Ahhhh…Battlezone. This game really takes me back. A 1980 Atari product, and a fine one it is. I can remember when this beauty of a cabinet showed up in my arcade. I had never seen anything like it. Not only did it have some pretty cool side art and marquee, but the controls looked outer-worldly. With the dual-joysticks and the periscope viewer, I felt like I was actually a tank-gunner. Battlezone was always lined with people awaiting their turn, so I spent more time with the Atari 2600 port (awesome on its own), but I was always willing to shove a couple of quarters to try and be all I could be (I normally failed miserably).
For the few of you who haven’t played Battlezone, it’s a 1st-person, vector tank-shooter set on the freaking moon, of all places. Although gravity doesn’t come into play anywhere in the game, so they could have just set it on Earth. But, two aspects of the game probably will explain why they did it this way; One, the background is constant black, giving it a “30 Days of Night” feel to keep you on edge, but I’m sure the reason for this was for the bright green vector lines would show better. Two, they decided to throw flying saucers and tank-sized guided-missiles at you as an extra slice of variety of just shooting other tanks. Anyway, it works well and I now wouldn’t want it any other way. The HUD is all in red, which has your score, number of tanks left, and most importantly, a radar showing you exactly where the next tank is. When it appears directly behind you….MOVE YOUR ASS!! This brings me to…..
…..The object of the game is to manuever your tank around huge geometic shapes, like squares and triangles (that can also be used as shields), all while avoiding tank-fire and setting yourself in a perfect line of fire to blow your cannon up the dirty Panzer’s caboose, making a splended looking explosion of green line-segments. Manuevering takes some time to master, which was difficult to do in the arcade days, having a line of other pimple-faced kids wanting to stick their sweaty, greasy foreheads on the same viewfinder I was using. The dual-joystick controls were designed to move the left and right tank treads. Both forward to move forward, both back to move back, then a combination to veer left or right.
Points were earned for the destruction of the other tanks, with special bonuses for the flying saucer (which doesn’t shoot back and always scoots on the ground..never really flies) and the “appear out of nowhere” missiles, which you had better shoot before they get on you.This game was ported almost everywhere in those days, so if you never had the arcade experience you may have picked it up on the many consoles and computers in the early ’80s. The arcade version is also on Microsoft’s Game Room, which plays very well with the dual-joystick 360 controllers, and can be picked up for just a couple of bucks. Well worth it. Happy hunting!