terrible.

It'll take a while before you achieve a decent handling of your submarine, no question, but it can't be blamed on the controls; you just have to become familiar with the ''feeling'' of it.
The control system is very well done and actually shockingly similar to that of Choplifter II... the control pad will move Red October in the desired direction (...REALLY?!? WHOA!!), while a short tap on the left or right button will make the submarine turn and face that direction, as you can move backwards as well (but you can only shoot torpedoes from the prow). The A button will fire your standard weapon (the aforementioned torpedoes), while the B button will fire your special weapon (homing missiles), more powerful and limited in quantity (you start the game with a daunting total of 3, mind you...). Control-wise, the only difference between this game and Choplifter II is that the Select button will not toggle between special weapons (as there is only one), but activate Red October's ''cativation drive'': with this function the submarine cannot be identified by the enemies sonars for a limited time, so you can get out of tight situations or sneak behind and blast unsuspecting foes (enemies will not attack you while you use the cativation drive). Of course this function is limited in quantity too.
The submarine is of course pretty slow, and if you want to succeed in this game you'll better remove any haste from your mind. This is not your frantic shooter, it's rather a strategy game; only, you have direct control over your ''troops''.

There are 8 levels to complete before you can finish the game, and each of them is pretty long and packed with enemies. Submarines, ships, hovercrafts and VERY annoying jets and helicopters provided by aircraft carriers will give you a very hard time. You'll soon discover that your standard torpedoes aren't that useful if not in close combat with the small enemy submarines; the homing missiles will be your main weapon... but first you get them, and a missile power up will only add 3 of them to your arsenal. You must be very careful because if you launch them at the wrong time they might end up hitting the wrong target such as a part of the scenery. Oh yeah, and you also have to watch out while you move around, because scraping on cliffs and rocks will inevitably damage your craft. However, you have a small sonar screen providing you general information about the surroundings, so you won't be unprepared.
You guessed it, this game is hard. Very hard, actually. The learning curve is extremely strict, as you'll have your submarine blown up countless times before you can make it through the first stage. Actually this can be frustrating, which is why I recommend once again this game only to patient players.
At the end of every stage you'll also face a boss battle: you'll have to destroy bizarre machines or cross huge underwater bases and such. Guess what? Most of these are hard. But let's face it, games that lack challenge are boring.
My only gripe about the gameplay is that ENEMIES CAN SHOOT YOUR POWER UPS AWAY! It means that if you spot a power up icon you'll have to reach it before anything shot from an enemy (a torpedo, a depth charge, an used toothpick) does, because should the enemy fire touch the power up it will disappear. This is a VERY cheap (and very stupid, to shout it out loud) way to increase the difficulty, as your survival relieas mainly on those power ups. Shame!

You won't finish this one the second time you play it... and no, not the first either, you sarcastic smartarse ;P
This will keep you busy for a while, if you have the patience to go through it. It's worth it, really.
There is also a very good 2 player mode worth of being checked out: one player controls Red October, the other one controls the enemy army, selecting crafts one by one in order to destroy the submarine before it reaches the USA! It's very fun, so try it out if you can!

A good game, whose only flaw is too request too much and maybe offer too little to the average gamer.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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