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Battle Tanks

Battle Tanks

Play Battle Tanks in a resizeable window

Game Instructions:

This Battlezone clone has you destroying tanks to advance to the next level. All you have to do is go through the mission guidelines and then you can go to thenext level.

Game Controls:

  • Move Forward: Up Arrow Key
  • Move Backward: Down Arrow Key
  • Turn Left: Left Arrow Key
  • Turn Right: Right Arrow Key
  • Map Zoom In: X Key
  • Map Zoom Out: Z Key
  • Shoot: Space Bar

Battlezone (1980 video game)

Battlezone is an arcade game from Atari, Inc released in 1980. It displays a wireframe view (using vector graphics rather than raster graphics) on a horizontal black and white CRT (with green and red sectioned color overlay). Due to its novel gameplay and look, this game was very popular for many years.


The vector technique is similar to the visuals of games such as Asteroids. The game was designed by Ed Rotberg, who designed many games for Atari, Atari Games, and Sente.

A version called The Bradley Trainer (also known as Army Battlezone or Military Battlezone) was also designed for use by the U.S. Army as targeting training for gunners on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.[1] Approaching Atari in December of 1980, some developers within Atari refused to work on the project because of its association with the Army,[2] most notably original Battlezone programmer Ed Rotberg.[3] Rotberg only came on board after he was promised by management that he would never be asked to do anything with the military in the future.[4] Only two were produced; one was delivered to the army and is presumed lost, and the other is in the private collection of Scott Evans [5][6] who found it by a dumpster in the rear parking lot at Midway Games. The gunner yoke was based on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle control and was later re-used in the popular Star Wars game.[4] The Bradley Trainer differs dramatically from the original Battlezone as it features helicopters, missiles, and machine guns; furthermore, the actual tank does not move - the guns simply rotate.

Also, one cocktail version of Battlezone was developed as a prototype. This is also in a private collection.

Because of its use of first-person 3D graphics combined with an actual "viewing goggle" that the player puts his face into, Battlezone is widely considered the first virtual reality game. Likewise, The Bradley Trainer is considered the first VR training device used by the U.S. Army.

Game Play

Gameplay is on a plain with a mountainous horizon featuring a memorable erupting volcano, distant crescent moon, and various geometric solids (in vector outline) like pyramids and blocks. The player views the screen, which includes an overhead radar view to find and destroy the rather slow tanks, or the faster moving supertanks. Saucer-shaped UFOs and guided missiles occasionally appear for a bonus opportunity. The saucers differ from the tanks in that they do not fire upon the player, and do not appear on radar. The player can hide behind the solids or maneuver in rapid turns once fired on to buy time with which to fire himself. Common play in the US could run from 25 cents to a dollar per game, depending on machine setting. The typical setting is for 25 cent play, with three tanks.

Scoring points in Battlezone is simple. A standard enemy tank is worth 1,000 points when destroyed; a supertank is worth 3,000 points; and the flying saucer is worth 5,000 points. The guided missile is worth 2,000 points when destroyed. Each of these targets can be destroyed with a single shot from the player's tank. One bonus tank is awarded when the player's score reached 15,000 points; an additional tank is then awarded at 100,000 points, and every 100,000 points after that. The game only includes one hostile enemy on the game board at all times; the player never has to battle two enemy tanks at once, or a tank and guided missile. The UFO can appear on the screen at the same time as an enemy tank, and it can occasionally be destroyed by enemy fire.

The geometric solid obstacles are indestructible, and could block the movement of a player's tank. However, they are also useful as shields, as they block enemy fire as well.

There was a bug in some machines which caused very high phony scores into the seven digits to be posted (after a player would enter his initials). Good players could actually reach this level after an hour or two of play.


There was a persistent rumor/myth that one could actually drive to the erupting volcano in the background, up the side, into the crater and discover a castle inside. This was false, but plans to include such a feature in future versions were inspired by this myth[7]. A similar rumor insisted if one kept driving in the same direction for at least an hour without dying, one would eventually reach the mountains and see a "tank factory" pumping out enemy tanks. Others involved the UFO, including one in which a mothership would attack after a set number of UFOs were destroyed.


