Retro Gaming Spotlight: Battlezone

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MMohammed
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Retro Gaming Spotlight: Battlezone

Post by MMohammed » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:34 pm

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Originally released back in 1980, Battlezone is a tank combat game played in the style of a first-person shooter. Players ride around in a tank on a flat plane that featured a horizon lined with mountains, a crescent moon, indestructible geometric solid objects, and even a volcano! All of this was laid onto wireframe vector graphics on a multicolor vector monitor.

Battlezone also featured other tanks, making for the game’s simple last-tank-standing objective. Some of the intricacies along the way included using the geometric objects on the map as shields to block attacks from other tanks. This way, these objects served as both impediment of progress (they could not be run over by tanks) and protection.

Players could make use of an overhead radar that helps them decide to go after slower tanks or the speedier supertanks. If that wasn’t enough, the occasional UFO made its way on the map as a source of extra points - an interesting caveat here being that, unlike other tanks, the saucers can’t fire back at you.

For players who were particularly adept, the game had a memorable reward mechanism for reaching an elite benchmark. Specifically, at 100,000 points and with certain in-game conditions met, the next supertank a player saw would retreat rather than attack. To further mark this achievement, a player’s high score was then noted with the addition of a tank icon on their high score listing.

The game’s original release cabinet looked to lean on an authentic experience, hence the viewfinder. Although the periscope was eventually removed, the game proved impressive enough to warrant a special request. The United States Army approached Atari in December, 1980, shortly after Battlezone’s November release, to design a special edition. Named The Bradley Trainer, this version of the game was used as training for the gunners on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Battlezone went on to receive Honorable Mention in the Best Commercial Arcade Game category in the 1982 Arkie Awards. Beyond that, its unique periscope design and first-person gameplay made it one of the earliest examples of virtual reality arcade games.

Head on over to our Retro Gamer post to learn more about both the 1980 and 1983 editions of this classic tank shooter:
https://www.retrogamer.net/retro_games80/battlezone/

Gameplay: Players used two joysticks to control a tank. Each joystick controlled the treads on one side of the tank, with one joystick including a button for attacking. Supertanks, the speedier of the two kinds of enemies, were often the more troubling.

Play: The directional mechanics can be a bit tricky, with each joystick controlling a side of tread and only able to move vertically. However, once you get that down, it helps to think about using objects as protection just as much as attacking enemies - the best offense is (sometimes) a good defense!

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