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Battlezone

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Released: 1983

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Atari 2600

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Atari

Submitted by: Ian Marks

Computer and Video Games played a big part in my early childhood gaming life… at the time I owned a ZX81 and C&VG showed me a world of exotic computers that I could only dream of, like the Atari 400, the Tandy TRS-80, the Vic 20 and the Atari VCS console….

OK, OK, maybe the VCS wasn’t that exotic, but it was to me in my Clive Sinclair world. It had colour graphics, proper game sounds, it played arcade conversions, it was American and my rich cousin Scott had one, and loved to boast about that fact…. Ooh how I hated him for that… not enough though to stop me going round there and playing on his games collection. We’ll return to Scott’s VCS in a minute.

I still have a vivid mental image of the C&VG review of VCS Battlezone. The colour picture, showing the game looked fantastic. No green vector graphics for the Atari… no on the Atari Battlezone was going to be in full colour. The reviewer indicated it worked well, and that it was as I suspected a great game, also depressingly one that would never work on the ZX81.

Anyway back to my cousin… he only had three games – Combat, Space Invaders and Pac Man, but then one Saturday I went round and found that he’d bought Battlezone. Emotionally I was torn. On one hand I was jealous, madly jealous… on the other I was ecstatic, I’d finally get to play this game I’d dreamed about.

And play it I did. Initial impressions were good. The graphics scrolled well, and the ground showed a good impression of movement. The rotating tanks were all there, as were the (very hard to hit) flying saucers. It all zipped along nicely, the radar worked well, and the strategy element of only being able to fire one shot at a time was present and correct.

Alas it wasn’t all good. The lack of proper tank controls – instead just left , right, forward, back – took something away from the game. There were no cubes or blocks to hide behind, so it made it difficult to evade shots properly. The biggest problem was the graphics, although they looked good, they just didn’t feel like Battlezone. Battlezone had vector graphics, filled in sprites didn’t work as well, just like Pac Man wouldn’t work as well with vectors.

This story does have a happy ending… my father bought me a Spectrum, which had a great Battlezone clone on it, going by the way of 3d Tank Duel, and Scott sold his VCS and bought a Dragon 32 which didn’t really have a great clone of anything on it… how sad!

Battlezone

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Released: 1980

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Atari

Submitted by: Alex Reeves

Battlezone was a memorable game from the arcades that saw you in control of a tank in a 3D battle against enemy tanks and space ships, using wireframe vector graphics technology (as used in Asteroids).

The control system was unique in that you had two parallel joysticks which controlled the two tank tracks, so pushing both forwards moved you forwards, push one to turn left or right, or opposite ways for a fast turn.

The trick was to use the terrain to hide behind objects whilt waiting for the enemy to drift into your sights.  Being shot yourself resulted in your screen being cracked!

Reputedly used by the American military for tank training, this game was an instant classic and converted into home ports for the Atari 2600 and also for PC (DOS) amongst others.