Tanks! gameplay

Tanks! is the ninth minigame in Wii Play. The player takes control of a tank within a rectangular arena inhabited by enemy tanks. The objective of the game is to defeat all enemy tanks without taking damage to progress through missions.


The arena plays in two dimensions within a three-dimensional landscape, and consists of rectangular blocks and potholes, which tanks are blocked from crossing but bullets are able to. Gameplay involves manoeuvring around the arena and attacking enemy tanks while avoiding incoming fire. Since most bullets can ricochet off blocks, combat between tanks often requires predictive aiming and angular judgement to strike moving targets. Although the playing field is two-dimensional, the vertical stacking of blocks can at times obscure visibility. Additionally, the player and some enemy tanks possess the ability to place mines, which detonate on a timer in a moderate blast radius, or prematurely, by proximity if approached or if shot outright. This can destroy certain blocks and also penetrate through unbreakable blocks. Both the player and enemy tanks have just a single hit point and will be destroyed if receiving damage from bullets or mines (note that the player is also susceptible to damaging themselves). All tanks leave tracks behind themselves.

Single player

If the player takes damage, they will lose a life and the current mission will be reset. However, previously destroyed enemy tanks from the mission will not be respawned, making it gradually easier to progress. The player starts with 3 lives and earns an extra life for every 5 missions completed. The game is ended after being defeated with 0 lives remaining.

Initially there are 20 missions available which all use preset layouts. A Bronze Medal is rewarded for completing Mission 5, a Silver Medal for completing Mission 10, and a Gold Medal for completing Mission 20. Doing so for the first time discreetly unlocks an additional 80 missions for 100 in total. After Mission 20, arenas and tanks will usually be randomly selected and generated, although every five missions may feature a preset layout and may also introduce a previously unplayed arena to the the arena rotation. Reaching any mission beyond Mission 30 will reward a Platinum Medal. Completing Mission 100 completes the game.


Two players can play at multiplayer, player 1 a blue tank and player 2 a red tank. Unlike the other Wii Play games, in Tanks! it is semi-cooperative. Players score a point for each enemy tank they destroy, and whoever destroys the most tanks wins. Friendly fire is a feature, with players able to attack each other should they choose. However, there are no lives, and the game is ended when both players are defeated within the same mission. For the sake of playability, it may benefit both players to spare each other and focus on defeating enemy tanks to proceed through missions, with the other player able to continue should one be defeated, and the defeated player being respawned in the following mission. The same initial 20 missions in single player are featured in multiplayer, although often tanks are repositioned with the presence of a second player (while player positions may be interchanged between each other on subsequent sessions). Completing Mission 20 completes the game and players are scored, with no further missions available in multiplayer.


The nunchuck may be used as an optional accessory.

  • Point wii remote at screen: aim reticle
  • D-pad / nunchuck thumbstick: steer/move tank
  • A button: deploy mine
  • B button: shoot bullet
  • + button: pause game

Tank attributes

Tank First appearance Movement Behaviour Bullet speed Fire rate Ricochets Max bullets Max mines
Player Mission 1 Normal Controlled Normal Controlled 1 5 2
Brown Mission 1 Stationary Passive Normal Slow 1 1 -
Grey Mission 2 Slow Defensive Normal Slow 1 1 -
Teal Mission 5 Slow Defensive Fast Slow - 1 -
Yellow Mission 8 Normal Incautious Normal Slow 1 1 4
Red Mission 10 Slow Offensive Normal Fast 1 3 -
Green Mission 12 Stationary Active Fast Fast 2 2 -
Purple Mission 15 Normal Offensive Normal Fast 1 5 2
White Mission 20 Slow Offensive Normal Fast 1 5 2
Black Mission 50 Fast Offensive Fast Fast - 2 2
  • The yellow tank rapidly deploys mines compared to other mine-deploying tanks. Its tendency to try sabotage the player this way also lends to it being somewhat careless in the midst of bullet fire.
  • The green tank, unlike all other enemy tanks, uses calculated predictive aiming and tends to fire where the player is approaching rather than their current position.
  • The white tank has a special property that it turns invisible as the mission begins. Its tracks remain visible.


  • Utilising the ricocheting of bullets to fire around obstacles is essential to effective combat.
  • Movement is briefly halted while firing while moving at maximum speed.
  • Up to five bullets can be 'active' from firing at one time, during which no more can be fired until another has been destroyed.
  • Being sparing when firing will help to avoid accidental self-harm from being overwhelmed by unexpected ricochets.
  • Bullets will destroy other bullets, which makes firing directly on enemy tanks' bullets a useful tactic to both avoid having to dodge and reduce their active fire.
  • Enemy tanks can push each other around, which can result in stationary tanks being pushed into walls. In these instances, the blast radius of mines can be used to remotely destroy them from the other side.
  • Enemy tanks which themselves deploy mines will actively try to avoid mines from both the player and other enemy tanks. This can be used to hinder their movement as well as corner them against the boundary of blast radii. Enemy tanks which do not deploy mines will avoid mines from other enemy tanks if possible, but will fail to detect those of the player, so can be considered a potential means to destroy them.
  • Because green tanks predict where the player is approaching when they fire, shifting in a perpendicular direction after one has done so may help to avoid its line of fire including followup ricochets, although care should be taken in mind of subsequent shots being fired.
  • The position of invisible white tanks are indicated by the visible tracks they leave.
  • Black tanks are fast to the point that it is difficult to outgun them from concentrated fire. Alternatively, focusing on cornering them can be a more effective strategy.


The soundtrack is comprised of numerous marching band instruments. During gameplay, however, they do not play all at once. The ones which do play are associated with the presence of specific tanks. Tanks are ranked by the order shown in the below table, which is not the order in which tanks first appear. The instrument configurations are based on which tank of the highest rank is present and how many other tanks are also present. Timpani 2 is an extended sequence building from Timpani 1.

  • Mission announcement: two trumpets
  • Mission introduction: snare drum
  • Main mission background melody: two piccolos
  • Tank kill: trumpet
  • Life lost: two piccolos, tubular bell
  • Extra life: trumpet
  • Mission complete: two piccolos
  • Mission 20 & 100 complete: two piccolos, tuba, cymbals, bass drum, snare drum
  • Results: two piccolos, tuba, snare drum, triangle, whistle
Tank Rank Count Snare drum Triangle Timpani 1 Cymbals Timpani 2 Bass drum Tuba Tubular bells Synthesiser
Brown 1 1+
Grey 2 1+
Teal 3 1
Red 4 1
Yellow 5 1
Purple 6 1
Green 7 1
White 8 1
Black 9 1+


Medal Requirement
Bronze Medal 11 tanks (Complete Mission 5)
Silver Medal 32 tanks (Complete Mission 10)
Gold Medal 84 tanks (Complete Mission 20)
Platinum Medal 125 tanks (Complete Mission 30)


  • Completing all 100 missions will record a score of 540 tanks, an average of 5.4 tanks per mission.
  • On rare occasions, enemy tanks might destroy each other, usually when cornered absolutely. In single player, these are counted towards the player's score. In multiplayer, neither player receives a score from them.