The Game: In the Arctic Circle, there are two certainties: not eating will kill you, and being in the water too long will kill you. You have to brave both possibilities in this game, trying to keep the fishing nets intact, and trying to fend off the roaming sharks intent on biting through the nets. There are both stationary and moving ice floes, and you can jump from one to the other (or to the shore), with your spear at the ready to impale a shark – but sooner or later you also have to jump into the freezing water to repair the nets, leaving you at the sharks’ mercy. (GST Video, 1984 / released by Classic Console Center in 2006)
Memories: This unreleased gem from the Odyssey2/Videopac library is a fine specimen of the best Odyssey2 games – offbeat, original (or at least adding original twists to popular themes) and unique. Shark Hunter was designed for the European market, but was never released in this form when the crash of the video game industry caught up with overseas game makers. (A version of it later appeared for MSX computers overseas.) It’s fun and frustrating, and would’ve been a more than welcome addition to the Odyssey2 or Videopac libraries.
One of the most surprising elements of Shark Hunter is how it uses the Odyssey2’s built-in selection of character shapes, as well as its title screen – a fairly unique element – which features graphics that clearly break out of the box of those predetermined shapes. Though most of the in-game graphics are familiar Odyssey2 staples, they haven’t been used in quite this way before. With original games like this, the Odyssey2’s day should’ve been far from over, except that more modern technology was about to leave it in the dust.
Dieter Koenig’s Classic Console Center recovered the completed prototype ROM and made cartridges available in both PAL and NTSC form in 2006, finally letting gamers who were still clinging to their Odyssey2 and Videopac consoles know what they’d missed out on. It’s an outstandingly fun little game.