How a 1980’s tank game tried to get you in the action.

How a 1980’s tank game tried to get you in the action.

I can distinctly remember when I first saw the game Battlezone from Atari. It was in Terminal one of Heathrow Airport and I has some time to kill. It was huge. It was nothing like Space Invaders or Pac man or even anything else that was available at the time. In Battlezone you actually put your face into the machine via a large scope in an attempt for the game to be immersive.  As with a normal tank you used to sticks to steer it. Duly armed you then went out hunting tanks but it was not long before the hunter became the hunted.

You don’t need to go trawling through antique shops or eBay to find a Battlezone game to get a decent Tank Driving experience. A much but and more “real world” solution would be to contact  and see about getting you and your mates some quality time driving one about. They won’t fire at you like the enemies in Battlezone did, which, to be honest, is a real blessing.

Once you had your head fitted in the scope all that you could see and hear was the Battlezone world. It was a simply world of Vector 3d Graphics but, for the first time, it promised a future of virtual reality and totally immersive gaming that we are starting to see today. The use of a scope meant that you were almost the same as a real tank gunner and tank operator.

As with most games you faced impossible odds. You also had to be quite tall to look into the thing and Atari soon brought out non scope versions of the game. However, these were not a patch on the original and the subsequent Home computer versions on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 left a lot to be desired. It seemed to stand out in the arcade like a behemoth, threatening you to play it. Dare you place your head in the scope?  If you did you found yourself trundling around the landscape trying to find the enemy whilst suddenly being inexplicably shot at with missiles from a source that was impossible to find. Weirdly, even though you could not see them, the player moved in a 360 degree world. The upshot of this was you could hear a tank or missile approaching from behind you! This meant that you had to think beyond what you could see and then spin the tank around accordingly.  It truly was the infant beginnings of virtual reality in computer and video games.

Lokesh publiser