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Tank! Tank! Tank! Rocks! Rocks! Rocks!

Force feedback makes Namco Bandai's latest arcade title a must play.

 

With a name like Tank! Tank! Tank!, you might expect Namco Bandai's latest arcade title to be all about piloting a tank and blowing things up. And that's actually pretty accurate.

At the Amusement Machine Show on Thursday, the company made note of the game's simplicity. You make use of a steering wheel, pedals for forward and reverse movement, and a fire button -- and that's it! As you face off against giant insects and rubber monster-inspired beasts, all you have to worry about is getting your vehicle lined up for the shot, then fire away. The game even takes care of vertical aiming for you.

The game offers three play options: a four player co-op mode, an every man for himself battle mode, and a team battle mode. At the AM Show, the co-op mode came recommended by the Namco Bandai reps, so everyone seemed to be trying that.

The co-op demo stage began with a fight against insects who were invading a city. After killing 100, you advance to the next stage, facing off against a single giant octopus creature who sticks out its arms to grab your fellow players.

While all this may seem like standard fare as far as an arcade combat game goes, Tank! Tank! Tank! is anything but standard. From afar, you can tell there's something a bit unique about the sit-down cabinet. The screen is tall and narrow -- even more narrow than the screen you'd find in a vertical shooter. Namco's promotional materials for the game say that the tall screen helps contribute to the intensity. This may very well be the case, as your perspective when seated has you looking up at the action. This works well with the intensity of the on-screen action, as every shot you make makes buildings collapse.

But the real attraction of the title is something that you'll only experience by sitting down for a try yourself. The game has a powerful force feedback system, which makes not just the steering wheel, but the seat shake with every shot. The kickback on the seat in particular is powerful. It's so powerful, in fact, that the cabinet has a button that lets you toggle it off.

You have access to a variety of weapons both scattered about the stages and dropped by enemies after you kill them (your allies also drop weapons when they're killed). Each weapon provides a different feedback feel. Get a machine gun, and your seat will be in constant motion -- until the weapon runs out of ammo, of course.

The seat feedback alone makes Tank! Tank! Tank! a must-play experience, but the game has some additional features which could keep players coming back. Prior to starting play, you're given a chance to take your portrait and apply it to a variety of different face frames. Your image appears above your tank, allowing your fellow players to identify you. This is similar to something Namco Bandai did with its Mario Kart arcade game.

Namco Bandai is also equipping the game with network functionality. The title will see periodic updates, adding new enemies, stages, and portrait frames. Players will also be able to take part in rankings which tally the total amount of destruction at the regional level.

The main attraction is the feedback, though, and it made Tank! Tank! Tank! the most enjoyable experience of this year's AM Show. If you see the tall screen in a game center near you some day, do not hesitate to give it a try.

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