Steel Diver started life as a DS tech demo. It was well-accepted by critics, but it was a fiddly touch-screen game about a sub, so it didn’t go anywhere for a while. It’s finally seeing release with 3D visuals, but… it’s still a fiddly touch-screen game about a sub.
You control the submarine with a series of buttons, sliders and knobs, controlling speed, tilt and missiles. Oh, right, missiles. You get to shoot things. It’s sometimes hard to remember that, since most of the time you’re keeping a sub upright and trying to keep it from crashing.
The whole thing feels like a cross between Lunar Lander and Steel Battalion, as flight simulator-like precision is combined with shooting things with a small number of projectiles. It does look gorgeous, though, with various fish and coral and ships moving around in the backgrounds, so it gives everything a soothing feel.
Nintendo also showed off a new mode in which players aim missiles with a periscope. Yes, it makes you stand up and move around in circles. You shoot the ships, trying to aim in front of them based on speed and distance. It has a Missile Command type of appeal, combined with the gimmicky fun of moving around and looking silly.
We highly doubt Steel Diver will find a sizable audience. As we’re typing this out, though, we realize that it should. The homages to classic arcade titles make for a subtle experience, but we’re curious about whether this submarine game has unforeseen depth.