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T-Mek - The Atari Times


Lots of wrecks with T-Mek
by Darryl Brundage

November 14, 2005
In their final years, Atari's coin-op division was known to crank out remakes of their older games (but with some new wrinkles included), like Blasteroids (which had a lot of similarities with the earlier classics of Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe, and Space Duel), Off the Wall (obviously influenced by the much earlier Breakout and Super Breakout, but turned sideways and with a lot of bonuses and power-ups added), and ThunderJaws (an updated, underwater version of Rolling Thunder), among others (like how I view S. T. U. N. Runner as being the sequel [of sorts] to Road Blasters).

And then T-Mek was an updated version of Battlezone on some very serious speed...a total opposite of the leisurely-paced Atari coin-ops of Marble Madness, Stunt Cycle, and Arabian, among others (not to mention the 2600 games of Checkers [either version!], Sneak 'n Peek [Sneak 'n Snore would be more like it], and even Pac-Man when the flickering ghosts got fast was no match for the pace of this game!).

At the beginning of each game, you're given the choice of which of several Meks (which are a cross between a hovercraft [from hell] and a tank) to command, which, also like choosing a character in Gauntlet, each has it's strengths and weaknesses: the Meks with a lot of armor and firepower move slow (like the Warrior in Gauntlet), whereas the faster-moving Meks have less armor and not as devastating firepower as their heavier cousins (like the Elf in Gauntlet).

Then you're thrown into the post-nuclear (or whatever), devastated world of Battlezone, but with the turbo overdrive of APB added to your Meks (imagine the speed of moving your blaster in Tempest, but with a few tons of metal added). Also like in Battlezone, the game has two joysticks for control, although not only do you get a fire button (of course), but you also have a deflect button on the other joystick as well, as that supposedly cuts down on your Mek's damage, but then, things are going so fast, it's really going to be a guess if that's making a difference or not in the heat of battle (if you're able to time it right to deflect an enemy's shot in the *first* place, that is).

A radar also helps out (also like in Battlezone), as well as glowing power-ups inside the wreckage of destroyed Meks, so scoop those up if you can, as they will add to your shields. However, unlike 'zone, there's the addition of voice synthesis here as an announcer (who's occasionally shown) tells you when a new round begins, when it ends (which is when he appears in a brief cinematic, as he sweeps his hand across the screen, commanding "cease fire!" [like you have a *choice*, anyway: the round's OVER, masked weirdo!]), advises you to "seek revenge" when you've been destroyed (you bet, I ain't wasting my quarter just to dance around the other Meks!), and even snarls (you can almost hear him drooling) "excellent" when you've made a couple of impressive kills. (I'm glad he doesn't get any more buddy-buddy as it is, as I'd hate to watch his kid for a weekend while he's out of town and to have something happen to him [the kid, I mean], and then I'd probably end up getting blamed [which, as punishment, I'd probably get my Mek taken away and be given a souped-up [[sorta]] Ford Pinto in return].)

After several rounds, you'll encounter a boss that's usually cloaked, fast, and is tough to see, much less beat. You can also compete against another player, although I can't comment on how that goes, since I've only played with someone else once ever (but I wasn't in the mood as the guy butted in and threw in a quarter, so I blew his butt outta the blackened, ravaged sky, heh heh). It's probably a real test on friendship though, or at least make it difficult to not be left at the mall if only one person's driving, and you beat them in battle...

The graphics are also pretty killer (no vector lines like on Battlezone, though), not to mention the sound effects and the controls are pretty slick (unless you're sweating onto the joysticks; handi-wipes, people!). There's also hidden bonuses in the game, but I won't get into them here, due to instructions on accomplishing them being a bit lengthy (you can check them out here, though: http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?letter=T&game_id=9992 .)

I also played (used to own) a home version for the Sega 32X, which I've heard a lot of people recommend it, but I thought the smaller screen (rather than the large coin-op's) suffered a bit, making it easier to hit targets...well, except for the controls being overly sensitive, and you end up flying past your target as you spin around, and unlike how it claims on the box, most of the brief cutscenes are missing, but then, most 32X games in general are hard to find, so this is pretty much a moot point anyway (but yet another vote for emulation.)

Even though I consider this to be an excellent, heart-pounding, pulse-racing game, and have seemingly raved about it, my score is actually going to be a bit lower than you think it will be overall, since it's pretty hard with only one player. But it's still a pretty good update...

...although you might want to skip it if you're into the slow, strategy-building stuff like Mahjongg and the like. So go join grandma at Bingo night instead, if that's more your thing, you post-nuclear party animal.

Ah, Battlezone taken to the next level.
Nothing like battling tanks in the desert.
I like pummeling them with missiles.
Some interesting default entries on the hi score table. :-)
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 100%
Sound & Music Score: 100%
Gameplay Score: 90%
Control Score: 100%

Final Score: 83%

Reader Comments for T-Mek

T-Mek is awesome by Adam on 2006-10-14 00:18:50
I for one wish this game would have been finished for the Jaguar. Here's to the hope that one day a proto will be found for the Jag version, unless it has been thrown out already... I play this game everytime I go to the arcade. It's best with two players but single player is passable. I love te sounds effects, especially when you blast and opponent with a cruise missle. The best thing about this game is the sense of destruction. There is plenty of it to spare in this game which is like a cross between BattleZone and BattleWheels.
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