Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Medium: Wii U Disc
The Wii U had quite a few games come out on launch day, and as with any console launch these days, the initial library often has a multitude of ports from other systems. Tank! Tank! Tank! doesn't fall into that category, having been an arcade game from a few years back, this marks the first time being released on a console. Normally console exclusives receive lots of press, with previews and reviews pouring out from everywhere. This game has sort of slid under most people's radars so there may be more than a few gamers out there wondering what it's about and whether or not they should purchase it. To put it bluntly, wait for a price drop.
Since Tank! Tank! Tank! was an arcade game, it's not big surprise that the console version is very straight-forward with very little depth. It's all action all the time and the modes are rather sparse. While you can play the game single player, there's not a ton of variety in the missions. You drive (surprise!) a tank and blow up everything in sight. You'll battle gigantic monsters, like mechanical spiders and flying 3-headed dragons to defend the city. Power-Ups will drop into the game and will give you temporary weapon upgrades, like machine guns, or super powerful bombs and missiles. The game controls are very simple with you moving your tank with the analog stick (or d-pad) and any button on the controller fires. That's basically it! Like I said, incredibly simple, and in some ways that's a problem. I would have liked to seen more use out of the GamePad. The touchscreen is only used in menus and there isn't any helpful information (like radar or map) on the screen while playing the game.
In addition to the single player campaign mode, you can play with a friend in co-op through the main stages. Like in single player, you battle through stages and get medals and experience points to level up your tank. Only player 1 is increasing tank stats, the second player is just there to assist. When playing in this mode, Player 2 gets the full real estate of the TV, and Player 1 is using the GamePad's screen. It's a great combination with no split screen needed. The game supports the new Wii U Pro Controller as well as Wii Remotes, Wii Remotes w/Classic Controller, and even the racing wheel.
There are multiplayer modes that support up to 4 players – 3 people playing on the TV via vertical split screen, and 1 person on the GamePad with a full view. It's here that the game offers some real variety in modes, with 4 player co-op to defeat waves of enemies, 2 vs 2 team battles, free for all death matches, and a unique mode where 1 player is a huge mechanical monkey and the rest of the players are the tanks trying to kill him. Regardless of mode, before you play you will take a picture of your face with the GamePad where you can then alter your appearance by using in-game hats and silly mustaches or eyewear. Your picture will appear above your tank so other players can easily tell who is who in the chaos that ensues. All of these multiplayer modes are fun to play, but the game doesn't support online. With a simplistic game like this, it's too bad that Namco didn't put a little effort into online support as this would have extended the replayability of the game tenfold.
The game's graphics are clean, colorful, and the frame rate seems solid even with a lot of enemies on the screen. This could easily be on competing systems, like 360 or PS3 as there really aren't any spectacular graphical achievements here. The music is your standard arcade shoot'em fare with nothing really standing out. There's a somewhat annoying guy yelling out combat orders, like “GO GO GO!”, which adds to the “Japanese-ness” of this game. Let's just say you won't be wowed with the presentation, but at the same time it's far from ugly.
When it comes right down to it, Tank! Tank! Tank! really should have been launched as an eShop game or at the very least it shouldn't be $50. If I had to assign a value to it, I'd say $20 would be the sweet spot for a game like this. Perhaps it will receive a price drop soon after release, and if you see it hovering around the $20 mark I'd say pick it up if you have friends over on a regular basis to play with you. The single player campaign is somewhat entertaining and does have a lot of unlockable stages and tanks, but it requires multiple playthroughs of every stage you've already played to earn new medals. If you're not looking for a game that shows off the Wii U's unique properties (other than the off-screen play for multiplayer) and just want a time killer with some decently fun on-couch multiplayer, then run out and buy this game. For the rest of you, I recommend waiting for a price drop or a weekend rental.