Sea Hunt (Froggo/Sancho)
Froggo... Froggo is my favorite publisher... they made such good games... Oh wait! Duh! They never made anything for 2600... Scratch that they made some boxes... and uh, the warranty cards were actually made out of card stock. Okay Froggo Sucks, they are the whipping boy of the Atari library, and deservedly so. Every single game released by Froggo on the Atari 2600 was either stolen, or stolen, the game we're looking at today, Sea Hunt, was torn from the rotting fetid hands of Sancho. Froggo has also stolen from Spectravision (Task Force), Ultravision (Karate), Panda (Cruise Missile) (but let's be honest Panda probably stole it from somebody else), Sancho... again (Sea Hawk), and Parker Brothers (Spiderdroid). The thing that really gets me though is how late to the party Froggo was, the Atari was a dying console throughout the mid to late 80's, so Froggo, in it's infinite wisdom decides to start publishing games for the 2600 in 1988. Nintendo had been rocking the states for over three years and Froggo chooses the 2600 to publish the bulk of their library on. We all know this is gonna be bad, so lets get it over with.
This game looks... okay actually. I don't mind the aesthetics. The fish are well defined, your scuba dude even has a discernible harpoon gun. The flickering waves are a bit annoying but you can hardly see them, and I like the turtles walking along the bottom of the screen. Believe it or not this game was ambitious and has two screens... Two whole screens! Wow... The first is the reef with the sunken pirate ship, and the second is the inside of the pirate ship. Despite being very green on the outside, the inside of the pirate ship is alarmingly red and rather plain nothing much to say. All around the game is very colorful and not too abrasive on the eyes, and besides any game with turtles in it gets a plus in my book.
We can all agree that the 'music' that plays when you start the game is absolutely atrocious. It sounds like a song mothers sing to their children to get them to shut up and go to sleep, but it's played using some of the most abrasive instrumentation I've ever heard on the 2600. Otherwise the sounds are fairly bland. My favorite sound is when you hook a fish and are reeling it in, it's a rather neat bit of trickery and it really gives the impression of a struggle taking place.
Now... Here's the sticking point for most people. the gameplay. In this game you hook fish and score loot from the decrepit wreck of a sunken pirate ship. You start in your little boat at the top of the screen, this is your 'safe zone', you return to your boat when your air gets too low, you have a time limit for how long you can spend underwater. In order to enter the ship you must harpoon at least four titanic fish then swim into the wreck. You must then navigate your way through the wreck collecting the pirate's booty... yarr... escape the wreck and resurface to collect your points. The main problem is actually entering the water. You automatically sink halfway down the screen, and are unable to control yourself, while the fish home in on you and take a life, you MUST wait until the top two fish are on the opposite side of of the screen from you until you can jump in in relative safety. Harpooning the fish is the second main problem, because while you have a fish on the line, you are unable to move and guess who can?.. You guessed right, it's the other fish that you are currently not reeling in, and you can kiss goodbye to another life. You have to wait until the fish are extremely close until you shoot them, then they will simply disappear. I never bother with the second screen, I will hook all the fish on the screen and wait at the bottom for more fish to respawn slowly, one at a time, where I can hook them nice and easy, one can quite easily roll the score using this method... but it's quite boring. I almost forgot to mention the third and final major flaw of this game, the collision detection. You have to be pixel perfect when it comes to hooking these suckers, if you're off by a little bit, the harpoon will fly right through them and keep going, you have one shot, because the harpoon also needs to be reeled back in before you can shoot again, and your dead again.
I don't hate this game, I don't think it's particularly good, but it's flaws don't make the game so unplayable that I never want to play it again, it's fun for a few minutes at a time. I will spare this game from the fate of the Collector's Zone, since copies are common enough and cheap enough to be worth it.