Saturday, April 16, 2011

Endurance Mode: The Hunt for Red October

This is a new feature that I've been meaning to tackle for a while...the reason why I haven't until now is simply because I've never wanted to even look at or try the source material for it. Endurance Mode is titled as such because I play a shitty game and either beat the living snot out of it, or see how much crap I can take before I stop playing. For the first EM entry, I've chosen The Hunt for Red October for the NES.

Why do I even have this game to begin with? That's a good fucking question, and one that I can attribute to my grandfather's eBay addiction. There was a time when he would buy tons and tons of stuff...things that he wanted, things that other people wanted, and things that he THOUGHT other people MIGHT potentially want. For me, he bought a few NES games on eBay, and I guess the seller was pretty desperate to get rid of The Hunt for Red October, because it shipped for free and for cheap. Now, of course I was curious...I had to try it after all, so one day when I was in my last year of high school, I fired it up and gave it a shot.

What a mistake that was. Right off the bat, I knew this game was terrible. Well, not right off the bat, because the intro is actually pretty well-drawn...but once I got into the game itself, I gave up really quickly because of how horrible it was. I'd only gotten maybe 10 minutes into the gameplay, and already knew that it wasn't worth 9 of those minutes I had just spent. I felt bad, because my grandfather had gotten me this game out of the goodness of his heart, and because the movie that it's based on is pretty sweet...but I couldn't tolerate the game and I shunted it into the bottom of my NES collection where it remained.

Until now.

Red October has surfaced from the seas of exile and sorrow. I've gotta give it another shot, right? How bad can it REALLY be?

Well, here's my running text log as I experience the game, so you can at least get a decent idea of what a poorly-made game this is:


- Didn't take too long to start the game up, didn't even have to blow in it...+1 to the game for that! Maybe this won't be so bad after all...

- There's a hammer and sickle on the title screen, which sinks into the water...badass?

- The demo mode looks...horrible and chaotic.

- I have no idea what's going on.

- First of all, the music is terrible...sounds like the Thick Lead instrument on a Yamaha synthesizer chained up and raped Blaster Master's last level.

- Even when you pause the game, the fucking music keeps going. Endless torture.

- The game is a side-scrolling shooter...sort of. It moves forward at a snail's pace, and you can also move up and down and scroll the screen along with you, so there's some freedom.

- You have torpedoes that fire straight upwards to take out enemies above you, and ones that fire straight ahead...seems like they can both be powered up when you acquire items.

- There's a shitty radar in the bottom right corner that displays little dots for enemies and projectiles, and GIANT LETTERS for powerups. So far I've seen C, T, P, M, R, and E.

- Pressing select gives you an electromagnetic field, which makes tracking torpedoes fuck off - actually kind of neat.

- Some graphics are bland, others aren't too bad...but either way, it's inconsistent.

- Your sub has a Power and Armour meter - HIGH FIVE FOR CANADIAN SPELLING!

- I can't figure out what the fuck the power meter does...Armour is your health, but power just seems to go down gradually...maybe it has something to do with how much you move around? That'd be the stupidest thing ever, so I hope not.

- Checkpoints are uneven...I hit the first one about 10 seconds in, and since then there hasn't been a single one. I keep getting sent quite far back when I get blown up.

- Enemies consist of: Bland Sub, Bland Boat 1, Bland Turret 1, Proximity Mines

- Good God, this music is so horrible.

This is what an electromagnetic field looks like! Regurgitated spaghetti!

- There are giant metal bars that slide out of the background (which I assume are supposed to be giant doors or something), and pipes that move up and down! REMEMBER THAT FROM THE MOVIE??

- There's a time limit...but it doesn't go back up after you die, so if you die too many times you'd be fucked anyway. How stupid is that? Would it have been so difficult to make it refill at least up to a certain point after you got waxed?

- Well, I died and lost all my lives (subs) over screen complete with a floating life ring in the middle of the ocean.

- Started again...there are proximity mines in the first little bit of the game. Floating under them and hitting their chain causes them to explode, but they still hurt you NO MATTER HOW FAR AWAY YOU ARE FROM THE ACTUAL MINE WHEN IT EXPLODES. Good job, Paramount and Hi-Tech!

- Your ammo is limited...that's retarded (which fits with the rest of the game).

