Nintendo has published and developed a few eShop exclusives before, and they’re certainly games that can be argued as some of the best for the handheld. Games like Pushmo and BoxBoy!. Tank Troopers is yet another one of those games by Nintendo that is an eShop only release. While it’s not on the level of some previous games that were eShop exclusive, Tank Troopers still has some good things going on with it.
Tank Troopers is an arcade style tank game that features a variety of tank types along with various tank power ups and abilities. The gameplay is straightforward as you’re introduced with a easy to understand tutorial of how the game is played. The multiple tanks featured have various stats on them and can be customized with different paint jobs and troopers, who will grant your tank with unique abilities like speed boosts, healing, or even shooting out bombs.
The game has a single player mode that features 30 missions with different objectives for you to complete. You’ll get the usual take down X-amount of enemies or downing a boss-like tank. There are also some unique ones like guiding a steel ball through multiple gates or shooting down balloons in the air. For these missions you can go through the game with a provided loadout or choose to go through the game with your own custom set up. There’s also a multiplayer feature that supports up to six players through local wireless play, with only one copy of the game being required.
THE GOOD: One of the things I really liked about Tank Troopers is how it controlled. After going through the game’s tutorial, it was quite easy to pick up and play the game. The thing that got me a lot though was the inclusion of tilt controls for aiming. While you can use the joystick to control aiming, you can make use of the 3DS gyro motion for some finer aiming. It also helps a lot with maneuvering your tank and aiming at the same time. While the game is definitely simple, I can certainly say much of my enjoyment with it was due to how well it controlled.
With 30 missions available in the single player mode, there’s definitely stuff to do. Thanks to each mission having their own unique objective, it helped me look forward to what was coming up. Also, the ability to try out missions with a custom loadout invites experimentation and replayability.
While presentation of the game is straightforward, it was also charming. It gives off that feel of a Saturday morning cartoon with the wacky cast of characters present. The title screen music alone gives off a good idea on what type of atmosphere they were going for. It’s just fun.
THE BAD: I found playing the game enjoyable, but a couple decisions hold back the overall experience quite a bit. First off is the lack of online multiplayer. There’s a well designed game here with the easy to pick up tank controls and the concept of equipping tanks with unique abilities. It sounds like it was made for battling with others. So it’s unfortunate that it’s only tied to local play.
That lack of online also hurts the game’s replayability. While 30 missions for single player will provide a few hours of play time, there’s not much incentive to go back, unless you want to unlock everything. And while I do find the various missions fun to go through, if there was just more to it, it would’ve helped shadow the lack of online. Instead it’s just going from one mission to the next without any build up or anything. Lack of a proper storyline here too. There’s an interesting cast of characters here, but no story to tie them all together.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Tank Troopers has potential to be great. As it is, it falls short from that. The lack of online is very unfortunate. While single player was fun, not having a story around it just makes the game feel empty of direction. You can see what this game could’ve been in some of those missions too with the crazy objectives like racing or scoring points by shooting balloons. I hope Nintendo returns to this concept in the future cause I think the game is very well made, especially with how it controls. I just wish they went bigger with the idea, by having online and an engaging storyline. Still, I would actually give Tank Troopers a recommendation for 3DS owners. Maybe not at it’s current price, but if on sale, it’s certainly worth checking out.