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Tank! Tank! Tank! review: Tread on your head


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The thesis of Tank! Tank! Tank!, I think, is that it's fun to crush your friends' faces. Or blast them. Either one works. Tank Tank Tank (henceforth rendered without exclamation points), allows its players to photograph themselves with the Wii U GamePad. These photos come complete with carnival-style cutouts (military helmets, pirate hats, tiger faces, etc), and once the photo is taken, the images are attached to each player's in-game tank.

It's a simple feature, but significantly adds to Tank Tank Tank's limited level of entertainment. Without it, you'd just be blasting tanks and monsters. With it, you're blasting the snarling face of your brother-in-law wearing a lucha libre mask.

Gallery: Tank! Tank! Tank! (TGS 2012) | 12 Photos

Still, as enjoyable as it is to gun down your friends' goofy photographs, that's about all there is to Tank Tank Tank. There's a story mode of sorts, which tasks you with shooting robotic monsters instead of your buddies. And there are plenty of robots to shoot. Robo-mantises, robo-bees, robo-dragons, robo ... heads. Robo-you-name-it.

In every level, you have a set time limit to destroy a certain number of enemies, or to take down a single, giant mechanical monstrosity. This amounts to steering your tank with the left stick or D-pad and firing your cannon with literally any button that isn't - or +.

Tank Tank Tank is supposed to be incredibly simple though. It started life as an arcade game, after all. In that regard, it succeeds, though certain design decisions are bound to annoy. For one, you automatically equip any power-up your tank comes across, regardless of whether or not it's more powerful than the one you already have. Also, despite each tank having a rotating turret – one of the advantages of being a tank – you're unable to move in one direction while shooting in another, so no strafing here.

You'll unlock new tanks as you progress through the single-player mode, each with different attributes (speed, health) and a different set of weapons. Unfortunately, the level progression is boring at best. Once you go through the first seven missions, you discover that you have to earn eight more "medals" to unlock the next mission. The only way to earn more medals is to replay a completed mission with a different tank. Whether you replay a single mission with multiple tanks, or you replay all seven missions with a different tank, you'll be revisiting a lot of content that wasn't that fun the first time around.

Once that's done, it's not very long before Tank Tank Tank does it again, only this time requiring even more medals before the next set of missions is unlocked. Exacerbating all this is the fact that tanks level up individually. If you have a favorite tank you've been improving, you'll be forced to replay levels with a different one in order to unlock new missions.

If you're playing Tank Tank Tank without friends though, I'd argue you're doing it wrong anyway. The game is best enjoyed with a group, and multiplayer fares much better than single-player. Multiplayer assigns one player to the GamePad, while up to three more can play with Wii Remotes on the TV screen. Everyone is assigned the same type of tank in multiplayer, and its abilities are tied only to whatever power-ups you can find. There are four modes available: co-op, team deathmatch, free-for-all and, hands down the best of the bunch, My Kong.

My Kong turns the GamePad player into a giant robo-gorilla. The best part, as you may have guessed, is that said player gets to plaster his or her face on the gorilla using the GamePad's camera. The GamePad player gets an overhead view of the playing field on the touch screen, while the other three work together to take him out on the TV. The gorilla can pick up tanks, jump on them, squash them with his hand and finally – and I'm not kidding – fart out a devastating butt laser. In fact, if destroying your friends faces isn't the thesis of Tank Tank Tank, it's probably the existence of a butt laser.

While Tank Tank Tank offers up a bit of goofy fun, it's the sort of fun that probably won't last. I'd liken it to the overnight NES Rampage sessions of my youth. Fun for a few hours, better with friends, soon set aside for more complex experiences. It's good in brief blasts, but new Wii U owners looking for a party would be better served by the variety offered in Nintendo Land.

This review is based on a retail copy of Tank! Tank! Tank! for the Wii U, provided by Namco Bandai.

Joystiq's review scores are based on a scale of whether the game in question is worth your time -- a five-star being a definitive "yes," and a one-star being a definitive "no." Read here for more information on our ratings guidelines.

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