Battlezone is a first-person tank game released by Atari in 1980. Like Star Wars Arcade, it uses vector graphics to create a three-dimensional representation of its gaming world. It helps inform the visuals of Ready Player One.
On the surface, Archaide looked exactly like the environment of the 1981 game Battlezone, another vector-graphic classic from Atari. In the distance, a triangular volcano spewed green pixels of lava.
Battlezone’s game play is straightforward. You command a tank with X lives. Your goal is to destroy as many enemy tanks as possible by firing shells at them; the game ends when you lose all your lives.
Various obstacles appear to block your way, so you need to be careful not to crash into them. The original arcade version featured a targeting scope that you rested against your eyes (like a periscope) and handle grips that you used to steer and target your tank. The emulator version (of course) lacks this peripheral.
Battlezone strikes me as a game best played in the arcade. Though I never played it, I can see how the periscope-style game control would be great for the game, and the 3D vector graphics make it stand out from other games of a similar vintage.
Game-play wise … it’s ok. I spent a lot of time failing to dodge projectiles while getting off the occasional lucky shot of my own. I also did an excellent job of crashing into obstacles, but I think that owes more to my playing it in a laggy emulator than my own lack of skill.
The Ready Player One Replay is an ongoing exploration of the games that inspired the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Love it or hate it, there’s value in revisiting our geeky roots.
- My High Score: 5,000
Where to Play
- Wikipedia: Battlezone (1980 video game)
- IEEE Spectrum: The Invention of Battlezone
- Battlezone (1980) Disassembly
- The Game Hoard: Battlezone (Arcade)