Boy, times have changed for home video game consoles over the years. Way back in the early ‘80s, my friends and I judged the quality of a console by how closely it could recapture the video game arcade experience in the comfort of our homes. We wanted to play arcade hits like Donkey Kong and Pac Man in front of our TV sets without spending mountains of quarters, so we wanted to get as close to the original games' graphics and game play as possible.
Generations since that bygone era have looked elsewhere to evaluate the quality of home video gaming, because arcades have largely disappeared from the pop culture landscape. Thus, it came as a surprise to an old-timer like me that Wii U’s release of Tank! Tank! Tank!, an extremely faithful port of Namco's multiplayer arcade game from 2009, was received by many current generation gamers with a combination of bewilderment, boredom and disappointment.
From what I read in other reviews, many gamers had no idea that Tank! Tank! Tank! began as an arcade game so they dismissed it as z-grade shovelware. Leave it up to an old-timer like me to clear up the confusion: Fans of classic arcade shooters will get their money’s worth from Tank! Tank! Tank!, as will anyone else who has an appetite for super-destructive monster mayhem. Read on ...
Tank! Tank! Tank! is a multiplayer third-person shooter where players gun down a series of kaiju-like monsters in a variety of settings. The monsters either attack in swarms or as boss fights, and each battle is timed so players must defeat the monsters within the time limit. The players fight the monsters using tanks and they earn power-ups during battle that temporarily upgrade their tank's weapon type and firepower. Players can also choose to forego the monster mayhem and fight against each other, either in teams or in a free-for-all fight to the finish. As part of the game’s goofball charm, players use the Wii U Game Pad to take photos of themselves that can be imposed into a selection of wacky portraits (a mustached general with an eye patch, a clown, a zoo animal, a fairy tale princess, etc.).
Because of the capabilities provided in its Game Pad, the Wii U largely succeeds in transplanting a four-screen arcade game into a two-screen home setting. The Wii U version of the game offers an extra story campaign (either single player or local two player co-op) and a bonus multiplayer option where a player controls a giant ape robot against one or more players in the tanks. The player who controls the ape gets to have his/her picture imposed onto the giant robot's face.
If you approach Tank! Tank! Tank! with the need to play a strategic combat game, you will be disappointed--Call of Duty this isn't. Namco designed this game for people who are fans of giant monster movies like Godzilla and Them! and fans of classic arcade games like Rampage, Robotron: 2084 and Smash TV where mass destruction and endless ammunition reign supreme. The game’s environments are relatively small and simple in their layout, but they're also fully destructible so you can watch buildings, factories and ancient runs spectacularly explode and collapse as you fight off the invading behemoths. Furthermore, the monster designs are extremely impressive, ranging from enormous insects to mythic creatures to skyscrapers that transform into city-stomping robots.
Tank! Tank! Tank! excels as a local multiplayer party game (there are no online multiplayer options), although the story campaign does have its own charms. In the campaign, you get to fight the full selection of monsters in each of the game’s environments and you can unlock a generous inventory of tanks and weapons.
Where gamers might get frustrated is in the campaign's level up system. Players earn medals during the campaign and the medals are used to unlock new tanks and weapons; however, in order to level up each tank’s armor strength and firepower, players will have to replay missions multiple times to earn the necessary points. Some gamers will find this to be needlessly repetitive; on the other hand, gamers who enjoy earning the highest score and unlocking bigger, better weapons to maximize beastly body counts won’t have a problem with this at all. I sure didn't--I just wanted to see these giant monsters and the landscapes around them blow up in the most astonishing ways imaginable.
The video game arcade may be a thing of the past when it comes to influencing the tastes of gamers, but its spirit lives on thanks to Wii U's Tank! Tank! Tank! Check out the video below to see Namco’s advertisement of the original arcade game.