Review: Touch Battle Tank 3D (3DS eShop)

Bad touch

Good intentions most certainly pave the road to disappointment in Touch Battle Tank 3D. While it's clear that the 70 levels of non-stop blasting are meant to feel like frantic, satisfying plunges into arcade-style madness, it's also clear that the components simply don't come together the way they need to. Touch Battle Tank 3D simply feels like a misfire.

There's no story to speak of, and that's okay. What's not okay is that there's no fun to speak of either. The game is divided into 50 main levels and 20 unlockable bonus levels. That's a fair number, certainly, but once it becomes clear that levels not only feel the same but also don't allow for any variation in strategy, it quickly reveals itself to be a joyless plod through ugly, featureless terrain with a relentlessly awful soundtrack that repeats to the point of madness.

Nothing about this game comes together well. Each level needs to be completed to unlock the next, and you complete levels by destroying all of your enemies. That may sound like fun, but once the game begins you'll see the problem immediately: the enemies are absolutely, inescapably dumb.

The enemy tanks roll around and fire at regular intervals without any apparent regard for where you are or what you're doing. This can sometimes be a blessing, as they're likely to become helplessly trapped in a corner of the map and allow you to pick them off without putting yourself in any danger whatsoever, but it can also mean that they happen to swarm you immediately once the level begins, and you're dead before you can even make a move.

A lack of invincibility frames on your tank means that several missiles hitting you in quick succession can kill you outright, and that's rather unfair for a game based on luck rather than strategy — particularly in later levels when you'll find yourself stuck in inescapable Bit Boy!!-like corridors, forcing you to replay the level until the enemies randomly decide to roll away from you rather than instantly toward you.

The laughable AI is particularly disappointing when you take into account the variety of enemies. Different tanks fire larger shells, faster shells, spreading shells, homing shells, exploding shells, rebounding shells...that sounds like the gameplay should feel varied by default, but the fact that these tanks are just as liable to fire them mindlessly into the wall as they are to fire them towards you means that it's all just a flip of the same coin.

The level designers seemed to have mistaken number of enemies for challenge, because the terrain never changes. Sometimes there will be a wall here, sometimes a pit. Sometimes a barrier can be broken. That's about it. Every level is a featureless grey rectangle that you roll around in waiting for a clear shot, or, in some cases, have to scour for far too long in order to find which corner an enemy has brainlessly wedged himself into.

The controls are abysmal. The tank is controlled by the circle pad and the touch screen is used for firing. Tap somewhere on the screen and that's where your tank will fire. The issue here should be immediately apparent: you're tapping one screen to fire in relation to your position on another — all of the action takes place on the upper display. When the random tide of battle turns against you and you're surrounded by enemies, accuracy is key, and Touch Battle Tank 3D cares nothing for precision. There are two options for touch screen aiming, but apart from dragging your stylus around so you can always see where your shot will go — which, of course, slows down your rate of firing and can just as easily lead to unfair death — neither of them give you much indication of where you'll actually be shooting.

On the plus side, there are two kind of tanks to control. One is a powerhouse, with higher offense and defense. The other is more agile, has rebounding bullets, and can jump. The two types feel unique, but they both just open up further frustrations. The powerhouse is still easily decimated by a single barrage due to the lack of invincibility frames, and the agile tank can't afford to be hit even once, or it's game over...not to mention the inherent confusion caused by the tank's bullets that rebound all over the place, making it difficult to tell which shots are friendly and which must be avoided.

In a better designed game, this variety would be welcome. Here it just feels like an unnecessary flourish on a product that flat-out doesn't deserve it, and when you consider how many varieties of enemy tanks there are, it's a bit disappointing that you can't unlock more than the measly two.

The bonus stages require you to play through each level with both tanks, which offers some replay value to those who feel compelled to play it in the first place. Why they would make such a decision is beyond us, and we recommend that you don't trust those people with your credit card.

A multiplayer mode could have just about salvaged this game, as head-to-head deathmatches would be far more fun than taking potshots at anonymous enemies that spin in circles and wait to die. It would also have introduced unpredictability and excitement to a game that sorely needs both qualities. Touch Battle Tank 3D wants to serve as an explosive diversion, but as it stands, it's full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


Touch Battle Tank 3D fails to hit the target on virtually every level. Poor controls, uninspired gameplay, redundant music and visuals, and quite possibly the poorest enemy AI on the eShop all reduce this potential firestorm to an unimpressive dud. There's some replay value in the form of bonus levels, but those are additional punishments that players aren't likely to want to receive. The two playable tanks do offer commendable variations in the way the game is played, but all that really means is that Touch Battle Tank 3D is frustrating in two different ways. This is a war you'd be wise to stay out of.

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