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The Ocean Hunter – Arcade

The Ocean Hunter – Arcade

oceanhunflyerPlatform:  Arcade (Sega Model 3)

Release Date (NA):  October 1998

Developer:  Sega

Publisher:  Sega

Genre: Rail Shooter

Nerd Rating:  8 out of 10

When I was a kid, there was a single arcade near our house that we’d go to at least a few times a month. Although most places like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and even my dentist’s office, had arcade cabinents, actual arcades were a dying species by that point. In fact, as of writing this review, that same arcade where I spent most of my childhood has been destroyed, the entire mall it was housed in reduced to rubble. To make matters worse, The Ocean Hunter cabinet is pretty rare in America, so my search for another one has been fruitless!

The year was 1998, nearing the last few years of the fifth generation of video games. The Game Boy Color was set to be released that November and two of my brothers would be getting it for Christmas, the Dreamcast would soon be coming to Japan, and by this point I was probably still playing Strider on the Sega Genesis.

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Me in 1998, waiting for my brother to stop hogging the goddamn Mortal Kombat 3 cabinet.

Since most of the games that I would later spend forever binge-playing hadn’t come out yet, the local arcade was still the it spot for my brothers and I. I mean, c’mon, that was the only place we could play The House of the Dead or the later Mortal Kombat games until the sixth generation hit! And since the arcade was mostly a run-down piece of shit, no one ever showed up and hogged the cabinets besides us (not that many were still in working order). The only special thing about this arcade was the booming The Ocean Hunter cabinet sitting right in the center of the room.oceanhunteri-00

The Ocean Hunter was also probably one of the only reasons we ever stayed at the arcade that much, especially during a time when home consoles were booming and you could pretty easily burn copies of whatever PlayStation game you wanted. The only reason you really went to an arcade and wasted fifty dollars a pop on continues wasn’t just to play the games, it was to experience them. And The Ocean Hunter was a game you truly had to experience. I’ve seen pictures of second type of The Ocean Hunter cabinet floating around on the Internet, but the one I’m referencing in this review is the closed in model, like you see on the right. The old arcade that I played at had all of the lights off, so the inside of the box was actually much darker, which made the whole experience playing the game that much more enthralling.

Like many rail shooters in the arcades, The Ocean Hunter cabinets were equipt with light guns that you used for your controllers. The light guns used in this game were actually modeled after the Shock Guns used by the game’s protagonists Torel and Chris (at least the top turret). Since they were so heavy, the light guns were simply mounted on the front of the booth and pointed at the screen for aiming. The turrets also had a rumble feautre to them so that whenever you fired with it, it would vibrate in your hands, which made the game’s tense action all the more enjoyable.

oceanhunteri-02In the game, you play as the above mentioned protagonists, Torel for Player 1 and Chris for Player 2, who are bounty hunters in this seemingly futuristic-steampunk age. The two, like many other characters you’ll see being eaten alive in-game, are attempting to cash in on the bounties of the Seven Great Monsters of the Seven Seas that have been destroying ships and killing countless humans. With that said, the game is split into seven levels, each encompassing one of the Seven Seas along with that monster and its own unique set of sea creatures to fight against. The majority of the monsters that you’ll be fighting are based on mythology, like the game’s first boss, the Kraken. These monsters encompass many different myths from many different civilizations, so it’s incredibly creative to see how Sega has adapted each creature from its source mythos. The Seven Seas are also based off or inside of real life bodies of water, such as the Baroque Sea, where the Kraken is faced, being based off of the East Pacific Ocean, and the Luna Sea, where Leviathan is, based off of the Arabian Sea.oceanhunteri-01

Each of the stages begins with an introduction, the protagonist pointing to its location on the map, before diving down into the sea below. As the players progress through the stage, they’ll be faced with waves of enemies and mini-bosses to contend with. Depending on how far into the game you are, the stage may contain a couple of mini-bosses scattered among the waves of regular enemies, or have almost every enemy in the stage a mini-boss, like the final level. Once the players reach the end of the level, they’ll go up against whichever one of the Seven Great Monsters claims said sea as their own. Each boss has a set attack pattern which changes half-way through the battle. In order to defeat said boss, the player typically has to aim at a specific part of the boss’s body, this usually happens to be an appendage or part that the boss uses to attack with, which often will allow the player to avoid getting hit.

oceanhunteri-03The game otherwises plays like a typical rail shooter, with the game leading the protagonists on a set path through each of the levels, with every battle perfectly choreographed. This also, of course, means that the attack patterns of the monsters in The Ocean Hunter also don’t change. While this hurts replayability a bit, as players who’ve beaten the game already will know what to expect from each battle, it also means that said experienced players will find it easier to reach higher scores. This allows players to continue to evolve their strategies and hone their reflexes through each playthrough.

The aiming in this game honestly isn’t the greatest, and it doesn’t help that the turrets you use to aim with are pretty bulky and hard to move in the first place. I’m also not much of a fan of the three-hitpoints for health that the player has throughout the entire game. Since a number of hits in this game (especially those during Rahab’s fight) are almost impossible to avoid, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll be spending much quite a bit of money on continues to complete the game.oceanhunteri-04

Graphically, The Ocean Hunter is about equal to just about any early sixth generation title, and anything you’d see in the arcades during the late 90s. It’s not perfect, per say, as there are plenty of small graphical glitches, but it does get the job done. You want a scary looking shark to lurch up at you? This game has tons of them. The real draw here is the sound design, if it weren’t for the audial cues and booming sound effects, I doubt The Ocean Hunter would have seemed as intense as it was. The loud slurping noise that accompanied enemies scared the shit out of me as a kid, and it still scares the shit out of me as an adult. The soundtrack accompanying the game is as great as anyone would expect of a Capcom game. The boss track in particular, a loud drum line, is probably one of the best tracks in the game, perfectly matching the intensity and rapid heart palpatations of said battles.

oceanhunteri-07One of the things that I really love about rail shooters is that the game’s creators can really create a cinematic experience using the camera movement. While most players prefer the freedom alloted to them by most modern first person shooters, such as the Call of Duty games, sometimes the most interactive adventures are created by limiting that freedom. And that’s how playing The Ocean Hunter feels. When I sit in that dark booth with the loud, booming audio, aiming a prop turret around to kill the denziens of the Seven Seas before they kill me, I feel more engaged to the game than I ever have sitting on my couch with a home console. As a kid, having the camera suddenly serving to the side as a shark was about to bite me scared the piss out of me. The Ocean Hunter required that I always be on my guard and ready for anything, the tension in never feeling completely safe alone is what makes The Ocean Hunter such an incredible game to experience at an arcade.

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Written by Doc Croc


Doc Croc aka Kelly is Nerd Bacon’s Editor-in-Chief and handheld maven, who spends one third of her time working on the site, another third splurging on Amazon, and the final third sleeping.

 
 

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2 Comments

  1. This might be my favorite review of yours 😀 Love the anecdotes!

    Of all Sega’s lightgun games, Ocean Hunter holds a special place in my heart for being so damned intense.

     
  2. I remember this game! It was so much more expensive than the other games in the arcade, but it was pretty badass.

     

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