"Here is your chance to become an artillery commander, a submarine captain or an aircraft bombardier. Just hit the firing button an hit your way through 27 different shooting games and variations. Planes, boats and other targets appear on the screen from different directions at different speeds. Shoot'em off your TV screen with guided missiles, torpedoes and anti-aircraft guns."
All games end after 2 minutes, 16 seconds of play, or when either player scores 99 points. During the last 16 seconds, the score will flash to show that the game is nearing the end.
Anti-Aircraft In this games, from one to six flying objects will move together across the playfield in a set. All objects in the set must be hit before a new set will appear. Each object scores one point. The joystick changes the angle of your "Anti-Aircraft Gun" and also the angle of the missile flight in the Guided Missile variation.
Torpedo You are a submarine captain firing torpedoes at ships moving above you. You can move your submarine left or right with your joystick. You control half the playfield, your opponent controls the other half. From one to six ships move across the playfield in a set. When one set disappears from the playfield, a new set appears. Each ship scores one point.
Torpedo is almost the same game as Anti-Aircraft, except that you control submarines, not anti-aircraft guns, and you joystick is used to move them left or right instead of the angle of your gun. Various ships replace the planes and helicopters.
In some of the variations, mines travel randomly across the bottom of the playfield, and act as obstructions to your line of fire. The ships move at different speed and directions. Each ship has a different point value. Hitting the mines will score no points.
Even if Torpedo is very similar to Anti-Aircraft, it's also clear that it has been inspired by the popular Sea Wolf arcade game, released in 1976 by Midway.
Shooting Gallery In this game, you can change the angle of fire (up=30°, center=60°, down=90°). In addition you can move your "gun" across your half of the playfield by moving your joystick left or right. So Shooting Gallery is a kind of mix between Anti-Aircraft and Torpedo.
The targets will change direction at any time and all targets in a "set" must be hit before new targets are displayed. Each target has a different point score. (rabbit = 3 points, duck = 2 points, clown = 1 point).
Polaris In Polaris you captain a ship travelling automatically across the bottom of the playfield. You control its speed with the joystick (up=fast, center=normal, down=slow) and your missile speed if acceted by the speed you had when you fired. The ship will also change direction occasionally.
Front one to four planes fly over in a "set". All planes in a set must be hit before new planes are displayed. Each plane has a different point value.
Bomber Bomber is based on the same principle as Polaris, except you are the pilot of a plane flying across the top of the playfield. The right player controls the bottom-most plane. Planes will occasionally change direction from right to left.
From one to four ships will pass under the planes. As a ship is hit, a new ship will replace it from the edge of the playfield. Ships travel at various speed and each a different point value.
Polaris vs Bomber The left player flies the plane across the top of the playfield and the right player controls the ship at the bottom of the playfield. The plane drops bombs on the ship while the ship shoots missiles at the plane. One point is scored for each hit. The ship or plane getting hit will disappear from the playfield and reappear at the edge. Both plane and ship will change direction occasionally.
In some versions, travelling randomly across the middle of the playfield are mines. In order to hit your opponent, you have to get around the mines which act as obstructions to your line of fire. The mines score no points when hit.
In an interview (see link below), Larry Kaplan, programmer of Air-Sea battle says:
"Air-Sea Battle was based on an Atari coin-op called Anti-Aircraft. In those days, we just ripped off anything we could make work. The development process was a nightmare in the beginning. We had a time share service we reached via a teletype to do our editing and assembling. Then we downloaded to a development kit that had only a display and some address switches. Extremely primitive and difficult to use, it made game programming even more difficult."
Air-Sea batlle is not a bad game, specially if you consider it's one of the earliest cartridge available for the Atari VCS. It's a good example of the many variations possible around a main theme, here an adaptation of the Anti-Aircraft arcade game, also from Atari.