Atari Ultra Tank (1978)

Ultra Tank History and Gameplay

Designed by Steve Bristow and developed by Lyle Rains, Tank (Kee Games, 1974) was the original tank combat video game. Each player has a birdseye view of a maze and drives a tank while avoiding mines and shooting at each other. This combat style differentiated the game in a world of pong and driving video games. It was a hit that spurred multiple sequels: Tank II, Tank 8, a bootleg Tankers, and ultimately Ultra Tank in 1978.

To keep earning money on location, operators hacked the original Tank circuit board enhancing the play. Ultra Tank incorporated these hacks into switchable options. In this writer’s opinion, the options are not very compelling as most times a player will select the same barricades, visible tanks, and guided missiles. Additionally, primitive AI made 1-player play possible by battling a “Robot” tank. Unfortunately, the robot is rather dumb and not too hard to beat.

Ultra Tank cabinet
Ultra Tank cabinet