This title was given to us by Nintendo UK. I would just like to thank them for giving us the chance to review the game. We hope it was successful for them.
Released at the end of Japan last year, Tank Troopers is a neat little Nintendo title made by Vitei Games in Kyoto. While on the outset, a Nintendo-based war game might bring on thoughts of the Advance Wars series, I would get rid of those thoughts right now. Tank Troopers is nothing like the Advance Wars series from style to music to gameplay. But, does it stand-up to Nintendo’s Wars series? Let’s find out.
Tank Troopers is not a very story heavy game, rather it is made up of around 60 different missions where you use your Tank and COs to solve whatever mission you’ve been tasked with. And these missions do vary. They can be something simple like destroy all the units on the map to something more complex like knock the balls into the goal (like some kind of penalty shoot-out, but with Tanks). There are a variety of COs to pick from, each with their own unique mechanics but none of them really fall into the status of ‘main character’ and none feel very fleshed out, unfortunately. They just appear with no introduction and they all have one or two lines each when you activate them.
In Tank Troopers you play as, what else, a tank. This isn’t some kind of futuristic Landmaster like in Star Fox. It’s just a regular tank that does what a regular tank does. You drive around one of the game’s five maps with either free control of your vehicle or your gun. You have the ability to shoot things, with a cooldown timer to stop any spam, and items you can pick up that heal you, give your COs stamina or camouflage you. Each tank plays the same and only vary in strength or speed. There is not a lot of variety there but this is where the COs come in.
The COs are the equivalent of your skills in Tank Troopers and there are quite a lot of them with various results. Some COs have more passive skills, like increasing your speed or healing while you move, while others give you greater offensive capabilities, such as freezing enemy tanks or gaining access to a rapid-fire cannon. The types of COs you use are all a part of the strategy so if you find yourself struggling with a mission, sometimes a new CO is all you need.
The game comes with a multiplayer mode that is clearly the main focus. Here you take your custom tank and wage war with up to 6 players locally. The game features download play so only one of you will need a copy but you can’t use a custom tank then. What is really bizarre though is the complete lack of online play. This game feels like it is one that would survive with online so the lack of it is disappointing.
If the Advance Wars series was an anime about light-hearted war then Tank Troopers is the Western cartoon equivalent. The game is incredibly colourful and bouncy with every CO being uniquely designed and memorable. The presentation really shouldn’t be underestimated in this game, it is really nice to look at. Each level feels very different and there are certain small aesthetic changes to match (such as the camouflage changing to either bushes or boxes based on the stage type). Visually this game gets full marks.
The music as well is definitely something to write home about. The music and SFX sound like they come out of the early 1900s and bring back echoes of war-time merriment (a very rare thing considering it’s war). The whistles and drums really help to lift spirits and match the game’s visuals very well. I think I can easily say that the presentation is the best part of this game.
Tank Troopers is a really colourful and enjoyable game to play through and I really want to give it a higher score. But… it has a lot of issues. While there is a lot of variety with the tanks, COs and missions the gameplay itself ultimately didn’t feel that engaging. The strategy is there and I did have fun when I played but I never felt like I needed to play it. It didn’t pull me in and I think part of that issue is that for all its strategy and style the tanks themselves aren’t that fun to use. Attacking is slow and so is aiming, unless you put it on artillery mode but then you can’t move. Enemies have a bit too much health which makes fighting monotonous and boring. The enemy variety is lacking and while missions are different, it often boils down to slowly shooting incoming enemy tanks until they explode. With friends the game can be fun and the customization options to add to the game’s longevity but if I don’t find it engaging I don’t think it succeeded in being a ‘must-play’ game.