Tanks a Lot!

TANKTanks are cool, I don’t care who you are. And when you’re playing a video game and you get to ride in a tank, things just get a little bit cooler. So in honor of tanks, here are my top five favorite video games that have tanks in them!

I’ve always been a little interested in tanks. Not enough to do a lot of research on them or watch the Military Channel or anything. But they always seemed kind of neat to me, even as a kid. My dad was in the army when I was little bitty, and he told me about the times he got to ride in tanks, and I thought that was neat. Another thing my dad and I did when I was little was build models together. You know, stuff like model rockets and cars. He did all the hard stuff and I got to play with them when we were done. One time we built a model tank together, and afterwards, I had to go to the store to get a G.I. Joe action figure so he could ride in my model tank! And I was never into G.I. Joe either! So yeah, by now you probably get the idea that I kind of like tanks. So let’s talk about some of my favorite tank video games!

Tank! Tank! Tank! (Wii U)

This is actually the game that inspired me to write this blog. I just got this Wii U game for Christmas and have been playing it a bit recently. It’s based on the Namco arcade game and couldn’t be any simpler to play. Just move and shoot, that’s it. The game uses the Wii U controller’s camera to take your picture before you start playing. There are tons of silly frames you can choose from. I think half the fun me and Jeff and his friends had with the game was taking silly pictures! It reminded me of how you take pictures in the Mario Kart Arcade GP games, and makes me wish they would release those on the Wii U, too. I wish that Namco could’ve took this opportunity to put more classic Namco cameos in this game, maybe as frames where you could look like Mr. Driller or Klonoa, or maybe battle a giant Pac-Man!

In the single player game, you and a friend team up to battle giant robot creatures in each mission. It kind of has a Power Rangers/Godzilla vibe to it. And VERY silly and goofy and Namco knows this (any tips on how to get past the robot mammoths on the moon would be appreciated). There are also multiplayer missions where you battle robot monsters, or each other in free-for-all or on teams. Kind of like a sillier version of Tokyo Wars, another Namco arcade tank game. New to the Wii U version is a mode where three people are tanks, and the person using the Wii U controller is the monster! You can take a picture for the monster’s head, and if the tanks don’t destroy the monster robot gorilla before time runs out, the Wii U controller person wins. The problem with this mode is that it’s a little unfair to the tanks. We only managed to destroy a monster once. But it’s still fun. Tank! Tank! Tank! got a lot of bad reviews, but I enjoyed it a lot. Only problem I had with it was I think it’s a bit pricey for what you get. Wait until it goes down in price a bit before you get it. Like 30 bucks or so. Shouldn’t take too long. In Japan, I hear this game is now a free Wii U download! What’s up with that? I’d like to play this game more in arcades, too, but arcades are pretty scarce nowadays.

Assault (Arcade)

Assault is another arcade tank game from Namco. Namco actually has a long history with tank games. Even as far back as the same year they released Pac-Man, they also had Tank Battalion. It was just a simplified version of TRON’s tank game area, but it did have some innovations for the time, like destructible environments. Later on, Namco made another tank game starring a very minor Xevious enemy: the Grobda tanks. Grobda played a lot like Atari’s Combat, just a little more fast-paced with a hint of Missile Command gameplay (you could chain together explosions). You can play Grobda on some of the Namco Museum collections. And of course, Namco also made aforementioned tank titles like Tokyo Wars and Tank! Tank! Tank!

Assault was released in the late 80’s, around the same time as Pac-Mania. In fact, the only reason why I know about it was at one of the Tilt arcades I frequented as a kid, Pac-Mania and Assault were right beside each other. So if someone was playing Pac-Mania, I’d just play Assault until they were finished. I remember Assault’s arcade cabinet being very narrow for some reason. Anyway, Assault had two important innovations. It used scaling and rotating “Mode 7” graphics immensely, as the stages rotated around you as you moved around in the top down viewed worlds. The other unique thing was that it used two trigger joysticks. You could move them up and down like how you would control tank treads, but since this was a futuristic tank, you could also move them both left and right to strafe by flipping over and over. And if you moved the joysticks in opposite directions left and right, your tank would tilt up so you could shoot at an arc to destroy long distance enemies, like throwing a hand grenade. You can play Assault on Namco Museum vol. 4 for the PSOne, but unfortunately it came out before the Dual Shock controllers, so you moved the tank with the D-Pad and face buttons. Needless to say it didn’t work very well. It didn’t help that Assault was a pretty tough game anyway. But I still have significant memories playing Assault in the arcade.

Squishy Tank (DS)

This was a touch screen DS puzzler released by Natsume in the US a couple of years ago. The puzzle part of the game was pretty basic, just a color matching exercise. But it was still fun and entertaining. But the reason why it was called Squishy Tank was it starred these cute little marshmallowy tank characters. The credits screens even showed plush toys of them! Supposedly, the Squishy Tank cast was based on a popular computer Flash animated series in Japan. But I think all Natsume cared about was releasing a fun little puzzle game in the US. I do wish Natsume would release more titles other than just one Harvest Moon game every year.

BattleZone (Arcade)

There are some old retro games that I wasn’t into as a kid, but I have a lot more respect for now. Pitfall is a good example. BattleZone is another. Never was interested in it as a kid, but I find it a lot more interesting now. The vector graphics helped make BattleZone one of the first games that made you feel like you were in a 3-D space. And even though the 2600 version didn’t have the same graphics, it was still fun in its own right, which is pretty good since a lot of 2600 arcade ports were pretty bad. And the rumors are true; the military did use a modified version of BattleZone as a training exercise! You can actually finally play that military version of BattleZone on one of the Atari 2600 collections. I think it’s on the DS one, but it could be on others as well, I can’t keep track of everything. So yeah, BattleZone certainly has an important place in video game history.

Robot Tank (2600)

I generally prefer Activision’s 2600 lineup over Atari’s. Some may say that Robot Tank is a direct ripoff of the 2600 version of BattleZone, but it has a few key differences. One, you can move your shots around after you fire them. There are different weather changes like snow and fog that can affect your view and mobility. And if you get hit, you might not totally explode, but parts of your tank can be damaged. For instance, if your radar is damaged, you won’t be able to see enemy tanks. And if your treads get hit, you won’t be able to move as well! Despite all that, the game is still fairly simple, so you can play it for a long time in one sitting. Which is pretty cool for a 2600 game. I mostly played Robot Tank on Activision Anthology for the PS2, which is one of the best classic game compilations out there. When my brother Jeff was little, he LOVED playing Robot Tank. Now he enjoys a free-to-play online PC game called World of Tanks, which he says feels like a modern take on Robot Tank. World of Tanks is fairly popular, too, and the makers always have a big booth at E3 and PAX, and they have other online war games that involve planes and boats.

Tanks for Reading My Blog!

Sorry, I just had to say it. Anyway, those are my favorite tank games. I picked games where you were in tanks all the time, but there are other games that you get to ride tanks that are still pretty cool, too. For instance, climbing into a tank just couldn’t come soon enough in Ikari Warriors. And speaking of SNK, even though they’re not called tanks, the tank-like vehicles you get to use in Metal Slug games are also pretty awesome. Or what about climbing into a tank in Kirby Mass Attack or BEING a tank in Kirby’s Epic Yarn?  In the comments section, let me know what you think of my choices, and tell me your favorite games that have tanks in them! Next time on my blog, we’ll do a total 180 degree turn and talk about My Little Pony! Later! –Cary

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