Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo’s recently announced ‘Tank Troopers’ for the 3DS boasted a style similar to ‘World of Tanks’ with an enjoyable multiplayer and a fun, destruction-based campaign. Throw in a gallery of wacky characters to help you reign down fire on your path to victory and you’ve got an addicting “blow-em-up” adventure for anyone who gets their hands on it. Unfortunately, ‘Troopers’ doesn’t actually deliver on…any of that.
While the game has a few admirable qualities, you can’t help but cringe at the way the overall mechanics are assembled. Between the controls, weapons, and essentially non-existent multiplayer, ‘Tank Troopers’ is shaping up to be one of the most easily forgotten titles of the year.
The movement controls are especially frustrating, even if you take the time to practice
Even while learning the game, problems are obvious from the start. For something seemingly geared for children, the controls are counterintuitive and irrational; imagine something akin to patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time: ‘A’ to move forward and ‘B’ to reverse, along with using the D-Pad, while the joystick aims the cannon AND steers your tank, which also requires you to aim and reposition the motion cameras (meaning you constantly have to hold your 3DS upright). The whole process is a headache and a half and makes gameplay unbearable.
The game attempts to push you towards taking the time to learn the intricacies of the controls, giving you several options to help hone your tank skills in the form of mini-games. It makes sense on paper, but the practice you acquire with aiming, steering, etc. doesn’t seem to do much good when the real gameplay requires you to keep all those aspects in mind at once, but in a less practical way. Despite the attempt to make things challenging, it simply falls flat and just makes things more irritating. Many games thrive on difficulty and a steep learning curve, but ‘Troopers’ doesn’t exactly know how to incorporate that into something fun and sensible.
Playing with tank weapons should be way more fun than they are here
With the movement system so flawed, it goes without saying the weapons are frustrating and nearly impossible to use. Your main cannon does virtually no damage, has no real weight or satisfying kick when it's fired, and comes with a 5-6 second cooldown, which is a massive hindrance in a game like this. Despite the fact that tank warfare games would sensibly be lacking in rapid fire weaponry, the construct of ‘Troopers’ doesn’t benefit from the artillery you’re given in any capacity. You might find yourself having marginally more fun destroying some of the surrounding stationary objects like houses and rock formations just for the power-ups hidden inside.
The characters you have to choose from, however, allow you to vary between different weapon options and styles, but throughout the main campaign, those toons act more like ultimate abilities, which means you can only use them few and far between. Most of the time, you’re left with your basic boring cannon.
Customizing tanks and toons might be a cool element, but good luck showing it off in the multiplayer
One of the selling points of the game is the multiplayer option via local wireless. You’re able to select from a multitude of characters, ranging from healers to heavy artillery, as well as customizing a large selection of tanks with different skins. All this does give the game a certain level of end game re-playability. Unfortunately, unless you’re near a friend or passerby who also has the game, you won’t be able to partake. This isn’t necessarily a turn-off, but it’s an entire element of the game that isn’t accessible unless you can convince your friends to throw down the eight bucks.
Luckily, the game does have a “download play” feature, which allows friends to join in, even if they haven’t purchased it. While this attention to detail is admirable, it still means you need to be with your friends that own a 3DS, and a full team consists of six total people. Without the benefit of being in a room with five other people, all with a 3DS and even a remote interest in playing the game, you’re pretty much on your own.
‘Tank Troopers’ is easily one of the least playable games available for the 3DS, at least in recent memory. The maneuverability alone is a frustrating, cumbersome endeavor, leaving the game with virtually no saving grace, other than the minor customization aspect and character selection. Simply “getting used to it” never really seems worth the trouble considering the actual gameplay consists of nothing more than find the enemies, blow them up, repeat, outside of the practice mini-games. The overall sport to the game is lackluster and unimaginative, while the controls themselves are completely illogical. It isn’t even accurate to say it feels “unfinished” because there’s definitely a full game here, it’s just not any good.