Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. Aliens are looking for a new homeworld after sapping their planet dry. The only solution to their problem? Earth! The Cuur are the flavor of the month invading force, and it’s up to a pair of technologically advanced tanks to shoot their way through the invading threat and save mankind’s home. Thus begins the tale of Lil Tanks, a new side-scrolling shoot ‘em up by Lead Money Games.
As generic as the plotting might be, Lil Tanks is an arcade game at heart, so the true test of the experience is in its gameplay. You’ll be loading into one of four different tanks and taking on a variety of enemy forces. Everything from cartwheeling squids to laser blasting diamonds are out to impede your progress, a good variety that keeps you on your toes as you conquer each of the game’s five stages. Once you’re done with those, the game also has an endless high score challenge to tackle and a training mode that gives you the skills you need for boss encounters.
In order to succeed, you’ll need to take advantage of your tank’s high-tech evolution capabilities, because Lil Tanks is an arcade game with progression. Every enemy you defeat gives your tank experience points, and leveling up will grant you things like upgraded shields, wider shots, and speed boosts. These powers also change the nature of the game’s shot power-ups, increasing the devastation of the flamethrower, spread shot, and laser cannon significantly. Each tank has different powers to unlock, so there is quite a bit of shooting to do if you want to see everything.
Each tank also has a different special weapon ranging from a useful instant repair to lightning strikes and a barrage of missiles. Altogether, the game has a lot of variety in its stages, and the difficulty ramps up at such a pace that you’ll never get frustrated or feel cheated. This is an arcade game that doesn’t feel the need to emulate the quarter munching tendencies of its forebears, and I can appreciate that. Still, if you’re looking for a challenge, Lil Tanks has a wide array of hardcore options that will keep the most grizzled of shooter veterans occupied for quite some time.
As you play, you’ll be able to appreciate the game’s electronic soundtrack, with catchy beats that compliment Lil Tanks' style well. The game has a lighthearted tone, as seen in its simplistic cutscenes that try to give the tanks a personality despite their only form of communication being an array of beeps. There’s just a lot to like here, and fans of arcade shooters that want something a little less hardcore than the norm will have a blast saving the world with these war machines.
Lil Tanks was played on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developers.