No recent wiki edits to this page.

Overview

In Sea Battle, two players form fleets of ships, and use strategy and battle tactics to attempt to capture their opponent's harbor. Naval combat is practically a certainty, and players will utilize guns, torpedoes, and mines to engage and sink any opposing ships that block their way to the enemy harbor.

Sea Battle was developed by Ken Smith at APh Technological Consulting, and was released in 1980 for the Intellivision. It was part of the Action Network series of games, and like many APh-developed titles, Sea Battle was also one of the first games released for the Intellivision console. Sears also released Sea Battle under their Tele-Games Super Video Arcade brand. In 2000, an Atari 2600 port was released as a limited edition product for collectors. On March 24th, 2010, Sea Battle was part of the first wave of games to become available in the Xbox 360 Game Room.

It is important to note that Sea Battle has no enemy AI, so without two human players, the game loses a significant amount of its entertainment value.

Gameplay

In every game of Sea Battle, players start with the same assortment of 13 ships, which can be deployed in various manners from their harbor. The ocean map is always the same, as is the harbor positions for both sides. Player one commands the grey navy, whose ships will always face east, and player two commands the tan navy, whose ships always face west.

Objective

Opposing harbors and fleets

The aim of Sea Battle is to pilot ships into your enemy's harbor, which will capture it and end the battle. Initially, the only two ships that are capable of capturing the harbors are the aircraft carrier and the troop transport. However, if both sides lose these ships, then any ship is eligible for capturing the harbor.

An important key in this objective is that combat, while almost certain, is not a necessity to win the game. Crafty fleet maneuvers and a careless enemy could lead to an easy victory without any ships engaging in combat.

Ships

Each player starts with 13 ships in their navy, and can create a maximum of four fleets, consisting of three ships each, at any given time. The various characteristics for each ship are as follows:

  • Number Available: How many of that ship are in your navy. Once the ship sinks, it is gone for the rest of the match.
  • Top Speed: The fastest the ship can move. Fleets move as fast as the slowest ship within them.
  • Acceleration: How long it takes a ship to reach top speed or change direction. This is far more crucial when navigating in combat, since ships out of combat rarely have a reason to move nimbly.
  • Armor: The number of hit points, or HP, of damage a ship can resist before sinking. For example, if a ship has 10 HP of armor, it will sink after taking 11 HP of damage -- 10 for the armor, and another 1 HP to sink it.
  • Weapon Type: There are three kinds of weapons in Sea Battle: Guns, torpedoes, and mines. Guns must be aimed precisely and hit a target at their landing point in the targeting cross-hairs to do damage. Torpedoes do not require this accuracy, and will do damage if they connect with a target anywhere along the path to the targeting cross-hairs. Mines are only used outside of combat, and up to four minefields can be placed invisibly during the strategic phase.
  • Weapon Strength: The amount of damage the weapon deals upon successfully hitting a target.
  • Weapon Range: The distance a ship's targeting cross-hairs can travel to fire weaponry. Short-range weapons will naturally require a ship to get closer to their target before opening fire.

Aircraft Carrier

Aircraft Carrier
  • Number Available: 1
  • Top Speed: 30 Knots
  • Acceleration: Slow
  • Armor: 25 HP
  • Weapon Type: Gun
  • Weapon Strength: 10 HP
  • Weapon Range: Long

The aircraft carrier is a slow-moving hulk of a ship, with excellent armor and decent weaponry to offset its slow movement. While tempting to take into combat, care should be taken to keep the aircraft carrier floating, as it is one of two ships that can capture the enemy's harbor at any time (the troop transport being the other ship).

Troop Transport

Troop Transport
  • Number Available: 1
  • Top Speed: 30 Knots
  • Acceleration: Sluggish
  • Armor: 25 HP
  • Weapon Type: Gun
  • Weapon Strength: 7 HP
  • Weapon Range: Very Short

The troop transport can withstand a good amount of damage, much like the aircraft carrier, but its weaponry is well below average for defending itself from enemy ships. While it is fully capable of capturing the enemy's harbor at any time, the troop transport will almost certainly need other ships to defend it from attack.

Battleship

Battleship
  • Number Available: 2
  • Top Speed: 35 Knots
  • Acceleration: Average
  • Armor: 30 HP
  • Weapon Type: Gun
  • Weapon Strength: 12 HP
  • Weapon Range: Long

The battleship is the most heavily armored ship in the game, and its speed and weapons are both above average. It may not be the nimblest ship available, but it is a good all-around choice for attacking enemies and protecting high-value ships.

