Steel Diver 3DS Box Art

Steel Diver 3DS Review

Steel Diver was one of three Nintendo-developed games released for the 3DS’s launch and, arguably, the least impressive of the three. However, there is definitely more than meets the eyes (and hands) with Steel Diver for the Nintendo 3DS.

Starting off, there are three different modes to choose from. These modes include: campaign and missions, periscope strike and, finally, steel commander. The campaign and missions mode will allow you to play straight through the campaign and its missions. These missions are in need of a captain to drive submarines to their checkpoint. The player has an option between three different submarines; one that is short, a medium sized sub and, lastly, a long and slow submarine. The smallest sub is the quickest and most maneuverable, but is the easiest damaged. However, it also allows for vertically-fired torpedoes as well as the horizontally-fired ones. This is the only sub that allows this. The other two slowly lose speed and maneuverability as their size increase, but gain a better ability to deal with damage.

The missions increase in difficulty, just like any other game’s missions. There are a total of seven, but only five are available at first. The rest unlock after completing the original five. Each mission is made up of a maze of underwater Earth to trench through. Enemy submarines and above-water ships are thrown in as well as underwater mines and blockages that need to be removed. At the end of each mission, a bonus periscope stage occurs. This is the same thing as the periscope mode that is selectable in the game’s main menu. In this level and mode, the player treats his or her 3DS as an actual periscope and move the 3DS around the room as if a real periscope is being used. The periscope levels and mode is probably the most fun thing in the game and will have people spinning in their office chairs at work (as if you don’t already). The player has to hunt moving enemy ships at varying distances which really makes use of the 3D effect. In fact, this mode is really the only need for 3D, aside from being pretty. Judging the distances is what 3D really aids in.

Steel Diver 3DS ScreenshotThat being said, the 3D effect is cool in it’s own right in other modes, but is more of a gimmick (albeit still pretty neat). The graphics themselves leave a little bit to be desired overall, but there isn’t really much going on in the game anyway. Overall, the graphics are very well done for what is displayed on screen and what the game is about.

The controls are very basic. No buttons are used at all. Instead, the player is touchscreen-tested (or “periscope”-tested for those levels) and challenged throughout the game. The speed and water depth controls are sliders on the touchscreen easily moved either up and down (for the depth) or left and right (for the speed). The torpedoes are launched by their given button and, finally, the map can be tapped for a size increase or decrease. One final gameplay and touchscreen detail comes into play as well. This deals with damage and is actually a nice touch. Once the submarine takes a bit of damage, leaks spring a muck and must be found and held with the stylus in order to plug them. Very basic, but nonetheless cool.

As for the final mode, it is basically a Battleship board game-type of mode where 3DS download play can be used, or the player can face-off against the computer. Here, the player(s) sets up their ship layout (like Battleship) and then turns are taken to try to hit and sink the other side’s ships. It’s a nice touch to at least include a multiplayer mode. The only online capabilities deals with the times players have in each mission.

Steel Diver may not please everyone, but it is a genre not visited much. It is a nice change of pace from all of the other launch games (or any games in general) and really makes use of the 3D effect in periscope mode. Most will say that $40 is too much for a game like this, but when you think about the fact that the game is best played in bunches, the game’s cost will seem like nothing when you’ve been playing it for over a month. Again, that’s only if Steel Diver is played in bunches. If it isn’t, you may be a little bit disappointed. It’s still a great example of how to both use 3D and create a different game at the same time.

Score: 8 out of 10

Purchase Steel Diver for 3DS at

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