Sub Battle Simulator logo

THINK of the name Epyx and the first thing that springs to mind is high quality sports games. Breaking with tradition, Sub Battle Simulator, Epyx's latest creation, is based around the exploits of an advanced submarine.
This is Epyx's fifth game for the Amiga, its most adventurous and compares very well with Microprose's Silent Service. The comprehensive manual must be read thoroughly before playing.

The usual instruments such as sonar, periscope view, submarine depth, speed and heading can be selected with relevant key or by using the mouse.

The first mission is to practice against a simulated convoy. You use torpedoes, anti aircraft guns, a deck gun and standard depth charges to sink as many ships as possible without sustaining any damage to your vessel. On return to Peal Harbour you will be given a rating which determines the next mission.

I found the action just a little slow, as the game is geared towards the strategist and is packed with detail. The graphics are adequate and the sampled sound enhances the atmosphere.

I fear that Sub Battle Simulator is not really of the eye opener quality that we have come to expect from one of America's most successful software houses. Dave Morse, the software manager of Epyx, was one of the founders of Amiga, something which should mean that Amiga games from Epyx are a dazzling quality. This is a disappointment.

Sub Battle Simulator logo

Price: £24.95

Epyx's contribution to the small but popular genre of submarine simulations is Sub Batle Simulator.
As in Silent Service, the game is set in World War II, in the Pacific Ocean. At the outset of the game you're given a selection of different game types of varying levels of difficulty. There are 60 missions to attempt as well as the option to indulge in a spot of target practice.

The game itself is presented very much more like Red October than Silent Service, as the whole game is controlled from just one screen. The majority of the screen display is given over to the various gauges, maps, dials and switches while the top-right hand corner allows you to view the outside world directly through either the conning tower, periscope or binoculars, which are useful for viewing things close up.

Missions vary greatly in terms of description and complexity, but all of them will involve you coming into contact with the enemy sooner or later. Combat is a simple affair of firing torpedoes and deck guns at targets until they sink. The enemy doesn't really prove a worthy adversary until later missions so things can become rather boring, especially when you consider how long it takes for your sub to travel any noticeable distance. Combat has been spiced up slightly by the inclusion of enemy fighters that attack quite often but are easily done away with with a quick burst of anti-aircraft fire.

As in the other two sub games, there is some need for strategic thought such as remembering to transfer and reload torpedoes when all the tubes are empty, knowing when and when not to dive, and calculating exactly when to fire a torpedo, taking into account the speed, range and heading of your target.

Sub Battle Simulator scores over Silent Service and Red October in some respects, but it is vastly inferior in most others. It is certainly a great deal more authentic and boasts some very well-defined static graphics. Unfortunately, Epyx seem to have gone a bit over the top with the sampled sound effects, and the end result means having to wait about ten seconds for the sampled sound to load from disk every time you want to fire the deck guns or dive.

Also there's very little variation in gameplay, and this is all down to bad design and sloppy execution. Sorry guys, but as far as I'm concerned, Silent Service is still the definitive sub sim.

Sub Battle Simulator logo

Epyx, £19.95 disk

Relive the naval battles which made history in World War II - and without even leaving your armchair to enter the nearest time machine. This game gives you the Captain's cap and leaves you to it, beneath the waves of oceans seething with hostile vessels all eager to give you a good kick up the stern.

The gauges and buttons essential to the control of a submarine, such as depth, heading and speed indicators are all presented on one screen. Also shown are two sub-screens which display maps, a side view of the submarine, status, readouts RADAR and SONAR pictures and exterior views from the top of the conning tower, through binoculars (7X magnification) and, of course, through the periscope (yaaawn...). Also on the control panel is a message window which relays warnings and information from the crew.

In addition to a target practice mode, there are 60 different missions to complete, 24 in which you play an American captain fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, and 36 in which you command a German Y-Boat against British and American shipping.

To combat the onslaught of enemy planes, aircraft carriers, destroyers and patrol boats, your submarine is equipped with forward and aft-firing torpedoes, a deck gun and an anti-aircraft gun. All are targeted and ranged automatically through the periscope.

Missions usually last for several hours and so the programmers have thoughtfully supplied options for loading and saving games to disk. 'Snice, innit?

Kati Hamza I've never been much of a simulations freak and I can't say Sub Battle Simulator has done very much to turn me into a fan. Having waded through the usual mountain of instructions, you're confronted with a slow, unwieldy control system that never quite responds in the way that you expect. Worse still, the missions are really dull - nothing much happens for ages, and when it does it happens all at once. The graphics are about as functional as a trap door in a canoe but far less entertaining, and the sound, apart from the odd snorting siren, is unremarkable. Epyx have a reputation for producing some really excellent games - this just isn't one of them.
Paul Glancey Well, I'm sad to say it, but this seems to confirm the Epyx label is no longer the mark of guaranteed quality it once was. It's not that Sub Battle Simulator is bad, it's just that it doesn't really have anything major going for it - bland and unconvincing graphics, no incredible sound, just lots of slow and rather uninteresting gameplay. The speed at which the whole game runs is very unsatisfactory: selecting something like the SONAR display means several seconds of disk access, during which the game freezes, and in certain cases you can hear shells exploding around you and then see the shells exploding next to you about half a second later. They very first line of the instruction manual says, 'First of all, forget you're using a simulation', but how can you when there are so many unconvincing elements which just should not be there on an Amiga game? If period naval warfare is your poison you might be able to stick with the game, but I doubt whether others will take to Sub Battle Simulator.