Front Line (video game)
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2010)|
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. Military-oriented video games of the early 1980s usually involved vehicular combat, such as tanks, but did not include infantry.
The original arcade version consists of a joystick, a single button (other than the "player one" and "player two" start buttons), and a rotary dial that can be pushed in like a button, which fires the weapon. The single button is used to throw grenades, and to enter and exit the tank.
Playing as a lone soldier, the player's ultimate objective is to lob a hand grenade into the enemy's fort by first fighting off infantry units, then battling an armada of tanks before finally reaching the opponent's compound.
The player begins with two weapons: a pistol and grenades. The ammunition supply for both items is unlimited, so there is no need to acquire ammunition during gameplay. Once the player has advanced far enough into enemy territory, there's a "tank warfare" stage in which the player commandeers tanks to fight off the enemy.
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. If a heavy tank is struck by a second volley from a light tank, it will be destroyed. Once a damaged tank is evacuated, the player can jump back in and resume normal operation without any deadly consequence. A single shot from a heavy tank will destroy either type of tank. With either type of tank, the player must exit the vehicle within a few seconds of being struck by a fatal shot. The tank quickly explodes, and if the player is still occupying it, he loses a life.
The tank battle continues up 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. This requires them to be on foot instead of manning a tank. Once the player has successfully lobbed a grenade into the tank fortress, the tank will explode and an enemy soldier will wave the white flag, signaling surrender. The game then starts over with the infantry level, but enemy soldiers become much quicker and deadlier in successive rounds.
Following its release in the coin-op arcade platform, the game was ported to a number of platforms, including the ColecoVision console and the PC-8801 and Sharp X1 computers in 1983, the Atari 2600, Commodore 64 and MSX in 1984, and the FM-7 and Nintendo Famicom in 1985.
A Game Boy Color spin-off entitled Sgt. Rock: On The Frontline was published by Taito in 2000. As its name implies, the game follows the template of the original arcade game, but is set within the DC Comics universe.
In the 1983 Arcade Awards, Front Line was awarded a Certificate of Merit as 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 attactive shoot 'em up".