Tank Command (7800, plus flash cart & controller adapter)

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goldenband
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Joined: April 8th, 2015, 10:29 pm

Tank Command (7800, plus flash cart & controller adapter)

Postby goldenband » March 9th, 2021, 9:11 am

Yesterday I played and, after a couple hours, beat Tank Command for the Atari 7800. The Critic hasn't reviewed this one yet, which is understandable since it's the rarest game for the system by far and commands a premium price.

Fortunately I have two pieces of hardware that made it possible to play and beat the game, and I want to take a moment to recommend them:

1. A Concerto cart from batari at AtariAge. There's a waiting list, but I was lucky enough to get one. The firmware is still being perfected but it's worked just about perfectly for me so far -- just a little bit of garbage on the title screen for Jinks and that's it. I beat Midnight Mutants a few days ago and Tank Command last night, and had no issues or crashes.

2. A Seagull 78 Controller Adapter, also from AtariAge, that lets me use a Genesis gamepad on the 7800 with both action buttons. What a game changer! I'd never have been able to beat Tank Command without it. The Proline joysticks are unplayable torture, but the Genesis controller is smooth as silk to use.

Anyway, I like short and punishingly difficult games and Tank Command was just what the doctor ordered. It has the reputation of being impossibly hard, but after I understood the game's basic mandate -- haul ass at all times! -- I progressed rapidly, first reaching Level 2, then Level 3 (the last one), then getting close to the end, and at last I captured the opponent's flag.

The game has a few quirks -- the collision detection is biased toward the left, and the system to adjust your cannon is better left untouched -- but honestly, I liked it.

Not sure what my next 7800 target will be. Tower Toppler? Water Ski? Karateka? We'll see...

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: Tank Command (7800, plus flash cart & controller adapter)

Postby VideoGameCritic » March 9th, 2021, 7:12 pm

I really have to respect your dedication Goldenband. Not just for beating this game but for tracking down all the equipment required to do so! Well played. I had never even hardware you described. Would you recommend those things?

You didn't mention much about the gameplay. Is it an overhead tank shooter or something more like Battlezone?

goldenband
Posts: 542
Joined: April 8th, 2015, 10:29 pm

Re: Tank Command (7800, plus flash cart & controller adapter)

Postby goldenband » March 10th, 2021, 10:13 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:I really have to respect your dedication Goldenband. Not just for beating this game but for tracking down all the equipment required to do so! Well played. I had never even hardware you described. Would you recommend those things?

Oh, absolutely! (And thank you!) I think half the reason I posted was to underscore what a difference it makes to be able to use a regular gamepad instead of the "Painline" 7800 sticks. I'd definitely recommend getting the Seagull 78 or its equivalent (there are other adapters) to anyone who doesn't have one.

And the Concerto cart is basically the equivalent of a Harmony cart for the 7800. (I believe it plays 2600 games too, though I haven't tried that functionality out yet.) I'd highly recommend it as well.

It might be less attractive to someone with a near-complete 7800 collection, but then again it lets you play things like the bug-fixed Impossible Mission (aka "Possible Mission"), as well as homebrews, rare games, and PAL > NTSC conversions, without buying a repro cart for every single one.

VideoGameCritic wrote:You didn't mention much about the gameplay. Is it an overhead tank shooter or something more like Battlezone?

My bad, I should've described it more! Tank Command is indeed an overhead tank shooter, vertically-scrolling, and somewhat along the same lines as Ikari Warriors, Front Line, etc. if those games were tank-only. Maybe Strategy X by Konami is a closer cousin, but without the autoscrolling.

However, instead of a rotating turret, you adjust the distance/arc of your shots with the second action button. Frankly I didn't use the adjustment function much, as combat gets so hectic that there's no time for such niceties, and above all the game wants you to haul ass at all times to make it to the next fuel refill. I just stuck with a standard, medium-short shot.

It's certainly not a great game (it's basically the Water Ski engine, used to make a tank game) but it was addictive enough to keep me coming back until I beat it, and the stage design shows some evidence of care.

Too bad it's by far the rarest and most expensive 7800 game, at well over $100 just for a loose cart -- a CIB copy is probably creeping towards four figures at this point. I found it to be one of the more enjoyable games on the 7800, partly because it has a defined end goal and coherent gameplay. You'll probably hate it, but I still recommend a review! :D


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