Atari 2600

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 7

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

"Battlezone" has to be one of the nicer cabinets to come out of the early 80's. Peeping through what looked like the small window of a tank, you were instantly immersed in a world of green wireframe goodness. Obviously the home experience doesn't quite match up, but the gameplay has been captured within reason.

Taking over the reigns of some sort of super-tank, player must maneuver the massive metal hull around the landscape, immediately firing on enemies when they make themselves visible on the horizon. Enemy tanks in two different forms are the biggest threat, turning to face players the moment they figure out you're close. Planes pull of the kamikaze attack, zigzagging their way directly into the screen until they hit their mark. The oddity out there is the UFO, a large but wildly active target worth a nice chunk of points.

Lasting longer than 5-minutes at a stretch in this memorable home port is an accomplishment. Enemies constantly pop-up on the radar directly behind the player's position and missing even a single shot is generally deadly. Being surrounded is just excruciating, requiring precision firing and quick maneuvering to find a way out. Nothing is more infuriating than turning the tank around only to find a bullet an inch from the screen.

Even with the wireframe models gone, the sprites do an admirable job conveying the same sense of movement. There is generally a large amount of action on-screen at once including the tank treads, grassland, and enemies all in motion. Everything scales the best it can considering the hardware, but the trade off is a rather small screen to do all of this. You'll see a lot of black area around the playfield but if it stops flickering and disappearing enemies, the trade-off is a worthwhile one.

Besides the brief music clip once you enter into the game, sound effects are rather sparse. The tank rolls along with a decent rumble, but the usual round of explosions is hardly impressive. Still, it's amazing how a simple sound effect, that of an enemy firing from somewhere off screen, can send players into a desperate frenzy.

Frustrating as it may be, "Battlezone" is still a blast today even after the likes of "Battletank" on the 16-bit consoles. The simplicity gives the proceedings a sense of urgency, knowing death is always just a radar blip away. Yes, the arcade version is a better game, but you can find this one on E-Bay for a dollar. I'm sure that decision is an easy one.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:09 AM