Ping and Buzz: Saving Quarters for Sea Wolf

Video games are supposed to emphasize the visual, but my love for Sea Wolf was totally about the eerie ping ping of the faux-sonar and the hypernasal buzz of the racing PT boat. You can’t get more basic than the premise of Sea Wolf — you’re blasting enemy ships from your periscope below the water. Watch out for the mines, and get extra points for each exploded PT boat.

Sea Wolf, circa 1976
I am sure the bartender heard that buzz and ping in her sleep.

My first encounter with Sea Wolf was on vacation in Wisconsin Dells. We’re not a party-hearty family, so we stayed way outside of town on a lake where my father and uncles could fish for bluegill and pike. There were two resorts on the lake: the old-fashioned one with the 1950s-era cottages and the cool one next door with the bar and A-frame motel. Guess which one we stayed at. But we did order pizza from the bar, and while we waited for it, I could play a few games of Sea Wolf. We stayed on this lake for a good decade of vacations, and I got better at Sea Wolf as I got taller. Other video games joined it in the bar, but none had Sea Wolf’s straightforward and noble goal of keeping the oceans safe from floating enemies. I hear that ping ping now and I think of the stink of cigarettes and beer-wet cardboard in the resort bar, and soggy pizza eaten on a picnic table on a Wisconsin summer night.

Sea Wolf game
Ping ping ping AHHH

Care Morency

Care is a writer living in the Chicago suburbs. She has worked as a journalist and in communications for her local library and park district. She is also a cat mom, a guitar player, a jewelry enthusiast, a survivor of the Reagan Administration and Princess Leia's long-lost little sister.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. This is the first arcade Game that I remember playing. I ‘m pretty sure it was down at the ferry docks. It seems odd to my they would have a game about torpedoing boats but that’s what I remember.

    It still remains one of my favorites today and I was lucky enough to pick one up a few years back.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this. I have really wonderful memories of this game. When i was little I used to play it at a local Models (back in the day when Models was like a department store–not sure if anyone remembers that). I used to have to stand up on the wooden box to see through the periscope, and then my parents used to buy me a pretzel. Honestly, one of my happiest memories from childhood. Go Seawolf!

  3. Great post, Care! I’ve not had the pleasure of playing Sea Wolf but that video you shared shows that I missed out on a very awesome machine in the arcades. I really enjoyed those sound effects. :)

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