Treading Familiar Ground
Betta Games’ Tank Hero is not the most original game on Google Play. It is almost impressive how many other games it rips off. Even the title might be a copyright infringement. But is it good? Yes, but that might be because it has been copying someone else’s homework.
So, about the name. The full title is Tank Hero – Awesome tank war games. It should not be confused with Clapfoot’s Tank Hero from 2019. Names aside, the two are nothing alike. Betta Games’ Tank Hero is an RPG rogue-lite, rather than the more arcade-inspired gameplay in Clapfoot’sgame. Betta Games decided to rip off Archero instead. More specifically, their game feels like a reskin of I Am Archero. If you haven’t heard of it, I Am Archero is a blatant rip-off of Archero that I reviewed back in February. I thought it was competently made and surprisingly fun. However, that does not entirely excuse the obvious plagiarism. It now goes by the name Archer Hunter, which makes me wonder if Tank Hero will have the same title in a month or two.
You’re probably wondering how a game about tanks can follow the lead of archery-themed RPGs. For starters, it looks like the developers made it in the same engine as Archer Hunter. Some of the levels look remarkably similar. In fact, the first battlefield in Tank Hero could easily pass for the first dungeon in Archer Hunter. Granted, they are both grassy fields, which describes the first level in a lot of games. Still, the similarity was downright uncanny.
The gameplay is similar as well. You control your tank with a simulated joystick on the bottom of the screen. Your tank fires automatically when you stop moving. This was also true in Archero and Archer Hunter. Then there are the abilities unlocked on level up. Betta Games couldn’t find a way to justify a spinning sword power-up, but the orbing drones do the same thing. They don’t even look like drones, just glowing rhombuses that spin around your tank to damage nearby enemies. Other standard upgrades include firing two shots at once and bullets that bounce off walls. Unsurprisingly, these were also in Archero and Archer Hunter. Then there’s the Defense System ability, which summons a pair of spinning shields just like in the other games.
In fairness, Tank Hero is not wholly without its own identity. Most tanks have a unique ability that charges up whenever it is in motion. The Tesla tank, for example, charges up a slow-moving ball of lightning that damages enemies that get too close. Meanwhile, the default Protostar tank charges up a scattershot attack. However, some substitute charged abilities for other advantages. The Assault tank, for example, substitutes a cannon for a rapid-fire machine gun. Different tanks also have unique skills available on level up. Looking at the Assault tank again, its unique skill increases attack speed the longer it fires uninterrupted. Just bear in mind that the choice of abilities is randomized each time you level up. That means there is no guarantee you’ll get the same powers in every run.
Tanks for the Memories
Your tank’s level resets when you die or complete a mission, but items are persistent. In addition to upgrade materials, these divide into upgrades for ammo, armor, drones and chips. The latter of which offer miscellaneous bonuses, the most common being HP boosts. There is also a perk system, which applies random bonuses to every tank you use. Once again, though, the system is identical to Archer Hunter.
All of that said, Tank Hero is still a well-made game. It’s fun, easy to get into and the bosses aren’t nearly as frustrating as Archer Hunter’s. There is a fair bit of enemy variety as well, including tanks, turrets and robot dogs, among others. None of them felt particularly unique or inventive, but their abilities and behaviors are different enough to keep things interesting. At least they do for a while anyway. The levels are long and can feel like an endurance test as much as one of skill.
If I had to sum up Betta Games’ Tank Hero in three words, I’d say it was competent but uninspired. I think I liked it a bit more than Archer Hunter, but to me, that doesn’t excuse being a rip-off of a rip-off. If none of that matters to you, you will find Tank Hero a challenging but forgiving action game. Just don’t expect it to do anything new.
Is it Hardcore?
Betta Games’ Tank Hero is a fun if uninspired mobile rogue-lite. It probably would have earned a higher score if it had been more creative.