Arena based arcade games are nothing new. For those old enough to remember, Berzerk from Stern (and later on Williams’ Robotron 2084) set the standard that everyone else followed way back in 1980 with the confined room-based shoot-em-up gameplay mechanics. These classics weren’t the first to be released from the genre, but they’re the ones most gamers remember to this date. Attack Of The Toy Tanks from Ratalaika pays homage to the classics from that era and more…
Back To The 70s
For home gamers, the one arena game most people will be familiar with is Combat – the Atari 2600 classic that was bundled with early releases of the late 1970s console. That game itself wasn’t exactly original, being based on an earlier Atari arcade game, Tank, from 1974. But what has any of that got to do with this review?
As you can see from the screenshots, Ratalaika’s Attack Of The Toy Tanks is a modern-day reworking of the tank based game modes from Atari’s Combat. It’s a top-down 3D version of the classic but instead of players controlling high-tech military craft, instead each combatant is equipped with a small but heavily armed remote control tank.
There are two game modes on offer. Most of you will start off with the single player mode, which puts you up against multiple AI opponents over 60 levels steadily increasing in difficulty. The arenas themselves are set in a variety of indoor locations including children’s playrooms with a variety of obstacles to navigate and use as barricades to hide behind. Later stages change to include force fields that destroy your tank as soon as you come into contact with them.
You have a single life to complete each stage against the multiple AI opponents so one hit and that’s it. To make matters worse, your tank seems to be slower than your opponents so you won’t win by simply heading into each arena guns blazing. It’s certainly going to need a tactical approach to out think and out manoeuvre your opposition to be able to complete each level.
Each stage can be played randomly as long as you have completed the one previously and while there is no time limit to each, there is a timer so you can see how well you have performed and what rating you are awarded as you beat each of them. This adds a degree of long term replayability to the game, encouraging you to go back and retry earlier stages to beat your times and attempt to get better ratings.
In addition to the single player mode, there is also a two player battle mode although sadly this is lacking from the PS Vita version of the game. Again this takes the same arena based format but is a straight up one on one combat game. If you grow tired of the main game, or are looking for something different for you next couch co-op fix, then this could be right up your street.
While it’s understandable that this feature couldn’t have been offered for standard play on a single PS Vita system, it could have worked well either using two handhelds using the console’s wireless ad hoc mode or the multiplayer support of the PlayStation TV. Leaving this out is a wasted opportunity and I’m sure that it’s certainly something that is a highlight of the game on the other platforms.
Visually Attack Of The Toy Tanks is nothing special. While the 3D look of the game works reasonably well enough for the game, it doesn’t stand out as being anything more than average and I expected better. While I appreciate the fact that the developers, Petite Games, is a small studio, I did expect more from the PS Vita and certainly from the developers who brought us Bouncy Bullets and Super Destronaut DX. Perhaps considering the game’s origins a retro 2D look, or a pseudo 3D look similar to the original Grand Theft Auto may have worked better?
Graphics aside, the was another issue that I had with this game which was far greater. While I really wanted to enjoy playing Attack Of The Toy Tanks, the control system let it down badly. For the Vita version at least there were two different control options offered and neither felt particularly intuitive. The first set of controls made the game almost unplayable and I spent more time fighting the controls rather than battling against the AI opponents.
While the second (and default) option was significantly better, it still felt somewhat chaotic and clunky at times. The button layout made little sense and felt uncomfortable at best when it came to trying to make any form of accurate and quick movement during play. Certainly there were levels where the responsiveness and reduced speed compared to the AI opponents made the game unnecessarily difficult.
Attack Of The Toy Tanks – Summary
I genuinely wish I had more positive things to say about this. There’s so much potential buried away in this game and it’s such a shame to see that wasted because of a few minor issues that really do spoil the game. This could have been such a great fun game, and with a lot of perseverance there is some enjoyment to be had from it but it’s just hard work getting past the controls.
Despite the budget price and Cross Buy support with the PS4, I’m really hesitant to recommend this. The two player mode may just be enough to save it if you’ve got a PS4 as well, but if you’re planning on focusing on the single player mode you may just find it just too frustrating to be enjoyable.
At A Glance
- Title: Attack Of The Toy Tanks
- Publisher: Ratalaika Games
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Memory Card Spare Required: Mb
- Cross Buy: Y (PS4)
- Cross Play: N/A
- Online Multiplayer: N/A
- Local Multiplayer: N/A
- PlayStation TV Compatible: Y
The copy of Attack Of The Toy Tanks featured in this review was supplied by Ratalaika Games.