Game of the Week (5/13/18) – Tanks a Lot

Tanks a Lot (cartridge #20), along with Konami’s Jungler (cartridge #23), are two of the more unique titles in the Arcadia-2001 library. Tanks a Lot’s gameplay gives off a bit of a Night Stalker for the Intellivision vibe, but it’s only on a surface level. The game takes place in a maze like environment with brick walls scattered around the play field. You control a man with a bazooka gun and your goal is to protect the commanding base vehicle (a red colored truck at the bottom of the screen) from the attacking enemy tanks. There are a number of tanks on the screen and the number increases from 3 on the first level to 9 total tanks on level 4. Most of the tanks will be yellow in color, which means that their primary objective is to go after your bazooka man. There will always be 1 blue tank with every maze level whose primary objective is to destroy the commanding base vehicle. The blue tank will re-appear once it’s been destroyed unless it’s the last tank on the screen, which would then end the level. How fast the blue tank re-appears depends on the maze level you’re on.

Tanks a Lot has the potential to be an addictively fun game just based on what was previously described but Emerson adds additional gameplay elements to enhance the strategic aspect. Just like every other Arcadia-2001 game I’ve reviewed thus far, Tanks a Lot includes gates that you can open and close (depending on the game mode you’re playing) which can be used to block an opponent from coming after you and/or the commanding base. Also just like every other Arcadia-2001 game I’ve reviewed thus far, I find the gate option to be unnecessary and difficult to pull off in the heat of the battle due to having to press certain buttons on the controller, aided by the overlay. The game adds complexity by giving you two different warp options as well. Once again, depending on the game option you select, you can either warp your bazooka man or you can warp your commanding base vehicle or you can warp them both. I suppose this could be useful if one of the tanks is about to destroy your vehicle and you want to quickly move it to another location. There is also a game option where you can opt to not allow any warps, but I imagine that’s for advanced players only.

Some additional gameplay elements for Tanks a Lot to note are that you can cancel your opponent’s shot by shooting back at it. I usually do this by accident when I shoot at the tank only to discover it didn’t register because it shot at me at the same time. The bricks walls that take up much of the screen can be destroyed with a couple shots by your bazooka or by the tank’s gun. This is probably the most useful additional element as you can create new paths to get at the tanks that didn’t exist. There are certain gates that cannot be destroyed and you can easily tell them apart from the brick walls. You can only warp your man and the commanding base 5x each game (not maze), so use it sparingly. The one tip I’ll give for success is to stay out of the tanks line of sight. It’s very difficult to anticipate when the tanks will shoot since they give no indication they are about to fire. They can be completely idle one second and the next, they’ll blast you to kingdom come. Try to attack them from the side, destroying brick walls if you have to.

Tanks a Lot is a mostly unique offering for the Arcadia-2001, which is an anomaly as it is and worth checking out as a result. The gameplay can be a bit sluggish and with faster controls and movement of your character, this would be an A-rated game for sure. The lack of speed keeps it from being top tier but still one of the better titles for a system sorely lacking in originality.

Rating: B

Currently in my collection: game, box, overlay

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