Airlock was a relatively recent addition to my collection. I wanted an extra cartridge holder and I got a good deal on one online and it came filled with carts, among them was Airlock. I had never heard of it before I picked it up, but I had high hopes since it is made by Data East, who also released the rare and good, Frankenstein’s Monster. I do not have the package, just the cart, but the art ain’t bad (it has a vaguely Tron-ish vibe) and looking online I found the opening description of the manual to be very evocative:

You’re trapped! Your disabled nuclear submarine, resting perilously on an undersea ledge, has begun taking on water. With time running out for you and your crew — and with your on-board torpedoes shaken loose by an eerie current from deep under the sea floor — it’s up to you alone whether you sink or swim!

Okay! I like the concept. Let’s get a look at this game.

Hmm. Sort of bland graphics, but that does not necessarily mean a bad game on the VCS. The game consists of 5 platforms and you are a little blocky guy who needs to run back and fourth while collecting keys, jumping over obstacles and dodging torpedoes. When you have your key you need to move up a level before the level floods. If all of that worked like what I just said, this game would be pretty decent. Sadly it doesn’t.

Before I get all negative on the game let me talk about some of the positives. It does have a little splash screen that is used as a victory screen when you clear a level (before you repeat it again and again).

Okay now that I got that out of the way. I am not sure if the controls are difficult or the collision detection is flawed, because I find it myself hitting things on the screen when I was sure I was going to avoid them. This can make it really difficult to dodge stuff, which would not be a big deal if that was not half the game. Also the flooding of the compartments is not gradual, which would have been really cool, instead it happens all at once effectively coloring it blue in one fail swoop and ending your game.

The audio is minimal, but not minimal enough. The footstep sound is like a digital woodpecker trying to knock some airholes in your skull and the accomplishment sound of “grabbing a key” starts to become a kick to the teeth after a few rounds of playing. Even the fairly pleasant music on the victory screen does not compensate for the shortcomings on the rest of the screen. I know the VCS has limited resources and I can overlook audio problems, but only when I see the limited resources being put to use elsewhere. I cannot find them here except on the splash screen. Here are just a few of the game’s problems:

– The gameplay repetitive and is exactly the same from level to level.
– Scoring is non-existent.
– The gameplay repetitive and is exactly the same from level to level.
– The screen graphics are clunky and uninspired
– The gameplay repetitive and is exactly the same from level to level.

See repetitive stuff ain’t all that fun in anything, especially in a game (even more so in a review). That is why I say Deep Six your copy of Airlock. It is Sub-par and just not worth your time. I give it one star — almost two since it let me throw in two puns right here at the end, which was very satisfying for me (although a tad indulgent).

Gameplay Video

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