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Video Game / Battle City

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Battle City is a series of four-directional shooters developed and released by Namco, featuring tanks. This series features several games:

  • Tank Battalion (1980), released in arcades and on the MSX.
  • Battle City (1985), released on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Some consider it only a port rather than sequel.
  • Tank Force (1991), released in arcades. A rarer 4-player version also exists.
  • Tank Battalion Blitz (2012), released on iOS, but delisted shortly after.

In these games, the player spawns right next to their base, represented as a bird. The enemy tanks start appearing from the edges of the screen and moving semi-randonly towards your base. To win the round, all enemies in the level have to be defeated. Game over is not only when all lives are lost, but also if the enemies (or the players, either by accident or on purpose) manage to shoot the base down.


The first game, Tank Battalion, featured simple graphics, clunky movement and only one type of obstacle. Battle City improved it with much smoother movement, different types of enemy tanks, more varied scenery, different powerups and most importantly two-player co-op mode. Tank Force further improved the game by adding boss levels, more powerups, more enemies and increasing the pace of levels even more.

Namco has also released Shingun~Destroy! Girl's Tank Battalion in 2014, which is sometimes considered to be part of this series, though aside from its title and having tanks in it, the game has little to do with any of the aformentioned games.

This series wasn't quite popular, with the exception of Battle City, even then, it was most popular in places where it wasn't officially released. Along with Road Fighter, its almost impossible to find an unlicensed multicart that doesn't have this game on it. It's even gotten to the point where unofficial remakes have been made for clone systems.


This series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Clock power-up slows all enemy tanks down for few seconds. The effects also applies to those that appeared after power-up was picked up.
    • Game Boy port of Battle City doesn't fit the whole screen, which is compensated by a radar on the bottom showing where you and the enemy tanks are.
    • In Tank Force, player's bullets have different effect on your base and other player tanks from Battle City. It's now impossible to damage your own headquaters, and you won't get a game over by accidentally shooting it. As for the latter, player's bullets now just push friendly tanks instead of freezing them in one place for few seconds, meaning that you're less likely to get screwed over by another player while trying to avoid enemy attacks.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: While the original games were more or less cartoony, Tank Battalion Blitz goes for more realistic approach, with its selection of tanks being heavily based on World War II machines.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Player 1 is yellow, Player 2 is green. Tank Force changes things up a bit, with yellow and green now being colors of Player 3 and 4, first and second slots are used by red and blue.
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: Tank Force has a final boss which is comprised of four 3-barreled turrets which fire projectiles at fast rate and speed, considering the genre of the game.
  • Destructible Projectiles : If there's an enemy projectile heading towards your tank, you can take them down with your own bullets.
  • Easter Egg: In Battle City, credits are shown that way. Open and exit Construction mode 7 times, press A 8 times on Controller 2, while holding Down on Controller 1, press B 12 times on Controller 2 while holding Right on Controller 1, then press Start. Then you'll get a message "THIS PROGRAM WAS WRITTEN BY OPEN-REACHnote  WHO LOVES NORIKO....." and an animation of green droplet falling down.
  • Endless Game: In Tank Battalion and Battle City, the levels just loop.
  • Fast Tunnelling: For a tank, players can dig through brick walls surprisingly fast. Even more so if you have collected 3 star power-ups.
  • Flunky Boss: Every 4th round in Tank Force is boss battle against either a train cannons, AK-1 or AK-2 accomplained by up to 20 regular tanks. Final boss is the only exception to this.
  • Frictionless Ice: Several levels of Battle City feature ice tiles. Should player stop moving on it, their tank will continue sliding forward for a bit.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Battle City and Tank Force have tanks actually snapping from one tile to another even though the movements seem smooth.
  • Hold the Line: The line in this case is a bird-shaped headquaters. The goal is to keep 20 enemy tanks from it, while trying to stay alive yourself.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Subverted. Although helmet/shield power-up grants invulnerability to the player, it's still possible to get game over due to the base still being vulnerable. Of course, there's a shovel/fortification power-up to protect it as well.
  • Level Editor: Construction mode of Battle City provides one of the earliest examples on the NES. While you can't save it or select enemy tanks, you can chose all of the 5 available environment tiles, change base's defence blocks and play your creation in co-op. After completing it, the game starts playing pre-built levels.
  • Megamix Game: Many stages in Blitz are the remakes of levels from Battle City and Tank Force.
  • Nintendo Hard: Tank Force. Even at the easiest difficulty. Especially if you don't have a friend.
  • Obstructive Foreground: Done deliberately in Battle City and Tank Force with tree tiles. Although it's still possible to see through. There's also an inversion of this in the form steel tiles that can hide the bullets the enemies shoot, which you would normally counter with your own bullets.
  • One Bullet at a Time: By the default, your tank can only fire one bullet, and you won't be able to fire another until previous one hits something. Getting two star power-ups in Battle City will allow you to fire two bullets at a time, and such is a default tank in Tank Force.
  • Press Start to Game Over: The fact that your bullets are just as effective as the enemy ones against the headquaters mean that you can shoot it down as soon as the round starts.
  • Protection Mission: The whole game is based on this. Protect the bird located in the bottom middle of the field from enemy tanks while staying alive as well.
  • Regenerating Health: If not hit for a while, Armored tanks in Tank Force will slowly start regaining their hit points. They are the only enemies in the series to do so.
  • Shout-Out: Some levels are shaped after characters from other games by Namco, including Mappy, Pooka and Pac-Man himself.
  • Shows Damage: Armored tanks in Battle City and Tank Force, as well as the bosses in the latter game change color when they're damaged.
  • Smart Bomb: Grenade powerup in Battle City and air strike powerup in Tank Force wipe out every single enemy on-screen.
  • Tank Goodness: The series as a whole is about tanks, but a honorable mention goes to player's tanks for being essentially a One-Man Army, as well as bosses and large flame tanks in Tank Force.
  • Time Stands Still: Clock powerup in Battle City and Tank Force freezes all of the enemy tanks on the screen for few seconds.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: A rare non-roguelike game where you get plenty of these. Have you shot your own base on accident? Game Over! Have you done so after destroying all enemies just as round ends? Game Over! Tried to recklessly go into a huge pile of enemy tanks? The most likely outcome is that they will make you lose your life really fast.