Submarine

Submarine
  • Number Available: 1
  • Top Speed: 35 Knots
  • Acceleration: Quick
  • Armor: 15 HP
  • Weapon Type: Torpedo
  • Weapon Strength: 20 HP
  • Weapon Range: Very Long

The submarine is destined for destruction. It's very fast and extremely agile in the water, and its torpedoes are the most powerful weapons available in the combat phase. Its trade-off for incredible attacking power is below-average armor, which means caution must be used in frantic engagements. However, the only weapons that will outright sink a submarine in one hit are mines or another submarine's torpedoes, so it's by no means fragile.

Destroyer

Destroyer
  • Number Available: 3
  • Top Speed: 40 Knots
  • Acceleration: Quick
  • Armor: 15 HP
  • Weapon Type: Gun
  • Weapon Strength: 9 HP
  • Weapon Range: Moderate

What the destroyer lacks in armor and weaponry, it makes up for in speed. It's not the ideal choice for most battles, but an expert navigator could overcome its inadequacies. Plus, as the most numerous ship available, it can fill out any fleet formation decently.

PT Boat

PT Boat
  • Number Available: 2
  • Top Speed: 40 Knots
  • Acceleration: Very Quick
  • Armor: 5 HP
  • Weapon Type: Torpedo
  • Weapon Strength: 12 HP
  • Weapon Range: Short

The PT boat's heart and soul lies in running and gunning. It is without doubt the fastest ship available, and its torpedoes make it a very dangerous threat. However, its armor is basically non-existent, so any other ship can sink the PT boat with one direct hit. Its best chance at survival is passing closeby a slow ship, firing torpedoes, and retreating as fast as possible for another run.

Mine Layer

Mine Layer
  • Number Available: 1
  • Top Speed: 20 Knots
  • Acceleration: Average
  • Armor: 15 HP
  • Weapon Type: Gun/Mines
  • Weapon Strength: 6 HP/20 HP
  • Weapon Range: Very Short

The mine layer is a terrible ship in a head-on fight, and doesn't hold much of a chance at surviving against most other ships. The mine layer's true advantage is in its ability to place up to four minefields in the ocean during the strategic phase. These minefields are completely invisible, and the only way the enemy will know the location of one for sure is if they sail a fleet over it, causing 20 HP of damage to the fleet's flagship immediately, and another 20 HP every few seconds if they're careless enough to stay within the minefield. While an extremely dangerous trait, each navy only has one mine layer, and losing the ability to place mines early on in a battle could be a crucial mistake.

Mine Sweeper

Mine Sweeper
  • Number Available: 2
  • Top Speed: 30 Knots, 15 Knots in Sweep Mode
  • Acceleration: Average
  • Armor: 20 HP
  • Weapon Type: Gun
  • Weapon Strength: 6 HP
  • Weapon Range: Very Long

The mine sweeper is another ship that should probably avoid direct naval conflict, with incredibly weak weaponry and slightly-above average armor. Its talent is in countering the mine layer, and at any time it can go into Sweep Mode, which will remove any minefields the mine sweeper's fleet runs over. There is no indication as to whether a minefield has been successfully removed, though, and going into Sweep Mode drops the mine sweeper to an extremely slow speed, making it very susceptable to interception from enemy forces.

Strategy Phase

Sea Battle opens in the strategy phase with a map of the battlefield, which is an ocean littered with islands. A constant sonar beep will sound off to indicate the passage of time. Each side's ships begin docked at their harbor, and to begin, both sides must begin to form fleets.

The ocean map at the beginning of the game

Fleets consist of groups of one to three ships. Each navy can field a maximum of four fleets at any given time, and no fleet can have more than one of the same kind of ship. If the player tries to deploy a duplicate ship into a fleet, or selects a ship that is no longer at the harbor, the game will buzz, and the order will be ignored. The first ship selected for any fleet is considered the flagship, and the second and third ship ship will assume flagship command in that order in the event of sinking. While the fleet size is visible in the strategy phase, the types of ships currently in the fleet are not revealed.

Players move one fleet at a time around the map, positioning them strategically or attempting to push towards the enemy harbor. The active fleet flashes slowly as it is maneuvered around the map. If a mine layer is deployed in a fleet, they can deploy up to four invisible minefields at any point in time.

In the event a fleet needs to be repaired or reorganized, it can be piloted back to its home harbor and ordered to stop. Doing so will remove its ships from the ocean map, and fully repair any damage sustained. The ships can then be redeployed as normal. Regrouping at the home harbor can only be performed a total of three times during the battle.

