Pop’n Tanks

Pop'n Tanks! (ポップンタンクス!)

Pop’n Tanks! (ポップンタンクス!)
Developer: Symbio Systems
Publisher: Enix
Release Date: 1999
Platforms: PlayStation

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Pop’n Tanks features miniature vehicles called Puchi-Tanks, similar to the type seen in games like Metal Slug and anime like Dominion Tank Police. Taking place in a colorful, anime inspired world, various characters and their unique tanks enter a tournament, engaging in duels for mechanical supremacy. The artwork is provided by Mine Yoshizaki, the illustrator behind the manga Sgt. Frog. The whole game has an upbeat, blue skies vibe similar to Mega Man Legends and Detana! TwinBee!, the latter of which had a manga adaptation that was also illustrated by Yoshizaki.

Functionally, it’s similar to 3D mecha combat games like Virtual On, but a bit more approachable. The view always stays locked on your opponent, freeing you up from worrying about camera control. Instead, your fingers will be kept busy using three types of weapons: machine guns are weak but have unlimited ammunition, cannons are more powerful but require brief reloading between shots, and super weapons are tank specific and can only be used a few times. You can also jump on your opponent to squish them, or guard by ducking down, two methods that show how cartoonishly silly this game is.

Since your tanks are on treads, they can’t directly move left or right, but you can aim your turret with the shoulder triggers, allowing you to moves to the sides while still targeting the opponent. Each playing field has destructible scenery which you can use as temporary cover, which also hold bonuses to repair your tank or replenish your super shots. There’s a bit of a learning curve involved with all of this, and the lack of a difficulty selection makes it tough to get ahang of, but with a few matches, you’ll be rolling around and blasting your opponents in no time.

Pop’n Tanks includes a story mode including eight different characters, each with their own brief animated introduction and dialogue scenes between battle. The diverse cast includes plucky boy mechanic Puel and his lady friend Puella, a runaway rich kid named Bokkle, the maid and butler duo Domina and Heckle who are chasing after their young master, and the undead soldier Date. Separate from this is the Tank World mode, which casts the player themselves as a competitor, allowing them to purchase and upgrade their own tank as they battle in the competition. This offers over 30 opponents, many more than just the story mode characters. You can also play two-player split screen, using your custom tank from this mode.

While some may prefer a more straightforward action game, as a competitive title, Pop’n Tanks offers a cute and enjoyable experience with a robust single and multiplayer options, even if the core action is a little simple.

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