Battle City Review by: EirinnTanks! It must be fun, right?
Man, you just have to love a game that puts you behind the wheel of a tank, assuming tanks have steering wheels. In any case, it can't be denied that there's something awesome about getting to control a virtual tank, and blast away at enemies and buildings, like a maniac. Well, battle city has done nothing to take away from that experience, so all of you fans of 8 bit warfare and explosions, jump on board, and be prepared for one very interesting ride.
Battle City is an interesting blend of action, strategy, and puzzle, with a hint of shooter mixed in. It reeks of 4 bit to 8 bit transition, like so many of the early NES titles. By that, I mean that you can easily tell that it was coming out of an era dominated by one-level games, and developers seemed to still be getting their bearings in the new systems market, and learning to expand beyond the comfort zone of Pac-Man and Space Invader-esque games. Soon this expansion would allow for games as open as Maniac Mansion, as vast-worlded as The Legend of Zelda, and as long as Super Mario Bros, but for now, developers were still learning the ropes. For examples of more games like this, I give you Burger Time, and Bubble Bobble. And while Bubble Bobble and Battle City were later releases, they still had that feel. Perhaps some devs were just behind, or afraid to take that step away from their comfortable classics, and that definitely isn't a bad thing! This game delivers that classic feel, while managing to dabble in the new waters of freedom offered by the NES, and I think it made a pretty nice combination of the two, personally.
The gameply controls are simple: D-pad to move, A button (Not A key) to fire. It's easy to learn, but a little more challenging to master.
So now for judgement time, I suppose. Let's see how Battle City stands up against the competition of the fledgling game industry.
Sadly, the graphics here are less than impressive. The sprites are rather crude, but you can tell what they're supposed to be, without any trouble, so the lack of detail doesn't mess with the game in any way, it just makes it less appealing visually. Still, I can't think of many NES games with less detail in the sprites than we have in the tank and wall sprites here. I will say that the tree(?) sprites look cool, as do the lattice(?) sprites, but if my "(?)"s didn't give it away, I'm not even sure if that's what they were supposed to be or not. But at least they look cool...whatever they are. Right?
The tiny little explosions are fun, and quite honestly, I enjoy them a lot. Unfortunately, they aren't that great either, and much better effects were done by games of it's time.
The level designs are nice later on in the game, even though they are obviously only new tiles filling up the little box that all of the game takes place in. Hey, I told you it reeked of 4 bit influence, didn't I?
I really wish I could find something better to say about these graphics than "they look cool", but Namco really didn't give me anything to work with here, and at times, you can't even tell what some of the effects are supposed to be at all.
-The unidentifiable sprites look cool...whatever they are.
-Blatant tile rearrangements or not, the later levels are fun to see and play in.
Where's the beef...er...I mean, music? Don't come here looking for any. You get an opening tune, and a game over tune, and that's just about it. Anybody but me smell "Atari 2600"? Yeah, more 4 bit transition stuff right there.
Sound effects? Uh...yeah, we don't really get many of those either. Still, what we do have is good enough. The explosions are about average, but the motor sounds are great. The thing that stands out to me is that the motor idles and sounds a lot different than when you're driving. A small thing, but it actually makes a big difference, especially if we're going to be hearing nothing but motor sounds only interrupted by the occasional 8 bit explosion.
-Hummmm hum hum hum Yeah, motor noises actually made the highlight list for the sounds. Not saying much for the game's sound, eh?
Yep, no story, which is really sad. By this time, we were seeing games with stories in them, but again, it seems like Namco was still toying with these new fangled systems. "It looks like a toaster, but I shoved my bread in there this morning, and five minutes later, it was still cold!". Who knows what they were doing, but then, who cares? The game is still fun, even if it is a little behind it's time.
Ah, now we finally get to praise the game for it's strengths! I've been waiting for this part a lot longer than I had anticipated before this review started. Battle City offers us a lot to do, and far more than most other NES games did.
We get two modes: one and two player. Pretty basic, right? But I was a little surprised to see that the two player mode is co-op, and offers simultaneous two player action.
We also have a total of thirty-five levels to play through. Good work, Namco. They also thought of the player when they allowed for level s
elect, which also makes this more of a game about high scores, than a game about finishing every level. To s
elect what level you want to play in, all you have to do is press the A button to go up a level, and B to go down a level, and press Start to, well, start.
Now for my favorite part! There's a level editor mode! Yes, you read that right, you can actually make your own level, using those tiles we discussed earlier. This, in my book, more than makes up for the lack of variation in the different level designs. I could personally spend a good hour editing my own level, and then I to get to play on it and see if it plays like I imagined it would or not...which it never does for me the first time in any game's level editor. Better luck to you level designer hopefuls.
-Simultaneous multiplayer co-op!
-A level editor! How cool is that?
With thirty five levels to conquer, two player co-op mode, and a level editor that allows for seemingly endless level possibilities, how could this game not score high in this category? I know I'll be coming back for more soon. It's stupid simple: drive a tank, shoot things, stay alive, protect your base. That's it, yet somehow, it stays fun in that charming 4 bit way. So while you may not play it for long periods of time, you will have plenty to come back to with Battle City.
-Blow things up. Enough said.
-Simple gameplay that doesn't require much time to play, but manages to pull you back for more everytime.
I started to rate this a seven because it's a trick to beat every level in one run, but it offers a level s
elect, so that obviously wasn't the goal of the game. The goal is simply to have fun and get the highest score that you can.
Then I started to give it a four, because, even though it's just about high scores, some levels are a bit challenging. But then some people will still try to beat every level, and a four would be decieving for them.
So after a while of arguing with myself openly, and trying to convince the nice men with the white coat, that my neighbors called on me when they saw me nearly shove myself to the ground during said argument, that I didn't need to go with them, I finally agreed with myself that a five would be a good compromise. And so here we are with a review.
-Stupid simple gameplay, yet plenty of challenge if you want it.
While Battle City offers us next to nothing worth mentioning by way of graphics, sound, or story, it does offer us plenty of depth, addictiveness, and what really matters: fun. That's right, this game is fun despite it's flaws, and in the end, isn't that really what matters in any game?
So should you try Battle City? Yes. Especially if you're into games of this style. It reminds me a little of Bomberman, only with tanks. So bomberman on steroids, pretty much, but this time it comes with a level editor, and two modes. In the end, Battle City is a fun game that's more reminiscent of the 4 bit era than the 8 bit era it came from, but it's fun to play, and one game that I'm glad I found.