Front Line (video game)
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The American arcade flyer for Front Line
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 consists of 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. He was influenced by Space Invaders and Galaga. 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 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 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 volley 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.
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 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, 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 a number of platforms, including the ColecoVision console and the PC-8801 and Sharp X1 computers in 1983, the Atari 2600 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 attractive shoot 'em up".
- "59 Developers, 20 Questions: 1985 Interview Special". Beep. October 1985.