A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Steel Diver is a military submarine simulation, featuring some violence. You can blow up enemy submarines and see the vessel sink into the ocean. The cartoon-like graphics means it's not realistically represented, nor are there people screaming or bodies floating in the water. You can also destroy deep sea creatures out to harm you. But be aware a periscope mode has you play the game from a first-person view. Plus your ship can be destroyed by running into mines. Parents need to remember that Nintendo is warning parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.
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What's it about?
As one of the Nintendo 3DS launch titles, STEEL DIVER is an arcade submarine simulation for the portable game system. You are in control of various subs, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Manatee can maneuver the waters quickly but doesn't handle as well as the slow but sturdy Serpent sub. The Blue Shark, however, is the most balanced in your fleet. Depending on the mode you play, you'll be firing torpedoes at enemy subs, avoiding mines, and navigating around other underwater obstacles in order to reach your goals. You'll use the touchscreen to carefully control your depth, speed, and pitch (and prevent water from entering the sub by fixing the leak with the stylus pen). The game also includes fun first-person elements, viewable through the submarine's periscope, and a head-to-head wireless option for two friends in the same room.
Is it any good?
Steel Diver is a good game, but $40 is a bit much for what you get. That is, there are only seven main missions to tackle (which are replayable with different subs), plus there's the "ad hoc" Steel Commander multiplayer option for two friends in the same room. But Steel Diver doesn't seem to have longevity as many other Nintendo games, though it is still fun while it lasts. The 3D effects works well, too, which adds to the immersion, as does the gyroscope sensor that lets you move the 3DS around in 360-degrees to look for (and shoot at) enemy submarines in Periscope Strike mode. You can also earn sub decals that unlock special abilities, such as increase speeds or stronger defenses. Overall, Steel Diver is a fun game but it might be better as a weekend rental than a $40 purchase.
Online interaction: The game lets you play wirelessly with a nearby friend ("ad hoc" mode), but there is no over-the-Internet multiplayer options. Gamers can't chat through their Nintendo 3DS while they're playing, either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about submarine games not being very popular in North America. Could Steel Diver help to make the genre a popular one, or is this a niche topic?
Does the Nintendo 3DS add more pizazz to the graphics because it's playable in 3D and the gyroscope has you move your body around to see the action?
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