- Well, I just found out what happens when your power meter runs out...absolutely nothing. It just flashes and makes a horrible noise at you. The upside: At least it drowns out a bit of the shitty, shitty background music! There's a silver lining around every vomit-coloured, acid rain-dropping cloud!

- Checkpoint 2! What an accomplishment! I'd like to thank the academy and my mother, and Jesus himself! *cries*

- I keep getting killed by these sliding pipe things...they're not timed in a pattern to necessarily let you through. The timing of each pipe depends on when they show up on the screen, so if you move too slow, the openings might never align and you'd be buggered. What kind of horrible programmer did this?

- Just found a giant nuke symbol...which increases my power meter! THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME POWER WHICH SEEMINGLY DOES NOTHING ANYWAY.

- I'm on the first level still I think...and my remaining time is at 10 "seconds". C'monnnn...

- The same music is still playing, FYI.

- I just shot at a cannon that's not even pointing at me. It's facing backwards. Why is this even happening?

- I just got to what I think is the end of the level...there's a giant door that you need to blow open, so I shot it until there was a hole in it but I STILL couldn't get through and I died because I ran into the door. THANK YOU PARAMOUNT AND HI-TECH FOR MAKING THIS TOP-NOTCH GAME!

- Starting again...ugh.

- Ohhh, I see...if you have no power, you can't use your fucking electromagnetic field to deter homing torpedoes. LAME.

- AND your radar doesn't when you're out of juice either! Can we discuss this for a moment? The power in this sub lasts like...a minute, tops. Is that how real subs work? Should power have even been a management asset in this fucking game? I don't think so.

- Just got back to where you need to blow the hole in that door...guess the first time it wasn't big enough or something...even though it was.

- Went end of level, and still the same damn music...I don't even know how much progress I've made.

- Nevermind...went a bit farther forward and it gave me some fuckin' cutscene...saying that the Red October (THAT'S ME!!) was last seen heading toward the "Arctic Zone". Then there's some shitty dialogue between two old people and now I'm at level 2. I CAN ONLY IMAGINE THE FUN I'LL BE HAVING NOW!

- I'm gonna bet you right now that once I lose every life, it makes me start the whole game again from level 1. Fifty bucks.

- The music is still the same and continues to be horrible. "Hey, shouldn't we switch the music up every so often? Ah fuck it, this track is so good they'll want to hear it for the game's entirety! Even while it's paused!!"

- I'm navigating through a ton of ice and prox mines...when you blow them up, they can take out parts of the wall. That's a little nifty...but only about as much as finding a clean spoon in a pile of two-hundred thousand dirty ones.

- Parts of the overhead icebergs fall off at extremely inconvenient times to act as obstacles. THAT'S GLOBAL WARMING FOR YOU!

- Some fucking sub just popped out of an iceberg, shot me in the ass 3 times and ran away like a pussy.

- For some reason, the electromagnetic field doesn't work too well on their stupid homing missiles, so you're FUCKED.

- This stage is like if the Tube Race level from Earthworm Jim were born without any functioning organs.

- Some fuckin' plane just went by the surface of the water and dropped something...which disappeared once it hit the surface. Looked like a little person or something like that...I have no idea why planes are dropping people to their death in the freezing cold water.

- My power's gone, and I'm STILL dodging falling ice. When it hits the ground it splits into smaller parts that shoot out of the impact site...but only sometimes, so it's not even predictable.

- Apparently the Earth's spin just increased in speed because these rocks are starting to fall faster.

- Just picked up more power...thank God it stopped that warning noise the game makes when you're out of juice, because it was drowning out this amazing musical composition!

- Looks like I'm clear of all the ice...


- This is keeps shooting homing missiles out, but so rapidly that my electromag is useless...I don't even have that much of it anyway.

- I died...aaaand...YEP! It starts you off at the very beginning of the game. In my effort to blow that giant MOON BASE away, I only made it crack a little. That's it. That's with full torpedo unloading and E-mag on as much as possible.

- What if there are like, 20 levels of this crap? And I have to start at the beginning of this broken mess of a game every time I get killed five times?

This is about as exciting as the game gets.

- *sigh* Starting again...same music's STILL FUCKING PLAYING.

- There's this one weird part in the first level where 4 torpedoes just spin randomly and fall to the bottom of the sea...I don't think they hurt you at all.

- Ah, wait...upon closer inspection it looks like planes are dropping them from the sky, and they DO in fact hurt you.

