Shooters are pretty ubiquitous. Look at any console or video game platform, and it will likely have a bevy of options for the shoot ’em up fan. Even amid that ocean of titles, Earth Atlantis stands out with its understated art style and engaging gameplay.
Thus far in its life, the Nintendo Switch has been pretty light on this genre. The eShop contains several excellent Neo Geo shooters, and a few classics like Galaga available in retro collections. These games are great, but at root, are only classic arcade ports.
Earth Atlantis goes a step beyond the arcade with an exploratory focus that merges the best aspects of Monster Hunter, Song of the Deep, and aesthetic notes from the classic Darius series into an engaging experience. The Earth has been consumed by the sea, and robotic AI and marine life have merged to form horrors that threaten humanity’s few remaining members.
Most shoot ’em ups of note use auto-scrolling levels. Earth Atlantis departs from this tradition with levels that call out to the 2016’s wonderful Metroidvania title, “Song of the Deep”. Stages extend both vertically and horizontally, with a multitude of dead ends, secrets, traps, and bosses lying in wait for your tiny submarine.
The main goal of each area is to search out and defeat several bosses, reminiscent of Monster Hunter, ranging from giant sharks to an octopus to a Borg-like sunfish. These bosses are no joke, either, and collecting power-ups that are found throughout the level, both in crates and dropped from enemies, is essential to defeating them. The difficulty curves well on the Normal setting, with a good amount of challenge that doesn’t feel insurmountable. There are also several ships to unlock with different weapon patterns to keep replays fresh.
Earth Atlantis has tight, responsive controls, as with any good shooter. It has a few options for the main commands, shoot and turn, which is very welcome. And, in a move appropriate to its modern pedigree, simply holding the shoot button will fire continuously at your sub’s max rate. No cramping your fingers here!
You pilot a submarine through a maze of ruined cityscape using the left stick to control your position, and buttons for shoot and turn. Turning your sub with a button press initially seems a little weird, but once engaged in a boss encounter, the intelligence of this design choice becomes very clear. Dodging the assaults of the bosses while being able to keep them in your weapons’ sights is essential, and adopting this control scheme for the sub allows for great mobility.
I’m going to go ahead and get it out of the way. I’m in love with Earth Atlantis’ aesthetic. The entire game is portrayed in the style of ink line drawings on aged parchment. This gives the mechanical marine honors that serve as the antagonists an ancient feel, as if they’ve jumped out of the pages of a Victorian inventor’s diary.
The overt stylistic nod here is clearly to the classic Darius shooter series, which had the player face off against all forms of robotic alien sea life. Earth Atlantis raises the bar here, however, as there’s something about the combination of weird, steampunk-like oceanic bio-creatures and the stark line art that just feels right.
The music, while nothing memorable in terms of its execution, perfectly supports the experience of playing Earth Atlantis. It sets a very ambient, melancholy mood, simultaneously giving a window into the unnerving setting of the game, and the almost fruitless efforts of the few remaining humans to stay alive in the face of utter disaster. It ramps up in intensity nicely during boss encounters, and resolves to a tranquil feel once a boss is defeated.
Earth Atlantis is a fantastic shooter with a cool concept, great controls and a gorgeous visual style. It provides a fun challenge curve, never getting too frustrating, but it’s not easy, either, which is a hallmark of a great shooter. We can’t recommend this title enough! Go pick it up today!
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Headup Games
Price – $14.99
Genre – Shoot ‘Em Up
Charlie’s first attempts at gaming did not go well. Repeated, failed run-ins with the first Goomba in Super Mario Brothers 1 plagued his maiden gaming voyage. Undaunted, he would go on to become an avid gamer of all platforms, with Nintendo always sitting atop the highest pedestal. Except for that Halo 3 incident in 2007. We don’t talk about it. It never happened.
Currently, Charlie enjoys playing games on as many platforms as he can get his hands on, with current favorites being the Switch, 3DS and Neo Geo. When he’s not playing games, Charlie is a live sound engineer and manager for his production company, Clear Harmonies, based in Washington, D.C.
Charlie enjoys talking about games nearly as much as playing them, and loves meeting new people, so hit him up!
Plays: All of them games. Seriously.