Build Your Army, amass your crew, build your base, match gems, and dominate the battlefield.

When it comes to games, I have found myself navigating away from my PC and consoles to more portable, quick-to-play games. With four children, aged 20-month, 5-year, 8-year, and 11-year, I have little available time. Thus, I look for games with quick-in, quick-out mechanics. As a fan of RPG-esque gen-matching puzzlers, I was excited to hear about a tank themed combat game from Kung Fu Factory. What more could you want than world domination

Battle:
The Atari Combat: Tank Fury game, from Kung Fu Factory, is a free 4.7* App on the iOS App Store. Rated for ages 9+, the previews show a match-3 puzzle gem-matching game, coupled with tanks and base building “Build Your Base, Match and Destroy, Collect Real-World Tanks, Compete against others in PVP.” Using a similar blue>red>green>blue and yellow>purple>yellow mechanic the game relies on players’ nostalgia for other puzzlers and even to the Pokemon franchise. I downloaded the App and was shocked that there were numerous updates out of the gate. Interestingly, it took about 4 minutes to download. Once downloaded, you will be led through a series of tutorial/training screens/tasks. A.V.A, the Advanced Vehicle Advisor, will serve as your guide throughout the tutorial. She will walk you through a setup map and will demonstrate the effects of matching 3 gems, 4 gems (row destruction), and 5 gems (wild). The 8 wide by 5 tall arrays will provide a random assortment of blue squares, purple diamonds, yellow pentagons, red octagons, and green inverted pentagons. As you match 3 gems in a vertical or horizontal manner, gems will drop from above to fill the available hole. If you strategically create gem combinations, you will rain down ever-expansive amounts of damage. Matching 4-gems, in either a vertical or horizontal manner, will destroy all of the gems in that row/column and add the damage output to your tank with the respective color/ability. Matching 5-gems will create a wild card, which will then cause a 3-by-3 explosion. Similar to the 4-gem row/column destruction, you can combine 3-gem, 4-gem, 5-gem setups to increase the damage multiplier. When you defeat the other team’s tanks, you will gain victory. If all of your tanks survive the skirmish, then you will gain 3*. However, if you lose one or more tanks to the onslaught, you will receive fewer stars for the match.

At the end of each battle, you will gain loot crates with vehicle XP, supply packs, oil canisters, vehicle component/parts, Battle Rewards (gold coins, lug nuts), and experience points. After you have gained enough experience points, you will “RANK UP!” and gain rewards (Gold Coins, Oil, Supply Packs, Campaign Fuel Cans). When not actively battling, you will return to your base, where you will need to manage your buildings and supplies. Level up your headquarters, build oil refineries (produce oil for you), supply drop sites (produce supplies for you to upgrade vehicles), oil depots, firing ranges (collect vehicle XP), weapons lab (build weapon items for added power), motor pools (create vehicle shards to enhance vehicles), cavalry school (train crew), and extra buildings like the tech dome (later in the game HQ level 11 required). As you progress through the ranks, you will get more supplies, unlock items to use during fights (color surpluses, repair kits, mine explosions, smoke grenades, increased attacks, and more), and add crews to your tanks. As you build your HQ, upgrade your buildings, and ultimately your Motor Pool, you can earn stronger tanks. From the main app panel, you can identify your rank level along the top let, see your supply level, oil level, and gold coins. Along the right of the screen you can access the shop, get loot, see the boosted characters, and they will advertise their daily deal for you to purchase with real-life-money. Along the bottom, you can access the garage, check your inventory, peruse your mail, learn about your faction, see the events, and evaluate the missions (achievements). Just above the lower row of icons, you will see a large orange “BATTLE” button and above that the blue mission fuel and red PVP fuel.

When you tap the Battle button, you can play the campaign (Western Campaign, North Africa, Eastern Front). Other than a change in name, the missions suffered from the same lack of believability as the characters. The background showed a landmass and mission name, and the available loot upon victory. However, I did not know who I was fighting, nor why I was fighting them. This lack of character development left me feeling flat. Tap the campaign fuel to start the mission, auto-fill your platoon or select the tank/commander that you want to fight with. You can use the preselected choices, or you can add/remove colors of your choice. You could have all green as an example or all red. Or, you could choose to have one of each color. The top of the mission field showed “ENEMIES” and had a generic tank icon with a colored dot representing the color strength/weakness of the enemy. When ready, tap Battle, and a playing field will appear. You can tap the tank of choice, or allow the game to do that for you. When ready, you can match gems to deal damage. Match more gems to inflict more damage. As noted above, when you win the match and gain victory, you will earn rewards to further expand your garage. Once you have earned 3* for a mission, you can use Sim tickets to earn rewards without spending time. This process will use the fuel as if you played the map directly.

