Vector Tanks in Review – Old School Has A New Face

vectortanks1There was an old NBA Jam machine in my local deli. Word got around that if you pressed a certain combination of buttons and joystick directions, you would be able to access a small game called Battlezone. As the forefather of Vector Tanks, there is much that is taken from the game: The wireframe graphics, the feel of the controls, the smell of cheesesteaks on the grill (ok, maybe not that one). Yet, Vector Takes take the original formula and kicks it like its 2009… which it is.

vectortanks2The first thing that strikes you is the look of the game. The graphics are intentionally done in wireframe/vector graphics style. While this may not appeal to the younger, graphics intensive crowd, or the older generation of gamers it has a kitsch appeal. Peter Hirschberg also did a good job in bringing a retro feel to the sound. The cannon shots, the sound of the turns, the rumble of the engine’s roar they are all faithful to the aural paradigms set before. Playing this game actually brought me back to the old days of standing around, pumping quarter after quarter into a machine while wearing my B.U.M. t-shirt sporting an undercut.

vectortanks3The one area where Vector Tank does separate itself from games like Battlezone is in the inclusion of power-ups. You have shields that can reflect enemy fire and lasts for a limited amount of time. There is also the rapid fire power-up that acts like a machine gun and is also limited by time. Then there is the nuke. You have one shot to catch as many enemy tanks in a mushroom cloud of shock-wave goodness. The other interesting aspect of the nuke is that it can destroy obstacles that are placed throughout.

vectortanks4Destroying the enemy tanks and jeeps (which do not fire back, but are significantly faster than you) and avoiding the land-mines is accomplished using a unique control scheme. Peter Hirschberg does a good job in translating a tank’s dual tread movement with the use or a dual throttle scheme. The left and right strips on your screen control their respective tank tread. It may take a little getting used to, but once you do it feels natural.

The issue I do have with the control scheme is the firing mechanism. You have to press the center of the screen to fire. What this does is take one of your fingers off the movement controls. It also has the disadvantage of blocking your field of vision. You don’t know if that enemy tank you fired on is firing back at you.

vectortanks5Being a reinterpretation of a classic arcade game, the inclusion of these power ups did much to change the dynamics of the experience but at the end of you experience, the formula remains the same. Vector Tanks, at heart, is an quarter slots arcade game. While this may not be a bad thing, clamoring to gain a high score that doesn’t even record your name may not be appealing to most people. Also, with no missions, no upgradability, no introduction to an increase of difficulties or challenges, no variety of enemies, the only appeal is the standard gameplay.

As is, Vector Tanks is a great arcade game that does retain that quarter slot machine feel. For those who remember playing Battlezone and liking it, this is a definite must-get. For those who need more than what Vector Tanks currently offer, there has been mention of future update plans. So if you don’t plan on purchasing this now, I say keep an eye out for future updates because then it would definitely be worth it.

Unlike other reviews, I am holding off on giving this a rating. That is because as is, due to the minimalist content and the firing mechanism, i would give this a “Tap It” (For those unfamiliar with the system, this is a 3 out of 5). With the promise of updates and the great potential (and Vector Tanks does have great potential), this App could easily be a “Grab It” (4 out of 5) or a “Kiss it” (5 out of 5).

App Summary
Title: Vector Tanks (v1.0) Developer: Peter Hirschbergr (Published by Chillingo)
Price: $2.99 App Size: 3.3 mb
  • Faithful Rendition of a Classic
  • Power Ups
  • Kitsch Appeal
  • Only One High Score Slot
  • Shallow Gameplay
  • Firing Mechanism


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