Sometimes, simplicity can make the best games. Other times they can be too basic for their own good; often producing games that contains a mechanic that become boring with a lack of depth or playability. However, there can also be instances where their pocket-money price ranges can make their purchase just about justifiable. One of the latest games to be released within the premise of simplicity and cheap pricing is SilverStar’s TouchBattleTankSP on the Nintendo Switch.
The rules of the game are easy: Destroy the enemy tanks before they destroy you. Set within a series of maze-like levels, you control one of two types of tank by using the left analogue stick. As you manoeuvre around the levels, other varieties of enemy tanks home in their guns on you in order to eradicate your existence. In order to combat this, you can fire your gun by simply touching the screen in the direction of where you wish to unleash your barrage of shells. It’s a simple set-up and one that works surprisingly well; despite the fact that this is a game that can only be played in the Switch’s portable mode.
Their are varying aspects to the game that determines difficulty and challenge. Firstly, there are mission types. These all involve the same structure, in that you must destroy the enemy before they destroy you. However, there are two mission types that determine the strengths of enemy attacks. Normal Missions take place over fifty stages, offering a decent enough challenge for newcomers and intermediate players as you progress. The Extra Missions however, offer a more advanced challenge over twenty missions; complete these and you earn the right to call yourself the Touch Battle Tank master.
As well as the varying degrees of difficulty surrounding mission structures, there are also other aspects that come into play to add a touch of variety to the proceedings. Player tanks come in two varieties: Either a blue power type, or the weaker but more agile red tank. The Blues are heavily armoured and are capable of firing charged shots; making it an ideal starter for newbie commanders. Not only can they destroy enemy tanks, but they can also intercept incoming shells and destroy certain wall blocks. The speedier red version contains a weaker assault and armour package, but can utilise a rapid fire functionality that can ricochet off the walls of the various mazes. By pressing the L/R shoulder buttons, you can also make your tank jump over enemy rounds. These add a nice touch of variety with both tanks requiring a different style of play to make the best use of them.
The control and understanding of these different vehicles soon becomes vital as you begin to advance through the levels. Enemy tanks can also come in a variety of guises that can attack you with a wide-ranging arsenal. These can range from ricochet shells to tri-directional shots and rapid-fire rounds to homing missiles and shells that can shoot through walls. It all adds to produce an increasing challenge through overwhelming odds of skilful tank control to be victorious. The various functions that each of the enemy possesses comes in a colour-coded form, with blue tanks having rapid-fire and orange varieties capable of guided rounds. This colour co-ordination also comes into play when faced with the variety of boss battles.
These sections contain enemy tanks that are much larger in size than their counterparts; also packing a much bigger punch with their firepower too. Again, these enemy types offer a very stern challenge, however, with skilful tank control and fast reflexes, you can emerge victorious from these skirmishes. With a large variety of different tank types, mazes and level designs, there is some form of variance to the gameplay elements that make up the core game. However, TouchBattleTankSP also contains elements that end producing a game that can often fire blanks.
Originally a 3DS release, as well as making a transition to mobile platforms, the touchscreen functionality on the switch just feels awkward with the architectural design and structure of Nintendo’s machine; often resulting in stretched thumbs or wobbly screens as it sits upon your lap. The graphical presentation of the game is extremely basic too, containing simple polygons and plain textures; often producing an aesthetic that would have looked good thirty years ago, but in this day and age, simply look basic beyond reasoning. Unfortunately, the soundtrack doesn’t help much towards the cause either, with a one-track listing that simply loops until it grinds your ears to the point of bloodshed.
To top it all off though, despite containing various elements of variety, the gameplay basically remains the same throughout. This ultimately produces a game that grows tiresome very quickly. The addition of some form of upgrading your tank would have been a nice inclusion here, but as it stands, there is absolutely no depth to the gameplay here; often producing a questioning on why you should advance through its levels, as it contains no reasons for such a task, or any award for your hard work; and hard work it is too, not just in its difficulty or challenge.
Overall, TouchBattleTankSP is a budget title that, despite its low price tag, contains an abundance of gameplay that feels cheap too. Although the levels and enemy types to differ, the core functions of its single-player gameplay offers no variety, leading to a mechanic that soon tires. Despite having a control scheme that works quite well in its execution, it just doesn’t sit right upon the Nintendo Switch and ultimately shows an example of mobile gaming that is better suited to the DS models of console, or platforms such as tablets and phones. There seems to be a trend at the moment of games containing this same mechanic; one that is quite worrying and hopefully doesn’t continue. I can’t argue against its price though, and must admit that there is a fair amount of content for your pocket-money, but it’s also worth remembering that there are far superior titles available for a similar price.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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