Several years ago, PopCap eschewed their traditional puzzle trappings to produce Heavy Weapon: a fun and frantic shooter that put players in the driving seat of an awesome atomic tank that cut a swathe through a parody of Communist Europe.
Blaster Tank is a shameless clone that delivers the same visceral thrills and addictive upgrade system - but with a host of tweaks and improvements that make it perfect for the iPhone. In fact, Blaster Tank is arguably better than its source material.
As with most iPhone apps, the premise is simple. Players use virtual twinstick controls to move their tank across the bottom of the scrolling screen and aim their powerful cannons at waves of aircraft that strafe and dive-bomb the plucky little vehicle. You'll need quick reflexes and agile thumbs to weave through the thirty levels, but luckily, killing enemies allows you to upgrade your tank in a number of surprising ways.
PopCap sadly underestimated how important persistent upgrades are to most players, and luckily Triniti Interactive have provided the addictive hook that keeps us playing for more than just the hell of it.
Cash can be spent on upgrading the tank's health, shield or any of its turrets and weapons - which include explosives, homing missiles, lasers and flak bombs. Your tank changes appearance with each upgrade, allowing you to genuinely take pride in your constantly-evolving weapon of mass destruction. Replaying past levels grants you more money to blow, providing a major addictive draw.
Note, however, that weapon balance could have used some work, and the explosive rounds and missiles are much more powerful than any of the other armaments.
The action is astoundingly solid thanks to slick visuals and sharp sprites that look excellent on an iPhone screen (and even looks acceptable when blown up on an iPad). The responsive controls make the Blaster Tank as easy to drive as it's easy on the eye.
There are plenty of opponents to annihilate - and whilst Blaster Tank lacks some big bosses to switch up the pace, there's no doubt that it's a hefty and exciting experience nonetheless.
Blaster tank has only one major flaw. It's too easy. The level of challenge is absolutely minimal, and unfortunately means that it's arguably more useful as a cheap and addictive source of positive reinforcement than a bona fide obsession.
- Slick, hectic action
- Heinously addictive upgrade mechanics
- Great value
- Needed some bosses
- Far too easy
- Repetitive... but designed for short bursts
Summary: Blaster Tank is simple, satisfying, addictive fun. It's everything you could want from an shooter app - and its upgrade mechanics will keep you coming back long after the thirty levels are done and dusted.
Developer: Triniti Interactive
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
Price: Free (limited time) - App Store