Steel Diver – 3DS

7 Overall Score

3 solid modes | Polished gameplay | Decent graphics and sound

$40 | 3D not necessary | Not enough content

Steel Diver was a bit of an odd launch title for Nintendo.  It was a completely new IP, and if you haven’t heard it’s a game about operating submarines in battle.  Not the typical thing you know Nintendo for, but it has that Nintendo polish to it and is a pretty surprising title.  I originally gave it a pass at release, because I (unfairly it turns out) didn’t give it much of a shot.  I’ve since rectified this, and I’m glad I did.

Steel Diver is three games in one, all about submarines, but they all play very differently.  There is a ‘Campaign’ mode, which involves 7 side-scrolling missions where you control one of three different submarines.  Each submarine is different, with a small medium and large size.  Of course the smallest is the most manoeuvrable, but the most fragile.  It can fire torpedoes forward and up, but has no pitch wheel.  The larger subs have a pitch wheel, as well as the forward/back and up/down sliders that you use to control each of the subs.

Each mission in the Campaign mode can be tackled by each sub in a regular or time-attack mode.  They start off easy, but you quickly are dealing with near-constant attack from torpedoes and depth charges, fending off subs and boats while clearing rocks out of your way and dodging the scenery, which even includes a volcanic eruption.  This is the bread-and-butter of the game, and is by far the best mode of the three.  It is a slower-paced game because there are some water physics, which makes you think more strategically about how you are going to move around, and how best to dodge attacks while lining up that perfect shot.  I had many close shaves with rocks and mines, where I managed to react just in time.  It’s a more tense title than I had anticipated, which keeps you engaged in what would be considered a slow paced title.  The boss battles are fantastic, and you can earn decals for your sub that give you buffs to help out in the more difficult later stages.  That being said, my majour complaint is the brevity of this mode.  7 missions is not nearly enough.  I kept expecting to unlock more, but they never showed up, and time attack mode just isn’t enough.

The second mode is a first-person periscope shooter called ‘Periscope Strike’.  You spin around with the 3DS in front of you (or use the more boring slider) to find and attack ships and subs from a fixed vantage point.  There are dive and zoom sliders as well, and three different modes.  Of course these modes are ‘Enemy Ships’, ‘Enemy Ships in a Storm’ and ‘Enemy Submarines’ so they aren’t all that varied.  And really, once you’ve played them a single time you’ve pretty much seen what they have to offer.  You can try and best your times, but that’s it in terms of an extra challenge.  I would have preferred more variety in this mode, and perhaps even the ability to move my sub around while I was in first person mode, to hunt down ships in a larger map.  A multiplayer version of that would have been a lot of fun, but alas Nintendo was not that ambitious.

The final mode is called ‘Steel Commander’ and is a turn-based hex tile strategy game.  It can be played against the AI on one of 9 maps, or via download play.  The objective is to use your sub to destroy a fleet of supply ships.  You have one sub, a number of supply ships and a number of destroyers.  Only your sub can cross over into enemy territory, so you’re playing a game of cat and mouse while you try and find the enemy supply ships and avoid their destroyer fleets, while defending against the sub yourself.  If either sub is destroyed or the supply fleet is destroyed, the other team wins.  It’s a neat little game,with 9 different ‘maps’.  The maps are just slightly different variations in the arrangement of hex tiles, and don’t offer that much in the way of mixing up the game mode.  That said, it was a fun way to play a bit of battleships against a friend.  I liked the addition of the first person mode, as whenever you found ships, you went into that mode and had 4 torpedoes to lay waste to as many ships in the fleet as possible.  Of course you weren’t safe, as you then had to guess if the depth charge retaliation was going to come at 50,100 or 150 meters and place your ship there, hoping the enemy hadn’t decided on the same depth.  It isn’t a very deep mode (ha), but it was fun.

Which really, is what I have to say about Steel Diver.  It was a launch game and came with those kinds of problems, but it shouldn’t have been a $40 launch game.  It just doesn’t have the breadth of content that $40 should give you on the 3DS, even though the content that it does have is fun.  Also for a launch title I expected more out of the 3D usage, but there wasn’t much to say about it.  It was used to provide depth in the side-scrolling and the first person mode, but it didn’t really do much to change up game play at all.  Overall it was a solid title, but overpriced new.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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