SNES A Day 146: The Hunt for Red October

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Approximate Release Month: January 1993
Genre: Action
Developer: Riedel Software Productions
Publisher: Hi Tech Expressions

The Hunt for Red October is Defender under the sea.

I appreciate how the developers ignored any compulsion to make The Hunt for Red October‘s underwater submarine combat actually feel like it’s in water. That sounds sarcastic but it’s not. The subs could be floating in the air for all the difference it would make. After all, how many good water levels have been in video games? The only kinds of stages that are historically worse are sewer levels.

That doesn’t mean this is a good game, just that it could have been a lot worse. You move from left-to-right fighting off an armada of enemy subs and ships until you reach the exit of the level. Each of the face buttons corresponds to a different type of missile, and all are useful. One goes straight up, another goes forward, and there are two that fire at an arch. They aren’t unlimited, but you get a ton of ammo. Which you’ll need because The Hunt for Red October buffets you with enemies from all directions.

The large numbers of enemies is what makes The Hunt for Red October so difficult. I haven’t been able to get past the third stage because there’s just too much going on. The oblong shape of a submarine makes it difficult to dodge enemy fire effectively so damage piles up quickly. And once you die, you have to go back to the main menu. No continues here.

Oh yeah, this is a Super Scope optional game. In some levels there will be a chance to play an on-rails mission and you can use either the controller or the Super Scope to shoot down helicopters and jets and stuff. It’s pretty terrible with either control method but you can just ignore it entirely if you want.

I was surprised with the level of quality of The Hunt for Red October, with the suffocating difficulty and general awfulness of the rail shooting sections being the main knocks against it. But the rest of the game isn’t great, just okay. This is a “sub”par experience.

Next Week: I’m taking an unexpected week off. Power Moves will strike on November 2.

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