Tanks for the memories, Vitei!
Developer Vitei is by no means a household name like other studios that have worked with Nintendo, but some may be familiar with its work on the Steel Diver series. Its most recent game is the Nintendo 3DS eShop exclusive Tank Troopers, a game brimming with personality, right from its whimsical and grin-inducing variety of a wartime ditty. Though lacking a crucial feature for a game like this, Tank Troopers ends up being a worthwhile game with plenty to offer for its modest price.
First off, let's get to what I alluded to in the introduction-- the really bad part of Tank Troopers, a baffling omission that might make many prospective buyers of the game completely dismiss it. That omission is that Tank Troopers totally lacks any kind of online multiplayer. It's absolutely crazy that a game that would work so well and have its life extended so greatly through online multiplayer does not have it whatsoever, especially when Vitei's past work, Steel Diver: Sub Wars included it. Instead, all that is present in Tank Troopers is local play for six players who all own a copy of the game and download play, which allows one owner of the game to play with up to five others who do not own a copy. The latter mode is quite limited, only offering one map and everyone being stuck with the same tank with no choice in the matter.
Local multiplayer offers three main modes across five maps, all of the maps seen in the single-player experience, which I'll talk about in just a little but. Taking out opponent tanks and dealing damage is the main draw of the multiplayer, and it supports three main modes: a mode pitting all tanks against one another, a team-based deathmatch mode, and a cool Bomb Battle mode, where teams try to push and roll a bomb into the opposing team's base.
|Tankfully-- I mean... Thankfully, you can team up in one of the three available local multiplayer modes.|
The 30 missions seen in Tank Troopers have a great variety to them. There are simple missions where you need to destroy a certain number of tanks, ones where you need to reach the goal, ones where you take on a monster-sized tank with both great offense and astonishing defense, ones where you need to defend a base, and many others. These missions have two forms: one where you take orders, meaning you're stuck with a specific tank and set of helper characters; and one where you're able to select whichever tank and series of troopers you like. With both forms, there's the need to complete each mission twice, once in each mode. Weirdly, even if you've already unlocked all of the missions in one form, you still need to complete the missions in order in the other form.
|This shipyard area is one of the five available maps in Tank Troopers.|
|And here I thought *I* had a big tank!|
Additionally, each tank can support a handful of troopers in it, called upon by tapping their icon on the bottom screen. This engages them, giving your tank a special perk or ability for as long as that trooper's gauge has some juice in it. The gauge depletes automatically over time and much more so when your tank takes damage. Once a trooper's gauge has been depleted, it takes a little while for it to recharge, allowing you to call them back into action. The troopers' abilities range in both offensive and defensive bonuses. Some unleash larger, more devastating bullets at targets, some shoot out a ball of paint that partially covers the damaged player's screen, while others give tanks a quick boost of speed to travel across the battlefield faster, or slowly regenerates the health of a tank.
|Trooper Big Gunnar's name is fitting due to the super-sized shells he shoots out when called upon.|
While it's definitely obvious that the lack of online multiplayer undercuts some of the value of Tank Troopers, the content-rich single-player experience (though lacking a story that ties it all together), the ability to try to S-Rank each of the game's 30 missions, and the constant gathering of currency to buy new tanks, paint jobs, and troopers make for a digital game that for me made the game very much worth its $7.99 price tag. Jump into a tank and start unloading rounds into the enemy, soldier!
[SPC Says: B-]