As an employee of Cinematronics Armor Attack was Tim Skelly’s last game as inhouse programmer. Produced in 1980, Armor Attack was heralded by many as the most complicated game Cinematronics had ever manufactured (Ozedmir 1993) Using the Kettron Vector Monitor, Armor Attack presents the player with a familiar birds eye view of a war torn district. The player controls a small jeep which he/she manoeuvres around the playfield to defend the fading city.
Opposition comes in the form of enemy tanks which will stop at nothing to see your jeep torn to shreds. A helicopter flies overhead firing weapons directly at the jeep and without fast tactics the jeep will be no longer. The helicopter is a good effect and surprises the player as it flashes on and off the screen. Once a single shot is fired at one of the opposing tanks this takes out it’s mobility and the tank will be left to aim it’s surviving turret at the lone jeep. However there is a two-player mode and 2 tanks can gang up together on opposing forces for double the carnage. One more deadly shot and the enemy tanks fade away.
At around the time Armor Attack was being produced by Cinematronics, in 1980, Atari were also developing a tank game. At the time Skelly and colleagues were worried that their vision of the first real tank game had been stolen by the opposition and they queried whether two similar tank games could survive in the market place and grab consumers demand at the same time. To Skelly’s relief the Atari game turned out to be Battlezone which was vastly different to the top-down specifics of Skelly’s game design. (Skelly 1995)
It is a little known fact that the intro to Armor Attack contains Morse code which beeps out ‘dont register’. As the story goes Skelly was pissed off about the male army drafting policy adopted by the American government at around the time of the games release and aired his frustrations by including the Morse code on the title screen of Armor Attack.
Armor Attack gets rather repetitive after a while. Good for a quick duel.
Review written by Daniel Foot
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