I’ve been a fan of tank video games for years. I spent hours with the Battletanx games on Nintendo 64 growing up. Despite my obsession, as I got older, these games were few and far between. When I had the chance to review Battlezone Gold Edition, it was a no-brainer. How does this previously released VR game translate to the Switch? Let’s find out.
Managing the grid
Battlezone Gold Edition is based on the 1980s arcade game, Battlezone. Gameplay is simple, yet addictive. Players find themselves on a grid, similar to in a board game. Each space has a different purpose. Some feature supply drops, some are battles, and others are event spaces. Those feel like choose-your-own-adventure books that were popular in the ’90s. Every area on the grid feels fresh and unpredictable, which could be attributed to the procedurally generated nature of Battlezone.
You can be surprised by every grid space the tank moves, or you can spend points to explore beforehand. Exploring before moving often proved to be the superior method for me because it helped me plan my attacks. In combat spaces, players are treated to an edge-of-your-seat experience that harkens back to the classics in the genre.
Customization is key
My favorite thing about Battlezone Gold Edition is the fact that it lets you play how you’d like. You can choose the difficulty, length of a particular game, and the type of tank you’ll use for that campaign. When I was busy, shorter games provided a way to unwind for a while. Long campaigns are also fun when you have a lot of time to spend playing. The difficulty options are nifty too. Expert players will enjoy the excruciating challenge that Hard will provide. Truthfully, Easy gets pretty tough towards the end of the grid.
Players start a campaign with three lives. Losing them all results in a game over, but fear not. You can use points earned at the end of encounters to purchase upgrades, including additional lives. After most grid spaces, enemies will get stronger. Completing specific objectives may lower their power, but in Battlezone, the opposing forces are relentless. I found myself often forgetting that I could upgrade my tank. I preferred to purchase extra lives to give more chances to be victorious.
Engaging, intense, and fun
There isn’t really a story in Battlezone Gold Edition. Instead, these campaigns are standalone experiences that don’t require much of a commitment. One of the best things about the game is that I can play on my terms. It’s a great pick-up-and-play title that feels perfect for Switch. You can choose from different-size tanks at the start that prioritize certain features. Smaller vehicles are faster but have weaker defenses, while large tanks are sluggish but can take a lot of damage.
Missions have common objectives including tower defense, capturing bases, and pure firefights. Enemies can be found on land and in the air. Learning which weapon to use for specific enemies is key to survival. Even when you think that you’ve mastered Battlezone, the game throws a wrench into the mix: nemesis enemies. These enemies on the grid move after every turn, trying to catch up to your tank. If successful, players must participate in a grueling level with a massive difficulty spike. These levels are unfortunate because, by the time you encounter one, the difficulty has most likely already intensified.
If I had a negative criticism about Battlezone Gold Edition, it’s that the difficulty may be off-putting to some. Even on Easy, there’s an immense challenge towards the end of the grid. For people who may want to play on the go, it can prove to be a frustrating experience.
Battlezone for the next generation
Battlezone was considered revolutionary when it hit arcades in 1980. Thirty-eight years later and the newest version is a wonderful addition to the Switch library. Rebellion’s take on the franchise is not without its faults, but the overall experience is enjoyable. Despite the difficulty, the customization, intense action, and infinite replayability make Battlezone Gold Edition worth getting. Whether you want to play alone or cooperatively (offline and online), there is a lot of fun to be had. If you’re looking for an old-school game with modern charm or are interested in a nostalgia-fueled journey, Battlezone Gold Edition is the right game to play.
A review code was provided by the publisher.