FACEBOOK          TWITTER          INSTAGRAM          YOUTUBE          PINTEREST          PINTEREST


Hey, you!

You with the super-fast fingers and the highly-tuned brain!

Think you're ready to take on Tanktics, the fastest, funniest, most original strategy game in the history of the universe?

The subtitle for Tanktics reads "a strategy game in sheep's clothing". That says it all about DMA Design's somewhat forgotten title that hit store shelves around October of 1999. It has the look and feel of a kid's game that's brimming with the kind of British humour you'd find in the Lemmings series that made its developer famous. In truth, it is a tough real-time strategy game that features some truly original mechanics and a lengthy campaign of 24 levels. This is far more WarCraft than Wallace and Gromit.

Graphically speaking, the game looks very nice. The colourful isometric view packs in a lot of personality with the limited viewpoint. Being pre-rendered sprites instead of polygons, the camera angle never changes which makes some details difficult to see, especially when its hiding behind a tree or a wall. It doesn't help that the frame-rate appears to be capped at 20, giving it look that's anything but smooth. The hud on the left hand side can mostly be ignored. You have a useful if small map at the top, but beneath this is your manufacturing details and army health. Press TAB to switch between the two but in all honesty it's a lot of screen real-estate for so little.

If we forgo the story ('cos there isn't one) and jump straight into the gameplay, you'll find a slew of off-kilter mechanics. Depending on the time period you're in, your mouse cursor takes the form of a pterodactyl, a dragon, a helicopter or a flying saucer. Dangling beneath each of them is a magnet attached to a rope. This is used to pick up various items such as rocks or sheep and move them about the playfield. This is all in the service of creating tanks.

Drop matter in the centre receptical to build tanks parts (right).
Drop sheep on the treadmill rim to speed up production (left).

Your base is nothing but a giant contraption that looks like a teacup mixed with a gramophone but its main purpose is producing tank parts that can be stacked on top of each other to make a variety of cute war machines. It needs fuel to create them, though, and you provide it by feeding it anything you can get your hands on. Early on, rocks will do the trick, as will sheep and the remains of dead enemy tanks, but to fill it up to maximum capacity you'll want to find crates.

Unfortunately crates are too heavy to pick up with your magnet, but any well-built tank can drag it behind them without problem. Once full, the teacup's ear horn will spurt out random tank parts to build tanks however you wish. First, you'll need the base which could be wheels, tracks or a hover board on top of which energy pods need to be placed. Without these the tank won't move let alone have the power to hurl projectiles. Above this any weapon can be placed, be it a catapult, a missile launcher or a flame thrower. Top it off with an antenna and you have a fully functioning death machine ready to defend your base and destroy the enemy.

Most of your time will be spent amassing an army of tanks, so you'd be amiss if you didn't create them as efficiently as possible. Outside of the teacup is a spinning saucer which will be empty and slow-moving at the beginning. You can speed it up by placing sheep on it as if it were a treadmill. These white fluffy critters can be found throughout the map though you should be warned of their fragility. They can quickly become tired, stepping off the treadmill huffing and puffing until you drop them in some reviving sheep dip. Black sheep can also infect whole herds, permanently removing them play. You'll have to squish them with a carefully place rock to get rid of the pests. In truth, I mostly ignored this mechanic as it took just as much time to manage as it did to wait for the machine parts to arrive at the slowest speed. It's best to focus on tank management anyway.

The panzer pieces can be built up to 10 segments high, though only one weapon can be added per fuel cell. Even so, you may still have a hard time taking down the other side regardless of your sky-scraping armoured vehicle. The aim of each stage is to destroy the receivers scattered around the map. These pylons periodically call in reinforcements to attack your base and when an enemy has their own settlement it can get overwhelming pretty quickly.

Posts next to switches relay what rank a tank needs to be to activate it (left).
A receiver pylon needs to be activated before you can attack it (right).

Like most other points of interest in each map, these posts are often protected by more tanks, difficult terrain like water or snow or even a ranked switch that'll require an upgraded tank to open it. Destroy 4 enemy vehicles and a given tank will increase in rank. This seemingly has no bearing on its attack or defence capabilities, but it is necessary to unlock switches if you meet the requirements. In return, receivers will open up and expose their weak spots but some will give you access to nearby power-ups or machine parts. These can be particularly useful such as an all-terrain set of wheels or a heavy-duty weapon and some are actually necessary to complete the level.

It's in this ranking system where the game truly falters. In the chaos of battle, a high ranking build may lose a segment such as that useful flame thrower or a power cell which will stop it from moving. Naturally, you'll want to replace the missing piece or even upgrade it to something else, but in doing so you reduce it to its lowest rank. This makes activating these switches far more troublesome than it needs to be. In one stage, a receiver and its switch was positioned on an island surrounded by water. It needed a rank 3 vehicle to activate, but my only sea-faring tank ranked a paltry 1. It is incredibly hard to guide a specific tank into destroying a machine let alone the 8 needed to upgrade it to its desired level. So, I thought I'd disassemble a high-powered one and re-assemble it on that island, only for it to revert back to its lowest number. This was my last tower and I was already almost an hour into the stage so I just gave up.

That's how I found most of the levels play out. Spend hours building up an army of tanks only to be gazumped by an arbitrary, impassable blockade. It's a shame as the core mechanic is very good. The early prehistoric levels remain immensely enjoyable, but despite changes in graphics, weapons and terrain types, the medieval, modern and futuristic stages don't do enough to keep the gameplay fresh. With such a fun and unique concept, it's surprising the game didn't do better at retail, with no eBay listings, box art scans or other documentation appearing anywhere. At the very least, it deserves more recognition than that.

To download the game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses  DxWind to run on modern systems. Press Kit conaining documents, concept art and a trailer included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 132 Mb.  Install Size: 325 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Tanktics is © Gremlin Interactive & DMA Design
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

Like this? Try These...

https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2020/03/attack-of-saucerman.html  https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2019/03/genewars.html  https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/p/lemmings-3d-winterland.html

No comments:

Post a Comment