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Video Game / BattleTanx

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2001 A.D. — The world as you know it is no more. A deadly virus has wiped out 99% of the female population and the few surviving women are now worshiped as QueenLords. You are Griffin Spade, warrior and Battlelord in a post-apocalyptic future. With only the BattleTanx at your command, you must save mankind from extinction! Fight your way across the wasteland that was once America and rescue the QueenLords from roving gangs of mercenaries and thugs.
— The game's box, and a fair summation of the first game.

BattleTanx is a 1998 game for the Nintendo 64 by The 3DO Company, which was followed a year later by a sequel that also appeared on the PlayStation. The premise is simple: a plague has killed nearly every woman on the planet, forcing the worlds' governments to cloister the surviving females away in heavily-fortified quarantine zones. In the mayhem, a nuclear war was sparked, reducing much of the Earth to rubble and leaving the survivors to fight over the species' few females, who are now worshipped as "QueenLords". For reasons unexplained (save by the Rule of Cool), all of these tribes of brigands and freaks managed to get their hands on tanks. Lots and lots of tanks.

In the original BattleTanx, the player controls Griffin Spade, a tough guy from Queens whose fiancee Madison is one of those taken by the U.S. Government to a secure facility. After surviving the apocalypse, and armed only with an M1A1 Abrams, Griffin begins a mechanized trek across the remains of the United States, blazing westward through Chicago, Las Vegas, and finally San Francisco, crushing rival gangs, rescuing other captured women, and forging his own army in his search for Madison. The two are finally reunited when Griffin storms the Quarantine Zone on Alcatraz Island, incidentally leaving them in command of the most sizable and least malevolent faction in the former United States. A port for Game Boy Color was released in 2000, which featured the storyline and gangs of the first game, but with music taken from the second.

The sequel, BattleTanx: Global Assault, is set five years later and involves a rival QueenLord named Cassandra who has taken an unhealthy interest in Madison and Griffin's son Brandon. Using her mind-controlling powers to turn Griffin's army against him, Cassandra kidnaps Brandon and flees across the country, two angry tank-driving parents in hot pursuit. The chase ultimately leads through Great Britain, France, Germany, and back to Alcatraz. Along the way we learn that Cassandra was the one who unleashed the woman-killing plague as a way to wipe out those women lacking the psychic "Edge," and ends with the seemingly-killed villainess being revived by a mysterious magician who mentions a "chosen one."

And after that, nothing. 3DO had already been in decline when the BattleTanx series came out, and went bankrupt in 2003. Still, the BattleTanx games are fondly remembered: the story was simplistic, the graphics basic, but the gameplay was solid and conveyed the visceral joy of grinding the ruins of Western civilization under your armored treads as you stalked your opponents like steel-skinned predators.

The games provide examples of:

