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Seafox

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Released: 1982

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Apple II

Publisher: Broderbund

Developer: Ed Hobbs

Submitted by: Romany Woodhouse

Don’t confuse this game with its dull lupine cousins, the Sea Wolf games. Yes, this is submarine-themed, and yes it takes place on a single screen, but this one has a whole lot more going on beneath the surface (pun not intended, believe it or not).

Things start out fairly sedately. Unlike the Sea Wolf games, Sea Fox actually gives you an on-screen presence. Your plucky little sub cruises fairly unimpeded around the screen, with only enemy submarines to contend with and ships to destroy (some of which reflect your fire) to complete each level. You can deploy both horizontal and vertical torpedos – either of these is effective against enemy subs, but only verticals can take care of the ships. You only get one of each onscreen at a time though, so make those shots count. In a satisfying quirk, your vertical movement inversely affects that of enemy subs, so that you can hover just below the level of an enemy sub, fire off a torpedo, then rise up across the sub’s path. Time it right and it’ll descend directly onto your torpedo. Kablammo.

Before long the screen is a riot of enemy subs, torpedos, floating mines, depth charges, and Pac-Man (really). You see, you also have to manage your limited arsenal of torpedos and remaining fuel, supplies of which are jettisoned out of a friendly sub on the back of a dolphin. Hot on the heels of this dolphin is a miniature Pac-Man – fail to collect the payload, and it will. The supply drops are fairly regular, but you can afford to miss less and less as the action heats up. It’s also possible to shoot the supplies (bad idea), or to collect them and then get Pacced.

This is a fun game. The Apple II version suffers far more from slowdown than I remember, looks inferior to the Atari 8-bit version, and will never challenge In the Hunt for sub shooting supremacy, but it sure got me through a heap of adult dinner parties when I was a kid. A great little score attack game that still holds up well today.