Tank! Tank! Tank!: Shoot stuff, then shoot more stuff

November 30, 2012

Tank! Tank! Tank! is a silly game with a silly name. Originally an arcade game, it makes more sense in that context: take Tokyo Wars, update it graphically and put in just enough crazy to catch your eye in a room of flashing lights and loud music. Taken home with this Wii U port, it’s a bit out of place, but while some lights flash a bit too brightly, it’s still nice to watch all the pretty colors.

Unsurprisingly, the game has you controlling a tank, shooting bullets at various things. The main attraction (and we’ll get to the campaign in a second) is the selection of multiplayer modes, where up to four choose to team up against monsters or take on each other for superiority.

In any mode, you’re thrown in a small arena, usually full of buildings. You only move to aim, as there’s no second stick and vertical targeting is automatic. All the buildings are easily destroyed, and in the cases when enemies are robot bugs, the whole thing is suspiciously like a simplified take on the Earth Defense Force formula.

It’s not a visually-impressive game, by any means, but it embraces its aesthetic. The arcade game used built-in cameras to make silly headshots with themed overlays to represent each player during battles, a function replicated here with the GamePad camera. Friends with heads that look like samurai or frogs appear, shaking and taunting you at appropriate moments. Yeah, it’s weird. It’s also funny. It does take a minute or two before each match to pass around and shoot, but you can speed up the process a bit by picking a previously-shot image from a list.

The mode that takes center stage in the arcades is Monster Battle, a cooperative mode in which you fight off a robot-beast invasion over a few stages. These are cool set pieces with time pressure to take down enemies, and doing well lets you access a final round that’s even harder. There’s really not much in the way of replay value for these three missions once you finish that extra stage, but the first time through is impressive.

A new mode for this version takes this Monster Battle concept and puts a Wii U spin on it. The My Kong mode puts the GamePad player in control of a big bad robot gorilla, taking on up to three tanks controlled by remote players. It seems gimmicky at first, with its tap and shake controls, but it’s actually an interesting set-up and a real (but surmountable) challenge. Also, the robot gorilla has the person’s face on it, which is fairly amusing.

There’s a standard free-for-all mode, though it’s not the most balanced. You get points for kills, and since it takes a few seconds of hits to take someone down and arenas are fairly small, it’s incredibly common for someone to slip in and get the last shot with little effort. More interesting is the team battle mode, as it usually makes sense to work to take one opponent down, but that leaves the other open to finding a super-powerful weapon drop and getting revenge.

The campaign mode is… well, there’s a reason we haven’t mentioned it yet, because it’s not great. You’re put onto a series of missions against monsters and such, and you can go in with one friend or play alone with an A.I. partner. There’s an attempt to add strategy in this sequence of challenges, by unlocking and choosing tanks with different levels of power and durability, as well as two specific power-up drops. There’s just not much to hold the game as a single-player experience, though, and a menu-and-awkward-text-box scheme doesn’t do anything to change that.

Many have said that Tank! Tank! Tank! should’ve been a downloadable title. It’s certainly small enough, but there’s some merit in the game as a $50 disc. If you consider that, to play the game correctly in arcades, it’s usually to the tune of $8 for a four-player match, it doesn’t have to be fun for too many plays to cover that value. It covers that. Compared to most full-featured retail titles, though, it’s a bit light on content. Whether what’s here is enough is up to you.

Pros: Fun multiplayer tank battles, delightful silliness
Cons: Campaign not really worth it, strategy a bit shallow

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.