Y'know, I'm certain there's a way that I'm supposed to be listing the title of the game. I'm sure that, for my humble intentions at least, the way I'm doing it now is just fine and dandy for all those involved. I'm taking a technical writing course this session and I'm beginning to think that for everything that I've already written, there's a "better" more "appropriate" way of stating it. Of course, if I wrote these entries as "technical writings" then this would be less of a blog and more of a "technical journal". Still, it'd be nice to be able to describe things a bit more succinctly. I'm hoping that my course will help me with that without ruining my unrefined charm. Heh.
Sea Wolf, Bally Pro Arcade, 1978
Previously, I've been playing and talking about these home videogames as if I were a shut-in, or very young child (Which I would've been circa 1972-75). The idea of doing that was to limit discussion to the arena of the home, somewhat, and to keep things from getting too complicated. Yes, I've already written about a few arcade-to-Home conversions without comparing them too much to their progenitors, but overall I've been acting like the arcades don't exist. I guess, one could say, it keeps the lab cleaner.
We're going to take off the clean room suits now and officially acknowledge that home videogames, in many cases, existed in the arcades prior to their debut on home videogame consoles. Yes, I might have mentioned them before, in passing, or in an out-of-character/chronology moment, but here and now, let me just express that I will refer to a home videogame's arcade precursor more often and with the expected forms of due reverence.
The Bally Pro Arcade does a lot of home ports. Their first year of existence had a few arcade titles, of which, 280Zzzap immediatly springs to mind.
Sea Wolf and its cart partner, Missile, both share the characteristic of having been brought home from the arcades. Why do I mention it now? Well, because playing Sea Wolf in the arcades was a unique experience at the time and this home conversion just doesn't cut it.
The arcade version of Sea Wolf had a special controller. It was made to resemble a periscope. You look through the viewfinder to see your playfield, which was the ocean, and you rotated the periscope to aim your torpedoes. There was a pinging sound; there was a fire button on the periscope; the whole setup gave me a wonderful feeling of immersion. Yes, that turned out to be a pun, and you should be laughing out loud at this very moment, but I tell you -- "immersion" is the best word to describe the Sea Wolf arcade experience. "Immersion" is also the exact word that could describe what the home version lacked.
Instead of a periscope, you move a pink submarine across the bottom of the screen and launch torpedoes at the various ships that cruise overhead. Without the periscope from the arcade, this game becomes nothing special. Instead of feeling like you are in a submarine, you're merely controlling a toy submarine (pink!) that is now in your living room.
So, what's my point? Sea Wolf is notable as being the first arcade to home conversion that was severely diminished by its voyage home. The simple fact a periscope couldn't be attached to my TV is what killed this game for me.
Some of you will disagree with this and may point to home games like Indy 500 or 280 Zzzap as neutered driving games, when bereft of their driving controller. You're not wrong, but neither fell as far as Sea Wolf did from its below-sea-level arcade origins.
Missile is from the arcade game Guided Missile and doesn't lose much in its translation. It's like Sea Wolf exept you control the missile during its flight to destroy trucks and other moving land based targets. It is also not a lot of fun. In fact, were I not determined to at least mention it briefly I would have ignored it altogether. All it's doing now is detracting from the poignancy of what I was trying to express concerning Sea Wolf. Cripes. Stupid flipside game.
That's all for 1978. I may do a run down of 1978. I've been stuck in 1978 since September of 2005. I'm really looking forward to moving on to 1979.