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Steel Diver first revealed at E3 2010
as an early tech demo for the Nintendo DS
to demonstrate its touchscreen capabilities. In this demo, the player had to control a submarine with a number of different buttons, switches and a map that were represented on the bottom screen. The player could control the submarines speed, diving depth, angle and shoot torpedoes.
Only in the wake of the 3DS
unveiling in 2010 was Steel Diver announced as an offiicial, full retail game. It is scheduled to come out on March 17, 2011 in Japan, March 27,2011 for the American 3DS launch and a speculated launch title for the European 3DS launch. Shigeru Miyamoto
described it as being "almost like you have your own submarine pet in an aquarium".
The game has three modes of play:
- Submarine Mode: In this mode, the core gameplay mechanics are still very similar to the demo from 2004. On the top screen, you see your submarine from a side perspective and you're asked to maneuver it with the control panel on the touchscreen to a given goal. You have to avoid obstacles, shoot enemies and take care of your air supply.
- Periscope Mode: Here the game changes to a completely different perspective and you watch the action through the periscope of your submarine to make out enemies and shoot at them. You can operate the periscope with the gyro-based controls of the 3DS to make sure you're in the know of everything that happens around you.
- Steel Commander Mode: A multiplayer mode in which you face off against an opponent on a hex grid. This is a light turn-based strategy game where you place your ships and then hunt your enemy's ships much like the board game Battleship. The position of the enemy ships is unknown at first, you must move your sub and send radar pings out to search for nearby ships. If you find an enemy ship, you can attack and the game switches to Periscope Mode during this phase. If your sub is found, you play a quick mini-game in which you must move your sub to one of three depths and hope that your opponent didn't set their depth charge to go off on the same depth. You win by destroying the enemy's supply ships.
You can choose from three different submarines to take on a mission with:
- Manatee: Compact sub that can fire a vertical torpedo.
- Blue shark: Medium sized sub with an ability to better control its pitch via an additional slider allowing better control to aim torpedos.
- Serpent: Large and slow. Pitch is controlled with a touch wheel.
IGN gave Steel Diver a 7.0/10, praising it for its addictive gameplay, but gave caution that the slow paced gameplay is not for everyone. The game currently has a 57 rating on Metacritic.