Silent Service (video game)

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Silent Service
Silent service.jpg
Cover art by David Phillips
Developer(s) MicroProse
Rare (NES)
FIL (Thomson)
Publisher(s) MicroProse
Konami (NES)
FIL (Thomson)
Designer(s) Sid Meier
Artist(s) Michael O. Haire
Platform(s) Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, C64, Amiga, Apple IIGS, IBM PC, NES, TRS-80, ZX Spectrum, Thomson MO6, Thomson TO8, Thomson TO9
Release 1985-1987
Genre(s) Submarine simulator
Mode(s) Single-player

Silent Service is a submarine simulator video game designed completely by Sid Meier[1] and published by MicroProse for various 8-bit home computers in 1985 and for 16-bit systems like the Amiga in 1987. A Nintendo Entertainment System port of Silent Service developed by Rare was published in 1989 by Konami in Europe and by Konami's Ultra Games subsidiary in North America. The follow-up game, Silent Service II, was released in 1990. Tommo purchased the rights to this game and digitally publishes it through its Retroism brand in 2015.[2]


Silent Service is set in the Pacific Ocean during World War II, with the player assuming control of a U.S. submarine for various war patrols against Japanese shipping ("Silent Service" was a nickname for the US Navy's submarine force in the Pacific during World War II). The game allows the player to choose when to attack and a whole range of realistic tactics are available, including the End Around as well as near invisibility at night (if the sub's profile is kept to a minimum). The game's realism was hampered by the simulation's inability to handle more than four projectiles at a time. This was particularly troublesome when battling multiple destroyers, since the submarine would not be able to fire if four torpedoes were already in the water.

The game accelerates real time when not in combat. Sid Meier described a number of key factors that influenced the design of the game: The size of the theater, the variety of tactical situations, and evolving technology, such as the use of surface radar and torpedoes that did or did not leave trails of bubbles on the surface—only simulations set after their real-life introduction had access to them. Tasks such as navigation, damage repair, and firing were compartmentalized into different screens to allow players access to a great deal of information, but also focus on the task at hand.[3]


The game was created totally by Sid Meier except the art which was made by Michael O. Haire. Silent Service was in development for 8 months and creation of the game was inspired by fractal technological trick[1].


Silent Service was MicroProse's second best-selling Commodore game as of late 1987.[4] The company sold 250,000 copies by March 1987,[5] and roughly 400,000 overall.[1]

Antic wrote in 1986 that "Sid Meier and his team of simulation experts at MicroProse have outdone themselves with Silent Service". The magazine approved of how the game offered both beginner modes and "complex, historically accurate and challenging war patrol scenarios" for experts, and noted the Atari 8-bit version's "superb" graphics and "well done" manual".[6] Antic in 1987 also liked the Atari ST version's graphics, sound, adjustable difficulty levels, and documentation, concluding "It's a traditional MicroProse product and it's nice to see that they've remained dedicated to detail".[7] Compute! wrote in 1986 that "like F-15 Strike Eagle, Silent Service is both intriguing and addicting ... a superior product".[8]

Computer Gaming World in 1986 called Silent Service "easily the best [submarine simulator] for its simplicity of use and execution". It praised the game's realism and only criticized the lack of a save game feature.[9] A 1987 overview of World War II simulations in the magazine rated the gave five out of five stars, praising its "superb graphics coupled with detailed rules, historical accuracy and layers of complexity".[10] In 1993 a survey of wargames in the magazine gave the game two stars out of five, stating that "it has been rendered obsolete by time and superseded by Silent Service II".[11] In 1996 Computer Gaming World ranked it as the 86th best game of all time, for having "introduced the control-room interface for submarine games on variety of platforms."[12]



  1. ^ a b c Meier, Sid (2016-10-25). "Designer Notes 23: Sid Meier - Part 1" (audio). Interviewed by Soren Johnson. Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  2. ^ "Purchase Agreement between Atari, Inc. and Rebellion Developments, Stardock & Tommo" (PDF). BMC Group. 2013-07-22. 
  3. ^ Meier, Sid (March 1986), "Silent Service: Designer's Notes", Computer Gaming World, pp. 28–29 
  4. ^ Ferrell, Keith (December 1987). "The Commodore Games That Live On And On". Compute's Gazette. pp. 18–22. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (March 1987). "Computers in Flight; Gunship". Computer Gaming World (35): 10-13. 
  6. ^ Moore, Rich; Plotkin, David; Kershaw, Brad; Lewis, Scott (March 1986). "Product Reviews". Antic. 
  7. ^ Teverbaugh, Rick (April 1987). "Silent Service". Antic. 
  8. ^ Randall, Neil (April 1986). "Silent Service". Compute!. p. 51. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Teverbaugh, Rick (January–February 1986). "Silent Service". Computer Gaming World. p. 20. 
  10. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (May 1987). "Kilobyte Was Here!". Computer Gaming World. p. 6. 
  11. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (October 1993). "Brooks' Book Of Wargames: 1900-1950, R-Z". Computer Gaming World. pp. 144–148. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "150 Best Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World. November 1996. pp. 64–80. Retrieved 25 March 2016. 

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