Depthcharge (Arcade)

Depthcharge Arcade Starting out


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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39781)
Written on  :  Oct 18, 2018
Platform  :  Arcade
Rating  :  2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars
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Early example of a game that follows a simple concept

The Good

If you were born after the '70s, Gremlin Industries was not a company that you would be familiar with. Headquartered in San Diego, California, Gremlin didn't even start out in the video game industry until after the ball-and-paddle craze. Before they went bust a decade later, they managed to bring out some obscure titles, and one of these titles was Depthcharge.

The top of the arcade cabinet has the title in large letters, and next to it are one of the exploding depth charges. The control panels boasts two buttons on the left used for moving your destroyer rather than a joystick, instructions next to them, and two more buttons to the right, which will launch depth charges from the left and right sides of the destroyer, respectively. The control panel also included a lever that was used to adjust the depth in which the charges exploded, and this proved very unpopular with players.

In the game, the player controls a destroyer on the surface. As soon as you insert a quarter, you have 90 seconds to drop a series of depth charges at the submarines that are passing by you. When you manage to kill a sub, it goes to the graveyard at the bottom of the screen. The more subs you put in the graveyard, the more bonus points you are awarded when time expires. Points are lost when you are hit by the sub's own depth charges, and if you manage to get a score of 500, you get an additional 45 seconds of game time. Each passing submarine has different point values in ascending order, and each one has different speeds, with the lowest sub requiring careful timing to hit.

Depthcharge uses Sega's VIC Dual system which is powered by the Intel 8080 microprocessor. The game uses a black-and-white CRT display, as with other games of the same era. Both the submarines and destroyer look impressive, and the animations of the subs sinking whenever you make a hit are fantastic. Most people you talk to may tell you that the graphics look primitive compared to today's standard, but you have to pretend that you are playing this in the arcades back in the day, and there was still no color when it came to video games.

The sound effects in other games created by Gremlin are quite impressive, and this game is no different. Gremlin negotiated with the U.S. Navy about getting permission to the tapes of an actual sonar, and used it in the game. You also get to hear the “explosion of death” whenever you down one of the subs, and this is accompanied by a lovely “splash” sound.

The Bad

A high score could have been displayed during the game, so we wouldn't have had to remember what it was by looking at the title screen.

The Bottom Line

Depthcharge was released by a video game company that I never heard of when I was growing up, being accustomed to the arcade games released by other companies like Taito, who distributed the game in Japan as Sub Hunter. There were remakes and clones for several home systems, with the best one being the Amiga version. The object of the game is to shoot down submarines within a time limit. Bonus time is awarded to you after 500 points. The graphics and animations are well done, and the sound effects provide enough realism to the game. A great little time waster!