Battlezone, released by Atari in 1980, was the first popular video game to feature 3D graphics, a technological breakthrough at a time when simple 2D games like Space Invaders were the norm. The player controls a tank, in first-person perspective, on a mechanized battlefield against enemy forces equipped with tanks and guided missiles. It is the direct ancestor of every First-Person Shooter, and the US Army even commissioned a customized variant (The Bradley Trainer) to train its tank troops. Surviving cabinets of the game are still very popular with collectors today.
The 1980 version provides examples of:
- Chekhov's Volcano: Enforced. The volcano within the game was originally not going to erupt, but Ed Rotberg (the programmer of the game) was pestered by his coworker Owen Rubin into making it active. After Ed finally suggested that Owen write the code himself, it was found lying on Ed's desk the next day.
- Epic Tank-on-Tank Action: Tanks vs tanks. You control tanks and try to defeat other tanks.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Other than the UFO, all the other enemies are trying to destroy you.
- First-Person Shooter: This game is considered to be the Ur-Example. In fact, the original standard upright arcade cabinet has the player look into a "targeting scope" in order to actually see the gamenote , although there were other cabinets, including the cabaret version, that let the player see the game normally.
- Hover Tank: All vehicles (except the walkers) use vectored thrusters to hover.
- Obvious Rule Patch: Added after arcade owners complained about players taking too long because they were exploring instead of fighting — if you go too long without firing your cannon, a missile spawns in.
- One Bullet at a Time: Every time you fire, the crosshair flashes. When it stops, you can fire again.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: If you get hit by one bullet, you lose a life, as with most Golden Age arcade games.
- Overflow Error:
- The game started the player out with slower, boxy tanks to shoot, until the player had blasted five of them, then the game threw quicker, sleeker tanks at the player. That is, up until the player had 255 tanks killed; thereafter, the register overflowed to -1, an error code. The game however simply interpreted this as "player has not yet killed enough slow tanks" and thereafter fielded the older, slower boxy tanks. This typically happens around the 80000 to 90000 point mark.
- A related bug would give the player a bogus high score, typically over 1 million points.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The 1812 Overture would play if you achieved the high score.
- Ur-Example: Of both simulation games and military training software, with the U.S. Army commissioning a modified cabinet dubbed The Bradley Trainer
- Vector Game: A trademark of Atari that began with Lunar Lander in 1979. The game is in black and white, but uses a color overlay; green for the onscreen action, and red for the radar and scoring.