Reviewed in 2013 by Tibe

IREM: TOP-QUALITY OR NOTHING!

by Tibe

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Irem is not only the creator of the legendary R-Type. The publisher showed its talents with many other great titles. There was for example Kung-Fu Master, Bomberman, Image Fight, Lode Runner, Vigilante, Hammerin 'Harry, Legend of Hero Tonma... to name a few! Among the many qualities of the firm, we can mention originality, the ability to take risk with new genres, but also a pretty recognizable style, especially with the graphics. On originality and style, In The Hunt doesn't lack both! We are dealing here with a Shoot 'em Up declining the genre with submarines, no less. We are in 1993 when the title hits the arcade rooms, and at the time, its realization is breathtaking: the M-92 - the hardware of the firm for arcades - is a real war machine and it's in the hands of some of the best programmers, designers and musicians in the video game industry. Fasten your ... tubas, destination the bottom of the seas!

Irem's graphic artists are real virtuosos!
Irem's graphic artists are real virtuosos!

In The Hunt uses a multi-directional scrolling, mostly horizontal. Not only the player can stop it if he wishes to - in order to clean the screen before moving, for example - but he also has the choice to get to the sea surface to fight planes, helicopters and boats, or to stay at bottom of the ocean and fight other submersibles. In addition, some stages happen using a vertical scrolling. Two buttons are used: torpedoes are launched with the first one, while the other is used to send mines to the surface and/or to the bottom. Different weapons can be collected during the game, such as armor-piercing rockets, homing missiles and whatnot. If the game does 't use checkpoints like R-Type, it remains that our submarines are destroyed with any shot cashed. Be warned, ITH is not an easy game at all, don't be fooled by appearances. If the first stage might look like a walk in the park with a little practice, from the second one the enemy fleet will make no prisoners!

Progress at  bottom or at the surface, depending on your strategy.
Progress at bottom or at the surface, depending on your strategy.

The first thing that strikes you when one starts playing In The Hunt, it's the graphics. They're so beautiful! The backgrounds as well as the sprites are very detailed, the line is fine, the colors well chosen and the style is absolutely unique. It will not surprise anyone to learn that we are dealing with the same design team that made GunForce, X-Multiply, Undercover Cops, but also... Metal Slug, no less! The pixel art is here elevated to the rank of art, neither more nor less. The second pleasant surprise is the soundtrack: it rocks! The composer was harshly inspired, and we are granted some rock, pop and electro pieces accompanying perfectly the action. The sound effects are also a great job, with a range of spectacular sounds. These may cover a little the music, but who cares! The sound quality reminds the Neo Geo, and when you know how legendary the audio capabilities of this system were, this is saying something. Finally, the animation plays in excess, with a level of detail and a number of sprites sometimes amazing on the screen, often making the action a little confused. Slowdowns even invite themselves to the party, especially when playing two simultaneously.

This passage in the city is a real ambush, be on your guard.
This passage in the city is a real ambush, be on your guard.

With such an array of visual and audio virtuosity, we have to  hold at least a "Mega-Hit 'with In The Hunt, might you say? Well not exactly, alas! The intrinsic qualities of our soft, even if they're very good, does not match its almost perfect aesthetics. If the difficulty in ITH is measured, the game is a bit short and most importantly, loses much of its appeal when finished. Indeed, the gameplay doesn't offer a very interesting line of progression, summarizing principally in clubbing the fire buttons while dodging as much as possible out of enemy fire. The scoring system and game techniques are also quite basic, even if Irem has made the effort to offer six very different stages, including some nice surprises. In short, do not expect to play an R-type game à la '20 .000 Leagues Under the Sea'. In The Hunt offers a high quality entertainment, beautiful, original and taking... which lacks a bit more depth to fully catch the most demanding players.


GRAPHICS

97%

It's great art! The Irem style is superbly represented with In The Hunt, using an aquatic world both dark, glaucous, metallic and voluptuous... totally unique.
ANIMATION 86%
Decomposition and level of detail are amazing for a 1993 game. Unfortunately, numerous slowdowns happen, especially when playing two.
SOUND 92%
In the Hunt allies sound quality and musical creativity to offer one of the best soundtracks ever hear in a shoot them up: brilliant!
REPLAY VALUE 71%
There's six stages, cooperative play, a nice challenge with a balanced difficulty... But once cleared, the game loses a lot of its luster.
GAMEPLAY 80%
Putting submarines in a shoot them up is quite original and well made by Irem. The basic weapon system, the lack of rythm at times and the 'straightforward' gameplay limit a little ITH to a certain simplicity... but not devoid of qualities!

NEOGEOKULT

RATE

83%
Irem signs here one of the most original shooter ever seen, with a sublime realization and nice gaming qualities.

SAME ON NEO GEO?

There's no game of submarines on Neo Geo! But in the Shoot them Up register, Last Resort seems to be the most close choise, with its futuristic and apocalyptic atmosphere.

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