Retro Game of the Day! Iron Tank
Iron Tank - The Invasion of Normandy by SNK, released on the NES in 1988.
So - it has long been lost to the tides of time, but still a few of us remember a Golden Age of 8-Bit Nintendo - a period where there were so many (relatively) quality titles released, many of them would be overlooked (Some would say the current generation of games is going through a similar era). Iron Tank was one of several games that just "appeared on the scene" with little fanfare, and not many remember it (much less mention it) since - yet it was a well-constructed game, quite an enjoyable experience to play, and (get this) it still is a very fun time to be had even now. Let's pick it apart!
The game takes place during a decisive WWII battle - you are deposited deep into enemy territory, tasked with fighting a lonely one-man war against the Germans all the way to Berlin.
Essentially, what we have here is a fine iteration/spin-off of a much older SNK Classic Ikari Warriors, with one major difference - in that game, occasionally your soldier would come across a "super-tank" power up which could be boarded for a limited time, and nigh-invincibly used to mow down tons of enemy soldiers and equipment. Someone over at development had the bright idea "hey - how about we just take that small aspect and make it the entire game?"
You know what - it works very well! Unlike Ikari, you're going to be battling several other machines in this title (got to keep the fight fair!) and so the enemy's arsenal scales appropriately. Sure, there's still plenty of wimpy foot soldiers to mow down, but they are supported by plenty of heavy artillery to match your own.
The game is very well-designed, in that it stands up as a very playable title today. To keep things interesting there are several branching paths to the endgame, so you have a few different ways to play. Also, the general handling of the tank is unusual (you have a machine gun as well as your shells, and firing each properly takes getting used to - but it feels unique to this game and is satisfying). Unfortunately the general SNK "power up system" is present, which always felt like an uninspired afterthought in many of their games "Oh, we'll just use boring-looking letters to power something up." Okay, maybe this is getting a bit picky.
The biggest problem I had with this game, is that the screen grabs looked relatively drab (even at the time) compared to other things that were going on with the NES. This is incorrect - the game has wonderful pixel art, and all the characters have a lot of personality despite some heavy cartoonishness. The whole game flows really well and it is quite a treat to play. Sadly I never got too far in it, during my youth - I am definitely going to put some time into this gem now. Don't miss out on Iron Tank!