Retro Game Showcase: Submarine Commander

Summary

Developer: Avalon Interactive

Platform: Sony PlayStation 1

Release Date: 6 April 2001

Genre: Strategy/Action

Tested on: Sony PlayStation 1

What you need to know about Submarine Commander

  1. Submarine Commander is a Europe-only game released way back in 2001.
  2. Developed by Avalon Interactive and published by JVC, it’s surprisingly obscure outside of Europe.
  3. You play the role as a nuclear submarine captain, travelling with your crew across a world torn apart by war and almost entirely submerged underwater.
  4. As you progress through the game, you will do battle with other captains with increasing difficulty and different classes of submarines.
  5. Your mission rating is determined by how fast you complete the mission and how accurate you are with your torpedoes.

This is your screen 90% of the time in game

The Good and the Bad

The Good

  1. The anime-esque aesthetic of the game reminds me of something like Girls und Panzer, but with submarines.
  2. Large choice of strategic diversity, with different upgrades available for your submarine as well as choice of torpedo, from slow torpedoes that actively home in on your target to incredibly fast ones that only travel in a straight line.
  3. Once you get used to the awkward interface and figure out what the buttons do, it becomes almost second nature to play through the game.
  4. Aside from just torpedoes, there are also other things you can do using your submarine, like blinding your opponent with sonar, ramming into them or dropping mines behind you for them to run into.

The Bad

  1. The story is absolutely confusing, with poor grammar as well as an overabundance of exposition.
  2. The levels do increase in difficulty, but not to the extent of being anything other than ridiculously easy once you figure out how the game works.
  3. As mentioned, the interface is clunky and serves as a terrible first impression, without even a tutorial to teach you.
  4. Yes, you can use other methods aside from your torpedoes, but they’re pretty damn useless, so you might as well just stick to the torpedoes.
  5. It’s only 4 hours long. As soon as you get used to the game, you’re done.

Verdict: Don’t go out of your way to play it.

Again, just like Rising Zan, the Samurai Gunman, this particular setting for a game is uncommon, even more so for this particular genre of submarine battles. The reason is simple: It’s pretty damn boring, honestly.

It’s fun for a while once you’ve figured out the controls, but at that point, the game ends, so what’s the use? If you had 4 hours to spend, maybe play something more substantial and pass this one over. If you’re into strategy games and you want something a little different, give it a chance, but otherwise, you aren’t really missing out on much.

 

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