Task: Play Sea Dragon on Your Atari 8-Bit Computer
Needed: Sea Dragon disk or ATR file
Time: 15-30 minutes
My all time favorite game on the Atari 8-bit computers was and still is Sea Dragon. I still have my original 16K cassette version of this awesome game that I spent many hours loading and playing on my Atari 400 and then 800 computers. Sea Dragon was written by Wayne Westmoreland and Terry Gilman for the TRS-80 in 1982. It was ported to the Atari computers by Russ Wetmore who also wrote Preppie! for the Atari 8-bits. According to Wikipedia, the game was released into the public domain by Wayne Westmoreland in 1995 and the source code made available by Kevin Savetz (thanks Kevin!) on the internet archive in 2015.
I love this game. It is both easy and difficult at the same time. The game play is pretty simple. You control a submarine that you can move up and down and forward and backward while the undersea screen scrolls by slowly from right to left. You can fire torpedoes with your fire button and you have a set amount of oxygen that ticks down requiring you to surface every so often. The goal is to advance to the end while avoiding collisions with the background, objects such as mines and missiles and lasers from defensive positions. Once you reach the end of the game you are required to blow up one final objective.
One of the things I really like about this game is the pace. It is a relatively slow-moving game compared to other side-scrollers such as Defender. This let’s you really focus on strategy and hand-eye coordination. There is just enough randomness to keep you on your toes. It is a pretty easy game to master on the slowest speed. You can crank up the speed for a much faster more arcade-like game play. I also really love the graphics. Also, they fit the entire game in an amazing 16K so you can play it on your Atari 400!
Download the Sea Dragon ATR file. Have fun!
Here are the instructions.
I have seen the original cassette version with the case on eBay for around $25 to $50.
Interestingly, Atari Age sells a new version of this on cartridge for the Atari 5200. As far as I know, this was never released on cartridge for the 8-bit computers or the 5200 back in the day.
I played this game more than any other. I recall seeing it advertised in Compute! and other magazines and always thinking I was lucky to have an Atari since that version looked the best. I have included below a scan of a Sea Dragon ad from Atari Mania where you can also download the disk and cassette versions of the game. Note how much better the Atari version looks compared to the Apple and TRS-80 versions!
One of my other memories of this game comes from my dad who also loved to play. For some time the Atari computer was set up in my bedroom and my dad used to play into the wee hours while I was sleeping for school the next day! I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the infamous beep beep beep of the Sea Dragon sonar sounds. I am quite sure the sounds of Sea Dragon were burned into my subconscious.