I think it’s relatively safe to say that Nintendo’s E3 2012 press conference was an astounding bust of such epic proportions that it nearly rivals Sony’s infamous E3 2006 press conference. There may not have been any massive enemy crabs or soul crunching announcements of a $599 price point, but the lack of firm details and constant tip-toeing about certain things resulted in a showing from Nintendo that was almost embarrassing as it played things more safe than even how Sony does sometimes.
Nintendo showed some new software like Pikmin 3 which will be a day 1 title for me, but on the 3rd party front things were a bit odd. Seeing titles like Batman: Arkham Asylum was ok but one title that I thought nothing off was Tank! Tank! Tank!. A new IP from Namco Bandai, Tank! Tank! Tank! didn’t leave much of an impression on me upon seeing it in Nintendo’s E3 sizzle reel, but after playing the game my mood was totally changed in a surprising way.
Walking the showfloor of E3 can sometimes result in a surprise or two. Sometimes I may see a celebrity or a developer I adore or I may even see an almost embarrassingly scantily clad booth babe that makes me question the purpose of E3. But walking past the other side of Namco Bandai’s booth, the side not playing Snoop Dogg videos while women in barely there shorts pranced around, I saw something cool: the arcade version of Tank! Tank! Tank.
Now maybe I was lttp when I saw the arcade version, but playing the arcade version was enough of a revelation to make me wander over to Nintendo's booth to give the Wii U version a shot. Namco Bandai still may be in the arcade game, but it’s rare for the company to do a console port of an arcade title unless it has Time Crisis in the title since that seems to be the one true draw. So being an arcade mega fan, I decided to give Tank! Tank! Tank! a go to see if it’s simply an average arcade game or if it has the same magic Namco Bandai brings to all of its arcade ventures.
For those who saw the small snippet in the Nintendo Wii U sizzle reel, the basic premise of Tank! Tank! Tank! can easily be surmised as you control a tank that in turn needs to blow stuff up. That’s basically it. There’s no underlying themes or mechanics in the game other than controlling a tank, obtaining weapons upgrades, and destroying massive creatures with some buddies. Basically the game could be complete gold once it arrives on the Wii U.
Arcade games are supposed to be simple and that’s what Tank! Tank! Tank! does best but at the same time it injects enough personality into the action filled proceedings to make it stand out. The basic premise of the game has giant monsters invading a city and it’s up to the military and their special squadron of tanks to destroy said abominations.
What made the game fun, especially when I played it on the Wii U, is that it’s a perfect pick up and play party game. At this point those in the Nintendo camp may be sick of party games since they far outweighed traditional titles like Zelda, but it’s a party game in the sense that you can sit back with a bud or two, have a couple of drinks, and enjoy blowing up giant monsters that look like they were ripped out of a Power Rangers episode.
There are a variety of modes in Tank! Tank! Tank! Ranging from solo adventures but the real enjoyment comes from playing the game with three other people in some four-player monster destroying goodness. Basically, the general outline of Tank! Tank! Tank! is that players are thrown into an area and need to protect certain structures from giant spiders or destroy said monsters in a time limit to see who reigns supreme. It may not sound like it’ll result in a deep experience, and in some ways it doesn’t, but it’s a fun party game for those looking to kick back and just blow stuff up.
The sheer over-the-top nature of Tank! Tank! Tank! is what I think the big draw will be for people as its two steps removed from a Japanese sentai show. Kind of reminiscent of the Earth Defense Force series, battling giant spiders that crawled on buildings or facing against a trio of giant entities that were walking buildings proved that Japanese developers can bring the wackiness in ways that are always appealing and original.
However fun and original Tank! Tank! Tank! may be I don’t know what people will make of how the game controls. Keeping things simple as they are in the arcade version, gamers can only control the acceleration of their tank and the fire of their weapons. Controlling vertical movement of the tank’s arm isn’t available and is simply handled through having to line up a reticule box onto enemies or their general area. So yeah, Tank! Tank! Tank! is kind of a mindless button smasher in a sense due to the only things I had to think about was how to move my tank and when I should make stuff go boom. I didn’t mind the limited controls too much when I played the game on the Wii U, but it could prove to one of those things that is ultimately distracting in the end or is an immediate turn off to most people.
Playing an arcade game on the Wii U was indeed like going from one spectrum to the other, but Tank! Tank! Tank! was still fun even when a massive arcade cabinet is replaced in favor of a Wii U controller or a regular Wii controller. Movement with the Wii controller housed in the steering wheel peripheral was fine and graphically the game looked decent if not a bit more simplified compared to the arcade version. I’ll admit that my eyebrow was raised over the visual discrepancies between the Wii U and arcade version of the game since the Wii U version did sport more simplistic textures. Exactly why a Wii U game isn’t on par with a relatively old arcade game is something that I think will be debated about in the future, but in the end the gameplay was a match so that’s what counts the most.
I doubt Tank! Tank! Tank! will be a killer app for the Wii U when the console releases later this year, but the spirit of the game perfectly encapsulates the easy going fun that some launch games tend to have. Control concerns aside, Tank! Tank! Tank! may end up being the go-to game for new Wii U owners who want a bit of arcade goodness and desire an easy going party game that doesn’t consist of reading lyrics off a Wii U controller.