Front Line (video game)
American arcade flyer
Atari 2600, ColecoVision, FM-7, MSX, NES/Famicom, PC-6001, PC-8801, PC-9801, Sharp X1
|Genre(s)||Run and gun|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
|Arcade system||Taito SJ System|
Front Line (フロントライン, Furonto Rain) is a military-themed run & gun shooter game released by Taito for arcades in 1982. It was one of the first video games to feature a ground combat theme and grenades, a precursor to many similarly-themed games of the mid to late 1980s. The original arcade version of Front Line is controlled with a joystick, a single button, and a rotary dial that can be pushed in like a button. The single button is used to throw grenades and to enter and exit tanks, while the rotary dial controls and fires the player's gun.
The game was created by Tetsuya Sasaki. 1985's Ikari Warriors follows the conventions established by Front Line, including the vertically scrolling levels, entering/exiting tanks, and not dying when an occupied tank is destroyed.
Playing as a lone soldier, the player's ultimate objective is to lob a hand grenade into the enemy's fort, first by fighting off infantry units and then battling tanks before finally reaching the opponent's compound.
The player begins with two weapons: a pistol and grenades, with no ammo limit. Once the player has advanced far enough into enemy territory, there's a "tank warfare" stage in which the player can hijack a tank to fight off other enemy tanks.
There are two types of tanks available: a light tank armed with a machine gun and a heavy tank armed with a cannon. The light tank is more nimble, but can be easily destroyed by the enemy. The heavy tank is slower, but can sustain one hit from a light tank; a second hit from a light tank will destroy it. A single shot from a heavy tank will destroy either type of tank. If a partially damaged tank is evacuated, the player can jump back in and resume its normal operation; however, with either type of tank, the player must exit the vehicle within a few seconds of being struck by a fatal shot. If the player does not exit a tank before it explodes, he loses a life. An extra life is awarded at 10,000 or 15,000, and none thereafter.
The tank battle continues until the player reaches the enemy's fort. The fort is a brick-barricaded tank which fires mortar rounds while the player attempts to take it out. In order to destroy this tank, the player must toss a grenade over the brick barricade, which can only be accomplished on foot. Once this is done, the tank will explode and an enemy soldier will wave a white flag, signalling surrender, plus 1,000 bonus points. The game repeats again with the infantry level, but enemy soldiers become increasingly quicker and deadlier in successive rounds; points are multiplied based on the level played.
Following its release in the coin-op arcade platform, the game was ported to the ColecoVision console and the PC-8801 and Sharp X1 computers in 1983, the Atari 2600 and MSX in 1982, and the FM-7 and Nintendo Famicom in 1985. The Famicom version was Taito's first game for the console.
In Japan, Game Machine listed Front Line on their June 1, 1983 issue as being the twentieth most-successful table arcade unit of the year. In the 1983 Arcade Awards, Front Line was a runner-up for Coin-Op Game of the Year, behind Pole Position. The award was given by Electronic Games, which stated that this "arcade approach to the dirty business of infantry combat forces the player to keep moving and firing constantly" and the "action is non-stop in this attractive shoot 'em up".
The arcade original was included in Taito Memories Gekan for the PlayStation 2 console in 2005, and in Taito Legends 2 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Windows platforms in 2006. The Famicom version was released for the Virtual Console service in Japan on June 5, 2007 for the Wii and on January 15, 2014 for the Nintendo 3DS.
The game was released on the Nintendo Switch in the Nintendo eShop on 14 February 2019 by Hamster Corporation as part of their Arcade Archives series and also on the PlayStation 4 on 8 January 2018 as part of the same series.
- "Front Line arcade video game pcb by Taito (1982)". www.arcade-history.com.
- "Front Line - Overview - allgame". 14 November 2014. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014.
- "Front Line - Overview - allgame". 15 November 2014. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014.
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- "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 213. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 June 1983. p. 29.
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- Lane, Gavin (2020-03-13). "Guide: Every Arcade Archives Game On Nintendo Switch, Plus Our Top Picks". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2020-03-28.
- "Arcade Archives | HAMSTER Corporation". www.hamster.co.jp. Retrieved 2020-03-28.