[Review] Tank Troopers
Posted on February 18, 2017 by Jakob Vujovic(@jakovujo) in 3DS eShop, Reviews
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: February 16, 2017
Developer: Vitei / Nintendo
Tank Troopers is strong in many of the same ways Steel Diver was good, so it wasn’t surprising to see that Vitei (the developer that assisted development on that title) made this. Comparing a game’s strengths to the infamously barebones 3DS launch title isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, and for as many strengths it shares, those weaknesses are also present – even if to a lesser extent. There’s just not a lot of stuff to do, even if it does have some of the dichotomy of cutesy war charm of the World War I dogfighting game Snoopy Flying Ace.
In Tank Troopers, you control a toylike cartoon tank. The basic controls work really well here – but remember, this is still a tank. It’s clear that a lot of care went into the controls and this isn’t just a low effort throwaway 3DS title. As far as literal tank controls go, they feel good with just enough subtle mechanical nuance to leave room for more advanced play. Small details like the specific arc of projectiles volleyed out of the cannon, the changes of your maximum cannon aim height depending on slope and acceleration, a really light degree of gyro aim mixed with a very subtle autoaim show a level of mechanical polish that deserves more content than what’s actually there.
It’s not quite as anemic as Steel Diver and since this is a digital-only title instead of a full price retail game, it isn’t as offensively lacking. There is a lot of objective variety in each of its thirty brief single-player missions. That alone makes it a solid package, albeit short, which is magnified when considering that a few of these missions just weren’t fun at all. Searching for enemy turrets by radar in an environment that’s covered in Turok levels of fog isn’t fun. Pushing a giant ball with really wonky physics-based movement through a tight environment with a tank, all while under a strict time limit can be infuriating. Most missions are perfectly fine, but these ones come up occasionally and totally ruin the momentum of playing from one level to the next.
The real baffling issue comes in with multiplayer. The only way to play is locally with other 3DS owners. The good news is that it at least supports Download Play, so only one player has to own a copy. I don’t know if Tank Troopers would have a very active online community were that an option, but it feels like an obvious omission regardless. Most people are unlikely to ever really get a chance to play local multiplayer, which is a shame because the tanks feel really good to control.
Vitei has a really good grasp on taking the complex mechanics of piloting war machines and condensing them down into being just complicated enough to feel satisfying on a 3DS. It’s fun to control a tank because it’s never as basic as simple tank controls. To do something as basic as moving in one direction while shooting in another requires changing between various modes and functions of the tank. You’re never idle and it’s satisfying to efficiently manage the functions of your tank. The satisfying challenge of controlling your tank better than other players could’ve made for a really compelling online mode. It’s just unfortunate that it’s not there.
It’s fun to control these tanks and there’s an appropriate amount of care and attention to detail that went into these controls that lend a good amount of depth and complexity. There is a really solid game here. With thirty short missions, I just wish there was more. While local multiplayer and Download Play are well and fine, it just makes online multiplayer an especially glaring exclusion.