Unknown Tank Game


Company: Unknown
Model #:
Year: Unknown
Found in 2000


As with the Bear Game, the real name of this demo is not known.  For the purposes of this article we’re going to simply refer to it as Unknown Tank Game or UTG for short.  UTG is a rather simplistic shooting game where the player must guide his tank through a variety of obstacles while avoiding being shot by the enemy swastikas.  Wait, did I say swastikas?  Yep, your 2600 is now banned in Germany.  Playing this game may also be considered a hate crime


Swastikas aside, UTC is pretty generic.  Your tank (which is rather crude looking) can move in any direction using the joystick and shoot using the fire button.  The enemy units move back and forth to the left and right constantly shooting at you without any real intelligence (although they shoot rather quickly).   Moving the tank takes one unit of fuel per second while shooting takes five.  You start the game with 999 fuel units but can gain more by touching refueling squares on one of the map sections (more on this later).  Once you are hit by an enemy or run out of fuel the game is over.   There is a counter which records the number of tanks you’ve killed, but other than being a way of keeping score shooting enemies doesn’t seem to help in any way.



The screen scrolls forward vertically as you move and there are a few different sections of the map to see before it loops around.  The game starts in a desert area with two red objects on either side which don’t appear in any of the other sections.  Unlike most other obstacles touching these is deadly, although you can shoot through them (they may be pits or buildings of some sort).  Another odd thing about the first map section is that the enemy tanks cannot shoot through the sand dune (the large V shaped object), but you can.  After the leaving the desert you will come across a rather annoying mine field which must be carefully navigated (mines can’t be shot), then you must ford a river with a submerged island in the center.  The lighter colored water is safe to touch but slows your tank down considerably, but the deeper water (dark blue) is deadly.  After the river you will go through another open area with two squares on either side ,this is your one chance to refuel which is done by touching the squares (although it takes a bit to fully gas up).   After the refueling depot you will eventually come to another river with another island.  The island in this river is much longer and not submerged which makes it easier to cross.  After the second river you will enter a large empty area before coming back to the starting area.


The prototype starts automatically and there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of options other than controlling if the enemy tanks fire or not (A=Firing tanks, B=Non-firing tanks).  There are some basic sound effects (tank moving and shooting sounds) but no music.  Other than trying to get as high of a hit count as you can, there doesn’t seem to be much else to do in this early prototype.  More gameplay was probably planned, but what that would entail is a mystery as there are no hints in this demo.   An interesting feature of this game is that to restart the game after you die you must hold the fire button and pull back on the joystick as the reset switch doesn’t do anything.  I have no explanation as to why the programmer decided to do this, but this may point to the fact that the final game may have used a special controller of some sort.  That or the programmer didn’t like reaching over to the console to restart the game.


The origins of this prototype are murky at best.  It was owned by a AtariAge forum member who got it back in 2000 from a friend whose mother knew a guy who ‘made games for Atari’.  Unfortunately this is all the information we have on where this mysterious prototype may have come from or what its name might be.  Several suggestions have been offered up on the possible identity of this game, with the most popular theory being it is the long lost Milton Bradley game Tank Blitz which was shown at one of the CES shows.  Unfortunately there really isn’t much to tie it to Tank Blitz other than they both featured tanks.  The prototype is very simplistic and incomplete, doesn’t mention MB anywhere, and features swastikas instead of enemy tanks.  Even back in 1983, showing swastikas in games was generally frowned upon (especially for a family oriented game company like MB). The only identifying mark is the Jims Toy logo at the bottom, which may in fact be a hack of another company’s logo.  The stray pixels after the Y is due to a programming error resulting in some pixels being repeated when they shouldn’t be.  This all pointsto a programmers personal side project (possibly cobbled together from existing code) rather than a game for a major company.  However until we figure out who Jim might have been, the actual identity of this game will remain a mystery.


Version Cart Text Description
?/??/?? VWO?
Only known prototype


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