In the heyday of gaming (by which I mean early 90's) going to the arcade meant getting a chance to play the latest and greatest games long before they would be available on home consoles, this meant playing stuff like Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, Air Combat, Ridge Racer, and a variety of racing games and it was good. These days arcade games need to be pretty unique to draw an audience and Namco's Tank! Tank! Tank! is one of those kinds of games. The vertical screen presentation, coupled with the hectic multiplayer made it seem like a title that was destined to stay in arcades. Now that it has been released on the WiiU, I kind of wish it had stayed there. Somewhere along the way, the magic of playing this game in arcades was lost in this port. It offers a slightly deeper single player experience thanks to the new story mode but this is one game that just can't get by on being quirky alone.
Tank! Tank! Tank! is a port of a lesser known arcade title that many people out there reading this review have probably never encountered. I know of one place in Southern California with this game and have played it on a number of occasions with friends. So why am I so down in the dumps about this port? It could be the lack of awesome arcade aesthetics, it could be the almost chore-like setup of a match, or it could be that this game just doesn't have lasting power outside of a few rounds of play. It might as well be all of those things, since playing Tank! Tank! Tank! petered out quickly when the option was between it and Nintendo Land.
There's definitely been some additions to the game since porting it to the WiiU, like the story mode, which is a plus, though I can't say that requiring gamers to play through the same stage multiple times with different tanks is a solid way to increase play time. The story mode has a lot of tanks available for unlocking, and each can be leveled up with experience earned at the end of each stage. These stages will require players to either slaughter a tons of weakling enemies or pit them against massive boss-like creatures and if this game has taught me anything, it's that you never stop shooting. The actual story isn't much more than character discussion between each mission and doesn't add much to the overall experience.
Playing through the story mode isn't particularly hard, it's more repetitive than anything, mainly because levels are locked behind medal requirements. You gain medals for beating stages with different tanks, and will require multiple plays of the same stages with different tanks before new levels unlock. Each level doesn't take more than two to three minutes to play through but it does get old rather quickly to have to fight the same creatures over and over again. If these tanks were accessible in multiplayer as a result I could see the use behind this, but unfortunately multiplayer only has one tank type.
The multiplayer is what players would have experienced in arcades, along with a few extra modes of play specifically built for the WiiU. The normal multiplayer pits up to four players against a normal horde of enemies, then against a boss character, and if the team does well enough, a third stage featuring a hidden boss. This mode take a bit more setup time than its arcade counterpart thanks to the fact that players have to pass the WiiU gamepad around so it can take photos of players. Thankfully Namco was smart enough to allow photos taken to be stored so that they can easily be accessed later. The number of options available for setting up your portrait is actually pretty surprising and goes a long way toward giving players a sense of identity when playing. Seeing their portrait pop up during gameplay is useful when coordinating attacks.
The additional gameplay modes in multiplayer include team deathmatch, free-for-all, and My Kong. My Kong is perhaps the best addition to multiplayer. It lets the player holding the WiiU gamepad play as a giant robotic ape who has to take down the other players. The other players must work together to take down the giant ape while he swats, stomps, and crushes their tanks. It's actually surprisingly hard to take down the ape as he gets progressively stronger as he incurs more damage. It's kind of disappointing that playing multiplayer is a pretty one-dimensional experience and doesn't offer players much more than its arcade counterpart.
The visuals of Tank! Tank! Tank! are simplistic but colorful and remind me of Earth Defence Force 2017, with its destructible environments and oversized monsters. The framerate gets pretty choppy when a bunch of stuff starts showing up on screen which is kind if disappointing considering how simple the graphics are. This game tries to amp up the action with an overactive announcer that has to announce everything that is happening in the game and really it just gets old quick, especially when multiple people are playing.
Tank! Tank! Tank! is a game that seems to think it's more wacky and fun than it actually is. Behind the announcer who comments on each shot fired and the over the top enemies is a simple shooter that does little to take advantage of the WiiU hardware in any meaningful way. When I played it during E3 I think the initial shock of seeing the game outside of an arcade setting set me up with some pretty unrealistic expectations that the game just couldn't live up to. Or it could be that I was blinded to the short lived potential this game had because I played it in arcades and enjoyed it there. Either way Tank! Tank! Tank! is a pretty pedestrian title that fills a very narrow niche in the WiiU launch window, it's not a bad game, but it's not going to replacing Nintendo Land in my WiiU any time soon.