Subs by Atari


I have another obscure Atari arcade game. This one is Atari Subs and was released in 1979. Subs was the first arcade game to use dual monitors and because of this dual screen configuration the cabinet is pretty unique looking. As you can see in the flyer above it’s a wide cabinet and it has a nice large marque in the front center that lights up. At a 45 degree angle on both sides of the cabinet each player has his own controls and monitor that the other cannot see. You can either play 1 player against the computer or 2 players against a friend, of course against a friend is the most fun if you ask me. A while back I wrote about some Early Atari Arcade Design Concepts that someone had saved and along with those photos they also had some concept drawings of Subs. I believe they were originally posted on so I want to give them credit.



The object of Subs is to find and destroy your enemy’s sub. Normally you do not see your opponent’s sub on your screen and he cannot see you on his and since you cannot see the enemy’s submarine there are clues you must use to track it down. There is a small sonar display in the bottom corner of the screen that will sweep the area ever few seconds and give an approximate location of the enemy. If one player runs into an island or hits the edge of the playfield he will become visible. Torpedoes are always displayed on both monitors so firing one will give away the sub’s position. Using these clues you must maneuver your submarine into position to lunch torpedoes in the direction of the enemy but you are only allowed two torpedoes in the water at a time. The controls for your sub are a steering wheel which of course turns your sub left or right (port or starboard is probably more accurate) and a Torpedo fire button. You are always moving forward and there is no way to control your speed. The recommended game time is 90 seconds but can be set from 30 seconds to 4 minutes in 30 second increments. You can buy more time if you like by adding additional quarters before the time runs out. The person who has destroyed the most subs when the time runs out wins. As you watch the video just remember there’s a second screen on the other side of the cabinet displaying the other subs point of view.

Unfortunately Subs is pretty rare game which will make it difficult to find out in the wild. I do not know of any console ports of the game. Its dual monitor design would make that difficult to do I imagine and it also keeps it from playing well in emulation. Keep an eye out though there are a few of them out there and if you do find one I would suggest you drop a quarter and give it a try.


I'm a kid of the 70's and 80's. Grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, Atari and Music Videos. My current hobby is repairing arcade games, mostly from the 70's and trying to find space to put them.

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