Front Line (video game)

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Front Line
Developer(s) Taito
Publisher(s) Taito
Platform(s) Arcade, Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, FM-7, MSX, Nintendo Famicom, PC-6001, PC-8801, PC-9801, Sharp X1, Virtual Console
Release date(s) Arcade ColecoVision PC-8801 Sharp X1 Atari 2600 Commodore 64 MSX FM-7 Nintendo Famicom Virtual Console
Genre(s) Multi-directional shooter
Run and gun
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Arcade system Taito SJ System[1]
Display Raster

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.[citation needed] 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.[1]

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.

A port of the arcade game 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.

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.


Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame Arcade: 4.5/5 stars[6]
Coleco: 3.5/5 stars[2]
Atari: 3/5 stars[3]
The Video Game Critic Coleco: C[7]
Atari: B+[8]
Publication Award
Arcade Awards (1983) Coin-Op Game of the Year (Certificate of Merit)[9]

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".[9]

Popular culture[edit]

The Front Line arcade cabinet appears in the 1983 film Joysticks.[1]


External links[edit]