This arcade conversion, which was originally released back in 2009, reminds us of a Dreamcast game. Not any game in particular – it’s just very similar to the experiences the Dreamcast had to offer, due to the fact that the console’s staple diet was mostly conversions of Sega’s arcade games.
It even looks like a Dreamcast game, featuring crudely rendered robotic enemies, basic textures and vehicles (tanks, tanks and more tanks) constructed out of very few polygons.
The huge bosses have a bit of flair about them, such as a screen-filling armour coated griffon, but generally this isn’t the game to convince your chums that the Wii U is a gaming powerhouse. It does at least fare a little better when played on the GamePad – the screen’s lower resolution helps to mask the roughness. Damning praise, there.
After starting the single-player mode we were surprised that there was no tutorial or even explanation of the controls. Two seconds later we realised why. You can tap any button you like as they all do the same thing – fire projectiles through the air. Tanks are upgraded via experience points, gaining stronger armour and better weapons through use. As well as standard rounds there are flame throwers, electric bolts, and one of the tanks even has a huge trumpet attached which fires musical notes. This pleasingly daft sense of humour is one of the game’s few highlights.
Being an arcade game designed to guzzle coins, it’s an against the clock affair with strict limit limits. Environments are small, but there is a fair bit of variety. Most missions give you two or three lives – if your tank is blown to bits then there’s a short delay before reappearing on the colourful battlefield, which of course eats into your time limit. You’re not alone in battle fortunately – an AI controlled team mate mops up any straggling enemies that you may have missed. Your buddy also has to be occasionally rescued from the jaws of whatever giant boss creature you’re facing at the time.
On first inspection single-player does appear to be quite shallow, as most missions can be beaten within minutes and at the first attempt. After an hour or so of play though you’re required to have a certain number of medals – gained by achieving performance ranks during missions – to progress the story, and so previously completed missions have to be returned to and existing scores beaten. This is where we started to think about things with tactics in mind, picking the correct tank for the job wisely and making sure every bullet hits its mark. Red enemies also explode when hit, damaging others around them – a useful way to shave a few seconds off your best time.
Even so, single-player isn’t going to hold interest levels for long due to being more than slightly monotonous. As fans of Earth Defence Force – another game featuring sci-fi style enemies and ludicrously overpowered weapons – we were left feeling a little disappointed.
Thankfully the multi-player modes can also be played on your lonesome with the AI filling in the gaps. There are four modes on offer with the best of the bunch being Kong Mode. This is the game’s saving grace that stops the package as a whole from plunging into sub-par territory. Aside from the ability to take photos – as per the original arcade version – this is the only time where the GamePad’s unique qualities are put to any use. One player controls a giant robotic ape on the GamePad while three other players control tanks on the TV and have to destroy the robo-ape before the time runs out. Shaking the GamePad charges a rage gauge, while shaking it downwards makes the colossal ape perform a butt-slam. It’s good, simple, fun.
The other three multi-player modes haven’t had anywhere near as much thought put into them – one is just a retread of the single-player mode, albeit with the chance to play with three others and a much higher quota of enemies.
Namco’s Tank! Tank! Tank! isn’t a hateable game in the least and is certainly more welcome in the Wii U line-up than the likes of Game Party and Family Party. Should a launch game for a new console remind us of the experiences the Dreamcast used to offer back in 1999 though? Absolutely not.