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Take yourself back to when 'Blondie' was constantly on the radio, skateboards were all the rage, and the most advanced home computer system around was either the pocket calculator or the Atari 2600 game console (the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum hadn't been invented yet). A time when the only arcade games you knew of were 2D computer games like SPACE INVADERS, Lunar Lander and Missile Command, but then, 1980, BattleZone, The first computer game on any platform to use a truly 3D game zone.

Battlezone was the first computer game which would let you roam around freely in a computer generated 3D world. When I first saw this game I thought it was absolutely brilliant and I just couldn't play it enough, I could put one credit in and stay playing it for hours which would always attract a crowd. You viewed the BattleZone world from a first person perspective (inside the tank which you had control of).

Even though BattleZone seemed high-tech for it's time, some low-tech tricks were used on the display screen. Llike most computer games of the time BattleZone only had one display colour, which was green, to give the two colour look (red and green) a strip of red cellophane was placed across the top of the screen, the result was a red colour for the radar and warning messages, and a green colour for the rest of the game.

BattleZone 1

BattleZone screenshot 1

The idea of the game was to shoot and destroy as many enemy tanks, UFO's and homing missiles as you possibly could before the enemy destroyed your tank. The enemy tanks would manoeuvre themselves to try and destroy the tank you were in. There were two types of tanks, the normal slow moving tanks and the super tanks which were aerodynamic and could move twice as fast as the other tanks. The UFO's were quite fast moving as well, much faster then your tank, if they managed to avoid your sights and stay off the display screen for any length of time they would disappear. One good thing about them though was that they couldn't shoot back at you, I think it was 5000 points you scored if you hit one.

If you didn't feel like getting into a battle with the other tanks you could just go on a sight-seeing tour around the BattleZone landscape. My friends and I would always try to reach the volcano to see if you really could drive up it and then down the crater. We should have known better really, you never could reach the horizon or the volcano, not only that, if you were to try to avoid battle with the other tanks for any length of time, you would constantly get homing missiles, home in on YOU, one after the other, until you where unlucky enough to get blown up by one of them.

BattleZone 2

BattleZone screenshot 2

Tips & Tricks:
One trick you could do if you had a homing missile come after you, was to place your tank in such a way so that there was an obstacle between your tank and the homing missile, so that when the homing missile jumped over the obstacle it would jump over your tank at the same time and then continue its way off screen. You had to place your tank very close to the obstacle for this to be effective, but then if you dodged the first missile a second missile would soon be sent to home in on you, and this one seemed to move faster and dodge your target sights with a lot more finesse then the previous missile.

BattleZone 3

BattleZone screenshot of a hit on your tank

Summary
BattleZone was way ahead of it's time, take a look at most modern day computer games and you can see that the game play is pretty much the same as BattleZone's. Most top sellers are 3D shoot em ups, they may be faster and flashier, but BattleZone was the first, with no BattleZone, there would be no Doom, no Doom, no Quake and so on, just remember, your life just wouldn't be the same if it wasn't for BattleZone.

Overall Classic Game Rating - 7.5

Author - Paul Jeakins copyright @ 2003