There’s no deeper war than one fought undersea
The shoot ’em up genre is one of the longest-running types of video game there is, and Deep War gives it a rather interesting twist. Whereas most tend to take place in the skies or in the furthest reaches of outer space, Deep War instead places you in the depths of the world’s oceans.
The game’s premise is that humanity has once again been screwed over. In this version, meteorites are what did the job and mankind’s last refuge is under the sea (under the sea!), where scientists have also discovered its salvation: Meteorite pieces, which have spread throughout the world’s watery depths (just go with it)!
This is where you come in. Using a special state-of-the-art submarine (orange, rather than yellow, for those wondering if they can sing to it), it’s up to you to venture out amongst the aquatic wildlife and claim as many meteorite fragments as you can.
Unfortunately, there are jerks who would rather you didn’t save mankind, and constantly attack you in smaller (and occasionally, much bigger) submarines than your own. Not to mention the constant barrage of undersea life which have a bad habit of getting in the way of your gunfire.
Deep War features two-dimensional gameplay with 3D graphics, and you maneuver around the screen to collect fragments and power-ups, though you can also wind up with the sub behind your thumb. An interesting feature is that as long as you’re touching the screen, your guns will fire, and so if you’re moving, you’re firing. As a result, we hope you weren’t planning to spare the local wildlife, who also seem to get chopped up on contact with you (save one rather notable exception later in the game).
There’s also a strange sense of balance at work here. Your basic gun isn’t terribly effective, and while you can use currency earned to power up its speed (amongst other uses), you can’t beef up its power. That’s where your finite supply of torpedoes is handy, as they can hone in on enemies… sometimes. For reasons we’re not sure of, they don’t always do so.
Enemies don’t tend to come in a lot of varieties, particularly for a game such as this. You have subs, other subs, more subs, and some other types of subs. What’s more, they’re always firing, meaning that it’s nearly impossible to shoot them without being shot back. Thankfully, your shots do more damage and they frequently drop life refills.
It’s a bit of give and take, and you can spend your collected currency at any time on the pause screen to improve your firing speed, shields/life meter, and number of torpedoes. The result is a game which is easy for the most part, save for near the end when things become quite a bit more difficult.
The game is gorgeous and has a great soundtrack (though the title theme almost sounds like it was pulled straight from Donkey Kong Country‘s underwater levels). The way the game is broken up is a bit more iffy, though; you’re given eight levels to play through, and they never tell you which one you’re on, so remember to keep count.
Moreover, the levels feel a bit lengthy, despite the low number of them. Having more levels of shorter length might have been a more desirable option, especially after cracking knuckles and wrists following our playthrough of some levels in the way an iPod dictates.
Deep War is a bit quirky as shoot ’em ups go, for better or worse, but it certainly isn’t a bad investment.