J.T.F. Dyer
ZX Spectrum 48K

Chris Bourne

From the same author as Strike Attack 2 comes Subhunter, another highly technical simulation game stuffed full of RAF jargon. The setting is above sea-level and the mission is the dreary routine check for enemy subs in friendly waters. The uneventful period has been omitted from the game and on start-up a 6 by 6 mile area where the sub was last spotted is indicated briefly on the map. The mission is clear cut: Detect the submarine, track and destroy it. Your Nimrod Mk 2 provides you with the necessary instruments and weapons. A Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) boom which picks up any magnetic disturbances caused by large lumps of metal (subs), 5 active and 2 sonar buoys.

Passive sonar buoys detect sonar waves transmitted within a range of 2 miles, active sonar buoys emit sonar waves and pick up their reflections from any solid objects within 3 miles. More effective than the passive version, they have the knack of making (sonar) waves and therefore warning the enemy of your presence. The buoys have to be dropped from a height not greater than 250 feet it they are to stay intact on impact and have a battery life of 15 min. (Obviously the RAF could do with a couple of Duracells)! Once tracked, you start to drop nastier packages than buoys. 5 depth charges are available and can be set to detonate at depths ranging from 1 to 500 feet making sure anyone within 0.25 mile range gets deaf ears.

The Nimrod Mk 2 cockpit features all the usual instruments. In the central position, the sonar buoys location and the sonar detected position of the sub. 3 scale ranges are available, 6 x 6, 12 x 12 and the full 24 x 24 mile operating area. To the left is an indication of which sector is being displayed on the detail map. The flight information includes throttle position, fuel gauge, airspeed indicator, rate of climb/descent (RCDS), altimeter and corn - pass heading. The status of the seven buoys can be read at all times. MAD indicates with a flashing signal and a warbling sound the presence of a submarine within 5 miles. On successful triangulation the buoys will display the estimated bearing, range, heading and depth of the sub.

Upon display of the last sighting of the sub, course must be set for the indicated 6 x 6 mile area while at the same time descending to the operating level of below 250 feet. The MAD boom may then be activated and a search pattern initiated until a MAD warning is received. The speed can be reduced to about 250 knots for better maneuverability and the sonar buoys dropped in a triangular pattern. If at least three of the buoys are picking pp a signal from the sub (indicated by bold squares or circles), then the tracking is accurate enough for a drop of depth charges. The Nimrod must be maneuvered over the target area and the depth charges dropped with the correct depth setting.


'The feel of the game is very similar to Hunter Killer from Protek. The program is in Basic and the response and display update lime is in the region of seconds rather than milliseconds. This makes for a very crude control of the Nimrod with turn rates of 20 degrees (although 2 degree corrections can be made for the final kill). The search is in real time. Consequently the buoys will provide you with 15 minutes of tracking info and care must be taken not to dawdle. Following the instructions will guarantee spotting and tracking of the sub, the actual kill is more difficult, but not impossible even on the first mission. In fact, after several successful kills the game does not prove to be any challenge anymore, as the sub doesn't take any convincing evasive action and the Nimrod can concentrate fully on the task without any other intervention or danger to itself. The game does not provide progressive difficulty levels and once the hunt has been successful three times in a row, the interest will wane. Now how about clearing up all these sub infested fjords...'

Control keys: cursor keys, Q,Z for throttle up/down T, Y for 2 degree left or right, M for MAD boom A for active buoy drop, P for passive B for depth charge drop with 0 to 4 for depth setting, 1, 2, 3 for scale selection
Joystick: Cursor type
Keyboard play: Very long response time
Use of Colour: Good
Graphics: very slow but good
Sound: Simple beeps and warbles
Skill levels: 1
General Rating: Interesting simulation game, would improve if written in M/C. Fairly high price for Basic program.


Screenshot Text

A gentle turn to the right brings the enemy closer in SUB HUNTER.