Touch Battle Tank Tag Combat 3DS eShop Review
It has tanks!
More unlockable levels are available if you take the time and effort
No staying power or enticing replayability – complete lack of score/time/leaderboards
Takes time to get comfortable with the touch controls
Long Name, Short Game
If you think about it, tanks are not really used as much as they probably should when it comes to video games (unlike zombies which are in every game nowadays). The Atari 2600 would not have been the same without Combat, there are other arcade-to-console tank titles like Tank! Tank! Tank!, and even the MMO World of Tanks features a more realistic approach to tank warfare. But the tank is this intimating killing machine that should just work very well in games. While Touch Battle Tank Tag Combat, an overhead action-based $3.99 3DS eShop downloadable title, tries to fill this gap it falls short on being something great due to lack of options and replayability.
With no options screen, tutorial, or button layout to configure, Touch Batle Tank Tag Combat just immediately starts from the title screen. Only after experimenting with the controls will the player understand how to play. From an overhead view, the Circle Pad moves the tank in any direction while the touch screen is used to aim and shoot; if you played Geometry Wars Galaxies you’ll feel right at home. If the word “touch” was absent from the title, I would have been a little lost trying to figure out what the game wanted me to do since there is no configuration or options screen. Instead, the player can adjust a couple different options on the fly by tapping the “A” and “B” buttons. “B” toggles rapid fire while “A” adjusts the aiming mode. Unfortunately, using the rapid fire option hinders gameplay since the player cannot warm up power shots. And the only way to advance in later stages is to blow up certain blocks with a power shot; Switching on the fly, especially when the action gets heated, is nearly impossible because the player is holding the stylus and difficult to hit the face button, hold the 3DS system, and try to dodge incoming attacks simultaneously.
There are two tanks available: blue and red. The blue tank allows for higher powered charged shots whereas the red tank can hover over gaps. I found playing as the red tank is detrimental because falling down a hole with a one-hit kill is common and annoying. In total, there are 50 levels available but each stage only takes about 30-60 seconds to complete. While there is nothing wrong with a ton of bite sized stages, there simply is no staying power because there is no score, no timer, no leaderboards, and nothing to strive for other than completing the stage. There isn’t even any story or reason to keep going. The game rewards the player by completing a stage in a single life with a star icon on the stage select screen but tediously completing each stage with a perfect rating is nothing more than busy work. Every tenth stage is a boss battle but is the exact same every time – there is a stationary cannon in the middle of the stage and rapid fire circle strafes will take it down. Once these “bosses” are destroyed, the tank you are playing as gains a level and grows slightly stronger. This leveling system also makes it possible for the player to cheat. If the player completes the game with the blue tank for example, the red rank can bypass all the non-boss stages via the stage select screen, kill the boss on each tenth level, and reach maxed out stats in no time.
Gameplay itself is both fair and cheap. It is fair because the player is given three lives per stage but it is cheap because there is no buffer time when attacked. You know when Mario or Mega Man flash when they take damage and become invisible for an extra second? Yeah, that doesn’t happen here so the player can be blown away with one rapid fire assault. Also, enemies can drive over gaps whereas the player would fall to death. This actually makes for some unfair encounters because enemies can cherry pick from a distance or even off screen. The environments, enemies, and soundtrack also repeat throughout the entire one-hour campaign. Eventually the player will encounter shielded enemies, tank generators, and slippery ice stages but the player is still just going through the motions. There is a local two-player multiplayer mode but was unable to test this functionality. However, the multiplayer is just the single player campaign with two players.
Touch Battle Tank Tag Combat is like a tasty cake that was removed from the oven before it was cooked all the way. It looks like a cake and tastes like a cake but should have been left inside for a little while longer to cook all the way through. Despite having firm framework, the game ends much too quickly through lack of options and undercooked design elements.
Not As Good As: Combat (Atari 2600)
Remember: Battle Tanx (N64)
Also Try: Brave Tank Hero (3DS eShop – Natsume)
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com