Steel Diver Review
Steel Diver Box Art
System: 3DS
Dev: Nintendo EAD
Pub: Nintendo
Release: March 27, 2011
Players: 1-2
Screen Resolution: N/A

What's even more bizarre is that your sub can't turn around. Giving your craft a simple navigational ability like this could have resulted in another layer for strategy by accounting for flanking, not to mention the interesting way that might have allowed the developers to adapt 3D into your actual battle strategy. Instead, if you know what you're doing, you can just breeze past most enemies, who, all facing the opposite direction, can't follow you.

Steel Diver Screenshot

Similarly, there are certain points where enemy subs are positioned in the background, facing out and shooting torpedoes at you diagonally—this is probably the most gimmicky instance of 3D usage in the game, since these stationary foes feel like unmoving props in a sub-themed carnival ride. Not that 3D is particularly important in a would-be submarine sim. Still, out of all the nice effects in play (the rippling light effects bouncing off your steel craft in shallow water look particularly lush), Steel Diver's 3D feels needlessly tacked on, aside from showing subtleties of depth in the screen. You may see something move from the foreground to the background every once in a while, though it has very little bearing on the actual gameplay—that's about the extent of it.

Sadly, for every good idea that Steel Diver has, it seems to just miss the mark. First-person periscope combat between stages is a decent, if hobbled affair and other than diving below the surface, the 3D here doesn't really add anything to the experience. (The game also forces you to either sit in a swivel chair or physically stand up and spin in a circle—a concession to would-be realism that's a little too unorthodox—to fully utilize the periscope's 360-degree range of movement.) Considering the countless number of iOS games that use gyroscope rotation to auto-rotate by simply tilting the device to the left or right, not at least including an option for this kind of control is puzzling.

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Interesting mechanics like enemy depth charges and undersea environmental hazards are used sparingly, and given the controls handling these situations can feel a little clunky. The developers tried to make up for the game's short campaign by including power-up decals to stick on your sub and a couple of extra modes—a slightly bolstered version of periscope hunting and Steel Diver's take on Battleship, which admittedly has an interesting 3D torpedo dodging mechanic that's too underused. (Seriously, where was that in the actual campaign?) I really wanted to like Steel Diver more, but unless you particularly enjoy visually measuring the distance between your foregrounded sub and the underwater horizon line, this is a rental at best.

By Steve Haske
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.8
Graphics
Steel Diver may not look like it uses much more horsepower than a DS, but there's some lush, colorful visuals and subtle effects here.
2.5
Control
Limiting sub control to the touchscreen makes navigation and combat feel oddly disconnected.
2.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The underwater and submarine sounds are great, but the repetitive voice acting is tepid and music is forgettable.
2.5
Play Value
Weirdly contradictory design and somewhat awkward controls make Steel Diver undecided on whether it's an action game or simulation. The result is that it's neither.
2.5
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Use a complex and fun control system to command your own custom submarine.
  • Switch between third-person sidescrolling action to first-person periscope torpedo firing.
  • Dodge mines, battle sea monsters and duke it out against enemy subs.
  • Experience the whole thing in glasses-free 3D.

  • Screenshots / Images
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