- I just blew the fucking door open, got through it, and the screen didn't advance and my sub blew up...GREAT PROGRAMMING, HOPE YOU GOT A RAISE!

- There, back to the fucking arctic...

- What the hell? On the level complete screen, you can press select and change the colours around for no reason at all. I bet they put more programming into that function than the ENTIRETY OF THE REST OF THE GAME

- OH...MY...GOD. THE MUSIC HAS STOPPED. I must have fucked it up somehow when I was messing around with changing the colours!! *cracks open a beer*

- It's so's beautiful...serene and lovely. The silence...

- For some reason, that sub that shot me in the ass before just kinda ran into the wall and blew up.

- ...and the game just froze. Time to restart!!! :D:D:D

- 10 minutes later...still trying to get it to work again.

- 20 minutes now...and it's still not working. Maybe my NES did me a favour and destroyed the game.

- Tried Castlevania III: Dracula's's working fine, so it's not the system.

- Yeah, can't seem to get Hunt for Red October working anymore, and I'm not too interested in trying much harder than I already have. So I guess I'll just stop here.

- Nevermind...I got the damn thing working again. I won't recap until I get to something new!

- Restarted...

- Something weird...this one turret is just sitting there and can't be blown up for some reason. The likely reason is because the programming is so great in this game that my NES can't possibly comprehend or render it.

- I just fired a homing missile...and it went for an enemy sub and TURNED AROUND once it got about a pixel away from it, missing the damn thing entirely. Why? I have no idea...I don't think they can use EMP like I can. Oh, who am I kidding! It's probably just because this game is a piece of trash!

- froze again, in level 2...damnit.


- The game must've wanted to give me a break...there were no BACKWARDS FIRING CANNONS in the last part of Level 1 this time! They sure make the going pretty tough, so I'm glad they were gone!

- I just found out that if you press both A and B at the same time, the sub makes an 8-bit farting sound and seems to fire some different kind of torpedo.

- Also just found out that the C powerup gives you more electromagnetic shielding or whatever the fuck it is.

- This game is so awful. Why am I doing this?

- Just beat the fucking SECOND LEVEL! Turns out you can just sit right in front of where MOON BASE COMMUNISM fires missiles from and pump torpedoes into it without getting hit.

- My ceiling lamp just fell apart and scared the shit out of me.

- On to level 3! The best thing I can see so far about this stage is that there are foreground objects that are indiscernible from things that you can run into! AWESOME.

- Well this're stuck near the surface as boats and planes speed by and blow you up. Not easy to hit them, either.

- By the way, in case you didn't guess already, the music still hasn't changed and is continuing to make my ears bleed.

- I died...back to level one again :(

- I just did some research and discovered this game has a Level Skip code!...but it seems like it only works once, so I'm gonna go through level 1 and then skip to level 3.

- Alright, back at level 3. Just for the record, I never cheat at games...this one is just too horrible to play through over and over again.

- This level's much shit coming at you all at once.

- There are more planes that drop flashing people into the ocean. If these hit you...nothing happens and you're fine. Weird.

- Level 3 done...that was relatively painless. I got a bunch of EM stocked up and I guess it makes it so that not only missiles can't track you, but neither can enemies. They don't even fire at you, so I cruised right through the rest of the level! For some reason, the letter C represents EM shielding. Don't ask.

- At the end of it, there's this bigass ship at the surface of the water that you need to blow up with water to surface missiles. Pretty lame, I smoked it pretty quick.

- Level 4 is some underwater cave system...lots of stalactites and shit. BACKWARDS FIRING CANNONS also make a triumphant return!

- Hey! ONE of these cannons is facing forward and actually managed to hit me! THIS IS BULLSHIT!


- I died...and I'm stopping now, I can't keep doing this and I have no desire to. I now know how Sir James Rolfe feels.


After having played this far, I just looked up the rest on YouTube. It's just more of the same horrible experience...except for the very last level. The final stage turns into a crappy looking platformer, and you run around as 8-bit Sean Connery in a suit in an attempt to find bombs on the sub and defuse them. This is all while people are shooting at you, of course...and if you fall too far, it appears that you take damage. Can't say that I feel bad for stopping at stage 4.

My advice: Never play this game. It's just another one of those movie-to-game situations that didn't work out, and of which there are too damn many. I'd rather play Superman 64.


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