Translating an arcade experience into a satisfying home console release is rarely an easy task, and some games would be better off without the attempt. Tank! Tank! Tank! is, unfortunately, one of those games. An enjoyable experience in very small doses with friends, Tank! Tank! Tank! on the Wii U attempts to turn a minuscule amount of content into a full-fledged retail release, and the result is hours of boredom spent playing a game that was never intended to be stretched out for so long.
You do two things in Tank! Tank! Tank!: You move and you shoot. The controls are straightforward, which makes it easy for even tank novices to jump into the cockpit. Since every button functions the same way, there's never any fumbling for what weapon you want to fire, but that accessibility has a drawback as well. All aiming is automatic, meaning you don't have to manually aim up at enemies above you--the game does it for you.
There is something to be said about the fact that Tank! Tank! Tank! is easy to pick up and understand, but the simplicity comes at the cost of compelling gameplay. The actions you perform quickly become monotonous, which is never a word you should have to use when describing a battle between a tank and a giant robotic building.
Furthermore, the lack of manual aiming can be frustrating when the wrong enemies are targeted or your weapons don't hit where you intended. This won't be much of an issue for new or young players who only want to shoot things, but it can be a detriment to anyone who cares about getting faster clear times and higher mission scores.
Multiplayer was the primary focus, and the game fares better there than it does on your own. Getting together with three friends to blast away at waves of enemies or each other, or to participate in a three-vs.-one My Kong mode match against the player with the GamePad (who plays as a giant robot monkey with his or her face plastered on the head), can be good fun. That last mode feels the most unique, but there's not enough to it to bring your group back after a few matches. The other modes are as basic as they could be, leaving you wanting more after you try them a few times.
There's also a story mode that pits you and another tank (either an AI or a local friend, armed with a Wii Remote or Pro Controller) against level after level of robot enemies, from spiders to bees to giant robot buildings. Missions are short, usually sporting a time limit of about three minutes at most, and you clear them simply by destroying the required number of enemies. So you move, and you shoot until things explode. That, in a nutshell, describes the gameplay. You can occasionally pick up limited ammo for weapons that are more powerful than your standard, unlimited rocket (such as a minigun or more nuke-like firepower), but that's the extent of variety in the mid-level action.
But most damning to the one- and two-player experience is the way the story mode progresses. When you complete a mission, you earn a medal for the tank you used to finish the mission. You unlock tanks with medals, and replaying missions with different tanks earns more medals. That in itself wouldn't be horrible if the game didn't force you to go back and replay missions with different tanks to earn medals in order to progress through the story. So it's not always enough to complete a series of missions, which are often already too similar to each other (recycling the same handful of enemies and environments time and time again), but you're also required to replay the same boring missions over and over again just to see the unsatisfying story through.
To unlock the penultimate 35th mission of the game, you are required to have 100 medals. Do the math on how many times that requires you to revisit tired content, and it doesn't paint a pretty picture. Different tanks do play slightly differently from one another, but not nearly enough to make the levels feel fresh again and again. New tanks also have the downside of being available only to the first player, with the second player or AI being restricted to a basic "support" tank.
You can play the game entirely on the GamePad screen and take pictures of players with the controller's camera. You can also turn your tank by tilting the GamePad left and right, but it's more of a curse than a blessing. Turning this way is too slow to be effective, and you might find yourself turning unwillingly if you accidentally tilt the GamePad.
Tank! Tank! Tank! feels like a game that was designed for short bursts of gameplay, back in the arcade where it probably deserved to stay. It would have been at least a little more acceptable as a budget-priced game. As it is, this isn't a game to even consider if you're only interested in playing alone, and it's priced too high for its sparse multiplayer offering. At the end of the day, Tank! Tank! Tank! isn't really broken; it's just boring.