Well, I finally did it. I have reviewed a game that never came to North American shores and I did it without even realizing it. In 1990, Sega developed and released “Submarine Attack” for the Sega Master System releasing the side-scrolling shooter in Europe and Brazil but not in Japan or North America. Would Sega dive deep and find success at the bottom of the ocean or would a sea monster crush their dream? We DIVE DEEP in this Submarine Attack review! (haha)
Submarine Attack Plot
So… since Submarine Attack wasn’t released in North America, I can’t find an English translation of the manual or back of the box. I don’t want to make up the story for Sega but from the gameplay, I’m sure the story is a simple one.
My guess is that the submarine you pilot has some type of secret information on it. The sub needs to be navigated through six levels of various environments filled with both human enemies and sea creatures. At the end of the game, the sub emerges from the water under the Aurora Borealis with the secret information in tack and the sub in safe waters. Hooray, that’s my version of what happens in Submarine Attack!
Submarine Attack Gameplay:
Sega Master System games always amaze me with the beautiful and bright colors that the system can produce. There is an opening scene of the submarine submerging underwater and it was filled with various hues of blue. Speaking of things looking great, Master System games are notorious for having TERRIBLE box art, at least in North America. The amount of effort that is shown on these boxes looks like it’s next to nil. Unlike the rest of the Sega Master library, Submarine Attack’s box art is tremendous. I simply could not believe that this type of art finally graced a Master System box. If I was a kid, it would have been one of the first games I picked out to play simply based on the artwork. Not that I would have been able to since I live in America but you get my drift.
As for the gameplay, I piloted my sub through six different levels during my Submarine Attack review. The length of the levels is generous. These aren’t short quick levels, but ones that will take over two minutes to beat. With games being so short in the 80s and early 90s, it was nice to see Submarine Attack have a bit of fat to the game per se. Each level has tons of detail filled with bright colors. Expect to see colored reefs, helicopters, subs, boats, bubbles, underwater mines, and much more when navigating a level. The first boss was simplistic. It was just a structure with three guns attached to the base. I was able to dispose of it easily and move on to level two.
Once you beat the first level you’ll notice that the speed ramps up. Enemies, bullets, and other objects will swim by you at quicker speeds but luckily for you, you can collect power-ups including speed, attack power, and health. This isn’t a one-hit kill game and your sub can take a few hits before sinking but as health comes by you’ll still need to snag it to ensure victory like I did in my Submarine Attack review.
While your sub is piloting underwater, there will be plenty happening on the surface. There will be boats and helicopters above that will be dropping bombs or shooting at you. Your sub will have two different attacks, one shoots missiles in front of you and one shoots missiles above the water to take down annoying surface foes. It’s not just the enemies above the surface, there’s plenty to see in the environment. Level two had an awesome volcanic eruption sending lava rocks into the ocean that I had to dodge during my Submarine Attack review.
Boss fights become increasingly difficult as the game progresses, as they should. Stage two had a battle fortress with five different guns and a weak point. The next level my trusty sub went deeper into the ocean and navigated through an underwater cave. Instead of man-made enemies, the foes became sea creatures that looked like fossils adding to the belief that I was traveling deeper into the ocean. Continuing the theme of mystical enemies, stage four takes place at night against a skeleton mermaid civilization. It reminded me of a lot of Atlantis or a city like that. At the end of the level, you face a King Mermaid that knocks rocks down into the water. The only way of defeating him is to shoot his mouth when it opens. It’s easier said than done as his mouth only opens when the rocks are falling.
After fighting a mermaid race, you’re thrust into a futuristic underwater cavern. The boss on this stage was not messing around and was the toughest to defeat in my Submarine Attack review. He had tons of guns and turrets that you had to avoid in a small space while finding the weak point. At the final level, my sub randomly started to shoot lasers. Perhaps I had powered it up so much that my missiles turned into a long laser or maybe it happens automatically when you reach the final stage, I don’t know. The final boss during my Submarine Attack review was perhaps the easiest! He was a sea monster that looked like an octopus with his tentacles. A few pops from my laser had him sleeping with the fishes…although he probably already did that. Be careful not to die during the game or else you’ll be stripped of your weapons and speed making it almost impossible to finish out the level unless you are extremely skilled.
I had seen on a few occasions that Submarine Attack was on a couple of lists for top Master System games but I never knew it never came out in North America. After downloading the rom, I still didn’t suspect it was foreign. It wasn’t until I started writing this review that I discovered that fun little fact. I went to Ireland in 2021, and made sure to pick up a copy of Submarine Attack for my Master System so now I can proudly display it or play it here!
Submarine Attack Review Score:
Unique atmospheres, fair gameplay, and challenging bosses made Submarine Attack a surprise hit in my book for the Sega Master System. The gorgeous graphics match the incredible cover art.
Submarine Attack scores an 8.4 out of 10.
What would you write in your Submarine Attack review? Do you remember when Submarine Attack first came out? Have you ever played it or heard of it? What was your favorite level? How about your favorite boss? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!