Seaquest (video game)

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Developer(s)Steve Cartwright
Platform(s)Atari 2600
Genre(s)Shoot 'em up
Mode(s)1-2 players alternating

Seaquest is an Atari 2600 video game designed by Steve Cartwright and published by Activision in 1983. The game is an underwater shooter in which the player controls a submarine.


Gameplay screenshot

The player uses a submarine to shoot at enemies and rescue divers. Enemies include sharks and submarines, which shoot missiles at the player's submarine .[2] The player must ward off the enemies by firing an unlimited supply of missiles while trying to rescue divers swimming through the water. The points awarded to the player for shooting an enemy starts at 10 points each, and increases as the game advances. The sub can hold up to six divers at a time. Each time the player resurfaces prior to having a full load of six divers, one of the divers is removed.

The submarine has a limited amount of oxygen. The player must surface often in order to replenish the oxygen, but if the player resurfaces without any rescued divers, they will lose a life. If the player resurfaces with the maximum amount of divers, they will gain bonus points for the sub's remaining oxygen. Each time the player surfaces, the game's difficulty increases; enemies increase in number and speed. Eventually an enemy sub begins patrolling the surface, leaving the player without a safe haven.

The player starts the game with 3 extra lives, and is awarded an additional extra life each time the player scores 10,000 points.

Seaquest can be played single-player or with two players alternating turns.

Like other Activision 2600 games, this one had a patch you can send in to get. It required you to get a score of 50,000. You would send in a photo of your game showing this, and they'd send you an "achievement patch".


Steve Cartwright designed Seaquest, and described the game as a reskin of the arcade game Defender (1981). He felt that the Atari 2600 adapted arcade games well, describing that most games of that era were "fast-paced arcade games because of this."[3]

Cartwright stated that there was a salvage company called "Seaquest Inc or something" that sued Activision for stealing their name for the game. He met the groups lawyers in Chicago and when explaining the title was original and not based on searching sunken ships or for treasure, the case was dismissed.[4]


Retro Gamer's Darran Jones wrote that the Atari and Activision titles of the Atari 2600 era featured fantastic box art on their covers and that the Seaquest title was one of the few to live up its cover saying "a shoot-'em-up at heart, it's developer, Steve Cartwright, mixed things up by giving you divers to rescue and a strict air supply to manage."[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Seaquest at GameFAQs
  2. ^ Bogost, Ian; Montfort, Nick (2009). Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. Cambridge: MIT Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0262012577.
  3. ^ Hawken 2017, p. 30.
  4. ^ Hawken 2017, p. 31.
  5. ^ Jones, Darran (May 2021). "Seaquest: Does Exactly What It Says on the Box". Retro Gamer. 219.
  6. ^ "GAMES Magazine #40". June 1983.
  7. ^ "GAMES Magazine #44". October 1983.


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