I am going to try and review all the games I had a chance to play at ASI over the next few weeks – just as long as I can find the time to write all of my thoughts down. This week we’ll start off easy with Sea Wolf and go from there.
Sea Wolf by Coastal Amusements, original by Midway
Released (US): March 2008
While classic game remakes are all the rage these days on the consoles through services like Xbox Live Arcade, actual arcades have seen very few remakes over the past decade or two, until Coastal Amusements came along with a new 3D remake of Sea Wolf. Originally designed as a redemption only game, it has proven that it can stand on its own legs as a video title as well thanks to it’s “easy to learn, difficult to master” style gameplay that we all loved in retro arcades.
The objective of the game is simple – you are a submarine and it is your job to sink as many ships as appear on your screen (designed to look like a periscope although the cabinet differs quite a bit from the original Sea Wolf design which made you look into a periscope-like device while standing up) by launching torpedoes at your enemies, all within a preset time limit. The target ships will appear on the right or left side of the screen and will sail across at varying speeds, with faster boats being worth the most points. Depending on how far away the ships are, you will need to time your shots just right to take them down but rarely will you get a one hit kill, with many ships needing two or three shots to be sunk completely. If a ship survives the first hit, it will set on fire and slow down, making it easier to hit it again although you have to wait a brief moment to reload. There are five “tubes” to fire torpedoes from, each corresponding with a line drawn on a second screen below the main view. These will fire in preset directions so the game is about lining up a shot and taking it at the right time. While you cannot die in the game you can run out of torpedoes before the timer hits its mark, so it is wise to not just fire madly into the ocean hoping to hit something by pure chance. One thing that the new version seems to be missing are the mines which can block your shots which was in the original, but otherwise everything is there that I know of.
Some classic gamers may be disappointed by the lack of the periscope control but the way the game has been designed makes up for it. First off the game is a sit-down game and that in itself makes using a periscope a tad strange, since you would expect to use one standing up. The way they designed the screen however makes it feel like you are looking into the periscope already and to be honest it feels more comfortable to focus on the action this way than squeezing your face up against a scope (which can be cool in it’s own unique right but that also can depend on who has been squeezing their face up against it before you did). The controller is fairly small but is easy to use and is designed like a periscope handlebar that can twist from side to side. It has two buttons on it but this is only for ambidextrous control as the buttons do the same thing. Once your round ends the game allows you to register your three initials to a high score board and if the game has a ticket dispenser you’ll be rewarded with those so you can go pick up an amazing price from the redemption counter there at the arcade. That or probably some throw away plastic trinket made in China, amazing prizes might vary.
The game also has a linking feature so multiple units can be connected together. When this is active, all games being played in unison will contribute points to the bonus display at the top and one player can capture the entire bonus earning more tickets.
I was a little surprised by Sea Wolf ‘s graphics as they look great. All the objects in the game are in 3D and the water effects look convincing enough, especially if you play the sunset level. When you fire a torpedo, there is a distortion effect that wraps around it that is a good touch as well that one wouldn’t expect from a redemption game. The most satisfying part of the graphics comes when you hit a ship and while they won’t explode into trillions of pieces with particle effects flying around the screen (it isn’t a Jeff Minter game although I would like to see his take on it as that would look cool in its own right) the smoothly animated fire and smoke is fun to watch. The action takes place on a wide screen display which helped with recreating the feeling of looking through a periscope without actually pressing your face up against one. I really didn’t expect a game intended for redemption to look this good.
There is no music to speak of for Sea Wolf but that fits in perfectly with the original that didn’t have any either. But the sound effects make up for it, with spectacular bass tones that were easy to distinguish even in the middle of a busy event and are exaggerated by the force feedback mechanism built into the seat. This is complimented by the constant beeping of the radar in the submarine.
Sea Wolf’s cabinet is different than what you would expect to see from a standard arcade game but that is a good thing in this case. Both sides feature great artwork that sport the original Sea Wolf logo on it and are made to look like the cabinet is a sub under the water. The ‘marquee’ at the top of the cabinet is a back-lit piece of green plastic with the Sea Wolf logo on it; below that is a red LED display to show you the bonus score that has been earned, the Sea Wolf logo again and some speakers. The screen is complimented by an interesting display right beneath it that features five yellow lines with LEDs beneath them drawn against a green background made to look like a radar display. When you fire a torpedo the LEDs work to make it look like a torpedo is shooting out the tube towards the target, which is a nice touch. I already mentioned the force feedback seat but overall the cabinet is an impressive piece of work that saw a lot of attention go into it.
I admit that I normally could care less about ticket redemption games (I prefer SWP, skill with prizes like Stacker) but Sea Wolf won me over as it really is a classic game just with the improved graphics. Even my brother who went with me to the show who is a gamer that likes classic games but not even close to the level that I do really liked it and said that it’s the best redemption game he played. Of course if an operator didn’t have ticket redemption they can buy a video-only version of the game if they wanted.