I admit that I have been slacking in writing my reviews every week – sometimes it can be difficult to find the time to write something detailed, but I will do it this week no matter what. I will try to review some newer games, but for today I am looking at Tokyo Wars from 96. I apologize for the crummy screenshots, the only ones I could find were on system16.com and they are pretty low quality. The game does look a bit better in person.
Tokyo Wars by Namco
Players: 1-4 (linked only)
Tokyo Wars is a game that does not rely on a storyline to setup the circumstances surrounding the gameplay – it simply throws the player into the action without worrying about the hows and whys of the battle. Which is fine considering that you don’t need such things in an arcade game in the first place. Tokyo Wars is a tank battle game that feels almost like the evolution of games like Combat or BattleZone. There are two opposing teams, Green and White, each with one mission objective – destroy as many tanks on the other team before time runs out. It’s simple, effective and most importantly, fun.
Tokyo Wars takes place in Tokyo, as the name suggests. You control a tank that is capable of firing single rounds every few seconds. You are part of a team of tanks that must eliminate the opposing team by destroying them and when you select a team you then get an option to choose between two tank types. Combat takes place in Tokyo city, with two levels for the players to choose from. Is is one downside to the game – with only two arenas the game lacks long-lasting replay value but it still can be alot of fun, especially when played with a friend or two. In fact this game is meant to be played against a human competitor – it looses its appeal rather quickly when played against the A.I. As such it can create a great sense of competition.
One level takes place in what appears to be a downtown area, with plenty of tall buildings for cover as well as other structures such as overpasses. The other level is fairly open and is a shipping yard but there is just enough cover to allow for some fun cat-and-mouse type moments.
The player views the action through a first person perspective. The control is a little unusual for tank simulator games – instead of the typical dual joystick you instead control the tank with a setup that is just like a racing game with a racing wheel with buttons on it (for firing) and two pedals, one for accelerating and one for braking. The game controls fine with this setup although I prefer the dual joystick method myself as this feels a little like they want you to race with the tank. However it is a user-friendly setup which is good for just anyone to come along and try out.
During the game each player will hear a very over-the-top commentary done through cheesy voice acting. As cheesy as it is, it gives the game a little bit of it’s charm.
For ’96 Tokyo Wars wasn’t a bad looking game but game consoles were beginning to catch up with arcades in the field of 3D around this time. By today’s standards, Tokyo Wars certainly looks outdated with its ‘primitive’ lighting effects and you won’t see filtered textures but everything is textured at the very least and the frame rate is always maintained at a smooth level. The hardware is also capable of throwing around a decent number of polygons on the screen although whether or not the game takes full advantage of that it is hard to say. I was surprised by the level of detail you find in the city arena, with street signs and trees all around – naturally the ship yard is pretty bland looking.
There are two cabinet designs for Tokyo Wars – a standard and a deluxe. Both are sit-down cabinets, the difference being screen size (Deluxe=50″ screen) and a motion base which simulates recoil. Since the design of the cabinet is based on a racing game, it looks like one at first glance, only a closer look reveals that it really is a tank combat title. The seats themselves are comfortable, being ergonomically shaped although they won’t put you to sleep (which is a good thing in this case) There is a little artwork on the back of each seat and the marquee looks nice.
Tokyo Wars is a fun game and it’s something fairly original from Namco that offers a great competitive multiplayer experience. If they were ever going to bring back any of their older titles as a remake in the arcade (not for a download service on a console) I would really like to see Tokyo Wars with extra levels, more tanks, maybe different weapons and of course a decent price tag. 😉 It’s not terribly difficult to find in a two player configuration so if you do see it, it’s worth checking out.