As a kid, nothing beat driving toy cars over everything and making saliva-fuelled engine noises. Tank-O-Box, takes a strong inspiration from the imagination-powered Hot Wheels of yesteryear without the spit, revving up miniature military vehicles in a cute 3D sandbox.
We're not talking about a free-roaming sandbox game, but literally a small box filled with sand for kids to play in. All the action takes place in the kind of miniature, tabletop battleground diorama that granddads used to lovingly build for their grandkids to give them somewhere to drive their toy tanks other than the arms of their plastic-covered sofas. Indeed, it's this charm coupled with decently satisfying action that makes Tank-O-Box an entertaining play.
Like all good epic battles, the odds are stacked against the cunning underdog: you. A single tank is parachuted into the box to take on a host of enemy vehicles trundling across 55 levels. The objectives vary from defending your small headquarters building to taking out every last enemy vehicle.
Controls are handled by a virtual directional pad and fire button. Your tank only moves at right angles, which does leave you hunting around for the button a little too much while trying to make minute adjustments so you can land the missiles accurately and avoid incoming fire.
There are eight different types of enemy vehicle to defeat. Strength, accuracy and manoeuvrability vary among these enemies, so you can find yourself winding a balletic dance of armoured war machines around different terrains and obstacles.
You quickly learn the importance of using the miniaturised topography to your advantage. Battles become something of an explosive chess game as you try to avoid going toe-to-toe with more powerful tanks, calculating ways to outflank them instead.
Although it might clutter the screen with extra controls, it would be nice to add a bit more visibility to Tank-O-Box by allowing you to rotate the sandbox, and possibly even zoom in and out, as the vehicles are quite small on the display. As it currently stands, you do find yourself squinting at the screen too much.
Yet even from a distance, the dioramas look nice with lots of destructible scenery and a clear difference between the attacking tanks and armoured cars. In many respects, the levels take on something of a puzzle game as you try to fathom how to use the terrain to get to the enemy (or, for that matter, to stop the enemy from getting to you).
It's not massively deep gameplay, but it delivers on its promises and provides some amusing, and often exciting miniaturised action. If tank battles and toy cars are something you like to play with (and your grandparents don't want you scratching up the sideboard with your toy soldiers) Tank-O-Box ought to be very appealing.