Such a thing that once was Rome: Battle Tanx

by Travis Woodside on

I’m not going to deny that this article mostly exists so that a Nintendo related item can push down the Xboxy Alan Wake, but this is still a topic near and dear to my heart. One of the forum members was selling N64 games some months back and I nabbed a few games from them. Over the course of E3 when I was staying at Kevin’s apartment in Los Angeles we played some in an attempt to have fun. One of these games was “BattleTanx” from developer 3DO.

**This is the plot of BattleTanx (from wikipedia)**
Even while writing the scathing comments in this article I can't help but be charmed by this game.

n the year 2001, a virus has killed 99.99% of the females on Earth. Various countries fight over each other’s quarantine zones, and end up engaging in nuclear war, destroying much of civilization. The few remaining females are held by gangs who have taken over small pieces of the world. The main character, Griffin Spade, had his fiancee Madison taken away from Queens, New York by the U.S. Government. Griffin ends up separated from his fiancee, and New York City is destroyed. He claims a tank for his own and sets out to cross America and find her, battling gangs as he reaches his goal. After surviving the ruins of New York City, Griffin heads westward gaining recruits in the countryside, Chicago, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

Now I know what you’re thinking. This game is *already* awesome. Yet I know you have many questions. If it is a post apocalyptic world why would Griffin Spade bother having a fiancee when he could marry her right away? How is it that suddenly there are so many tanks still around for gangs to drive and how are these gang members able to do so with no training? Tank manufacturers aren’t exactly as abundant as Ford manufacturers, heck where are they getting munitions? And finally, how the heck could a person be expected to make a cross country trip in a tank. Those things are not fast. I can assure you that these questions are all answered by the fact this title clearly takes place in an alternate 2001 where all of these questions have reasonable answers.

However, I believe Batman said it best when he stated, “Things change.”

Now let me clear about something here. “BattleTanx” features fully destructible environments a nuclear bombs as a regular recurring weapon. The bomb is detonated directly in front of your tank, destroying everyone but you and other tanks unless they had low health or were very close to the explosion when it went off. This alternate timeline has far more advanced technology than we could ever hope for but only in the form of tanks. Buildings still collapse like they were nothing but paper both because of nukes and normal bullets.

You can see an example of this at about 6:17 in this wacky video. As a note, it was definitely played on an emulator here as the real game is not that smooth. In fact, this brings me to the real point of this article.

I had so much fun (SO MUCH) with “BattleTanx” when I rented it in my youth. It was a game with nukes and it had FOUR PLAYER SPLITSCREEN on the good ole Nintendo 64. It mixed things up from playing “GoldenEye” and “Super Smash Bros” for hours and featured a variety of modes. One such mode is Battlelord (featured in the above video) where each tank/team has a home base with one of the few surviving women of the world in it. It was your duty to go and steal the other team’s girl and bring them back. Exactly like capture the flag, basically, only with women as objects.

Kevin, Cory, and I discussed this problem throughout the week, that N64 games were really not as beautiful and fun as we thought they were. Now of course every game ages and certainly new graphics really can make old games pale in comparison, but this is different with the 64. These games were ugly in the first place and we tolerated them because they had 3 of those D’s everyone seems to care so much about. We played horribly ugly and blurry games that were hard on the eyes because for the first time we had a console with four controller ports and could play with four players at the same time.

It could be argued that the N64 brought us a play style we all wanted before hardware was really ready for it, but at the time we didn’t care. FOUR PLAYERS in 3D, guys! Gather around the console and strain your eyes. Framerate problems were a non-issue, a mere matter of karma balancing out all the good times we would have. And we truly did have good times. I truly wish I could go back and have fun like that now without thinking four players was too few or my eyes were slowly dying. I wish I could hold the Nintendo 64 controller without it breaking my hands. But I suppose that would involve someone hitting my skull with a hammer to make me forget all the advances in gaming since then so that “Battle Tanx” can truly be what it once was: Rome. Or, at least, the Rome of tank related games in which you battle in a fallout like world. It kind of stood alone there. A lonely king with no kingdom. And there it remains… by default.

For your pleasure, I leave you with the game’s banned commercial. It is the only remaining legacy of such a thing that once was Rome.

I choose not to play the game’s sequel, “BattleTanx: Global Assault” so that I can continue to remember it fondly without it being scrutinized by these old eyes (but mostly Kevin and Cory). Heaven help me, I’ll probably still play through the game in its entirety when I get my N64 fixed.