Release Date: 1982
Publisher: Data Age
Players: 1 – 2
Genre: Action – Platformer
Alternate Title: N/A
Model #: DA1004
This is one of the most unforgiving titles on the system.
If you don’t begin with absolute perfection then you will drown and must reset the game to give it another shot. Not only that, but you must time your start at the precise moment or else you have virtually no chance. Of course once you get past the opening section the rest of the game is a complete and total cakewalk.
The setup is that you are on board a disabled nuclear sub that is taking on water and on the verge of going under for good. The only chance you have for survival is to collect two keys on each level which will open up an airlock, allowing you to move up to the floor above you, staying one step ahead of a watery grave. Along the way you have to leap over bulkheads and loose rolling torpedoes that can (and will) keep you occupied long enough for the water to catch up to you. The bulkheads have very poor collision detection, so even when it looks like you have cleared them they will catch you on the corner and force you to take a couple of steps back to give it another go. The torpedoes on the other hand will simply roll you over. Granted this isn’t a one hit death since it doesn’t technically kill you, but due to your extremely tight schedule it might as well be.
What makes this game so infuriating is that you only have ten seconds per level to collect both keys, dodge the obstacles, and trigger the elevator in the airlock before you drown. While this sounds like a lot of time, it really isn’t when you consider that on the opening level you have to do a fair amount of backtracking. Even with a flawless run you will still trigger the airlock with a second to spare. On the easiest level there are five airlocks to trigger, and on the harder level there are ten.
There is no scoring in Airlock, only the satisfaction of making it to the top of the sub. Of course the ending shot is you celebrating at the top of a sinking submarine, which given the fact that the vessel you just escaped from is taking on water at an alarming rate and there is no rescue ship in sight, it just means you get a brief moment of calm before you sink into the shark infested waters below. At least the guy can celebrate the fact that he probably won’t drown.