IT'S NOT JUST A GAME, IT'S AN EXPERIENCE
BY OWEN LINZMAYER
Looking for an interesting job? How about signing up for a tour of duty in the Wavy Navy. You'll sail under the proud flag of the USS Sirius and see the world (or at least everything that surrounds your Apple). Don't forget to bring your sea-sickness pills, you'll need them.
One of the best new programs introduced by Sirius Software is Wavy Navy, a machine language arcade game designed by Rodney McAuley. Using your small P.T. boat and the onboard cannon, you must dispose of as many enemy planes, helicopters, jets, and missiles as possible before they send you to Davey Jones's locker.
After the Wavy Navy banner is displayed, the menu screen is presented. You must choose one of three difficulty levels to determine the ferocity of the attacking enemy. A maximum of four people can play against each other, competing for promotions in rank. You also get to choose the type of controller you wish to use (paddles, joyport, or keyboard). If you don't want to bother your neighbors, you may elect to disengage the sound by sending it out the cassette port rather than through the speaker in the Apple. All of these options have default values so that you can jump right into a "standard" game by pressing the S key.
The computer waits for you to press a control before starting a battle. This is convenient, especially if more than one person is playing and a change of seating is desired. At the beginning of the first level, a large squadron of planes can be seen flying overhead. For a few seconds they remain in formation, but then some of them suddenly attack! These kamikaze fighters break away from the convoy and swoop down at your lone ship, dropping bombs all the while.. If this was all Wavy Navy had to offer, I would concede that it was simply a Galaxian adaptation. But Wavy Navy has much more to tempt the game-player in you.
The first, and most important thing that you notice is that instead of simply moving back and forth across the ocean surface, the waves themselves actually oscillate. This causes you to bob up and down if you try to stay in one place. The direction and speed of the waves change from level to level, making each battle a new experience. If you head into the waves, your ship quickly climbs and swoops them down. If you don't fight the current, you cover more distance, but you have trouble maneuvering on the waves. Due to the constantly moving waves, the most difficult thing about Wavy Navy is trying to guess how your boat will react to your controls.
In addition to the kamikaze fighters, helicopters armed with large-caliber machine guns also roam the skies in search of your ship. For the most part, choppers stay at the top of the convoy, but when they do come down to attack, look out, these guys are lethal! All you can do is shoot like crazy and hope that you hit them before they get you.
As you advance in level and rank, the enemy sends more sophisticated weapons after you.
The deadliest of these are the jets that cut through the sky dropping a steady stream of bombs in their wake. You also encounter Exocet missiles which streak through the battle, cruising just above the waves. Floating in the waves themselves are mines which further complicate your mission. These mines are deadly only when they are exposed. If a mine is covered with water, it is safe to pass over it. Mines cannot be destroyed, only avoided.
One enjoyable thing about Wavy Navy is that the difficulty of the game progresses naturally, not in giant leaps. The program slowly mixes and matches different forms of enemies to allow you to experience a variety of attack combinations before you are ultimately destroyed.
The graphics of Wavy Navy are superbly done. As the enemy planes swoop down for the kill, they twist and turn in a stunning display of aerial maneuvers. The animation of the helicopters and their machine-gun fire is also done very professionally. The explosions in the air are big, colorful, and long-lasting which makes the battle a bit confusing. Sometimes your target is completely blocked from view by a cloud of smoke. As you watch your boat bob and weave on the surface of the ocean, you almost feel as if you are out at sea.
Programmer McAuley has made good use of the sound effects capabilities of the Apple. During play, the speaker receives a thorough workout. Every little detail has been attended to, right down to the splash of a plane hitting the water, and the whir of the spinning helicopter blades. Each time you complete a battle, you are given an additional ship and a promotion in rank. This auspicious occasion is replete with appropriate musical accompaniment--more than ten different jingles in all.
I believe Wavy Navy has the potential to be adapted for the coin-op arcade. The undulating wave surface is an original idea and is combined successfully with a very challenging shoot-'em-up concept. But in case it never makes it to your local arcade, you can pick up Wavy Navy at your computer store. You had better hurry though, before the program is sold out. Wavy Navy is sure to be in great demand.