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PVP/SPEC OPS:
Within the Battle tab, you can play the Campaign maps, you can tap PVP along the bottom, or you can tap Spec. Ops along the top right. If you tap Spec. Ops, you can play whichever special operations maps are available. Similar to the campaign, you will fight ever-stronger tanks and earn rewards. The Spec. Ops missions require a special ops fuel canister that will refill with time. The Gauntlet missions require you to set certain tanks as a means of attack/defense. You will not be able to repair or recover your tanks in this mode and you will not be able to use them in other battles when locked into the Gauntlet. However, if desired, you can stop the gauntlet and recover your tanks to use in other modes. Without spending money, it will be difficult to compete beyond. a few rounds in the PVP mode. The App tried to pair similarly leveled players, but I found myself matched up with players significantly above my tank level. Within the shop, you can trade coins for oil, sim tickets, or one of the fuel cans. You can also buy extra gold coins, one of the daily deals or use your parts to unlock parts caches. Without having higher level tanks, the PVP mode was one that I did not play much. Luckily, PVP was a bonus and not the main feature of the app. There is plenty of game to enjoy without the added expense of keeping up with the top-tiered money-spenders.

GARAGE:
When you tap Garage, you will see your fleet of red, blue, green, yellow, and purple tanks. Each of the tanks will show a small thumbnail of the commander, the tank star level (1-5), the damage output, and will show a small icon of the tank. If you tap an individual tank, the app will display the tank name, the star rating, and the color-damage value across the top. Along the bottom o the panel, you will see a yellow up button, promote button, and icons for “Tank, Parts, Crew.” Along the middle of the panel you will see a much larger image of the tank, and just above the word Tank an image of your crew member, a generic Tank Name Commander, and a country flag. I found it difficult to care about an individual tank, at least beyond the damage output and star rating. Unlike the game of Risk, this game was not designed along country lines. As you fight and gain supply points and XP, you can upgrade your tank level by tapping the “LEVEL UP” button. Once you gain enough copies of the same tank, you can promote your tank and increase the strength of the special ability. Tap the “PARTS” button along the bottom and add the parts that you find through battling. Once you fill all of the available part spots, you can equip them to add a permanent attack bonus. If you tap “CREW,” you can swap or train an extra crew member of the color of your tank. I wish that you could add different color crews to the tanks for added strategy. However, the game required red crews for red tanks, blue crews for blue tanks, etc. Each of the crew members had their own star ratings and added a variety of bonuses to your tank. To train your crewmates, you will need to sacrifice other crew members toward the cause. I loved the tanks, I loved the theme, I loved the premise of the game but I missed relating to the characters. Unfortunately, the commanders were bland and vague, and some of the crew had vague names like green training crew. The other named crewmates did not seem to follow country-typical names and also felt a little generic. Beyond the power/color of the tank, none of the other information seemed to matter. For a warlike tank-game, I would have also liked a little more history or information about the particular tanks.

INVENTORY/MAIL/FACTION/EVENTS/MISSIONS:
If you Tap the Inventory icon, along the bottom of the main screen, the App will take you to the equivalent of your backpack. From the panel, you can sort the items by General, Vehicle Shards, Battle Items, and Materials. You can also sort them by amount or by alphabetical order. If you tap the items, the App will navigate you to the appropriate place within the App. As an example, you can tap Vehicle stash coordinates and then navigate to Loot. Once you acquire 100 Vehicle Stash Coordinates (1-3* tanks) or Special Vehicle Stash Coordinates (3-5* Tanks), you can unlock new tanks. If you do not have enough of the coordinates, you can buy gold coins to purchase additional chances. I actually liked the way that the in-App purchases worked and felt you could play the game without purchasing anything, at least everything except PVP. Similar to the Vehicle Stash Coordinates, you can also search for Crew Stash Coordinates and Loot Stash Coordinates. Similar to the tank stash coordinates, you can use these to gain additional upgrades.

Returning to the main App, you can tap on mail to review messages from your faction, or you can claim your challenge rewards. Tapping on Faction, you can see messages and updates from your fellow faction mates. You can see the team name, you can see the # of members (out of 35), and you can see the total power of the faction. Tapping Events, you can see the details of the three active events. If you tap the event, you can learn about the details, see the leaderboard, see the duration of the event, your ranking, and the prizes/prize progress. You can progress in the event by meeting the requirements of the event. As an example, you may need to complete battles in the “Onslaught” mode, , you may need to use Spec. Ops fuel cans to earn challenge points, or you may need to use Coordinates to open stashes. As you complete the individual events, you will earn points towards prize levels. Returning to the main panel again, the Missions tab will take you to an achievement panel. As you play/progress, you will complete activities to gain extra bonuses.

Summary:
The game Atari Combat Tank Fury will provide some nostalgia for lovers of the gem-matching genre. I would have loved a little more depth to characters, to the story and feel that it does detract a little from the overall replayability. The artwork was clean and I enjoyed the tanks but I wanted to see the upgrades make a difference. Other than more damage and harder battles, the game did not change over time. The base building section was fun but as noted above, lacked believability and a sense of ownership. I would have liked to belong to a faction/group and would have liked to know that I was building an army to attack/defend some group/ideal. Perhaps with future updates, some of these features may find their way into the game. Until that time, enjoy a quick-to-play, gem-matching game and dominate the competition.

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