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The Tech Deck

This week’s free game: “Depth Charge”

Depth Charge didn't leave the player guessing as to how many points they'd score by destroying enemy submarines.
Depth Charge didn't leave the player guessing as to how many points they'd score by destroying enemy submarines.

Are you a gamer? Do you like free things? Of course you do!

We here at the Tech Deck are just like you: poor gamers looking for cheap entertainment. And nothing's cheaper than cost-free gaming. Each week, we'll bring you a title (or two or three) you can legally play at home without plopping down a single dollar. If you see games you think we should be featuring on the blog, email us at dang@spokesman.com or kiph@spokesman.com.

Win conditions in early video games were simple. Don't let the ball in "Pong" get past your paddle. Don't let any of the enemy ballistics take out your cities in "Missile Command." In "Depth Charge," this 1977 arcade title from California company Gremlin Industries, actually showed you the number of points you could earn by destroying submarines with a well-timed shot from one of the eponymous projectile. You can play the early arcade classic, for free in your browser, by clicking below, thanks to the folks at the Internet Archive!

Click here to play "Depth Charge," for free in your browser!

You can fire up to six depth charges at a time, with enemy subs deeper in the water worth more points. Your targets aren't defenseless, however. They'll float mines to the surface in an attempt to take out your destroyer. Hit CTRL to fire a depth charge left and ALT to fire a depth charge right. Use the arrow keys to dodge mines.

Depth Charge was an early hit in arcades, where its major competitors were the aforementioned Pong and Space Invaders, which released a year later. But Gremlin Industries' biggest game was arguably its first release, "Blockade," which those of a certain generation would identify today as the "Snake" game they played on their brick Nokia phones in the late 1990s.

A year after the release of Depth Charge, Gremlin merged with Sega. Sega-Gremlin mostly worked on ports of Japenese games like Frogger into the American market, but their most lasting contribution to the gaming world was arguably 1978's "Frogs," which is widely regarded as the first video game in which characters could jump. Nintendo's Donkey Kong would release three years later.

Sega-Gremlin succumbed to the video game crash of 1983 (thanks, Atari!) and its assets were bought by Bally in 1984.

What's your favorite submarine combat video game? Did you come to this article thinking you were going to find instructions for the drinking game? Let us know in the comments below, and check back next week for another free game.



Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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