With the added novelty of perspective, Marine Wars is an interesting take on the shooting gallery genre. From your battleship, you face four waves of enemies: two rounds of warships (day and night), then two rounds of fighter planes (day and night). All warships need to be destroyed to advance to the next wave. Fighter plane bombardments mainly need to be avoided.
The graphics make good use of perspective, displaying the various ships at different speeds depending on their distance, and include an island on the horizon as a garnish. The explosions are nice, particularly during the night waves when the back rows of targets are otherwise invisible. Sound is minimal, consisting mainly of shooting and explosion effects, except for a simple musical jingle at the start of each wave.
Controlling your ship is novel and a nod towards simulation, especially compared to something like Air Sea Battle, but the added realism comes across as sluggish and a bit difficult. Your ship is slow, but as you move left or right the angle of your shots changes, adding some strategy to your targeting. Enemy torpedoes and bombs can be hit with a skillful shot. Regardless of your skill level you will take enemy fire, but luckily your battleship can take several hits before sinking, submerging lower and lower in the water as it takes more damage.
Once you've cleared the four waves, the game repeats with added difficulty. The focus on simulation comes at a cost of playability, making Marine Wars more of a novelty than an essential title in the Atari 2600 library. Still, it’s a cart you'll want to dust off and play on occasion.
- Ben Langberg