Oh man. Here's a game that was pretty original (how many 2600 games were made in regards to a sinking sub?), had a lot going on, and was challenging, but it WASN'T good. It's a shame, too, it could have been an entertaining game, but it's high difficulty level, not giving you much of a reward when you beat the game (games that had a proper ending [rather than just flashing and playing a quick musical score] were still a pretty new concept back then), and having pretty much zilcho replay value really killed (or sunk, ha ha) this one. However, it was
made by Data Age, purveyor of crappy 2600 games (except for Frankenstein's Monster).
Imagine, if you will, being on a sinking submarine, wearing a dorky-looking Tron outfit, for some reason (as depicted on the cover of the box and cartridge -- but what the hey, it's a VIDEO GAME, this can't be too hard to imagine...especially when you think of people passing this up in stores back in the day because of the goofy cover). In order to escape the sub, you must grab two hatch keys in order to make it to the next level...well, plus you have to dodge a runaway torpedo as well (that moves back and forth like it's alive, and it avoids the elevators, for some reason...yeah, RIGHT)...oh, and jump two barriers per level as well. Oh, and did I mention you had to do all of this in the almost impossible TEN SECONDS? Yeah, that's right.
See, that's one of the problems that you'll instantly notice once you start up a game of this is the lack of time...plus accidentally smacking into the barrier or the torpedo slows you down as well, taking away even more time there. You also can't do a running jump to grab the hatch key (which is just a blip, by the way, as the graphics suck almost as much as accidentally swallowing a mouthful of salt water, as the so-called "torpedos" look like a squished version of yourself), you have to stop and jump straight up when you're underneath it, which also stalls you as well, and if you can't make it up to the next level, the compartment you're in floods and the game is over. It'll take you several games (upon initially trying this out) before you can make it through just ONE stinking (sinking?) level, it's pretty insane; about the only cool part is that, after the elevator at the end of the compartment takes you up to the next level (well, thank god the elevators still work in that environment...somehow), the previous compartment fills up with water. So that's pretty nifty.
Unfortunately, the sound is also pretty horrid, as you sound like a rat scuttling about when you move; it makes you think you're supposed to shoot something on the screen, but nope, there IS no firing done on this game! Too bad, Airlock should've been gunned down in the R & D department over at Data Age before it was completed, much less released...
And if all of the above doesn't sound bad enough, games 3-4 have two entire screens you must go through, which has twice as many barriers per level as well! Boy, talk about a glutton for punishment here, as choosing this game variation to play is about the equivalent as wanting to obtain past Live with Regis shows when Kathie Lee Gifford was still the co-host. (Hmmm, Kathie Lee on a sinking sub: now that's the kind of game that shows promise...)
This is a game pretty much for collectors only, as it is a pretty original premise. After all -- and normally I wouldn't give away the ending, but once you get there, you're not going to go back to this game very often -- you're given a supposed "victory" screen which shows you jumping up and down on the top hatch of the submarine. Uhhhh, so NOW what, Einstein? Is there a Coast Guard helicopter on it's way to pick you up? Or do you either dehydrate, starve, or get munched to death by the shark from [much more superior 2600 game] Fishing Derby at some point? (After all, isn't the sub SINKING?) Heck, even the instructions are good for a laugh, especially the part that says "How To Handle Underwater Emergencies": yeah! By staying on land!! Play something with even more hazards, but is more fun, like Millipede!
All I can say is that I was able to trade this and Zaxxon away for the Sega CD games of Ecco Jr. and The Terminator...guess who got the WAY better end of that deal? Right, not the other guy! (Especially since, technically, this wasn't even my game in the first place, since it came as one of many games that I bought it from a friend when she sold her Atari 7800. So double hah on that deal.) 4/10