Submarine Commander

Submarine Commander
Company: Atari
Model #:
Matthew Hubbard (Programmer) & Marilyn Churchill (Graphics)
Year: 1982
Yes (Sears Only)
Originally called Seawolf 3


Also known as the hardest Sears exclusive to find, Submarine Commander is the 2600's rendition of the classic coin-op Sea Wolf II.  Submarine Commander was originally slated as an Atari release, but was later given to Sears as an exclusive (along with Steeplechase and Stellar Track) to satisfy a clause in their contract.  However due to Sears closing down their publishing operations later the same year, Submarine Commander saw a limited release.

Submarine Commander is about as basic as a 2600 game can get.  Line up your torpedo tubes (represented by the green bars) with the ships passing overhead and fire.  Take note that your sub alternates torpedo tubes (left and right), so lining up multiple shots can be tricky.  After hitting a ship with a few shots it will sink and you'll gain some points.  The different ships are worth varying amounts of points depending on their size (the smaller faster ships are worth more than large slow moving ships).  



Of course the game would be really boring if the enemy ships didn't shoot back, so starting with game variation four ships will begin to drop depth charges.  When a depth charge is detected you'll hear a sound and an arrow will appear showing the direction of the charge (you'll want to move in the opposite direction).  When the arrow turns white it means the charge is close and about to explode, so hightail it the other direction ASAP!  Each depth charge hit has the possibility of damaging your sub (depending on the position of the difficulty switches).

Although it may not look like it, Submarine Commander is actually full of gauges (Gauges? We don't need no stinkin' gauges!).   The number at the bottom of the screen is a fuel gauge that also doubles as a game timer.  As your sub moves around and shoots it uses up fuel, when your fuel runs out the game ends.  The red and white block at the top of the screen is your engine temperature gauge.  As you move around your engine will get hotter, and as you probably guessed the hotter your engine the more fuel it consumes.  If your engine is damaged by a depth charge it will turn yellow and consume twice as much fuel (as well as moving at half normal speed).  The circle in the bottom left is your sonar which allows you to find the enemy ships.


While it may not be much visually (blocky graphics and questionable colors), Submarine Commander is actually a decent Sea Wolf clone.  Unfortunately by 1982 Sea Wolf was four years old, and way past its prime.  Still if you're a fan of the genre, Submarine Commander isn't all that bad.  Just pretend the copyright date says 1980 and everything will look just about right.


Version Cart Text Description
3/23/81 Seawolf 3 Minor color differences
3/15/82 Submarine Commander 3-15-82 Final Version


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