LGR – Combat Tanks – PC Game Review

LGR – Combat Tanks – PC Game Review


[typing] As a result of my experience growing
up alongside the birth of the Internet, I’m in possession of some curiously
fond memories of America Online. Most important to this review, though,
is the AOL Games channel in versions 3.0 and 4.0. It held a treasure trove of secrets in
the form of downloadable .ZIP archives, one of which was Combat Tanks, developed by Michael Morrison and
Randy Weems under the name Red Herring. This was a game that defied all
expectations for 10-year-old me, which is either high praise or wildly inconsequential, depending on how you look at it. In 1994, when Combat Tanks released for Windows 3.1, I had a grand total of, like, two games for Windows. So any game that wasn’t for DOS
was like a Holy Grail of sorts. And if it was fun AND free, well I may as well have just won the lottery. In my mind, Windows 3.1 games
were something to be cherished. And part of that sentiment remains with me to this day. Now Combat Tanks in particular was special to me because it was an action game, far removed from the standard fare
of puzzle and card games like you’d often find in the Microsoft
Windows Entertainment Packs that I had. Not only that, but it was an action game that didn’t suck. Unlike Blitzer, which was just a
twisted clone of Fort Apocalypse. Instead, this was a twisted clone
of Combat for the Atari 2600, or more specifically, the tank mode from that game. You control a tank with the arrow keys
and have a button for shooting, and also a button for swapping weapons. “Kill or be killed” is the golden rule, as you would expect, so shoot the crap out of
everything until it stops moving. Primarily, you make use of your
unlimited small caliber rounds, which work just like they did in Atari’s Combat, They shoot straight forward and have a chance to bounce off walls, but fail to dole out much damage. You also have mines,
which will drop behind your tank, and deal a significant chunk of damage to any
ground-based enemies unlucky enough to cross it. And then you’ve got rockets,
which do the most damage but are rather hard to come by and travel quite slowly. It’s all about surviving as many
waves of these enemies as possible, from other tanks to foot soldiers that can be delightfully squished, to helicopters and bombers
that pick you off from above. Other than some concrete barriers,
bodies of water and mud hazards, you won’t see much that’s more complicated than that. Your foes are brain dead and entirely predictable, but that’s okay, because there’s so many of them
that it becomes a nice challenge. Actually, one of the designers, Michael Morrison, also authored the book “Sams Teach
Yourself Game Programming in 24 Hours,” in which he stated that Combat Tanks
was originally going to have a single AI to play against. But since it proved so challenging
to create a competent AI, he just went with a lot of stupid AI to balance it out. And you know what? It works. Just fight off everything that it mindlessly throws at you. The levels will loop endlessly until you die. It’s that simple. Combat Tanks was one of my favorite
Windows 3.1 games for me back then, and I loved trying to reach all three
terrain types throughout the game. Of course, in the shareware
version, that was quite the feat, since after a while it would spawn the Death Chopper, an invincible black helicopter that
haunted my nightmares for years. There’s no escaping Death Chopper. And because your parents are broke, there’s no hope of that ever changing. Eh, whatever. There was an
insanely fun two-player mode as well, that let you select various terrain types at any time, along with extra modes like Versus Combat, Cooperative Play and Capture the Flag. The only downside is you had
to play using the same keyboard, so you had to be prepared to rub elbows and accept some shoulder punches. Combat Tanks is a brush with violence
without becoming over-the-top. And in the days of being a kid using
Windows 3.1, that was good enough. And apparently it was good enough
for over 30,000 people to pay for it, since that’s the number that it sold at retail. And yes, this was at one point sold in stores by our friends at Personal Companion Software. It may not have made millions or anything, but it was a success by low-distribution
shareware standards of its day, and it sure left its mark on me. Just speaking personally, I find that
happiness is a commodity that’s somewhat difficult to glean
from many games nowadays, and so I find myself gravitating
back towards things like this that just pleased me on a deep level, once upon a time. And it did so without even really trying. It just worked. There’s something consistently refreshing about a title as simple and straightforward as Combat Tanks, something that ages well enough
without becoming too dated. You play it for ten minutes. You grin as you’re killed off and get a high score. Then maybe a couple years later, you’ll come back
and play it for ten minutes and that’ll be fine. That’s Combat Tanks, and I would never ask for it to be anything more. [MIDI music] And if you enjoyed this video and think
that the game looks interesting enough, well, the full version was released as
freeware years ago by the developers. So, just download it in the video
description below and enjoy. You can also check out some of my
other videos on Windows 3.1 classics, or subscribe to LGR to be notified
when a new video is released. Which happens every Monday and Friday, but, yeah, it’s still useful in case you’re terrible
with dates and don’t have a calendar, or just don’t like looking at numbers. I can understand that. You can also partake of social
networking junk on Twitter and Facebook, as well as support further LGR content on Patreon. And as always, thank you very much for watching.

100 thoughts on “LGR – Combat Tanks – PC Game Review”

  1. I remember I first discovered this by accident but it was fun I knew people who weren't into the military type games even enjoyed it.

