|System: Wii U|
|Dev: NAMCO Bandai|
|Pub: NAMCO Bandai|
|Release: November 18, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief|
by Josh Engen
In the early days of gaming, players were content to simply run from ghosts or dodge barrels, but those days are over. Now we expect a little more from our video games than a stream of monster attacks. However, even with the major advances in video game technology and interactive storytelling, it seems that the folks over at NAMCO Bandai have managed to ignore all that in order to make Tank! Tank! Tank!
Now, to be fair, Tank! Tank! Tank! was an arcade game before it ever found its way onto the Wii U. I even shoveled a few bucks into a Tank! Tank! Tank! machine a couple of years ago in order to show off my driving prowess and relive the glory days of Tanarus (look it up). But, arcades and home consoles have two very game play philosophies, and, more importantly, they require vastly different attention spans.
When you walk into an arcade, you're not looking to spend any quality time with an arcade machine. You're there to play a few rounds and move on to the next machine. Arcade machines don't expect you to develop a long-lasting relationship, which is why most of them don't make the transition over to home consoles.
I'm actually not sure what possessed NAMCO Bandai to release Tank! Tank! Tank! for the Wii U. Either they've lost their focus, or they wanted to make a few quick bucks by having an additional title in the Wii U launch lineup. I think it's safe to assume the latter is true.
The single-player mode is undoubtedly the most grievous part of the game. It's made up of a series of missions where players find themselves behind the wheel of a tank, face to face with a new mechanical monster on every mission. Spiders, dragons, gorillas, centipedes—all of the major monsters get a little bit of airplay, and the developer has even thrown in a couple of surprises (like a terrifying mechanical building, for instance).
Each level is timed, and if you don't manage to kill the requisite number of monsters within the allotted timeframe, you fail. But don't worry, you probably won't fail very often, and when you do, you can start over instantly. The rounds only last for a few minutes, so you'll never loose any major chunks of time. However, you'll probably still regret most of the time you spend playing Tank! Tank! Tank!
The scoring system is based on a collection of medals that amass as you complete each mission. As you collect medals, you unlock missions and tanks. Also, you gather experience points based on any weaponry utilized throughout the mission. This experience translates into increased firepower, armor, or some other form of tank effectiveness.
All of this sounds simple enough, and it is, but that's not really a point in the game's favor. For instance, in order to continue playing the single-player campaign, Tank! Tank! Tank! requires that you complete missions multiple times with different tanks in order to keep unlocking new missions. And, as much as I would like to say that each tank is different enough to make replaying the missions new and exciting, it's not. For the most part, you spend the entire round collecting the power ups that are being continuously dropped in order to effectively annihilate the monster. Because, as Tank! Tank! Tank! will repeatedly tell you, standard guns are not effective.
It's not all bad, though. The game has a few fun little items. When you set up your character, for instance, you utilize the GamePad's front-facing camera to take a picture of your face, which is then pasted into a cartoony helmet and utilized throughout the game.
The multiplayer experience is also a perk. In fact, it's probably the most successful element of the entire game. Versus mode is an entertaining little distraction, but blowing up your friends' tanks repeatedly manages to get old fast—as unbelievable as that may sound.
However, NAMCO Bandai did manage to mix in a little asymmetric gameplay using the Wii U's GamePad. In My Kong mode, whoever gets their hands on the GamePad will be turned into one of the aforementioned robo-monsters, and pitted against the Wiimote holders in a 3-vs.-1 brawl.
The controls in Tank! Tank! Tank! are so simplistic that anyone, no matter how big the luddite, will have no problem jumping right in. You essentially have two moves: drive and shoot. This game could have easily been made for an Atari joystick without any loss of control.
All of the enemies are targeted automatically, which means you negotiate your tank until the auto-aim takes over and then mash the fire button until they explode. This might sound fun for someone who's never played a video game before, but it's a bit tedious if you've spent any time behind a control pad.
And, aside from the asymmetric gameplay, the Wii U's hardware barely gets utilized. There are a few touch-enabled options when you're clicking through the menus, but during the game, you're essentially holding gigantic NES controller, only with fewer usable buttons.