Old Gamers Never Die: Running Silent, Running Deep on a June Afternoon

The credits screen in Silent Service II, (C) 1990, 2014 MicroProse & Retroism (Tommo)

Well, I still have not watched either The Longest Day or Saving Private Ryan, even though I have the family room TV to myself since The Caregiver is spending all day at the Tampa Bay area hospital where her current beau is waiting for a donated liver for a transplant. I thought about it a few times, but I don’t have the desire to watch either of those D-Day films.

Instead, I spent most of my time lurking around on Facebook, eating lunch, and generally killing time by reading Am I the Asshole (AITA) threads on Reddit and/or gaming for a bit.

(C) 1990, 2014 MicroProse & Retroism (Tommo)

And since today is also the 80th anniversary of the first – and most decisive – day of the Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942), I decided to revisit, for the first time on this computer, Silent Service II, the MicroProse game that I played the most – from 1990 till 2001 thereabouts – on various PCs that had 3.5.-inch “floppy disc” drives until the computer industry stopped making computers with those peripherals around the year 2000.

Silent Service II is the 1990 sequel to Sid Meier’s 1985 WWII submarine game Silent Service, a simulation that put you in command of a U.S. Navy “fleet boat” in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Here’s how the 1992 MicroProse catalog – I used to get those regularly in the mail back in the day – describes Silent Service II:

Silent Service won critical and popular acclaim as the definitive World War II submarine simulation. Silent Service II picks up where its predecessor left off – with enhanced, digitized graphics and thrilling new game options – including campaign play – that give you even more decisions, even more intense action.

I reviewed Silent Service II in July of 2020, so if you want an in-depth look at Silent Service II, you can check out that review at your leisure. Suffice it to say that even though it’s an old game with dated 1990s graphics and tinny digital sounds, it has been reissued and made to work with modern PCs.

I played Silent Service II frequently after I purchased it via Steam in 2019, but once I got into Cold Waters (another submarine game, but from 2017 and with nuclear-powered attack subs), I drifted away from it. I think I played the “grand campaign” all the way from December 7, 1941, to August 15, 1945, once on my previous computer, but even though I played it every so often, I focused more on the more modern Cold Waters.

Anyway, about an hour ago I decided to play one mission ­ – An Embarrassment of Riches – in Silent Service II. Of the game’s Single Battles, this one is the toughest. In An Embarrassment of Riches, you are recreating a sub-versus-carrier engagement that took place during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in October 1944. And it’s not an ordinary carrier, but the fleet carrier Shokaku, one of the last two carriers (of six) that attacked Pearl Harbor on the Day of Infamy. (The other four, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu) were sunk – 80 years ago today or thereabouts – at the Battle of Midway.)

Now, now. Don’t fret. I’m not going to regale you with a long account of the battle. Suffice it to say that Silent Service II runs well on this PC and that even though my hi-scores from my previous PC did not carry over to this one, I successfully finished An Embarrassment of Riches without getting a scratch on my Gato-class boat.

Success! (C) 1990, 2014 MicroProse & Retroism (Tommo)

All in all, even though my Saturday did not go quite the way I thought it would, I still had a fun afternoon.

(C) 1990, 2014 MicroProse & Retroism (Tommo)

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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