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GoNintendo "End of day" thoughts - Tanks! makes Wii Play worth it

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Wii Play has been getting a ton of bad to mediocre review scores recently. I can’t say that I disagree with them. We have all heard the joke that Wii Play is a Wiimote that comes with a game as well. It’s no secret that most of us picked up Wii Play simply to get our hands on another Wiimote. Those suckers are still hard to find, as are Nunchucks. Too bad one of those didn’t come packaged as well! So now you have your Wiimote, but you also have Wii Play. There are a couple games worth some time, such as Laser Hockey, Billiards, and even Charge! (cow racing) I played through single player just to unlock everything. The very last game that popped up happened to be Tanks!. Rather unimpressed with the package as a whole, I thought I would give Tanks! a play, and then be done with it. Boy, was I completely wrong.

Tanks! seems like it is a very simple game at first look. You play as a tiny tank in a maze of wooden blocks. The camera gives you an overhead view of the entire board. The objective of each level is to clear out the enemy tanks. One hit and they blow up, the same goes for you. Your tank has two methods of attack. First off is your basic missile, which can bounce off of one wall before it explodes. Second, you have land mines that you can lay two at a time. You can either wait for these to detonate, or you can shoot them with a missile to set them off. Using a combination of these will help you progress through each level, taking out the opposition to continue on.

Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? After some time spent with Tanks!, you realize how deep the gameplay is. As you complete levels, different tanks are added in. Some are completely stationary, and fire simple missiles like your tank. There are also tanks that move and fire missiles, tanks that fire rockets that can ricochet, fast moving tanks, super fast moving tanks, and so on. Each type of enemy tank calls for a different approach. For example, you don’t really want to attack a group of rocket tanks head on. Their rockets move much faster than you or your missiles can. You also have to take into account the terrain. Level layouts range from giant open areas, to mazes of zigzag blocks. On top of that, there are sections of some walls that are made of corkboard. Missiles can still bounce of these walls, but an explosion from a land mine will blow them up. You constantly have to be on the lookout, and one step ahead of your enemy.

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The art of ricocheting missiles takes the game to entirely new levels. There is so much strategy that goes into this, and that goes for player and AI. Sometimes there are just too many enemy tanks to make a move. This is when you have to start figuring out angles, and trying out ricochet shots. Bouncing a missile across the board into enemy territory, and taking them out is extremely fulfilling. You also have to keep in mind that the enemies’ missiles have the same abilities, so hiding around that far-off corner may not always keep you safe. As you get to the later levels, the tanks with ricochet rockets come into play. These rockets have the ability to bounce off more than one wall. These, combined with fire from other tanks will have you dancing around the level non-stop. At times it seems that nowhere is safe…and that’s because it’s the truth!

Tanks! is also the only mini game in Wii Play that let’s you use the Nunchuck. If you choose to just play with the Wiimote, you will have to steer your tank with the directional pad, while shooting and dropping missiles. If you plug in the Nunchuck, you can move your tank with the analog stick, while firing and dropping land mines with the Wiimote. It all comes down to whatever feels right for you. Perhaps moving and pointing to aim with the Wiimote is just too much for you. Plug in a Nunchuck, and you can separate the movements. Deux Michaels prefers the Wiimote/Nunchuck combination, while I go a bit of a weird route. Instead of using one hand to point the Wiimote and fire with B, I use two hands. I place my left hand thumb over the directional pad to move, use the right hand for firing. I don’t know how uncommon it is, but it just seems silly when I think about it!

I cannot tell you how much time I have poured into Tanks! Deux Michaels came over to the GN warehouse today for some Tanks! action as well. Just the other day Lube, Deux, and I tried out Tanks! for the first time, and immediately became addicted. I kid you not, we (Deux and I) spent a huge chunk of today trying to finish level 20. Single player gives you a set amount of lives to complete the game, and you can pick up more along the way. Two player gives you one tank for the entire length of the game. If both of you die on the same level, it’s game over. If one of you dies in one level, you cannot come back until the next. There’s nothing quite like the tension of making it towards the end of the 20 levels only to blow up with a stupid mistake. It puts the pressure on your friend like none other. Deux and I were both screaming at the TV during certain points. Tanks! becomes a very vocal game when played with a friend! No matter what, we couldn’t get enough of Tanks!. Every time I would take my update breaks, we would fire the game up to try reach level 20. We did manage to make it once, but we weren’t ready for what awaited us. We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening trying to make it back there…but it never happened. The game is the perfect mix of frustration and addiction. We kept making it so far only to die a couple levels away from the end. Even while being angry with ourselves, we couldn’t help but start up another round.

Did I mention that after you complete 20 rounds, you find out that there are actually 100 total to make it through?! We are talking more new tanks, different levels, and many more buckets of sweat. I am going to do my best to try and make it to level 100 this weekend on single player. I know it isn’t going to happen, but it will be fun trying! There is just so much to do in Tanks!, both single and multiplayer. The game isn’t about your final score as Wii Play wants you to think. It is about making it to the end, clearing all the levels. Multiplayer keeps track of who blows up the most tanks, but trust me, it won’t matter to you and your friend. Your only focus will be making it through to level 20 the first time. Hopefully Deux and I will have the chance to brag about that sometime soon, as small as an achievement it is.

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Nintendo has a brilliant game on their hands, and they need to keep it going. An update to Tanks! would be the best way for Nintendo to launch this “new downloadable games channel” that they say is in the works. Give me an update to Tanks!, but keep the same gameplay. Varied terrains, different styles of tanks (but same abilities), more enemy tanks, power-ups, and of course more levels. While they are at it, add in the option for four player, as well as online co-op play…maybe even a battle mode. The game was practically made to be a downloadable feature. It’s not like the file size would have to be huge, but the overall game would give you hours upon hours of game time.

If you haven’t tried Tanks!, you are really missing out. Single player or with a friend, Tanks! is where it’s at. In the headline of this story, I said that Tanks! makes Wii Play worth a purchase. If Wii Play was being sold without a Wiimote for $50, I would say that the game is way overpriced. On the other hand, Nintendo could have given me a Wiimote and Wii Tanks!, and the $50 would be well spent. I believe that Tanks! really is worth a $10 investment. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that this isn’t the first and last time Tanks! appears on a Nintendo platform.

I’ve been dying to write about Tanks! all day long. I really want the word to spread on the title, especially the idea of an expanded downloadable version. Well, now that I got that out of my system I am off to bed. Leave a comment, let me know if you are a Tanks! fan as well! I will make sure to check once I wake up. I’ll catch you guys in a few hours, have a great Saturday morning.


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