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Eurogamer Expo 2013: CarTank hands-on

Eurogamer Expo 2013

Following RichMakeGame’s Pineapple Smash Crew, CarTank is the latest title from the one man independent studio. This vehicle arena shooter looks to capture the aesthetic of an imaginary ‘80s cartoon, as the big sheriff of the town must prevent the evil M.A.C.E. organisation from getting up to no good. Most likely via a rather unwelcoming volley of machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades.

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“Inspirations such as 16-bit generation titles”The demo build showcased five individual locations to visit. In each the sheriff would have to patrol and clear areas from M.A.C.E. subjugation before moving onto the next. The sand environments and machinery were painted with a cel-shaded visual style. The brash hue of the land and bright white outer shell of the CarTank reflected a bright contrast.

Initially this appears as a simplistic arena shooter, however, the language of physical input is not far from a more technically advanced first-person shooter. Using dual analogue sticks for movement is presumed easy for those that play videogames, but for first timers it’s a complicated control method that offers precision once mastered.

CarTank bounds around the landscape and controls nicely, yielding a nonchalant yet controlled arcade quality that encourages driving fast and free without the worry of flying off edges or generally tumbling into unfair pitfalls. An internal camera signal in the bottom-left of the screen shows our driver and everything not bolted down bouncing around inside the vehicle as it somersaults over ramps and collides with the environment. A purely comedic touch.

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“The value of bringing his concept to Eurogamer Expo 2013”The moment pink and blue bullets were fired from enemy vehicles came flashes of niche Japanese shmups by cult developers Cave. The pink balls burst into blue rather that acting as a separate pattern attack and during the more chaotic moments an agile reflex was imperative. Blue orbs dropped by destroyed vehicles power-up the vehicle and allow it to become invincible with a three weapon attack. Borrowing a few mechanical aspects from Cave shmups could add a layer of depth to this power-up system.

It was here within the more manic scenes that CarTank pealed opened as the pace increased, showing the internal inspirations such as 16-bit generation titles like Micro Machines. Rich mentioned that the aforementioned Codemasters classic party racer was an important milestone in his personal videogame history, creating levels to play and share with friends that no doubt acted as a stepping stone to his personal, independent development.

Rich talked about the value of bringing his concept to Eurogamer Expo 2013, enabling him to collect a huge amount of player feedback. Focus testing through expo visitors for ideas of what does and doesn’t work in the alpha stage has proved invaluable. His notepad was quickly filing up with feedback through quick-fire 1-2-1 sessions, free of agendas and letting CarTankbreathe within a shared space of other independently developed titles.

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From the hands-on there’s still some final ideas to be implemented and ironed out. The peaks came from the more chaotic scenes of combat as the blue and pink bullets began to swarm the scene, the vivid cel-shaded colours clashing productively. This could be the field that CarTank works with to explore a layered system, though it would hamper the initial simplicity currently at play. RichMakeGame’s upcoming arena shooter is expected to ship early 2014.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

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