Battlezone was housed in a standard upright arcade cabinet with a novel "periscope" viewfinder which the player used to view the game. The game action could also be viewed from the sides of the viewfinder for spectators to watch. A later, less common version of the cabinet removed the periscope to improve visibility to non-players and improve the ergonomics for players who could not reach the periscope. Also, hygienic concerns with the periscope, against which users pressed their faces, may have played a role in its removal. This modification also was welcomed by some operators, who felt that the small windows present in the "periscoped" version did not attract enough attention to the game when played.

A smaller version of the cabinet (known as a "cabaret cabinet") also existed with the screen angled upwards, and no periscope. A cocktail table version was tested as a prototype but not produced; it lacked the color overlays as the display would have to flip for opposing players.

The controls consisted of left and right joysticks, which could only be moved in the Y (vertical) axis, each controlling the treads on that side of the player's tank. One joystick contained a button used to fire projectiles at enemy targets.

Ports and Clones

A Battlezone clone for Apollo Domain/OS was written by Justin S. Revenaugh in 1986 and re-written for the X Window System by Todd Mummert in 1990.

A clone (author unknown) of the game for DOS called "bzone.exe" circulated through the BBS community in the 1980s.

Throughout the 1980s, Battlezone was ported to several home computer systems, including DOS, the Apple II, Atari ST, the Commodore 64, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and the Atari XEGS.

The Atari Lynx (within that version is a hidden game with filled polygons) had the deluxe port Battlezone 2000.

An Atari 2600 port was also released, but has colored raster graphics due to limitations and the view is behind the tank rather inside it.

An Atari 5200 port was in the works, but was cancelled when Jack Tramiel took over Atari.[8]

Battlezone was included in Microsoft Arcade.

A ZX Spectrum port also exists. This port had a game over scene where the city collapses.

A Battlezone clone named Stellar 7 was released on the Commodore 64 in the 1980s. It was ported to Apple II, DOS and Amiga. Its sequel, Nova 9, was later released on the Amiga and DOS by Sierra Online.

The 1991 Macintosh tank game Spectre and its sequels such as Spectre VR owed much to Battlezone for their gameplay and appearance.

The SGI workstations had a Battlezone derived game in the early 1990s called BZ [1] which added network play. BZ also had guided missiles, where the player would fly the missile after launch, returning to the tank on impact.

Atari 2600 version of Battlezone
Commodore 64 version of Battlezone
XBox 360 version of Battlezone
Atari 2600 version of Battlezone
Commodore 64 version of Battlezone
XBox 360 vesion of Battlezone

Activision, the video game publishing giant, released a game for Microsoft Windows inspired by and named Battlezone in 1998. Aside from the name, however, the game bears little resemblance to the original arcade game.

Main article: Battlezone (Xbox LIVE Arcade)

On April 16, 2008 an updated port of Battlezone was released on Xbox LIVE Arcade. The game was developed by Stainless Games and published by Atari Inc.. It features 1080i graphics, Dolby 5.1 audio and an online mode to play against 2 - 4 friends in Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes, and incorporates Xbox LIVE Vision support.[9] This version received an ESRB: E (Everyone) rating.


  • The music heard in the high score initials prompt is from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
  • David Palmer holds the official record for this game with a maximum possible 23 million points.[10]
  • A Battlezone unit appears in the 1982 movie Tron, in the 1983 movie Joysticks, in the 1984 movie The Philadelphia Experiment (film) and in the 1986 movie Running Scared.
  • Battlezone's look exhibited similarities to that of the team tank game Panther, written for the PLATO system at the University of Illinois in 1975.


  1. www.safestuff.com/bradley.htm. Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  2. Jung, Robert. The Army Battlezone Q & A. Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  3. Hague, James. Halcyon Days: Ed Rotberg. Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  4. Kent, Steven L. (2001). The Ultimate History of Video Games. Prima Publishing, 153-155. ISBN 0-7615-3643-4.
  5. Evans, Scott. Bradley Trainer. Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  6. MAWS Bradley Trainer ROM set info. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.
  7. About Battlezone from Rec Room Amusements
  8. www.AtariProtos.com. Retrieved on 2007-07-05.
  9. Xbox
  10. Official Battlezone high score from Twin Galaxies

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