  2. I feel as though it's legacy lives on to this day, in class my friends and I play tank trouble which is like a spiritual successor.

  3. I actually recently installed Win 3.11 in my DOSbox, only to play this game.
    It's one of the most fun coop games of my childhood. The rockets can be steered in mid flight, by the way.
    Thanks for providing a working link! I could only find the shareware version.

  4. This game is the metaphor of life.. You fight, you struggle, you do your best, but in the end the Death (Helicopter) comes by and gets you, you can't do anything (aside from paying, I suppose). I need to go to bed.

  5. I've got that Sams Game Programming book and it was the first one that I started with to get me on the road to starting game development (obviously). Many people do unnecessarily hate on that book because it doesn't do DirectX and actually uses Windows GDI (Graphics Device Interface for those that don't know) for the programming library instead. I found it quite interesting as it's a good primer for game programming structure.

    The next book I learned from was another Sams publishing one (this one: http://www.amazon.com/Sams-Teach-Yourself-Programming-DirectX/dp/0672324199) and was based on DirectX 8.1 but we are going back a few years with both books! 😉

  6. I was fortunate enough to have a video store down the street from my house that rented out PC games so I never had to resort to these types of games, besides the occasional game of ski free.

  7. I'm hoping someone here might remember – does anyone remember the airplane sim that was on AOL at some point? I feel like I remember it involved some form of payment after a while, but I played the shit out of the trial.

    Anyone else remember what it was called? To this day I've been hoping to somehow find a way to play it again.

  8. I got this game on a compilation disc of all sorts of random shareware. Needless to say, the way the audio engine is implemented makes it a strangely rhythmic experience.

  9. I fly a gigantic monster,
    I am captain, evil stopper,
    I get to wear big black helmets,
    I pilot the hatredcopter!

  10. Amazing. I have a terrible day at work and I'm completely miserable. I watch LGR and instantly happy. I remember combat tanks as well and yes this game was awesome. I have to ask.. Any chance this'll run on windows xp/7/8.1??? :-p you know those 16-bit programs.

  11. I want to see reviews of Virtuoso and The Movies.

    Reason for Virtuoso: Bad games interest me, bad box art interests me (that's why I prefer your "worst box art" video over your "best box art" video), and bad games with bad box art definitely interest me.

    Reason for The Movies: Like some other games I heard about circa 2002-2005 and never played, 2000's me had no interest in it, but 2010's me wants to play it.

  12. Man, this brought back some crazy memories of playing on my first pc (P166 with 32mb ram and 2mb graphics card. The death chopper drove me crazy, but it wasn't like I could send the creator a cheque from new zealand back then to buy the full version (plus I was probably 7 or 8 years old)

  13. I remember playing this game with my younger brother among many others on my first computer! So simple, yet so enjoyable, it was one of my favourite.

  14. Wow, yet another game I had completely forgotten about. I didn't have a PC at the time, but a friend let me play his if I brought my consoles over for him to play.

  15. Hey LGR, speaking of Tanks and combat and combat involving tanks. 
    Do you remember a game from Westwood Studios and Zipper called Recoil where you play as a remote controlled tank? 

    Coz I barely remember it…

  16. i remember playing this game as a kid. back then, we didnt have much money and my mom got me a gaming system with this game and many others. however, this one always stood out for me 🙂

  17. I remember a WIN 3.11 game called "Spaceward Ho!" You had to build ships, colonize and develop your plantes, do research and fight KI or LAN(!) players. Did you ever came across that game?

  18. Let's look at the numbers for a moment. I reckon I could build this game from the ground up in a few dozens of hours with very little previous game programming knowledge with only paint and a c++ compiler. I bet it didn't take two supposedly experienced programmers more than 100 work hours to create with testing and everything else. I don't know how much they asked for it, but if it only brought in $1 per copy, it still made the developers more than $30000, which is like $48000 today. 48000/100/2 = $240 for every hour of work. It must have been good being a game developer in that day and age.

  19. Brings back memories. I used to quite like this game at the time, and it was one of the first games I played on a Windows PC. I will have to go play it again.

  20. This one brought back a lot of memories for me, so much so that I went ahead and searched for a collection of good ol' Windows 3.x games.  I immediately found a link for 630 Windows 3.0 Games in the internet archive, posted by none other than phreakindee.

    Thank you, for not only reminding me of these great old games, but also for helping to preserve them.

  21. Oh man, the Atari game (Combat).  When I saw the thumbnail, that's what I thought you were playing.  Of course not with those "advanced graphics."  I miss all those Atari games!

  22. I remember how early windoes games used to all have that line drawn look. I remember playing a RPG that had that look. I think it was called Castle of the Wind but am not sure I'm remembering the name right.

  23. when i was younger my friend and i would go head to head in a game called Battle Tanx i think. It was basically a worms clone but it was fun!

  24. Something about this video makes me think of a shareware title I used to play back in the day called "The Adventures of Microman"

    …But yeah I used to get all sorts of weird titles on that channel back in the day.  I also had this disc with hundreds of shareware games on it.  I would just see the title and try it based on that.  …Including one called "Male Strip Show".  What a weird time it was…

  25. The AOL "Games" Channel strikes again (in regards to genuine nostalgia)! I played the holy hell out of this shareware back in the day, and seeing this video brought back some fantastic memories. Thanks, as always, LGR!

