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Marine Wars (Konami)





We’re back again with one of the most unlikely of Atari publishers, Konami. Konami released a grand total of three games for the 2600, Pooyan (an arcade conversion), Strategy X (an arcade conversion), and Marine Wars. I’m not calling Marine Wars an arcade conversion even though there was a machine made with the same name by Omori Electronics Corporation, the reason being that there are currently no images of the machine or game screen other that a small picture of the game flyer. KLOV.com has absolutely zero information about this machine and a google search will bring up jack diddly squat. This was the third and final game from Konami in the U.S. and as seems to be a running theme with final games it was one of their best. Well, when compared to the travesty that is Pooyan and the nightmare of frustration and difficulty that is Strategy X, even a fairly mediocre game would come off as good. Alright, enough talking about the game, let’s start talking about the game… Wait.
The graphics are fairly decent if not a tad bit sparse, something you should be used to with the Konami 2600 games. There are only a few graphical elements to discuss and they’re all vague lumpy shapes that somewhat resemble the object they’re supposed to represent. The real wow factor of this game comes in the form of the incredibly basic parallax scrolling, simply having the different rows of ships and the island move in different directions at different speeds; it’s incredibly simple but also effective. Some things just suck, the final row of ships is shapes from Tetris and the sky is red, also those planes, they’re a step up from Strategy X but still leagues from Polaris. Oh well, the positives outweigh the negatives so it’s not all bad, the explosions are nice, the movement is smooth, and apart from the few things from before, there isn’t much to complain about.
The sounds are pretty darn sparse. Most of what you’ll be hearing is the dulcet tones of explosions and the firing of torpedoes. There is a rather catchy tune that plays at the beginning of every new wave, so that’s something to look forward to at least.
Marine Wars takes the standard shoot ‘em up style and shifts it into three dimensions. There are three lines of enemy ships one in the foreground, one in the middle ground, and one in the background, you move your ship side to side and try to destroy all of the enemy ships, simple right? Well there’s always something to complicate things and with Marine Wars it’s the shots themselves, they are influenced by the direction that you and the enemy ships are moving. This isn’t like a single screen shooter you can travel around a bit and this gives you greater freedom when aiming and evading shots, it’s rather hard to explain but you’ll understand better if you play the game. This game also has some good variation to it, there is the standard daytime shooting as well as a nighttime scene where the back row of ships are invisible until you hit one of the closer ships, then the screen is lit up for a few moments, it’s better just to shoot wildly as hitting those back ships is a matter of luck even when you can see them. Then there are the planes, these guys are probably where your game is going to end. They come in packs of two and they will dart from the background to the foreground, shoot, and go back, and unlike with the ship levels where you only had to destroy nine ships total, with the planes you have to shoot down 30 of them. The game is tough but fair, there are some elements that will make the game a little bit easier for the player, when you hit a ship the screen will freeze briefly, this has allowed me to avoid so many shots from the foreground ships it isn’t even funny since you can adjust your movement accordingly. You have three lives but you get three hits per three lives ostensibly giving you nine lives total. And the one that I think helps the game out the most, you can fire faster on the plane levels that on the ships levels to account for the increased speed of the targets you’re trying to hit.
All in all this is a solid little shooter that deserves more attention than it got. I dare say this might be a hidden gem on the 2600. In accordance with most hidden gems the prices are all over the place but are usually far too expensive. I got lucky and got my copy on Ebay for 10 dollars which is a very fair price, though most copies are listed at around 20 dollars plus and don’t even try to get one in the box unless you have 70 dollars just lying around being a nuisance. If you can get a copy of this game for 10-15 dollars loose then you shouldn’t hesitate to snap it up, Marine Wars is a real winner.

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