In the articles I have crafted for OSG Magazine to this point, the focus has been heavy on history, covering decades worth of video arcade games. This month we’re going to take a different approach, focusing on titles that you are likely familiar with from “back in the day” and researching how they have been resurrected and rebooted for the current generation. The reboots I’ll be looking at are not old arcade titles being remade for modern consoles, rather old arcade titles being revamped as new coin-operated arcade titles.
Reboots are nothing new in entertainment – Hollywood has been rebooting/remaking just about every story under the sun for some time now, while the video game industry has done so since the 1990s. Within gaming, reboots are more than just retelling a story through a modern lens; they involve an update to the graphics and completely new game mechanics can be introduced to turn it into a proper sequel. My personal favorite among sequel/reboots (I’ve heard the term “sequboot” thrown around for these) is Tempest 2000 for the Atari Jaguar; the new Tempest 4000 is essentially a remake of that. Such efforts vary in quality across the board – sticking with Atari, no one has cared for anything they have done with the Haunted House series over the past decade but Tempest 4000 seems to be receiving universal praise.
Now onto the modern arcade – what reboots have found their way “back home” to the sector where they first found success? Quite a few actually! Let’s start with 2008 and work forward from there.
I picked 2008 as that marked the launch of Sea Wolf, designed by Coastal Amusements. It is a company known more for t++heir crane machines than their video games, but that hasn’t stopped them from offering up a variety of what I call “videmption” games to the market (i.e. “video redemption,” where you play for tickets). Sea Wolf itself was a Midway title first released in 1976, having been heavily influenced by an electromechanical Sega arcade game from 1968 called Periscope. Sea Wolf II was launched in 1978, but after that the IP lay dormant for 30 years.
Sea Wolf 2008 kept the original gameplay intact – boats cross from one side of the screen to the other. The goal is to blast as many of them as you can with your slow moving torpedos before the timer hits zero or your torpedos run out. Timing is important, as the boats move at different speeds and distances, rewarding higher points for the more challenging shots. In this case, many locations had you playing for tickets, but that could be shut off and the game set to operate like a true arcade game. While the software held true to the original game design, there was one glaring difference: the company decided to remove the periscope viewer and replaced it with a kind of radar display on the control panel. While the controller still felt like a periscope handle, this decision did remove a bit of the charm. Coastal would follow-up with two sequels that would add more content and features to the game: Sea Wolf: The Next Mission (2011) and Sea Wolf 55” (2015).