The silly Tank! Tank! Tank! name is about as complex as the plot, as in there is none. The first mission starts by indicating "giant mechanical spiders are attacking the city," and throws you into the fray with no other information whatsoever. Why are the spiders mechanized? Where did they come from? These details are deemed insignificant; the only worry is whether the spiders can be eliminated before a timer runs out. When the required number of spiders is eliminated, plenty more are still visible as the stage stats are tallied up. It makes no sense whatsoever.
Blasting the mechanized spiders and other creatures such as gorillas, dinosaurs, and bugs armed to the teeth is either way too easy or frustratingly complex depending upon the scenario. Some levels, such as the second one after the spiders, pit you up against a three-headed boss with no foreplay. The beast must be taken out before the unforgiving timer runs out, and only ammo drops strewn about the battlefield will do the trick.
The problem with battling these boss levels are the tank controls don't allow for strafing and firing simultaneously. The turret can be moved independent of the tank, but as soon as the tank's position moves even an inch, the turret snaps back into its dead center position and cannot be moved again until the tank stops. There's no way to pick up an ammo drop and start blazing trails for the next one while firing at the same time, a lazy design decision that sabotages the control scheme.
The inability to fire while strafing is a shame as the core controls are pretty solid and, when coupled with destructible environments, makes for some generally fun gunplay with tanks. Novice players and kids might even appreciate the forgiving auto-targeting that makes it possible to beat some levels with your eyes closed. They will, however, struggle to beat the clock against the bosses.
As the single-player campaign played alongside a CPU ally or cooperatively with a friend progresses, it becomes obvious fairly quickly that monotony is a major concern. Through the first seven missions, the next mission is unlocked by beating the previous one. A medal is earned for each win and all seems in order. On the eighth mission, the game indicates that 15 medals are required to proceed. You only have seven medals from the previous seven missions. That's a problem, especially so early in the campaign.
Tank! Tank! Tank! requires players to replay each previous level with a different tank, of which there are many unlocked at various medal levels up to nearly 500, in order to get by these roadblocks in the campaign progression that pop up every 6-8 missions or so. To fully play out the game, you're looking at playing each level 20, 30 or 40 times. Granted they are short, but many of the levels are identical save for the mechanized beasts being different colors and slightly more powerful. It's a time sucking trap that isn't worth the effort.
Setting the sloppy campaign aside, publisher Namco Bandai is pushing Tank! Tank! Tank! as a party game and rightfully so. The best this game has to offer is when three or more players get together and play My Kong mode, the only asymmetrical gaming experience on the disc. Here the player with the GamePad gets to be mechanized Kong, complete with a snapshot of their face on the beast if desired, who must take on the other players riding around in their tanks. This is where the party is at, especially for the Kong player who gets to smack around his buds and watch them go flying, but even it starts to grow tiring and redundant before long.
There are three other multiplayer modes which fulfill the status quo and nothing more. They include a four-player cooperative mode that offers some mild fun depending on the company, as well as throwaway two-on-two battle and free-for-all deathmatch bores.
Adding insult to injury, Tank! Tank! Tank! looks like a Wii launch title, not Wii U. It is visually atrocious and something you would expect to have played a decade ago. The ability to snap a picture of players with the GamePad and slap those mug shots above the tanks during gameplay does not make up for the aesthetic shortcomings.
Tank! Tank! Tank! feels like a rushed Wii U launch title ported from the arcade where many ideas and improvements were left on the table. The controls are an insult to a next-generation gaming console, the progression requirements an insult to the value of time and natural disdain for repetition, and the price a joke compared to the likes of similarly priced New Super Mario Bros. U. The bargain bin has a special place for games like this, and I am sure it will end up there soon enough.
- Dan Bradley
Shop for Tank! Tank! Tank! for Wii U at a discounted price from Amazon.com (November 18, 2012 release date).