This ain't no Battle Zone...
Some games out there are based on such a weak premise that the developers don't even try very hard to explain it. Maybe a paragraph or two in the manual to the effect of: "In the year XXXX, an evil force is about to end the world/kill off the human race/blow up your mother's house. Now, it is up to *you* to save the world/human race/mom."
However, BattleTanx offers two full pages of "Prologue," which means either the developers are as wordy and long-winded as yours truly or they knew this game was so weak that they tried to justify the existence through inane plot. Basically, due to a lethal virus that targets only women, the world as we know it has turned into an apocalyptic wasteland where the most precious commodities are females and massive death machines (not too far from where we are now). Various factions roam the countryside searching for women and attempt to engage in some Mad Max style vehicular combat.
I've seen games like BattleTanx way too often for the N64; a game that could have easily been made for a 16 or 32 bit system but doesn't show a hint of power from a 64-bit system. While it's good for a few kicks, BattleTanx's weak graphics and uninspired gameplay make for a lackluster experience.
Graphics are typical for lame Nintendo games; lots of fog and darkness to hide the heinous pop-up that would have otherwise occurred. The quality of the graphics reminds me of Chopper Attack, from the poorly designed vehicles to the crappy backgrounds. In addition, the best parts of the game (i.e. mindless destruction) don't look all that great. Cars and buildings aren't so much flattened by your tank as "melt" into the ground. Even the story lines are done poorly - still pictures with loads of slow-scrolling text. Reminds me of playing old Genesis games that looked and played a lot better.
Gameplay consists of various-shaped "arenas." In the square-shaped ones, you are required to seek out and destroy a set number of enemies. In the long, narrow, stages, you are required to run the gauntlet and make it to the other side in one piece, gathering weapon power-ups and life along the way. Sounds like fun? Yawn.
The controls work well, with several different configurations available. The easy mode has a fixed turret so you can just point and shoot. There is also the option of a rotating turret (a must for any tank game) that'll take some time to master.
Multi-player is slightly more enjoyable than single-player mode, but it gets old fast; run around the arena, blowing your opponent to smithereens. Nothing you haven't seen or played about a million times before.
BattleTanx does manage to stick in some goodies to juice up an otherwise lame game. There are several modes of play available, as well as various "teams" you can pick in multiplayer. Still, the graphics are terribly lacking and the gameplay is so inherently weak that these extras are mere camouflage for the junk hidden within.
When you get right down to it, this game is substandard in every major category. Alas, another throwaway title to add to the ever-growing mountain of disappointing Nintendo 64 games. Oh, when will the carnage end?