When you think of the gold standard by which online shooters are judged these days, Overwatch is obviously the first that comes to mind. I’m not saying that Nintendo had Blizzard’s hit in mind when it set about developing this weird little shooter called Tank Troopers, but it does feel an awful like Nintendo trying to put a spin on that game’s multiplayer modes and basic premises.
To start, Tank Troopers is a portable third-person shooter game in which six players can battle against each other in a variety of modes. Exclusively relying on LAN multiplayer means that not many gamers will have the chance to play one another. Genuine online multiplayer is completely nixed from the package, and local play is not as popular in the States as it is in Japan. Nintendo at least acknowledges this and requires only one friend to own the game in a party, meaning the other five friends can play for free through the Download Play mode… if they own a 3DS.
Those with no immediate friends who own a Nintendo 3DS, like your’s truly, at least have 30 offline missions available to them to get some practice in before trying. Each mission tasks players with completing certain end goals, whether it’s racing, capture the flag, destroy everybody else, reach a certain point within a time-limit, or shoot the most balloons down from the sky. Like Overwatch, Nintendo crams an awful lot of gameplay modes into the simple setup, and while I haven’t gotten around to the multiplayer, I assume that each of these offline modes exists as a preview into what it has to offer.
Nintendo also puts a typical stamp on this game by having it take place entirely within tanks. The company has never been one to create a straight-up third person shooter, and Tank Troopers has all the hallmarks of one of these offbeat Nintendo attempts. It requires finesse, timing, and skill to directly hit an opponent as opposed to a chaotic spray of machine gun bullets. Shots can only be fired one at a time before they must be reloaded, and players must learn to master how to swap between steering the tank with only frontal aiming at their disposal and Turret Mode, which lets players aim a full 360 degrees.
Turning with the proper speed, leading enemies in your sights, adjusting for the speed of tank shells, considering your surroundings, and maximizing points. There is a lot to think about when playing this mini-shooter, and as usual, Nintendo tucks a lot of strategy under deceptively simple controls. Comparisons to Super Smash Bros. are casting a little too much praise in its direction, but you get the idea.
There is more to this game that meets the eye.
Aside from the multiple gameplay modes, the other big comparison to Overwatch comes from the different characters. Each of them was drawn with a unique personality in mind, and each of them bring a certain skill to the battlefield. Some reload faster, some hit harder, some speed around making them difficult to hit. There’s even a soldier that will cover your opponent’s screen with ink, the obvious troll choice of the lot.
Creating a balanced team is a must when taking on others, and those unable to dish out enough damage or unable to drive fast enough will be at a disadvantage when it comes to overwhelming three enemy opponents.
Tank Troopers is a fine little game. It’s definitely not worth $8 for the single player missions alone, but with enough friends, I could see it becoming a go-to game for a quick match on game night. There is hidden strategy here, but I don’t think the game will catch on strong enough for any community to really dig deep enough into. Give it a try, maybe pull straws to see which of your buddies has to be the one to drop the $8 so everyone can mooch off of him.
It’s light, inoffensive, portable fun and an obvious attempt by Nintendo to jump in on the multiplayer-only craze. If you overlook it or are not interested, I can’t blame you for that either. This recommendation comes with a bit of a caveat. I enjoyed my time with it, but it’s not something I think I’d ever play on my own or with six hypothetical friends who own a Nintendo 3DS.
If you’re a Japanese kid who plays with his or her friends in the part all the time, though, this might be the game for you!