The Codename: ICEMAN wiki last edited by FrankCanada97 on 02/13/13 06:20PM View full history


Codename: ICEMAN is a graphic adventure-slash-submarine simulator released by Sierra in 1989. It was written and designed by Jim Walls, who also created the Police Quest franchise. Similar to many of Sierra’s adventure titles at the time, Codename: ICEMAN employs a text interface, asking the player to type in whatever directions they want the protagonist, Lt. Commander Johnny Westland, to follow. 


Lt. Commander Westland is enjoying a vacation in Tahiti when the U.S. Ambassador to “the Middle East” is kidnapped. Oil has been discovered in Tunisia, and it’s believed the Ambassador’s abduction is a plot by Russian agents to hurt U.S. relations within the region. Westland hitches a ride on a submarine to the area, but after the Captain of the sub is incapacitated, circumstances lead to Westland taking control. 


Codename: ICEMAN’s interface is operated in a typical method for adventure games of that time period. In order to interact with your environment, commands such as OPEN DRAWER and LOOK IN POCKETS are needed. However, ICEMAN’s interface is slightly more technically advanced than some of its brethren, in that Westland’s position on the screen has a contextual impact on the responses the player receives. For example, if you simply type LOOK, you’ll receive a description of whatever Westland is facing without having to know what the object he’s looking at is beforehand. 

A large portion of the middle of the game is taken up by a submarine simulator. As most of the submarine panel is unlabelled and unexplained, it’s necessary to have the game’s manual handy to refer to during play. While most of the simulator is practicing changing speed and depth, there are battles with other ships as well. Many factors must be considered during battles, such as different types of sonar, temperature inversion layers, proper use of “Silent Running,” etc. Again, these factors are only explained in the manual, and nowhere in the game itself.

Copy Protection

There are vast amounts of copy protection present in Codename: ICEMAN. The manual is required to perform CPR, follow the proper method of requesting to board a Naval vessel, decrypting messages from Washington, plotting an efficient course for your submarine, handling the submarine controls, and having any chance of surviving a Naval battle. Playing this game without the manual nearby for reference is not advised.

Dead Ends

There are numerous ways to become irrevocably stuck, or “dead end.” One notorious example begins when you must turn in your ID card to a guard in order to enter a meeting. After the meeting ends, you must not only remember to ask the guard for your ID back, but you also must think to read your ID card in the guard’s presence to discover he gave you the wrong card. If you don’t do this at that precise time, you will not be able to progress further in the game past a certain point. This is only one of several scenarios where restoring to an earlier game (if available) would be necessary.  

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