Approximate Release Date: June 1, 1992
Genre: Tank simulation
Developer: Absolute Entertainment
Publisher: Absolute Entertainment
The quote on the cover of Garry Kitchen’s Super Battletank: War in the Gulf is adorable: “…looks so real that you’ll wonder if it’s Super NES or CNN.” Thank you, Nintendo Power.
Obviously, it’s a gross exaggeration. To its credit, Super Battletank has a cool cockpit view which is novel on the Super Nintendo and very well may have been impressive at the time. But the miles and miles of desert the game takes place in looks awful in the tiny viewport. The sand is represented by alternating stripes of light and dark brown, which results in you being unable to tell if you’re going forward or backward and at what speed without looking at a tiny dial in the left quadrant of the cockpit. You have to use the map to orient yourself because everything looks the same and the view distance is very short; enemies will be firing on you the moment they pop up on your radar.
I think it’s great to have a game set in the first Gulf War, since there aren’t many that do so, but there has to be something they could have done to make Super Battletank work with the limits of the platform.
Fortunately, blowing stuff up manages to redeem the game a bit. It’s nothing revolutionary – think of the Atari arcade classic Battlezone and you’ve mostly got it figured out – but the controls are responsive and it’s easy to lead your shots to chip away at retreating enemy forces. There are multiple weapons with limited amounts of ammo for each, but there’s more than enough munitions to complete the missions unless you start firing into the sand willy-nilly.
Although ammo isn’t a major concern, fuel is. And personally, I hate managing fuel in games. Super Battletank draws my ire because it is really stingy with fuel, to the point where I’ve failed multiple times to complete the third level because of it. The strategy seems to revolve around the optimal order to hit various groups of enemies, but this just seems punishing to new players. I don’t want to do the same mission over and over again through little or no fault of my own, especially in such boring and empty environments.
Absolute Entertainment did an admirable job bringing the feel of piloting a tank to a lowly 16-bit console and gamepad, but the poor graphics and brutally punishing fuel restrictions prevents Garry Kitchen’s Super Battletank: War in the Gulf from being special.
Tomorrow: Battle scores of Ferengi and Klingons in Super Star Wars!
(That’s a joke!)