Released in the whitewater wake of Steven Spielberg’s terrifying 1975 blockbuster film Jaws, Atari’s Shark JAWS tried to recreate the deep sea horror on a black-and-white video screen (covered with a blue overlay to simulate an underwater environment).
The game centred around a very foolhardy Scuba diver who decided to do a little spearfishing in great white shark-infested waters.
Using a joystick, you moved the diver around the screen, trying to aim your pointed stick into the scales of a teeny fish.
At the same time, a much bigger fish tried to aim his pointed teeth into your hide, hoping to fill his mighty belly. That was it: kill or be killed, all within the game’s time limit (with extra time for a high score).
With its straightforward action and sense of dread, Shark JAWS successfully cashed in on the feeding frenzy that its movie inspiration had ushered in.
The game also benefited from its animated graphics, the first of its kind. But most importantly, Shark JAWS tapped into the fear of being watched and tailed, of the hunter suddenly becoming the hunted.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.