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Iron Tank: The Invasion of Normandy (NES) artwork

Iron Tank: The Invasion of Normandy (NES) review


"This one holds a lot of memories. I remember me and my neighbor used to play this. Of course, Iron Tank is a single player game, and there wasn't any way I was giving up controller rights. Instead, I got creative. You see, while most of the game is spent feeling very lonely (the only other tanks in the game all seem to hate you), there are these little guys you bust out of Nazi jail cells. My friend got the privilege of role playing these fellas. Yes, indeed, it was a glorious role...."



This one holds a lot of memories. I remember me and my neighbor used to play this. Of course, Iron Tank is a single player game, and there wasn't any way I was giving up controller rights. Instead, I got creative. You see, while most of the game is spent feeling very lonely (the only other tanks in the game all seem to hate you), there are these little guys you bust out of Nazi jail cells. My friend got the privilege of role playing these fellas. Yes, indeed, it was a glorious role. Every time I rescued one of them, the game would pause, a message screen would pop up, and I would cue my friend to read aloud his catchphrase: "Thank You!" Ah, those golden days of youth. Makes me wonder why we're not friends anymore.

Even putting my nostalgia aside, though, I fail to understand why so many critics have shaken their retrospective heads at this game. Iron Tank is fun, simple, and has real replay value. Also, it's challenging but beatable, which is rare for NES games.

The fun? Well, you're a tank. You blow things up. With a variety of weapons. You'll tackle nuclear submarines, nuclear tanks, nuclear airplanes, and even a couple nuclear houses. Hitler's been busy. Did I mention you're a guy named Snake? While supposedly there's no relation to the box-wearing hero of Kojima's fantasies, I caught a quick glimpse of the character as he jumped into the tank in the opening, and I have to say... even in 8-bit, that looks awfully like a mullet. I can, therefore, only assume that this is the lost piece in the history of Big Boss. The piece where he singlehandedly piloted a tank through Nazi germany. Before he was born. Personally, I think it fits in perfectly with the rest of the Metal Gear plot line.

The simple? It's an NES game, how complicated can it get? Here's where most people seem to have a problem with the game, complaining that the tank is slow and hard to turn. To these naysayers I point out that the game is called Iron Tank, not Iron Gymnist. While sending in an iron gymnist to fight Hitler's forces would have been an amusing (and more flexible!) scenario, we work with what we're given. And we're given plenty. Think Contra, but minus the bad weapons, like the flamethrower (they never do seem to get those right in games... though I hear they aren't all that useful in real life, either).

The replay value? Here's where the game truly shines and marks itself a step above the rest. At a time when linear gameplay was the norm, Iron Tank actually allows for branching paths that take you to drastically different locations and bosses. Maybe drastic is too, er, drastic a word. Let us call them "significantly" different. But still, it's branching paths in 1988! That deserves some credit. It's like playing a Choose Your Own Adventure, only you blow things up at the end of every page. Maybe not as cool as the Lone Wolf gamebook series, but now I'm just being a nerd.

I'm also impressed by the graphics of the game, considering the time it came out. The scenery and enemies are easily identifiable, for one thing, which is more than I can say for quite a few games for that era. And sometimes it steps things up a notch. The nuclear missiles shake the screen and create a lot of white wash noise. They even slow down the game's frame rate! And I can honestly say that I've never been more impressed by a tank's in-game's death animation than in Iron Tank. Your tank shivers and shakes over the kind of noise I'd expect a fly to make when caught in an electric fly swatter. Meanwhile, little dots (sparks, maybe? Body parts?) fly off it in all directions and then, suddenly, POOF! no more tank! Only the resounding roar of your defeat. And some more fly sounds.

Ah, this game is great! If you think I'm joking, I assure you that there isn't sarcasm in this review, just unbridled love. Sometimes the two can be easily confused over the internet. In any case, play Iron Tank. As you play, know that somewhere, I'm spiritually broadcasting a simple message box to your location. Look up, and mouth the words with me: "Thank You!"

Rating: 8/10

zippdementia's avatar
Featured community review by zippdementia (November 20, 2008)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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overdrive posted November 21, 2008:

This is one of those games I'll have to find time to play at some time. I seem to remember when I was younger seeing it in a magazine and thinking it looked cool, but I've never got around to actually playing it.
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zippdementia posted November 21, 2008:

It probably isn't as good now to someone who isn't in love with it from the days of yester year, but keep in mind when it was made, and I think you HAVE to be impressed.
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zippdementia posted November 24, 2008:

By the way, whoever put up the message screen shot, you have my ever lasting love.
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Felix_Arabia posted November 24, 2008:

No problem, Zipp.

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