Out of all the playable Nintendo 3DS games, Steel Diver felt the most complete, probably because it has been in development for over six years.
Steel Diver puts you in control of a submarine, but instead of using buttons Nintendo turned the touch screen into an admiral’s control panel. One slider controls the speed and direction of the vessel. The other adjusts your depth. Slide it up to surface and down to dive.
When I picked the game up I started moving fast, which was the wrong way to play Steel Diver. The underwater level has dips and drops you need to dodge, preferably slowly. Move any of the switches full throttle and the sub feels out of control. Nothing is forcing you to race through underwater caverns, anyway. The sub is armed with torpedoes and if you angle the sub up you can hit ships. A masker button makes the ship invisible, but consumes air. I suppose this will be used for stealth missions, which I didn’t get a chance to play.
One thing you can’t see in the Steel Diver screenshots are the awesome 3D effects. The background stretches out giving the effect of exploring a deep cavern or holding an aquarium in a box. The sub itself doesn’t change with 3D turned on, so it seems like its floating.
The controls make Steel Diver a different kind of game. It has shoot ‘em up mechanics, but the speed is relaxing instead of an adrenaline rush.