The Soviet Union has created the ultimate first strike weapon. It is November 12,1984, four months before Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power. The Soviets have built the RED OCTOBER, a Typhoon class nuclear submarine which utilizes an experimental propulsion system. This new cavitation drive renders the submarine virtually invisible to sonar. Fully loaded with nuclear missiles, the RED OCTOBER is an unprecedented war machine.
You are Captain Marko Ramius. Your superiors have ordered you to put the RED OCTOBER through its trial run of tests and naval exercises today. But you have other plans. You intend to defect and to lead the submarine and its crew to the safety of a U.S. port.
The Soviets will not allow this superior technology to fall into the hands of the Americans. Once the Kremlin realizes your plan to escape, they will send the entire Red Fleet to track down and destroy the RED OCTOBER. You must evade or destroy all enemies and navigate a course to the U.S. shore.
--From the Gameboy Hunt For Red October instruction manual.
Overview: The Hunt For Red October is a submarine war game based loosely on the movie of the same name. Very loosely. The Red October is a Soviet submarine of the Typhoon class, commanded by Captain Marko Ramius. Ramius plans to defect from the Soviet Union to the United States, complete with the sub and its crew. The Soviets have other ideas. They plan to destroy the sub before it can make it to America, using whatever force is necessary.
There is a main screen, which depicts a side view of the action, and a smaller Sensor Screen, which allows you see the physical makeup of your surrounding environment, “Pickups” and Soviet craft. “Pickups” are displayed as flashing objects on the Sensor Screen.
There is a plethora of color everywhere you look: every shade of yellowish-gray under the Sun. No, the color-cones in your eyes are OK, it's the screen that is colorblind. But you knew about the color mode when you chose a GameBoy game, didn't you? The graphics are reminiscent of those you did in your Algebra notebook while the teacher was droning on about how if you don't study you will fail. Acceptable, but not likely to land you a job as an artist unless you are in the computer game industry.
The background music sounds so Russian you would swear that Boris Tchaikovsky had written it. Well, if he had collaborated with Mickey Mouse and performed it on a piccolo. Let's just say, the sound technician tried to make it sound Russian and it does. At least to a man who has lived in beautiful downtown Burbank all his life. The action sounds are realistic and I can attest to this having visited New York City. Explosions are a specialty on the East Side and these sound just about right.
Two player folks, you are on your own. Nothing in the manual about this, and when I chose it, I still only saw one sub. Anyway, how can you have two subs when there is only one Captain Ramius; where are we, the Twilight Zone?
Oh mariners spare a thought when you pass
Those who live the submarine life
Far in the deep sonar eyes never sleep
Hiding like a shadow in the night
Jet planes nose through the clouds above me
They look for radar traces of me to see
They'll never know, never no never
How strange life in dark water can be
Directions: You have to avoid or destroy Soviet surface craft and submarines to make it safely to freedom. You have an unlimited supply of torpedoes and an initial supply of three missiles to accomplish your task. Fortunately for you there are also Missile, Cavitation Drive (allows the sub to run silent for a short period of time), Repair and Heart (adds one additional sub life) “Pickups” scattered throughout the ocean to assist you.
The action is fine until you come in contact with an enemy and then they fire fast and not so friendly. Just be ready to launch a fast counter-attack and move out of the line of fire. That works except when they launch missiles.
Avoid or destroy Sonar Buoys from surface craft if you can, because they give your position away. And don’t waste weapons on Aircraft Carriers because you cannot damage them. When changing directions left or right, quickly double-tap the Control Pad to change the orientation of the sub, or you will be moving in reverse.
Also avoid anything that isn't ocean water. Those rocks, even though computer generated, wreak havoc on a submarine's hull. Who was to know?
The manual keeps us in suspense regarding whether we will face meaner enemies as we defeat those in the current Round. If fact, it doesn't even mention Rounds, just to keep us in suspense. Why didn't they just print the manual in invisible ink and keep us completely in suspense?