Release Date: 1977
Players: 1 – 2
Genre: Shoot’em Up
Alternate Title: Target Fun
Model #: CX2602
Programmer: Larry Kaplan
Given that this is one of the earliest 2600 games to be released, it comes as no surprise that Air-Sea Battle is an overly simplistic “shoot everything that moves” game.
Despite the simplicity, there is a fair amount of variety to be found here. There are six different ways for you to blow things up, and several different variations of each game type. Granted the differences are somewhat minor, such as your missiles being guided and there being random objects like blimps getting in the way of your shots. This doesn’t add a lot to the game, but it is a nice change of pace, albeit a small one. The vast majority of the game types put you head to head against a friend, a couple of the games puts the computer in charge of the other gun. Of course the AI is extremely limited, so don’t expect anything more than a constant stream of unaimed shots coming from your opponent.
Each of the six game types play out in the same general way. There is a single screen with theme specific ships moving along a pre-determined path at varying speeds. On the opposite side of the screen you and your opponent are set up to unleash volley after volley to see who can hit the most targets in the time allotted. The game lasts precisely two minutes and sixteen seconds (per the manual), or until someone gets 99 points. And no, I haven’t the foggiest idea why the timer is two minutes and sixteen seconds. That said, let’s look at the different varieties of gameplay.
Anti-Aircraft: You are in control of an Anti-Aircraft gun and must shoot down everything from large planes, small planes and tiny helicopters that are flying above you. In the more advanced game you will have giant blimps flying just above you that soak up shots yet give you no points. You can’t move your AA gun, however it can be aimed at three different angles.
Submarine: You are in control of a Submarine and you must blow up every manner of sea faring vessel. Unlike the AA game, you can move your Sub left and right across your half of the screen. With the guided missile option your shot follows you on your journey across the screen, giving you the opportunity to correct your shot.
Shooting Gallery: This is by far the creepiest gameplay variety, since not only do you have to shoot ducks and bunnies, but occasionally the screen is filled with giant smiley faces. I’m not sure why they are smiling so big, but I’m sure that they will haunt your dreams.
Polaris: You are in a fast moving submarine that is in constant motion at the bottom of the screen. While it is impossible to stop, it is possible to speed up or slow down your ship, giving you the chance to time your shot to hit the aircraft above. Depending on which player you are, your opponent will either be directly above or below you.
Bomber: This is the exact opposite of Polaris, as instead of Subs you are in Bombers flying above.
Polaris vs Bombers: The most interesting of the game types. One player is in a bomber above, while the other player is in a Sub below. Same basic concept, but the only time you get to fire directly at your opponent.