  • Action Genre Hero Guy: Griffin Spade.
  • Action Mom: Madison in the sequel, an upgrade from her role in the first game.
  • Adaptation Expansion: A very minor case; the Game Boy version features renditions of several musical tracks from Global Assault but is otherwise a pure adaptation of the first game.
  • After the End: The introductory sequence gives us shots of Griffin watching from afar as a nuke is dropped directly on New York City before stating "civilization came to an end on May 6, 2001".
  • Amazon Brigade: The Storm Ravens and Iron Maidens gangs.
  • Apocalypse How: Humanity gets hit with a double whammy here, with World War III being the minor one. The real problem was a plague that wiped out 99.9% of the female population (with the scarcity of females being the reason for the war). This means that what was previously a Class 1 catastrophe has a very real possibility of developing into a Class 3 (human extinction), given that there is only a single woman for every thousand men.
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: Somehow, biker gangs and other rag-tag groups acquiring many, many, fully functional tanks, a wide range of weapons, including nukes and experimental energy weapons isn't uncommon in a world that was devastated by a population decimating plague and a nuclear war.
  • Area 51: One of the battlegrounds of the first game, complete with a trio of destroyable UFOs that leave warp points for you to quickly teleport around the battlefield.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Nuke. It damages everything within the stage. Including you. Averted if there's a subway tunnel to hide in after firing the nuke. Surface to find a wasteland with all your enemies dead.
    • Using the Teleport powerup in the second game just when the shockwave is about to hit can save you from any damage.
    • The "Bouncing Betty" mines are a bit like this; they're capable of dealing out massive damage, but the delay between them bouncing up and firing their lasers makes them only effective against the slowest tanks.
  • Badass Biker: The Skull Riderz, who roam the highways in Mototanks and other light vehicles.
  • Badass Longcoat: Griffin picks one up right at the end of the first game's introduction.
  • Big Applesauce: Where the first game begins. It's seen better days.
  • Big Bad: Global Assault introduces Cassandra, an insane psychic who created the plague that killed most of the world's women.
  • Bottomless Magazines: You can give everyone unlimited ammo for their default weapons in the options.
  • Capture the Flag: Battlelord mode is a variation of this, replacing actual flags with Queenlords who stay in whichever base they've been taken to rather than spawning back at their home and having to be re-captured an arbitrary number of times. Much of the first game's campaign revolves around the mode.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: While the different gangs/tribes have their own unique colors to identify them in the campaign, multiplayer recolors them to match whichever team they're on: blue, red, green or yellow.
  • Confusion Fu: The sequel introduces the Teleporter item. Where it sends you is random, but it's still useful for getting away from (or behind) enemies quickly.
  • Covers Always Lie: The huge, impossibly cool-looking tank on the second game's cover? It doesn't appear in the actual game.
  • Crippling Overspecialization:
    • The Rhino tank-hunter, which sports a huge fixed gun and a heavily-reinforced front which can take more punishment than even the Goliath Tank. Unfortunately, its sides and rear are extremely vulnerable, and it can't engage targets who flank it. Also highly susceptible to fire attacks.
    • The Inferno flamethrower tank, to a lesser degree, since it uses a flamethrower instead of a regular cannon. It holds a huge amount of ammo and, when close to an enemy, can burn through them quickly and effectively - if a threat is at any distance further than near-point-blank, however, it has to rely on its limited supply of other special weapons to deal with it.
  • Critical Existence Failure: When a tank is brought down to about a fourth of its health, it changes to look heavily damaged, but it'll still work just as good until it takes another shot or two and is destroyed.
  • Denser and Wackier: The first Battletanx is about an epidemic that kills a lot of woman, and the presentation of the journey to rescue the remaining woman is grim. The sequel, Global Assault, is about an over-the-top comic book villain, an evil witch, as a Card-Carrying Villain. The soundtrack were changed as well, from dark marching music to heavy metal.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: The FLP-E or "Flippy" tank. It's small, has a light gun, and not much armor, but has modified tracks, a gyro-stabilized cockpit, and angled jets on its flanks. The result is a tank that can flip itself sideways over and over, dodging incoming fire and generally baffling its opponents.
  • The Empire: Cassandra has one spanning most of North America and Europe.
  • Energy Weapon:
  • Escort Mission: Brandenburg Gate and Escape From Berlin, as well as the Convoy multiplayer mode, in the second game.
