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.
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.