Saturday, November 16, 2019

Game 15: Submarine Commander

Name:Submarine Commander (2600)
Genre:Submarine Simulation
Time:~1 hour

The Atari 2600, you'd think a trendy '90s PC gamer like myself wouldn't care about this system, and you'd be right, my parents had the Intellivision, a marvel of controller engineering that nobody appreciates. The Atari, meanwhile, has a single button and a joystick. This really held back any enjoyment I could have from the system outside of simple arcade-style games, and we already know I don't have much nostalgia for those. That meant that complex titles like Raiders of the Lost Ark needed two controllers, yeah, that's what I need out of life.
Submarine Commander for the Atari 2600 is a strange beast, it came out the same year as another game with the exact same title. They're completely unrelated, while looking for a manual for the other one I saw a few books with the same title that could be where these games drew inspiration, but I doubt that.
The game plays like a shooting gallery game, except the targets are all boats. Boats that don't really look like military boats. You can play a guessing game as what the story is, because beyond "In enemy waters, kill them all", I found none. Are you German, American, Japanese? Some psychopath with a submarine and the timer is a countdown until the Coast Guard show up? Maybe I'm putting too much thought into a game made in three months? Huh, maybe.
Boats come by in four rows, and in three variants, a slow one, a fast one, and a very fast one. To get the fast ones you either need to be stupid/lucky or pay attention to your sonar, which boops whenever something is coming from a particular direction. You shoot them for about 10 minutes and then you get a final score, which now you can post on the internet to tell other people you're a better video game player than them. Since you're playing an Atari game very few people have heard of, that's probably true.
That's about it, I tried setting to a higher difficulty, since there are supposed to be depth charges in this game, but nothing I did seemed to make them appear. It wouldn't really change anything score-wise.

Torpedoes. 0/10

Regular enemies and fast enemies you have to be clever for. 2/10

Non-existent. 0/10

None. 0/10

Player Agency:
You can look around and shoot. 0/10

None. 0/10

Its a fast-paced submarine game that doesn't have any basis in reality whatsoever. Doesn't give me any warm fuzzy feelings, but I can see how it might do that for someone else. 1/10

Simple and appealing. You can tell roughly what everything is supposed to be. 3/10

None. 0/10

The game sticks to the Atari's strengths, which are simple explosions and boops. 2/10

That's 8, but keep in mind this is fun, good game, its just not a shooter.

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