Players: 1 or 2
Genre: Horizontal shooter (no ‘forced’ scrolling)
Saving: No saving of any kind, including no saving of high scores
Game Completion Time: Approximately 40 minutes
Credits: Unlimited continues in the Japanese version, up to 5 continues in the U.S. version
Lives: Adjustable, up to 5 per credit
Difficulty: Adjustable on 4 levels – beginning with stage 4, the difficulty spikes regardless of setting
Brief History: Kaitei Daisensou (In the Hunt in the U.S.) was released by Irem in arcades in 1993. It was ported to the Sega Saturn (and Sony Playstation) in 1995. It was digitally released on the PS4 and Nintendo Switch in 2019. The creators of the game later formed Nazca Corporation, who then made Metal Slug; hence players may get a very ‘Metal Slug‘ feel from the gaming experience.
Story: The ‘Dark Anarchy Society (D.A.S.)’ has created a ‘doomsday device,’ and the Granvia submarine(s) have been deployed to foil their plans in the Antarctic Circle.
Controls: Basic 3-button setup. Button A fires torpedoes straight ahead. Button B launches an upwards projectile or downwards land mine. Button C is auto-fire, and fires all weapons simuletaneously (forwards, upwards, and downwards). Button C is the one you’ll use the most.
Items: Various power-ups can be picked up by destroying ‘helper’ subs. ‘Treasure balls’ (stars) can be picked up in increments of 1 or 10; collecting 100 gains you an extra life. Variations on your missiles and torpedoes can also be acquired, some of which are more powerful and some that have a greater ‘damage’ range when you attack enemies.
Enemies: Planes, helicopters, ships, exploding mines, missile launchers, and sometimes undersea creatures will assault you mercilessly as you seek to take down the D.A.S. Your sub can rise to the surface to launch missiles at the enemies above the water’s surface (when applicable), or you can dive to take out the submerged enemies.
Bosses: The 6 bosses in Kaitei Daisensou range from giant machines of war to bizarre creatures bent on your destruction.
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade: B+ Kaitei Daisensou is an average shooter overall, but it has several features that make it quite enjoyable nonetheless. The underwater aspect is something that is almost unique in its approach, and the enemies, bosses, and constant explosions are visually engaging. The control is good, although your sub isn’t particularly speedy, and evading enemy attacks, especially in later stages, can be frustrating. In this Sega Saturn version of the game, slowdown occurs often with so much happening on screen; I did not find this at all frustrating, and even helpful at times, but others might not care for it.
The difficulty of the game is something to consider in terms of its enjoyability. The first three stages aren’t particularly daunting, but the second half of the game puts you in numerous scenarios that make staying alive nearly impossible. This is where the Japanese version trumps the U.S. version. The Japanese version gives you unlimited continues, whereas the U.S. version only gives you 5. Even on Easy, beating the game with 5 continues or less (or even 10 or less) would take A LOT of practice.
The game has a few different endings depending on the difficulty and whether or not you play with one player or two. The difficulties, in my experience, didn’t seem too different from one another, as ‘Easy’ wasn’t much easier than ‘Madness.’
Overall, Kaitei Daisensou IS a good game, if you don’t mind the slowdown and the screen-filling onslaught of enemies on screen trying to take you out. It’s not necessarily a game that someone would want to master perhaps, but rather a good stress-relieving shooter-romp when you want to unleash some mindless aggression on the denizens of the deep.