In Sub-Terrania for the Mega Drive, an unknown alien race has attacked an underground mining colony. A lone pilot has been charged with the task of defeating the aliens, while rescuing the trapped miners, using an experimental attack ship.
The game takes place in a side-view underground environment. The controls are similar to other gravity-based shoot ’em up games, like Gravitar and Thrust.
The ship is rotated with the directional pad and the B button applies thrust in the direction it is facing. At all times, gravity is pulling down on the player’s ship, which works to the player’s advantage to conserve fuel.
To beat each of the game’s 9 levels, the player must complete various mission objectives, which are outlined before the level begins (with the exception of the last three levels).
The bulk of the missions involve rescuing prisoners, collecting sub modules (to allow your attack ship to go underwater), and defeating alien bosses. To make things more challenging, your ship has a limited fuel tank, which must be constantly recharged by collecting fuel canisters, which are scattered throughout the levels
Sub-Terrania was met with generally positive reviews. Edge awarded the game a 9 out of 10, concluding that “Sub-Terrania is quite simply a superbly structured and implemented piece of software: fast, clever, varied and, above all, addictive. Borrowing heavily from blasters from the past – Oids, Thrust and Lunar Rescue – it feels like a classic game yet breathes new life into the shoot ’em up genre”.
In their review, GamePro deemed it “one of the best games of the year” and gave it a near-perfect score, citing the unique concept and outstanding graphics and animation.
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a 7 out of 10, and praised the game’s strong originality and soundtrack.
Computer and Video Games described Sub-Terrania as “a gorgeous and involving blast“, giving it a score of 85 out of 100.
Mega placed the game at number 16 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time, calling it “a superb game in almost every way“.
Sub-Terrania appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, by longtime editor of Edge magazine Tony Mott.