Hunter Hunted (PC, 1996)

INFO: My “Retro Vault” reviews are not scored. Instead, I just talk about why I have fond memories of whichever game I’m writing about at the time. Generally, I won’t pick out any bad games for the Retro Vault feature, so scoring them is essentially useless anyway. Enjoy the read.

About twelve or thirteen years ago (or perhaps more), I remember having a Sierra game that came bundled with a few demos. One of the demos was for a game called Hunter Hunted. Ever hear of it? Back then, neither had I. Today, I look back on the game with very fond memories.

Hunter Hunted was a 2D platformer that contained a whopping 65 levels, a number that we never see in the current generation of gaming.

The missions were all pretty straight forward, and just involved completing miniscule objectives so that the player could reach the exit. Levels were full of all sorts of dangerous obstacles such as mechs and turrets.

The two playable characters, Jake the human and Garathe Den the alien-minotaur-thing, handled very differently. Jake, being a weak little man with guns, required a more conservative approach to clearing levels, while Garathe Den was all about just beating the hell out of everything in sight.

The singleplayer campaign was not the best part of this game and I won’t deny that I never finished the missions. Instead, I was drawn to the multiplayer aspect of the game.

Hunter Hunted was one of those rare PC games that had a split-screen two player mode of play, and along with a friend, I played the hell out of the multiplayer.

In multiplayer, you can either play co-op with a friend which, admittedly, kind of sucked… Or you could play, you guessed it, DEATHMATCH!

More 2D platformers need deathmatch, I say! In Hunter Hunted, one player played as Jake while the other was privileged enough to use Garathe Den. Now, I know what it sounds like, a little tiny man with guns versus a huge minotaur-alien that pulvervizes everything with frightening efficiency. Sounds uneven, yeah? Well, it surpisingly wasn’t.

Jake had a whole arsenal of guns at his disposal. His default guns were pretty crappy against Garathe Den, but there were some pretty awesome weapons littered throughout the levels such (like the rocket launcher) that could really punish Garathe Den. Garathe, on the other hand, didn’t get any power-ups that I can recall. He had everything he needed without having to get powered up, so as soon as a match began, Garathe would have a huge advantage over Jake. The player who would control Jake would then have to find sufficient tools to deal with the Garathe player, which was a lot of fun and really helped give this game it’s name – Hunter Hunted. Deathmatch was a huge cat and mouse game, where the roles of cat and mouse quickly alternated between Garathe and Jack. Lots of fun.

I can’t recall how many hours my friend and I sank into deathmatch, which really was awesome in it’s day. I don’t know how well this game would run today since it was released in 1996, so it might require a DOS emulator to even work properly. However, if this game sounds at all appealing to you, then definitely try to find a copy or a download, especially if you have a friend who wouldn’t mind checking out the deathmatch feature with you.

Hunter Hunted was, without a doubt, one of the coolest obscure games I have ever played on the PC. I have some very fond memories with this game, so thanks for giving them to me Sierra!

Click here to listen to a fantastic stage theme from Hunter Hunted!

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Spider: The Video Game (Retro Review)

“Creepy, crawly, and one of the Playstation’s best platformers.”

Every now and then, I like to take a trip back in time for a review. Usually I do this because I don’t have anything new(ish) to review. This is sort of the case at the moment, so what better time to review the very first Playstation game that I ever bought?

Spider was an obscure platformer that I don’t think many people played, since I never heard another person talk about it before. Also when searching “Spider on the Playstation” or another similar search phrase, all of my search results involve Spider-Man games. Despite the fact that both have to deal with a human character who has a nasty experience with a spider, the similarities end there.

In Spider, you play as the genius scientist Dr. Kelly. Or, well, you play as a spider inhabited by Dr. Kelly. You see, the good doctor invents technology that lets him control other bodies. A lab spider is his test subject, and his technology works without a hitch. Unfortunately for our intellectually gifted hero, the antagonistic MicroTech organization is watching. MicroTech’s president, a brain in a jar (don’t ask), wants the technology. So, Jar Brain does what anybody else would do. He transfers Kelly’s consciousness into the spider and takes off with the technology. The game then begins as Dr. Kelly, inside of the spider’s body, must venture through laboratories, city sidewalks, and even museums in an effort to get his body and technology back.

You might be wondering how a mere spider would be able to stand up against an evil corporation, right? Well, the answer to that is simple. Spider plays a lot like Contra, and the power-ups are no different. There are never any truly valid explanations as to how a spider can fire missiles or use flamethrowers, but wouldn’t it ruin the fun? I’m arachnophobic, but I’m all for a game featuring a spider with lasers and missiles and so much more!

The levels are all fully 3D, but the player is stuck on a 2D field for most of the game. As I mentioned, the gameplay is quite similar to Contra. There are tons of enemies that fire countless projectiles at you, and later levels are so full of hazards and obstacles that it can be a little overwhelming. Some levels required lots of raw skill to get through, and it was really challenging and enjoyable to experience. It’s also worth noting that since you play as a spider, you can pretty much crawl up, over, and under just about everything you see which adds a very enjoyable sense of exploration to the game.

I don’t have a physical copy of the game anymore, so I can’t comment on boss battles. I only remember the final boss in the game, which was a pretty underwhelming fight. The whole general atmosphere of Spider wasn’t very exciting. The game’s soundtrack was very calm and subdued, and the sound effects were never particularly exciting. Most aspects of the game were unfortunately fairly average, except for the stellar gameplay and perhaps one or two music tracks.

The graphics in Spider were very amazing when the game first came out. The main character looked like a real authentic spider on the television screen, which was both cool and a little scary at the same time (remember, arachnophobic!). The overall visual presentation is a little on the dark side in terms of mood and actual brightness. I remember having to turn my brightness up just to play.

After watching a few videos of Spider recently, I’ve also decided that the game’s graphics have stood the test of time exceptionally well, which is an amazing feat for a game released on the original Playstation back in 1996. The graphics are fine to look at today, and you really shouldn’t have any problems knowing what anything is that you see on your screen.

So while the music (for the most part) isn’t particularly great and the mood of the game isn’t very gripping or immersive, the actual gameplay is fantastic. I consider Spider to be a lost classic, and it may be one of the best platformers I ever played on the original Playstation. I highly recommend tracking this game down somehow and giving it a try if you’re into platformers.

Also, due to the lack of clear screenshots on the internet, I am posting a video I found instead.

Final Score

8.5/10