Dive In

HIGH The top notch, unique boss fights.

LOW The handful of repetitive boss fights.

WTF Moai and the Statue of Liberty are that close to one another!?


 

I love maps. Maps of all kinds. Transit maps, historical maps, world maps, and of course videogame maps. So, when I read about Earth Atlantis, I was intrigued.

The game’s description mentions 14th century exploration as one of its influences. While I’m not an expert on this era, the artwork in Earth Atlantis oozes style that I associate with cartography from the age of European exploration. Sepia-inspired colors, simple line design, and creatures lurking in unknown waters can all be found in each nook and cranny within the world created by Pixel Perfex. Add in fantastic character design and beautiful backgrounds filled with famous landmarks, and I was hooked.

Earth Atlantis is a shoot-’em-up at heart. The earth has been flooded in the 23rd Century and robots have taken the form of various ocean life before spreading throughout the seas. Posing a threat to the remaining humans, it’s up to a small group of hunters to use their submarine to find and destroy these robots.

The sub controls are simple and precise, requiring no more than two buttons and the joystick. Each vessel has firepower that increases with power upgrades dropped by defeated enemies. Throughout the depths, there are also crates that contain additional weapon upgrades, like missiles and electric shock charges.

Players journey through each area and use these upgrades to destroy a menagerie of robotic sea creatures. These robo-fish resemble many actual marine animals, such as jellyfish, piranhas, and octopi. Even with this variety and numerous robots occupying the screen at the same time, I always felt a calmness to the gameplay. It never feels rushed, and delivers a pleasant experience. This calmness is temporarily put on hold for the main objective, though – destroying larger robots spread around the world map.

In order to complete Earth Atlantis, twenty-seven of these large robots need to be defeated. A few of these underwater overlords are upgraded, larger versions of the common enemies that populate the ocean, while others are completely unique, even resembling something from sea monster mythology. Some battles even require destroying a school of 100 enemies as they flood the screen from numerous directions. With solid design and attack patterns that never seem impossible to learn, the majority of these fights made me grin and my heart race.

However, it must be said that five or six of the bosses could have been cut with no impact on the Earth Atlantis’ overall quality.  This handful of encounters were all sporting improved weapons, stronger armor and had grown in size, but for the most part they’re just the same creatures from earlier in the game. Towards the end of the campaign, fatigue began to set in when I had to fight the same lord of the murky depths for the third time. Fortunately, the final boss is a previously unseen enemy type, providing a new challenge that made up for some of the recycled ones.

One other minor complaint deals with the world map. For a title inspired by 14th century maps, the overworld information leaves much to be desired. Players can see locations of weapon crates and boss robots on a small map in the corner of the screen, but that’s it. Numerous times I found myself wanting to pause and examine a more detailed version of the map info, but unfortunately, this option does not exist. The sea isn’t overly huge in Earth Atlantis, so navigation isn’t hindered by the lack of a better map, but it’s still a minor disappointment.

As a whole though, Earth Atlantis remains a beautiful, enjoyable shoot-’em-up under the sea, and I highly recommend taking the dive. Rating: 8 out of 10

— Brian Theisen


 

Disclosures: This game is developed by Pixel Perfex and published by Headup Games. It is currently available on Nintendo Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated and contains Mild Fantasy Violence. When defeated, robotic sea life explodes into a cloud, but there’s nothing here more graphic than that.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: A good portion of this game was played with the sound muted. Background music is present throughout the game, and intensifies during boss fights, but there are no sound cues that help the player. It’s fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Brian Theisen

Brian Theisen

For his tenth birthday, Brian was given the option of receiving a GameBoy or a Game Gear. He chose the GameBoy. No longer were videogames confined to the home PC, he could now squeeze in a quick game on the trip to the store or right before bed. Over twenty-five years later and with two young kids, Brian still needs to squeeze in time for videogames, but now gets to do so on slightly better hardware.


When he does find time to play, Brian’s preferred games of choice are platformers, beat-‘em-ups, or a good adventure game.He still enjoys the retro gaming scene, could talk about the Nintendo 64 more than he might like to admit, and misses playing in actual arcades. Brian also gets to pass on his love of gaming, as his oldest son is just now starting to join the fun.

As for that GameBoy - it’s sitting in Brian’s nightstand, waiting patiently for four AA batteries.
Brian Theisen

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8 out of 10? Settle down, GC. The game’s okay but gets repetitive and pretty dull long before you finish the main campaign. Visual style is great but the powering up doesn’t feel dynamic enough, making this the least exciting shoot ’em up in a while. Good effort but let’s not put the old Switch score bonus on it. Solid 5 out of 10 at best.