  26. My favorite Windows 3.1 game was SinkSub. You were controlling a ship releasing depth charges to destroy submarines. There was a lot of guessing the point of impact as the subs were moving at different depths and speeds.

  27. The "Death Chopper" eh?  Reminds me a lot of the fucking yeti with the stick arms that owned the the lower foothills of that skiing game (what was it called?).  At least in this your a soldier and accept death as a real likelihood, but I just wanted to have fun skiing, but they're like: "Nope, you've been VR skiing too long, son.  Here, this will give you nightmares!"  Doesn't matter how good you are, you can't outrun him, nor is there a chairlift or road to go back home – you can stop at the finish line, or be eaten!
    Makes me wonder though if that was a shareware feature or part of the proper game?

  28. I loved this game growing up! It's one of the first PC games I ever played. Played on my dad's Compaq LTE 5100.

  29. Speaking of sharing the same keyboard, I used to play the Frogger reboot in the late 90s with three of my friends all on the same keyboard. Yes, four of us, using the same keyboard at one time. Lots of arguments naturally followed. I, of course, got the main arrow keys, and left the others to fend on the letter keys.

  30. Wasn't there a game similar to this on the NES? I remember it vaguely, with its Red vs Blue tanks and a map-editor mode.

  31. Hey LGR have you heard of a MTI Model 3? I found one sitting outside of a recycling center near by.

  32. So sad that he gave up on adding a single AI opponent. He could have been the first to invent A* path finding, and then have written a book about it which I would have bought.

  33. Instructions for realistic 1990s Internet browsing experience:
    1) Play dial-up noise for 30 seconds
    1a) (optional) replay to simulate reconnecting to get the coveted 52 kbps
    2) Set video to 144p quality
    3) Click play on video, then click pause
    4) Come back in an hour to simulate buffering speed
    5) Then click play

  34. There was a sidescrolling shooter called Micro Man that I remember quite fondly on Windows 3.1. It was supposed to be a piss take on Mega Man but is quite different. As I recall it was pretty good.

  35. LGR: Have you ever played the 1990 NES game "Battle City"? That was a big favorite of mine on NES. This game really reminds me of it. It doesn't look quite as good as the Namco original, but it's close enough that I wonder if it was inspired by it.

  36. "So you had to be prepared to rub elbows and accept some shoulder punches."
    …and deal with "no more than 3 simultaneous keypresses" of most cheapo keyboards.
    I once tried playing JJ2 with 2 friends on a single keyboard. That was awkward 🙂

  37. Ah Combat Tanks, the eight year old me spent hours on this broken up with Blitzer and my 1,000 games on one disc shareware cd. A fun time, even the time spent playing Blitzer, well some of the time.

  38. LGR! You are the old games man! I'm looking for a game I remember my friend playing. It's a tank game and you needed to put (rocks? unmoving canonball?) on white and red targets. You needed to push them and if they stucked in a corner, it was too bad. I'm not even sure if the vehicle was actually a tank but I think so…

  39. I remember buying this game from Kmart. It was $5 and came in a floppy. I had A LOT of fun with this one.

  40. The "rocket" is really a missile and it's not slow you control its speed and direction with cursor keys (as an RC missile) up/down speed and left/right direction. You didn't mention you could build bunkers with the walls/blocks and even crush other tanks by pushing those onto them. Pushing blocks have an enegy penalty cost, and bunkers are excelent against all units except with planes in such case you're trapped and cannot avoid the air ride.

  41. I bought this on a diskette from the bin at a kmart. I loved it to death but never could make it past the 4th stage because the daggone bombers were a pain.

  42. Oh man! Me and my sis used to play this on the rare occasion our dad let us on his pc, it was so good! Thank you for reminding me of this LGR 😀

  43. Fun fact: the "please buy our game" invincible death copter wasn't actually invincible, they just set its health so high that it took over ten minutes of sustained fire to kill it.

    How? You can push the concrete blocks with your tank, which can be used to crush enemies, or create impenetrable bunkers with a gap thin enough to only let your shots through…

  44. dude, holy shit, nostalgia flashbacks. used to play this game all day when i was like 5 years old. lots of games on your channel that i haven't even thought about in years

  45. On the Classic Mac OS, we had a similar tank game called Bolo, but it was multiplayer only (Over AppleTalk or modem, mostly) with a much more expansive Mac. Lots of fun to play with my siblings over a PhoneNET network as a kid.

  46. It would be Bad ass to see LGR figure out how to do an Air Warrior review and that was on AOL about the same time except it took a massive download to play.,..

  47. I used to play a similar game back on the day. You could choose a tank, a jeep and a helicopter if I'm not mistaken. The objective was to destroy the other guy's base. It was on an island. If you wandered too far away from it. A submarine would come up and shot you down. I've been trying to find that game for ever, but I don't remember it's name or the year it was launched. Please somebody help?

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