One of the oldest genres in video gaming, the shoot ’em up has been challenging players since the beginning. Being difficult is what shoot ’em ups are all about, and Lead Money Games is seeking to reignite that hard-winning spirit with their new title Lil Tanks. Featuring four unique gameplay modes and two-player local co-op, the side-scrolling shooter, Lil Tanks, is reminiscent of arcade-style shoot ’em ups such as Raiden and Super Nova. But it takes more than simply looking the part to shine. Can Lil Tanks stand up to the pressure and recreate the feeling created from past games?
Upon starting up Lil Tanks, you are greeted with a delightfully simple menu. However, as you explore the options, you find there are nearly no gameplay options whatsoever. No volume control, no key binding options, and a whopping four video settings make up a somewhat disappointing set of options. After a few moments of menu piddling and a number of quick deaths as you figure out the controls (if playing on a keyboard), you and a friend will be ready to dive into one of four game modes!
One of the most important aspects of a two-player shoot ’em up is the ability for anyone to immediately pick up and play at any moment. This characteristic is often overlooked by many shoot ’em ups, being completely overshadowed by absurd difficulty, but Lil Tanks got it right. All while maintaining high difficulty, Lil Tanks provides the ability for players of any level to be your player two. They do this by allowing the second player to control an invincible, but extremely useful mini tank. This little tank gains levels and powerups just as player one’s tank does, but it also provides much-needed utility. Lonely players don’t worry! If there is no player two available, the mini tank will follow the main tank and provide a similar amount of essential support. Teamwork will be vital as you pilot your tanks together to save the world!
By nature, shoot ’em ups aren’t known for their riveting storyline. Sticking to tradition, Lil Tanks is no different. The world is under siege by seemingly unkillable aliens, and its only hope is you! The smidge of story you get in-between levels does exactly what you need it to. The brief dialog provides a glimmer of humor, but most importantly, the story gives you an excuse to gun down more aliens! As the story goes on and levels are completed, new tanks with new abilities become available, adding a variety of playstyles and replayability. Progressing through the story is no easy task, however, as these vile aliens will not go down without a fight.
The most notable characteristic of any shoot ’em up game is their seemingly impossible difficulty. Lil Tanks embraces that quality filling the screen with heaps of bullets, lasers, and other dodgeable hazards. Be prepared to die a lot! Fortunately, you will gain experience even when failing missions. Leveling up will unlock valuable permanent powerups for both the main and mini tanks. These powerups range everywhere from speed boosts to defensive shields, to weapon enhancements, and are required to achieve victory. Just in case the game somehow isn’t hard enough, you can always try “hardcore mode” to truly test your abilities. Keep your head up, persistence is the only way to win.
Everything summed up, Lil Tanks is a beautifully crafted reimagination of the shoot ’em ups of old. Everything from its charming old school animations to the fabulously tortuous difficulty is exactly what fans of the genre love. Either with a friend or solo, Lil Tanks provides an epic challenge, testing your ability to overcome incredible odds. Not to mention it gives you a chance to save the entire world while listening to an amazing soundtrack! Can you prevail over the tenacious alien swarm?
For more information on Lil Tanks, check out its official website. PC, Mac, or Linux it doesn’t matter! Lil Tanks is available for everybody on Steam for $9.99. Challenge yourself and test your friends. Good luck saving the world.
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