Nautilus is a 1982 game for the Atari 8-Bit Computers that introduced unique firsts to the industry: the first Split Screen game, and the first Asymmetric Multiplayer game. That's right; while Nintendo invented and popularized the term Asymmetric Multiplayer, it was around 30 years before the Wii U!
There are one or two players. Player One (or the Computer) controls the Colossus, a ship on top of the ocean, on the top half of the split screen, and Player Two controls the Nautilus, a submarine who can travel freely underwater on the bottom half of the split screen. Their play experience is totally different.
The titular Nautilus is given the job of destroying an underwater city by shooting it down, and collecting the energy cores within. The energy cores also add fuel to the Nautilus. The Nautilus also must avoid things that have been dropped in the water to kill it, such as depth charges and homing bombs, and optionally (they can be toggled on/off or changed in difficulty levels), separate homing bombs that spawn on their own and seek it on higher difficulty levels, and lasers that turn on and off underwater and block the Nautilus's path. The Nautilus can rise to the surface to attack the Colossus directly. If the Nautilus is damaged, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean for a few seconds before rising and regenerating.
The Colossus is given the job of transporting a repair crew from the base on the right side of the map to the left side, which then rapidly repairs the underwater city. If the Nautilus happens to be where the city is when it regenerates, the city takes precedence, and the Nautilus takes damage equivalent to a kill. The Colossus also has to content with a helicopter that drops small bombs into the water, and possible attacks from the Nautilus.
To address balance, the game has multiple difficulty levels, all of which tend to make things easier/harder for the Nautilus but not so much the Colossus. The difficulty affects things such as spawning homing mines that seek the Nautilus, and the speed of the Colossus's underwater attacks.
This game contains the following tropes:
- Asymmetric Multiplayer: The earliest known example. The two players have totally different gameplay experiences, something that's rare even today.
- Split Screen: According to The Other Wiki, the first example in history.