If you've ever been lucky enough to find yourself in a major arcade establishment where multiplayer cabinets like Daytona USA, House of the Dead and Jurassic Park set ups were all fighting for your attention, then you know where Tank! Tank! Tank! first saw the light of day.
The bombastic title screen, full of explosions, monsters and tanks, practically begs you to plunge a coin down the non-existant slot. The lack of introductory story, or even reasonable explanation as to where these hostile, towering robots come from is dropped in order to allow you quick access to the game proper.
If you opt to go to war on your own, you're welcomed by quick and extremely sparse instructions. Completely indifferent characters with anime design and three frame animations deliver uninspired lines, that seem like some kind of half-hearted effort to give us some kind of motivation ahead of the battles. They fail.
Thankfully the missions themselves are more enjoyable. A large number of animals and insects have taken a detour at the local robotic factory and served as models for giant mechanised versions equipped with lasers and missiles. Plenty for you to aim at in other words. The controls are extremely simplistic, and you only have to worry about driving and pulling the trigger as the game controls your aim.
Each mission comes with a time limit, and you're given less and less time to complete each mission as the game progresses (after all, that's how you make lots of coins in the arcade business), and you better get used to the frantic pace straight away.
For those who are both quick and efficient there are rewards in the shape of upgrades to your vehicle of choice, as well as fresh tanks for the garage, and while it appears simplistic at first glance, there is more to the system than what first meets the eye.
As you would expect the upgrades provide you with increased health, improved speed, and more powerful weapons, and it works like a charm once you've decided which tank to focus on. New tanks are unlocked once you've earned enough medals - and each vehicle can only earn one medal per mission. In other words you're going to have replay the same missions over and over again with different tanks in order to unlock all the bonus vehicles and the later levels, and this quickly feels like a chore.
It's a good thing you can you can call on help from your friends at all times. The co-operative modes allows for three friends to join in, and you can also compete in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Free for All, and the innovative My Kong mode, that makes good use of the GamePad.
In My Kong the player who uses the GamePad takes on the role of a mechanical King Kong, and your objective is to squash the player controlled tanks on your little private screen. The simple controls make for a game where almost anyone can join in, which adds to the experience. Another nice touch is the option of snapping a photo of yourself you can glue on your mechanical ape. It may be simple fun, but it amuses nonetheless.
In spite of its accessible nature and entertaining multiplayer, Tank! Tank! Tank! is a game best experienced within the confines of an arcade hall, where a game is expected to provide short intense bursts of gameplay that may not have much lasting appeal. The hunt for medals comes across something placed on top of the game to prevent the player from running through the content within the hour. It feels laboured and contrived.
If you plan on waging war online with friends and enjoy the idea of seeing their faces glued onto their tanks, well then you're in for the best part of the Tank! Tank! Tank! experience. But it's simply not enough of a reason to take a closer look at this tank-heavy launch title.