Sega - Tac/Scan

Tac/Scan - Arcade
1982 Sega

Reviewed by FraGMarE

Though dated by today's standards, Tac/Scan was a very visually impressive game for it's time. It featured some of the best vector graphics until the debut of Nintendo's failed Virtual Boy. There were other vector games out at that time, but few were given the attention to detail that Tac/Scan was. One thing that was different is that unlike any other comtemporary shmups in 1982, this game actually scrolled vertically, and then switched to a pseudo-3D view (like Silpheed). Now, back then I was really into Asteroids, Defender, Centipede, and the newer Galaga and Zaxxon, but when I saw a Tac/Scan cabinet at my local arcade it definitely caught my eye.

The sounds were also notable for the era. There was, of course, no background music, but the sound effects actually sounded like the things they were supposed to sound like (a rarity in '82!). No voice sample here, though, as were in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back

At a period in gaming where there really were no well defined game genres, Tac/Scan still comes across today as very shmuppy. Your movement is limited to the bottom of the screen like Galaga, but, unlike Galaga, you could swivel your squadron of seven ships left and right via a dial. The control itself is quite responsive, and you never find yourself blaming the dial for your own shmupping blunders. If a ship did happen to be destroyed, you could replace it immediately from a ship in your own reserve or wait to score another 20,000 points so a couple spare ships would float down from the top of the screen for you to skillfully dock with. If you lost all your ships, your game was over, and your quarter was obviously sacrificed to te shmup gods. Once you make it through a certain amount of enemies the viewpoint switches to behind and slightly above your ships, and you cut down more enemy hoardes from a new vantage point. Once that's done, you navigate your way through a warp tunnel, and do it all over again with a new squadron formation. Pretty cutting edge for 1982.

In retrospect, Tac/Scan was definitely one of my favorite early shmups. It's not one of the famous classic shmups like Defender or Galaga, but it is a classic nonetheless. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is into collecting old carcade games (if you can find a PCB that works). If you can't do that, then you can always play it on MAME. Even if you're fairly new to shmupping Tac/Scan is still worth playing. You can see what shooters were like before fancy new play mechanics like boss encounters and roaming freely around the screen. Not a lot of old games pass the test of time and remain as enjoyable today as they were when they were released, but Tac/Scan surely does. If you haven't played it, try it. To be fair, the graphics and sound scores below are Tac/Scan compared to other games out in the early 80s. Gameplay and enjoyment, however, are timeless.





Here, one of the laser firing UFOs take aim at my squadron leader.

If you're not careful, these pesky little things will keep flying around and picking off your ships.


   In the pseudo-3D view you tilt from left to right as enemies scale towards you. Think Tempest meets Silpheed.

As you fly through the warp tunnel try to keep your squadron of ships within the triangle shown here.

If one of ships touches the side of the tunnel, it's toast.



Oops! Here I am getting pwned. As you progress to each new level and/or dock with reinforcement ships, your squadron's formation will change.Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst.

The further into the game you get, the more intense the enemy onslaught becomes.

Anything past level 10 starts to get pretty messy.


Thanks for this Frag - as usual, I got the review about 5 years ago and only just put it up. Well not that long but it seems that long. It's certainly been decades since the game first came out, and it's one of the few I never saw in an arcade, anywhere. Twenty two years ago though... oooh I feel old.

I'd never given it much play at all in mame either - and it's only after reading through the review and noticing all those lovely timeless and colourful minimalist vectors, that I really really want to play it now. So, I'm off to do just that - bye!! - malc


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