Tank Beat isn't much fun. There's very little to it, and what is there is bland, and simplistic. If there's one feat developer MileStone managed to pull off, it's how dull it managed to make the act of blowing up tanks. That might be a fascinating accomplishment, but it makes for an utter bore of a game.
The main mode in Tank Beat is the story mode. Each battle is preceded by an introductory sequence featuring plain anime character drawings engaging in barely cohesive dialogue. The story is a mix of soap opera melodrama and freedom fighter hoo-ha, but it's all just an excuse to stick you in a tank and make you blow stuff to smithereens. To do that, you maneuver your blue dot around on the touch screen by drawing a line from the dot to a destination. You can sweep your viewing/firing arc around your dot by dragging the stylus around in a circle. When you see a red dot, you hold the L button and touch it. If you are a good shot, the red dot blows up. Most of the time, a friendly yellow dot or even a green dot will join you. You can set the companion dot to follow you, guard, seek and destroy, or move along a certain path. Usually you'll just have it follow you around, since micromanaging buddy dots is tedious and unnecessary.
As it turns out, the dots are tanks, judging by the action on the top screen. You will need to glance at the top screen from time to time to judge your line of fire, but even when you do pay attention to it your eyes aren't apt to be pleased. The boxy tanks roam around blurry environments with few topographical features. There may be some defensive walls or a few buildings and whatnot, but the visuals are mostly drab. The bright spot is when you successfully blow up an enemy tank and the camera zooms in to show you the hazy explosion of pixels. The accompanying soundtrack is grating and annoying, as are most of the sound effects.
There is one upside to the sound: Sometimes your combat companion will tell you an enemy is ahead, or off to the right or left. But to whose left is never clear. You might head off to your own left while sweeping your view only to find nothing at all, just in time to notice an enemy rolling in from the right. Another irritation is the simple act of drawing a path. If you draw one, it's indicated with a bright yellow line on the touch screen to let you know where the tank is headed. But occasionally there is a midmission cutscene, and when the scene is over and you are returned to gameplay, the path is gone. So even though your tank will still be following the now-invisible path, you'll need to either use your photographic memory to know where it's headed, or draw a new path. And while some tanks can fire while in motion, others must stop before they can fire. With these tanks, if you stop midpath to fire at an opponent, the path disappears and you need to redraw it. Was it too much to ask to have the tank continue its journey once it fires?
The little campaign takes about three hours to finish, and you can skirmish against the artificial intelligence or up to four other players using the maps and tanks you have unlocked. Tank Beat supports both DS download play and Nintendo Wi-Fi, but it's tough finding even one opponent online, let alone three. But it doesn't matter. Whether you think of Tank Beat as an action title or a strategy title, it's easiest just to call it a game you shouldn't play.