A Garry Kitchen Joint
PUBLISHER: Absolute Entertainment
DEVELOPER: Absolute Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: September 1990
Taken as a calm meditation on what it means to be a tank driver in a barren wasteland, Battle Tank is a rousing success. Taken as a tank sim marketed to children with the attention span of mentally handicapped apes, Battle Tank is a horrible failure. So which is it? Let’s look at the facts: it’s obviously a spiritual sequel to the old arcade/Atari game, Battlezone, which wowed people at the time with its vector graphics. It was only made by a few people and they were obviously proud of the game, hence the credits at the beginning. The epic intro, which shows dozens of tanks rumbling across a vast desert amidst a melancholic soundtrack, would imply that the developers are taking war, and this game, seriously.
You are BATTLE TANK, the only tank in the entire presumably U.S. army who can take down… other tanks and helicopters and enemy fuel stations. Your enemy remains nameless, but this game was released in 1990, so… I’m gonna go ahead and guess Iraq, or perhaps, the Middle East as a whole. The poorly rendered surroundings would seem to suggest as much. You do battle mostly in the desert, with the occasional venture into greener pastures. Outside of the intro, no music accompanies your journey. You are left to silently contemplate your actions as you blow “the enemy” away with your 150 mm cannon. There are only ten missions in the game, and while they do become more challenging, the game feels short. Since all missions are essentially the same – find stuff, blow it up – I can see why Battle Tank was poorly received at the time.
I wouldn’t pay five dollars for this game, and I really doubt it qualifies as an authentic tank sim, but I think I enjoyed my time with Battle Tank nevertheless. There was something strangely Zen about the whole experience; like if The Thin Red Line had been about Gulf War tank drivers, instead of World War II. While you can press Start to bring up the map and find the location of the enemy, I recommend just driving around for awhile and pondering the meaning of your existence. At the very least, Battle Tank feels different than most NES action games. I respect that.