Memories: Though the above description is exceedingly simple, Battlezone was another pillar of Atari’s stable of outstanding vector graphics games (which also included Tempest and Asteroids). With its two-stick control system, mimicking a real tank’s controls, its slowly lumbering game play, and its periscope-like screen, Battlezone was, for its day, an incredibly cool and realistic game (with a huge cabinet too).
On the strength of Battlezone, Atari was contracted by the Department of Defense to produce somewhat more advanced, “total-immersion” combat simulators. The crash project, with its round-the-clock schedule, was the last straw for Battlezone designer Ed Rotberg, who left Atari a short while afterward.
Atari naturally hung on to the home video game rights to Battlezone, though it seemed like forever before they ever produced a home version of the game. In 1983, a Battlezone cartridge was finally released for the Atari 2600, and it was a major surprise. Of course, vector graphics couldn’t be replicated on the 2600, so the game was completely revamped and given a very good and colorful graphics treatment (especially if one takes the 2600’s limitations into consideration). The control scheme was also revamped to a much simpler and more instinctive single-joystick format, and the result was a very good arcade adaptation.