If you haven’t played a really good submarine game in a long time, you may be interested in this Nintendo 3DS title. I got a chance to sit down and play Nintendo’s lesser-known first-party title, Steel Diver. I was seated on a stool that enabled me to spin all 360 degrees, and then began to play Steel Diver. Why did I mention the stool? We’ll get to that in a moment. The first thing I played was a 2D side-scrolling mission based mode where I controlled a submarine using the touch screen. The graphics and the underwater effects looked great, but everything on the 3DS looks great to me so far. The novelty of 3D without glasses still hasn’t left me yet.
As you guide the submarine along, you have the options to make it go faster or slower, and lower or higher. These controls are individually handled, so there’s no onscreen d-pad or control stick. The submarine is controlled by two handle bars that you pull. The goal of the missions I played was to go from point A to point B, and doing that all while dodging all the harmful objects and walls. You can also drop bombs and shoot missiles to clear your path. When you are hit by one of the multiple things that try to kill you, you begin to see leaks on your touchscreen control panel. To recover, you simply tap the leaking areas to fix them up. This was cute, but nothing that particularly blows me away or makes full use of the Nintendo 3DS’ capabilities.
Now we get to the interesting part. Steel Diver also has a mode where you are put into a first-person perspective above water, and you are to shoot all oncoming enemies. This is periscope mode, and this where you need to use the stool that I was sitting on to its full potential. You don’t press left or right to to look for your enemies. You have to physically turn and seek out enemies to shoot at. You also need to be on the look out for missiles being shot at you, because you can dive underwater to avoid getting hit. The game uses the Nintendo 3DS’ gyro sensors to make it so that you can use the space around you to play the game. This, I thought, was really cool.
I really enjoyed the periscope mode for Steel Diver, but the 2D portions? Not as much. The downside to the periscope mode is the inability to play this mode in situations where you simply cannot look all 360 degrees. For example, playing on a train or in a car would not be ideal. Another downside is that the mode seems like it can get boring fast. It’s cool and something we’ve never really seen before, but I’m sure the freshness will wear off pretty quickly. I look forward to playing this one when it hit stores, hopefully, close to or on the system’s launch.