  • Every 10,000 Points: ...Gets you a 1-Up in the first game. Averted in the sequel, though, where The Points Mean Nothing.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: With the exception of the Iron Maidens in Global Assault, every gang you encounter in both games wants you dead.
  • Excuse Plot: Really, this game's plot mostly exists to give you a reason to drive around in a Cool Tank and blow stuff up. Not that anyone's complaining.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Several tanks are stuck with these, including the Mototank, Rattler, FLP-E, and Rhino.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Mototank, a tiny wheeled vehicle with dual machine guns and light armor. Capable of streaking about and running circles around larger tanks, but capable of being flattened by heavier tanks.
  • Gatling Good: The Rattler, a small tank with a fixed GAU-8 gatling cannon, letting it chew through even heavy armor. Also capable of turning on a dime. The Playstation-exclusive Shredder tank is an even faster, better-armored vehicle with a smaller, turret-mounted 35mm gatling gun.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: An early cutscene in the first game has four Moto Tanks destroy two M1s and a Goliath with no trouble. Granted, the tanks seem to be unoccupied, and one of the four Moto Tanks still manages to get instakilled by somehow crushing himself under the immobile Goliath.
  • Gay Paree: Several missions in the sequel involve you flattening what's left of France. The Eiffel Tower is converted into a laser weapon, for starters.
  • Gendercide: The inciting incident for the game is a virus that kills 99% of the women in the world. Global Assault reveals that Cassandra created the virus to kill any women who were unable to use "the Edge".
  • Gender Rarity Value: The misogynist virus in the game's backstory. Those few women who survived have become "queenlords", whom the men of the world wage war over. Global Assault reveals that the women who survived the plague are those capable of using "the Edge", and it was deliberately engineered to weed out those who couldn't.
  • Guns Akimbo: The M2 Hydra, an Abrams variant with two lighter cannons, making up in rate of fire what it loses in punch.
  • Heal Thyself: Health powerups heal on contact if you're damaged or can be stored for later use if you already have full armor.
  • Hold the Line: Assault on San Francisco in the second game.
  • Hover Tank: The Hovertank. An Abrams that floats, propelled forward by turbines. Hard to control and sub-par compared to the Abrams, but able to ignore minefields, strafe sideways, and reach an impressive top speed.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The first game's Run the Gauntlet levels have such charming names as "Stranglehold Bridge", "Armageddon Highway", and "The Crimson Gate". Also, The Tunnel has the In-Universe Nickname "No-Man's Land", because no man has ever crossed it and lived (of course, being the second level of the game, it's piss-easy; likely, the player's the first one to try taking a tank down it).
  • Invisibility Cloak: The Cloaking Device power-up. It can also make an illusory double of your vehicle to lure the enemy.
  • Jack of All Stats: The M1 Abrams. No gimmicks, just decent armour and firepower, while still offering high mobility. Also cheap enough to be fielded in large numbers.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Inferno Tank, light and fast with a heavy flamethrower.
  • Lighter and Softer: Global Assault. Subverted, via Mood Dissonance and Art-Style Dissonance, as the change in soundtrack from grim dark marching music into heavy metal and, at least on PlayStation, the story from graphic novel to CGI cutscenes doesn't deter the fact that the game is about an evil witch kidnapping a child and then brainwashing the poor child and a large swath of the world populace to ignite global war.
  • Luck-Based Mission: More of a Luck Based Bonus, but one of the levels in Global Assault has a group of powerups sitting tauntingly behind an indestructible barrier, including a Nuke powerup. The only way to get behind it and grab the powerups? Using your limited supply of teleport powerups, which give you no control over where you end up. If you happen to use your last teleport to get in the box, you can't get out without dying.
  • Mama Bear: Madison, alongside Griffin as the Papa Wolf, in Global Assault. When Cassandra kidnaps their child, the duo chase her all the way across the United States and on through half of Europe to get him back.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Hornet, a tank capable of spamming rockets, or even firing them around corners.
  • Mass Hypnosis: Cassandra does this twice. First with movie projectors, then with the Eiffel Tower, which she's converted into a radio station (appropriately enough, given that its usefulness as a broadcast antenna was why it wasn't scrapped).
  • Mighty Glacier: The Goliath, a behemoth with a really big cannon. Slow as Christmas but capable of making pancakes out of Mototanks and Rattlers.
  • Mind Control: The most common manifestation of "the Edge", used by Cassandra to maintain her empire.
