Sub-Terrania is a sci-fi shooter for the Sega Genesis, the first system I ever owned. In the game, a mining colony has been attacked by an alien species leaving the workers stranded inside the mine. Luckily, there is an experimental spaceship at the ready with weapons and tools necessary to defeat them and one pilot crazy enough to take on the suicidal rescue mission.
Part of the reason I decided to boot this game up was watching my fiance play
the very excellent shooter Resogun, which shares the similar rescue goals as Sub-Terrania does (Although if I were really making comparisons here Sub-Terrania is Thrust on drugs). I started thinking about some of the differences in game mechanics between the three games and next thing I know I found myself headed to the basement to dive in.
Sub-Terrania starts off with one of those part live action, part computer generated video intros that were so popular in the early 90's. I actually found this one to be pretty well done for what it is. It uses some visual effects, like
whats pictured to the left, to blend the live action footage in with the crappy CGI a little better then most games did at the time. The result is actually a successfully creepy little intro depicting the mining colony being taken over by the aliens. When the player finally takes control of the ship, all movement is done via a boost button that expenses fuel to push you forward in whatever direction you are facing. The entire game is wrapped around this mechanic. You start each level with a set amount of fuel, with a couple spare fuel containers spread throughout the level. What makes this mechanic interesting and this game fun is the addition of gravity. With gravity always pushing down on you the game is more about controlling the free fall of the ship almost more so then actually flying the ship. To pass each level you need to maneuver the ship around and rescue the set number of workers.
The levels offer a nice variety of gameplay compared to most shooters I’ve played by adding different kinds of enemies, environments, and puzzles throughout. In the photo to the left you’ll see a rail running diagonally across the screen. This level features rails that you can essentially ‘grind’ on in order to move around the level faster and not be affected by gravity. There is a interesting puzzle in the third stage that has you moving and placing large mirrors around the stage in order to direct the fire of a laser weapon in order to progress through the stage that is particularly cool. This game definitively is not your average 90's shooter. There really is a lot going on in this game that sets it apart in a genre that doesn’t see a whole lot of innovation, even today.
I’d recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the shooter genre and is looking for something a little different. This is going to have you thinking a little more then the frantic dodging you may be used to. I’d also recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Thrust and wondered what the next generation of that game might have looked like.
Lastly, I’m a big fan of old school MIDI soundtracks. This game has some awesome tracks, here are a couple of tracks that I think really stand out in the soundtrack. If you can think of any games you’d like me to try out or think I would enjoy let me know in the comments!
This track plays throughout the first level of the game.
This track plays through the 4th stage.
And this super serious track is from the 8th stage.