Tank! Tank! Tank! is obviously a game about tanks. It was one of the many Wii U games shown on the E3 show floor, but it didn’t really show off anything interesting about the Wii U. Frankly, Tank! Tank! Tank! could be played without the Wii U Game Pad at all. Everything you can do can be handled with a simple analog stick and buttons. The Wii U is entirely secondary to the experience. In fact, nothing proves this more than the fact that Tank! Tank! Tank! originally came out in the arcades in 2009, and the Wii U version is nothing more than a port.
The premise of the game is actually quite simple. You and your friends are controlling tanks, and it’s up to you to kill a whole bunch of cartoony enemies that are devastating your city. You’ll fight giant ants and bugs and all sorts of other things as you roll down city streets firing away like the A-Team. Goals in the game are very simple. Most of the time you will be asked to kill a certain amount of enemies before the time is up, or to kill a very specific enemy or boss in a set amount of time. Nothing too complicated here.
Along the way you will pick up several different power-ups. You’ll be able to use rapid-fire machine guns, homing missiles, and much more. Almost like a rail shooter without rails, a good portion of the game is making sure you have the right weapon for the job, as just about any weapon is better than the default gun.
Aiming really doesn’t enter into the equation in Tank! Tank! Tank! All you really need to do is face your target and start firing away. Vertical aiming is done automatically, which is a shame because it’s so clearly a missed opportunity to use the GamePad or Wiimote+’s gyro sensors to add some aiming capabilities. The basic controls involve using an analog stick to move your tank around and using a shoulder button to fire on your enemy.
The game can be played with either the GamePad or the Wiimotes, though the GamePad user can see the action on his own personal screen. That being said, the personal screen doesn’t actually help all that much. It’s just a replica of the screen that you would have seen on a split-screen TV anyway. The only reason this functionality is worthwhile is because it might allow more than four players to play local co-op at the same time.
So why is Tank! Tank! Tank! A Wii U game? One word: Pictures. Tank! Tank! Tank! was originally one of those arcade games that had cameras facing every player, taking player pictures to be used as in-game avatars. The Wii U version has every player pass around a Wii U Game Pad to have their pictures taken, and then applies the pictures in the same way. While this is awesome for social gatherings, it’s a pretty big waste of the Wii U’s technology. Booth reps said that the developer may add some more Wii U exclusive modes and controls closer to the game’s eventual release, but that seems speculative and hopeful at best.
It’s not that Tank! Tank! Tank! is a bad game. On the contrary, it’s actually quite enjoyable. However, Tank! Tank! Tank! is not a very good example of why the Wii U is a great next generation console. It’s pretty shallow and it doesn’t utilize the Wii U’s technology very well at all.
When the Wii U releases, this may be a fun title that someone picks up as an impulse buy, but it certainly isn’t the killer app that will bring the console home to families everywhere.