  • Monster Clown: The Psycho Brigade, a gang of mechanized Joker-wannabes.
  • Monumental Battle: It's like a tour of American and European landmarks getting blown up.
  • Mutants: Urban Decay, the resident gang of New York City.
  • Port Town: San Francisco in both games.
  • The Power of Love: The motivation of Griffin and his army in the first game. The later Game Boy port lampshades this by naming its last level "Love Conquers All".
  • Power-Up: Several of them. Ammo pickups, health pickups, shields, points (in the first game, at least), and lots of different weapons.
  • Psychic Powers: The "Edge" from Global Assault, capable of swaying others to your will. Both Griffin and Madison are strong in it, and its presence may explain how Griffin was able to forge an army so easily in the first game. Later on, even Brandon, Griffin's five-year-old son, turns out to be an extremely powerful psychic.
  • Ramming Always Works: With the Turbo power-up, even a puny Mototank is transformed into a deadly guided missile.
  • Religion of Evil: The Dark Angels, a mysterious cult who apparently wears voluminous robes inside their tanks.
  • Rule of Cool: Where the hell did these people get not only billions of dollars worth of tanks, but enough people who know how to drive them?
  • Run the Gauntlet: The Tunnel, Stranglehold Bridge, Armageddon Highway, and The Crimson Gate in the first game, Tower Bridge in the second.
  • Sequel Hook: One of those sad examples that was never followed up on.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: There's usually at least one Nuke item per map, but they can only one-shot the lighter tanks, and can't even flatten all the buildings on their own. That said, they're still fun to throw at each other.
  • Spiritual Successor: World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks, made by the same company, featuring an upgraded version of the M1 Abrams among other tanks reminiscent of those from BattleTanx, and even uses the Global Assault victory music as the in-universe WDL's interstitial theme. The story of Thunder Tanks doesn't come out and say it, but it basically implies that it is set in the future after this apocalypse has faded into memory and tank combat is now a rich man's sport (like jousting or golf). The fact that they have a female co-host in the game, as well as several female tank drivers, gives one hope that eventually humanity pulled back from the Class 3 apocalypse somehow.
  • Straw Feminist: The women-only Storm Ravens, who believe men are responsible for every problem both pre- and post-Apocalypse. Ironically, it was a woman who depopulated the world of every single woman unable to use Psychic Powers The Edge. Averted with the similarly-women-only Iron Maidens, who become Griffin and Madison's only allies in the entire series.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Some of the ads for Global Assault involved an army of BattleTanx rampaging through what certainly were not the Teletubbies. The first and second commercials, however...
  • Suicide Attack: The M-80 Demolition Vehicle. Small, lightly-armored, and lacking in a main weapon besides its self-destruct attack. Another PlayStation exclusive.
  • Superpower Lottery: If you count the secondary weapons as superpowers - Griffin's tanks in the first game's multiplayer modes start off with a random weapon, and the Cold Warriors in Global Assault occasionally spawn with a nuke.
  • Tank Goodness: Really the linchpin of the series. The original only had three, while the sequel introduced many more.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: "Annihilator-class" Goliaths in Global Assault, which have a pair of sentry guns that can aim independent of the main cannon. You're also unable to use the M2 Hydra, Hornet, or Marksman in the campaign mode.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: The Inferno swaps out a normal cannon for the flamethrower special weapon, including the ability to fire to the sides. This makes it good at extreme close ranges, especially against the heavy frontal armor of the Rhino, but causes it to quickly lose effectiveness at any sort of distance, where engaging a target from more than a couple feet away forces it to use its much more limited supply of other special weapons.
  • Weak Turret Gun: Gun Buddies, though the campaign features bigger, more powerful ones defending enemy bases.
  • Weaponized Landmark: As above, the Paris missions climax with the Eiffel Tower being turned into a massive laser weapon.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: It's all there in the title, folks. Evidently, "BattleTanx" are distinct from regular tanks by being built and maintained with whatever scrap the post-apocalyptic gangs can find to keep them running.


Video Example(s):



What initially appears to be an advertisement for Snuggle Fabric Softener actually turns out to be an ad for 1998's BattleTanx, with the Snuggle Bear getting shot to pieces and set on fire by the tank that decimates the laundry room.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / CommercialSwitcheroo

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