Saturday, November 9, 2019

Game 14: Submarine Commander

Name:Submarine Commander (Computer)
Publisher:Thorn EMI
Developer:Dean Lock
Genre:Submarine Simulator
Time:~1 Hour

Submarine Commander wasn't my first choice for early examples of the FPS genre, but I couldn't find any copies of them for the Apple II and the one I could find for DOS wouldn't work without me fiddling around with it. Something I wasn't willing to do. That gives me the deep question of how to play an Atari 8-bit computer these days. It also follows that Submarine Commander's Apple II conversion is from 1983, making the year a lie. Software companies were apparently beating down the doors to release software for the now four years discontinued computer. This is in the old days when you couldn't just emulate old computers. Now you can pass the modern computer compatability over to the DOSBox team and they couldn't care less as long as you aren't doing your spreadsheets in it.
The game loads up with the sort of sound that makes me nostalgic for the PC Speaker. I'm not a fan of the ear-splitting sound AppleWin seems to be saddled with, whether or not that was present in the original system...I don't care. This is about playability in the modern era, if this is the only way to play it, its something that's going to have an effect on it.
I went through this game twice, once I did it very badly and yet somehow still didn't wreck my ship. Apparently generic German engineering is better than top of the line Soviet engineering. The second time, well...Unfortunately, Submarine Commander seems to actively resist playing it, you have to use the F & H keys to turn, the T & V keys to ascend and descend, and the number keys to speed. You have further menus in the form of Periscope, Map, and Sonar. The keys are the capitals.
I am offered the entire Mediterranean to terrorize. Speed is quite nice, I figure you could get across most of the map in under half an hour. The whole ship package is good for '82. I can see how HFRO improved upon it. So I move my way over to one of these convoys. There was one close by me this time. Two. One of them lands so I go after the other one. Turning is very fast in this game, or the game speed is very fast.
Now, admittedly, I did not play it as much as I should have. I gave up at this point. Enemies did not appear on my radar or on the periscope. I caught up to them, a sound played, they buzzed off. This could be because the guy who cracked it was terrible at his hobby, or because I was supposed to do something else. Either way, I don't really care. Its not like this game was suddenly going to turn fun just because I knocked off a few ships.

You get torpedoes. 0/10

Three kinds, I figure they're violent and non-violent kinds. 2/10

Non-existent. 0/10

Yet another submarine game that boasts about having potentially limitless encounters in the same sandbox. 0/10

Player Agency:
There is everything I ever expected in a submarine game...questionably so. This is really put off by the lack of a mouse. 3/10

Doesn't apply here. 0/10

It was depressing and felt pointless, but I wouldn't call it a feeling the game tried to give. 0/10

Weeeell, it was good at the time. 1/10

I had to look it up to find out. I thought it was during the cold war at first. 0/10

Silence, followed by annoying blips and bloops when the action finally happens. 0/10

6 is the total. It was fun messing around with the submarine's options for a minute. Hopefully that'll be the worse game of all-time on this blog.
I'm not alone in thinking this game offers nothing now, as Computer Gaming World did a survey in 1993 saying exactly the same thing and giving it a 1 out of 5 stars.

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