Monday, April 27, 2009

Midnight Snack: Indestructo Tank AE

Did I mention you can crush parachuting pilots for fun? I’ve been playing a lot of games about superpowered tanks lately.  Well, maybe just two.  I’ll probably write about PopCap’s Heavy Weapon at some length later, so for now I want to talk about another tank game I’ve been playing.

Indestructo Tank AE puts you in control of an impervious tank with a penchant for flying into the air when struck by an air-to-surface missile.  Once your tank is airborne, you can alter its trajectory, colliding with nearby aircraft and using the explosion to remain airborne.  By stringing together airborne combos of destruction, you earn experience needed to advance the level and purchase more aircraft to destroy. 

This game is old news, by Internet standards (it’s over a year old).  But two basic elements of gameplay have extended its shelf life.  First, your tank is built out of adamantium (or some other heretofore undiscovered metallurgical miracle), so you can only fail by running out of fuel.  And levels only clear when you’re on the ground, so stringing together that 80-hit combo gets a little dangerous when the fuel gauge is low and you don’t have a clear path back down to earth.  Having to juggle (get it?) this relationship between success and failure makes the later levels of the game particularly stressful.

Also, each of the five enemy aircraft affect gameplay uniquely.  Bouncers are variations on the standard plane, whose bombs linger an extra bounce, perfect for extending combos.  Gunners will only fire after locking on, but are great for mid-air bouncing.  Miners are other tanks with great lift, useful for saving you a combo if the planes disappear.  And homers are by far the most wily of the five, firing heat-seeking missiles that often hit your tank in mid-air, blasting you skyward.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost because homing missiles wouldn’t let me back down to the ground. 

The AE stands for Anniversary Edition, and the game’s got a quick play mode, medals, and a co-op mode I’ve never tried.  These extras are irrelevant, in my opinion.  It’s the straightforward normal mode that makes it for me.  It reconciles the zen-like experience of a simple goal and a simple control scheme with the joy of watching a tank fly through the air ripping helicopters and jets to pieces. 

It also somehow inspired me to write four hundred words.  I tip my hat to you, Indestructo Tank