The Game: You’re a deep-sea diver in search of treasure under the ocean. There are only a couple of problems though – there’s a maze made of messy seaweed, which can slow you down or even trap you until you work your way free of it. And if that’s not enough of a problem, these waters are shark-infested, meaning that getting stuck in the path of a finned foe could mean your finish. (Games By Apollo, 1982)
Memories: A very thinly-disguised Pac-Man ripoff (the “treasures” are just dots, need I say more?), Shark Attack‘s storied history is more interesting than the game itself.
Originally released as Lochjaw, Shark Attack sported cover art with a vicious-looking shark. Owing to the presence of that artwork and the word “jaw” being a part of the title, Lochjaw and its manufacturer were quickly bitten in court by Universal Studios, who accused Games By Apollo of infringing on the Jaws copyright. Apollo founder Pat Roper, having already quietly waited out the mud-slinging legal battle between Atari and Activision over the right to publish third-party software before issuing his company’s first 2600 game, quickly backed down from the suit, making some minor cosmetic alterations and retitling the game Shark Attack. (An original Lochjaw cartrdige is now treasured a hell of a lot more than one of those dots.)
As a game instead of a collectible, Shark Attack is abysmal. The sharks aren’t that much of a threat, but the real frustration lies in getting tangled in the seaweed (a.k.a. the maze walls). This is handled so badly that I wonder if the “seaweed” element was a deliberate game play complication, or if it’s just Apollo’s way of excusing some of the poorest collision detection I’ve ever seen in a video game. Shark Attack isn’t challenging – it’s just frustrating. Its place as a historical footnote in the home video game industry aside, Shark Attack bites.