The Game: You’re piloting a lone tank trapped in an arena with numerous indestructible obstacles – and quite a few hostile tanks. The moment you’re sent into battle, those other tanks converge on you immediately, so survival usually hinges on finding an advantageous configuration of obstacles to use as a makeshift fortress from behind which you can try to pick off enemy tanks without giving them a clear shot at yours. When you blast an enemy tank, it’s best not to be too close to it, because the shockwave of an exploding tank can catch nearby tanks and share the destruction, sometimes allowing you to fire one shot and set off a screen-clearing chain reaction. (Also, exploding tanks leave behind craters that slow you down if you try to cross over them.) You have a shielding system that offers very temporary shelter from enemy fire and from the explosions of nearby enemies, but constant firing and shield use will drain your precious energy reserves, and if that happens you’re as good as dead. (Namco, 1984)
Memories: Not one of the most original games in Namco’s history, Grobda borrows game play concepts left and right from some of the all-time arcade greats, boils them into one stew, and speeds things up considerably.
Grobda is essentially the classic overhead Tank game…on speed. The player’s tank takes a second or two to build up a full head of steam, and then it’s a juggernaut hurtling across the screen at full speed. Add to this the unpredictably short-lived personal shield of Phoenix or Asteroids Deluxe, and the slowly blossoming mushroom clouds of Missile Command, and you’ve got Grobda.
Grobda is one tough cookie – it’s easy for a newcomer to the game to get discouraged after having everything on the screen sail down and fry you a few times. Grobda also has one other unusual distinction: it’s not a sequel to Xevious, but it is a spinoff. The Grobda tank you control in this game was first seen in Xevious…as an enemy. Hey, whose side are you on, anyway?