When two opposing fleets come within combat range of each other, they will begin to flash quickly, and the sonar sound will pause. At this point, either side has roughly five seconds to elect to engage the enemy, sending the battle into the combat phase. In the unlikely event neither side chooses to engage after five seconds, the strategy phase will continue, but if the fleets remain within combat range after a few seconds, they will be offered the opportunity to engage in combat again. When more than one fleet is within combat range, the game will cycle through all possible engagements, giving a player with multiple fleets in range the option of choosing which fleet (if any) they would prefer for combat.

Combat Phase

Once one side decides to engage an enemy fleet, the combat phase begins. Here, the screen zooms in on the region surrounding the two fleets, and reveals the exact ships in each fleet. Both players start off in control of their flagship, and can switch between ships as they control one ship at a time against the enemy fleet.

Aiming in the combat phase

Ships maneuver about based on their top speed and acceleration, and tend to exhibit inertia similar to heavy watercraft. To fire guns or torpedoes, the aim button must be held (which halts any thrust or steering), and a cross-hair will appear that can be moved about. The limits of the targeting cross-hair are based on a ship's weapon range, but once the cross-hair is brought out through aiming, it will stay consistent in its position relative to the ship if the ship continues to moves.

Once the player fires, a barrage of gunfire or a torpedo, depending on the ship, will shoot out towards the crosshair, and the crosshair will reset (meaning every shot will need to be aimed prior to shooting). If the weapon connects with a ship, there will be an explosion; otherwise, a loud splash will be heard. A hit will deal the weapon's damage against the ship's HP. Hitting land during combat phase will deal 12 HP of damage every few seconds. This can be especially dangerous if a fleet enters combat mode close to land, as their ships may spawn right against land and take damage. When a ship loses its armor and takes any further damage, it sinks.

A sinking ship amidst the battle

There are two ways to end the combat phase: completely destroying a fleet, or retreating. To retreat, one player must press the engage button to disengage. An alarm will sound, and fifteen seconds will elapse before the fleet retreats, so care must be taken to avoid any further damage from the enemy. Regardless of end condition, the game will return to the strategic phase afterwards. If the combat phase was ended through retreat, the retreating fleet should move quickly away from the enemy if possible. Otherwise, the opponent will be given the opportunity to re-engage after a few seconds.

Basic Strategy

To achieve victory in Sea Battle, it is important to remember the initial condition for victory: sail an aircraft carrier or troop transport into the enemy's harbor. This means a wise player should work to defend both their harbor and their capturing ships above all else. Stationing a fleet as a last line of defense by the harbor is usually a good idea, and protecting routes to the harbor by planting minefields is also helpful, especially since minefields cannot damage the team that planted them.

An early victory. Don't leave your harbor undefended!

Pairing capturing ships with more offensive ships in a fleet will help ensure their security, should they come under attack. Both capturing ships should not be in the same fleet, as that puts them both at risk in a combat situation. Making a ship other than the aircraft carrier or troop transport the fleet flagships should be considered; that way, if the fleet runs through a minefield, the capturing ships are not severely crippled, since minefields will damage only the flagship first. Battleships, with 30 HP to withstand the 20 HP minefields, are probably a good flagship in these cases. Furthermore, using mine sweepers to escort capturing ships might help stave off an otherwise lethal attack. Losing both the aircraft carrier and troop transport early on means losing the ability to achieve victory until the enemy's capturing ships can be destroyed.

Finally, while remembering one's own fleet configurations is handy in the strategic phase, it is even more useful to try and ascertain what the enemy is using in its fleets. Faster fleets might contain nothing but attack forces, while noticeably slow fleets could be either mine layers looking to lay dangerous minefields or mine sweepers looking to remove an opponent's mines.

Atari 2600 Version

At the July 2000 Classic Gaming Expo, a special version of Sea Battle was released for the Atari 2600 and made available to collectors. This port was likely done by Intellivision Productions, but it was published under the Retrotopia label, a term Intellivision Productions seems to use for its sponsorship of the expo.

This special Atari 2600 version appears to have been a one-time production, and does not appear to be for sale anywhere. For this reason, it is likely quite rare.

Xbox 360 Game Room

The Game Room version of Sea Battle. Note the similar colors of the ships.

Sea Battle was part of the first wave of titles featured in the Xbox 360 Game Room on March 24, 2010.

The game is virtually the same visually, with the exception of Player 2's navy bearing a faint green tone, rather than orange. However, the need to bring up a "virtual numpad" to select fleet and commands not only make the game awkward, but ruins the secrecy of such commands, since players can easily view their opponent's input. This effectively renders the strategy component of Sea Battle completely useless.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.