Sea Wolf (video game)

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Sea Wolf
Arcade flyer
Developer(s)Dave Nutting Associates
Designer(s)Dave Nutting
Platform(s)Arcade, Commodore 64, VIC-20
Arcade systemMidway 8080/BW

Sea Wolf is an arcade video game designed by Dave Nutting and released by Midway in 1976.[3] It is a video game update of an electro-mechanical Midway game, Sea Devil,[4] itself based on Sega's 1966 electro-mechanical arcade submarine simulator Periscope.[5] The game was released in Japan by Taito.[1] In Sea Wolf, the player, piloting an unseen submarine, launches torpedoes vertically in an attempt to sink ships moving horizontally across the screen before time runs out. The screen is viewed through a faux periscope mounted on the cabinet.

The game sold 10,000 arcade cabinets and was the highest-grossing arcade video game of 1976 and 1977 in the United States and Japan's fifth highest-grossing arcade video game of 1976.

Midway released a color arcade sequel, Sea Wolf II, in 1978.[6] In 1982, Commodore International produced cartridge ports of Sea Wolf for the VIC-20 and then-new Commodore 64 computers.[7]


The player looks through a large periscope to aim at ships moving across the virtual sea line at the top of the screen, using a thumb button on the right handle of the scope to fire torpedoes. The periscope swivels to the right and left, providing horizontal motion of a targeting cross-hair. The cabinet features a mixture of video game and older electro-mechanical technology for player feedback. Using back-lit transparencies reflected inside the scope, the number of torpedoes remaining are displayed, as well as a red "RELOAD" light which lights up momentarily when the player has launched five torpedoes. Additionally, when a ship is hit, a corresponding "explosion" light is reflected onto the screen image at the ship's approximate position. A blue overlay is affixed to the screen to provide a "water color" to the sea. Sounds include a sonar ping, the "whoosh" of launched torpedoes, torpedo explosions, and the klaxon sound of the PT boat racing across the screen.

Sea Wolf is time-limited, with the player having an opportunity to win bonus time by reaching an operator-set score. The player's score is shown on the bottom half of the screen as well as the high score, one of the first known instances of a high score in a video game.[8] Targets include destroyers, a fast-moving PT boat, and mines floating across the screen that serve as obstructions.


In the United States, Sea Wolf was the highest-grossing arcade video game for two years in a row: 1976[9] and 1977.[10][11] It was the third highest-grossing arcade game of 1978 according to Play Meter,[12] or the year's fourth highest according to RePlay.[13]

In Japan, Sea Wolf was a commercial success for Taito. On the first annual Game Machine arcade chart, Sea Wolf was the fifth highest-grossing arcade video game of 1976 in Japan, below Taito's Ball Park (Tornado Baseball) and Speed Race DX (Wheels), Sega's Heavyweight Champ, and Breakout (licensed by Namco from Atari).[14]

Sea Wolf eventually sold a total of 10,000 arcade cabinets. Sea Wolf II sold another 4,000 units.[6]


Sea Wolf was followed by Sea Wolf II in 1978. In 1983, Epyx ported Sea Wolf II and another Midway game, Gun Fight, to the Atari 8-bit family and released them in an "Arcade Classics" compilation.[15]

In 2008, Coastal Amusements released a retro video redemption game based on the original Sea Wolf.[16]

High score[edit]

The current world record holder for Sea Wolf is Alan Radue with a score of 11,300 points. The record was set on October 2, 2011, at the Tranquility Base Arcade and verified by Twin Galaxies International on October 9.


  1. ^ a b c d e Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971-2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971-2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. pp. 41, 124. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  2. ^ a b "Video Game Flyers: Sea Wolf, Midway Manufacturing Co. (Germany)". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  3. ^ "Sea Wolf Killer List of Video Games Entry". Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  4. ^ Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum. "1976 Midway Sea Wolf". Archived from the original on May 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  5. ^ Steve L. Kent (2001), The ultimate history of video games: from Pong to Pokémon and beyond: the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world, p. 102, Prima, ISBN 0-7615-3643-4
  6. ^ a b Steven L. Kent (2000), The first quarter: a 25-year history of video games, BWD Press, p. 83, ISBN 0-9704755-0-0, retrieved 2011-04-09, Sea Wolf, which was another creation of Dave Nutting, did solid business, selling more than 10,000 machines. A later color version sold an additional 4000 units.
  7. ^ "Sea Wolf for Commodore 64 (1982) - MobyGames". Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  8. ^ Medler, Ben (2009). "Generations of Game Analytics, Achievements and High Scores". Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture. 3 (2): 177–194. doi:10.7557/23.6004. S2CID 62097541.
  9. ^ "Profit Chart". RePlay. October 1976.
  10. ^ "Top Arcade Games". Play Meter. November 1977.
  11. ^ "Profit Chart". RePlay. November 1977.
  12. ^ "The 'Winners' of '78: Top Arcade Games". Play Meter. 1978.
  13. ^ "Video Games". RePlay. November 1978.
  14. ^ "本紙アンケー 〜 ト調査の結果" [Paper Questionnaire: Results of the Survey] (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 65. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 February 1977. p. 2.
  15. ^ "Arcade Classics: Sea Wolf II / Gun Fight". Atari Mania. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  16. ^ Shaggy (16 April 2008). "Shaggy's Review – Sea Wolf by Coastal Amusements". Arcade Heroes. Retrieved 2011-06-28.

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