The Game: In a very genteel and almost inappropriately cute game about armored combat, you’re a lone footsoldier fighting your way through a platoon of enemy troops, trying to take out as many of them as you can until you find your way to a handy empty tank. (Nice of the enemy to allow your government to plant friendly tanks behind their borders, isn’t it?) But once you man your own tank, enemy tanks surround you. If one of them hits your tank, you have mere seconds to bail out before your tank blows, and you have to dodge cannon fire until you can find another friendly tank to commandeer. Finally, after crossing hazardous stretches of desert and fighting off entire battallions of enemy tanks, you’re en route to the final confrontation, a showdown with the enemy’s armored headquarters… (Taito, 1982)
Memories: Front Line was a really fun and addictive game to play, and was always one of my favorites. I didn’t ever give a thought, at the time, that this game really keeps the player’s vision of warfare from delving into the bloody or the unpleasant, and all the characters – even those octagonal, roly-poly little tanks – are really cute.
Front Line proved difficult for anyone to translate for home play, as it incorporated a rotary knob for aiming your soldier’s (or tank’s) weaponry, and at home, unlike the arcade, one had to count on one hand being tied up simply holding the controller. There wasn’t a really definitive version until the game was licensed for the Colecovision (whose Super Action controller had a control that could operate as the aiming device), though various control compromises were made when Coleco turned out Front Line for the Atari 2600. Despite these changes, though, the game was always fun.