If you've never heard of this particular GameBoy cart, let alone actually played it, here's a breviloquent rundown of what it has to offer: it's a four-stage, top-down, free-scrolling shmup that plops players into the driver's seat of an adorable, bouncy-looking tank.
Controlling said tank is accomplished using the GameBoy's directional pad--which allows the spherical vehicle to scoot about each level with surprising ease--as well as its A and B buttons. Pressing the former rotates (in a clockwise fashion) the tank's turret, uh, whatever half of 45 degrees is, while pressing the latter launches some sort of bomb, bullet or shell at anything and anyone in your path.
Sure, the distinct lack of playfields included in this portable title is a terrible disappointment, but in the same breath, I have to admit the experience doesn't suffer due to that limitation as substantially as you may think.
In fact, Totsugeki! Ponkotsu Tank is a lot like the aforementioned Kirby games in that it's hardly the deepest of experiences, but it's such a blast to play that you probably won't waste much time whining about that fact after blowing through the content that's on offer.
On a related note, the only piece of criticism I feel like leveling at Totsugeki! Ponkotsu Tank at the moment is that the designers and developers at HAL Laboratory were perhaps a bit too buttoned-up when they conjured up this cartridge's visuals. Don't get me wrong, the graphics here are nice and clean, but where's the whimsy? I would've killed for a stage that, say, dropped players into the middle a carnival or forced them to climb Mt. Fuji.
Oh, well, even in its current, semi-conservative--for the makers of the Kirby and Mother series, especially--state, Totsugeki! Ponkotsu Tank is a joy to behold. Plus, at least its packaging displays a bit of playfulness. Take a gander at the illustration (pulled from the game's instruction manual) of the bow-tied tank in the photo above for just one example.
Have any of you spent time with this fine (in the opinion of yours truly, of course) GameBoy title? If so, what do you think of it? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section that follows.
See also: previous 'Another Year of the GameBoy' posts