Section 2B: Ichiban, the Puma and the Fort
As you enter this section, your radio will go off. Incoming transmission!
We'll be meeting Ichiban in a minute.
First, we've got a forest to trundle through, and while the road itself isn't anything special- if winding and slightly cramped in parts- it's stuffed with Gustafu tanks and, near the end, the heavy-duty Becks Haus. That cannon fire won't do you much good, especially seeing as you won't be getting a Reserve supply until much further down this path, and there's nowhere to really take cover. Later on down this route you'll be getting a big boost to your Explosive cannon supply, so feel free to switch B on and take the Becks Haus out quickly. You might also find switching V on to be useful, especially as the Gustafu like to attack in packs of three. Aside from that, just keep on down this path, and you'll eventually reach...
Ah, here we go, the bridge.
Hope you're paying attention here, 'cause from here on out, the road to the enemy gets nasty.
The bridge section isn't too long, but it's pretty easy to get yourself killed before you reach the end, for three reasons. First, you're constantly pestered by Louis and Gustafu tanks, usually from the rear. Second, there's plenty of Becks Haus tanks to make it tough. Finally, you'll become better acquainted with the most lethal hazards in all of Iron Tank- the mines. They're the red flashing circles with odd symbols on them that make a beeping noise whenever one's in spitting distance, You might've seen these if you'd tried to cross the wrong bridge earlier in the game, but you can't just skip these ones. Touch them- even brush against them lightly- and the way you are now, your tank's toast! With a Reserve fuel tank, you can hit one land mine safely, but we don't have that luxury now. Put all three together and you've got a tough section, made tougher by the fact that you can't just blaze through with Reserve fuel to back you up. It's easy to die here because of sloppy play, so don't be afraid to switch some weapons on- take the enemy tanks out before advancing, and be very careful around the mines. This is one of the key tactics of Iron Tank- knowing when to charge the enemy, and when to be careful. Here, careful play wins the day.
Halfway through, you'll find our contact, Ichiban:
I'm pretty sure Ichiban's talking about the Think Tank we'll be fighting shortly...
You'll also find your first ? item here. Take it and save if for when you really need it.
Once you're past the bridge, you'll get another message. Incoming transmission!
Spoiler: it's no bigger than the last gigantic enemy object we encountered. Smaller, actually.
Just keep rolling down this path, grabbing a few pick-ups along the way, and...
Boss fight! Boss fight!... Well, really, this isn't much of a fight, if you know what you're doing. Get ready to flick on all your upgrades again, as the Puma- a heavy armoured tank with three turrets, if you ask the instruction manual- is another joke, if you get the first shot in. Its only attack is to launch three cannon shots, but they'll actually home in on you, and this can do a lot of damage. However, if you pummel it with everything you've got, it'll go down in seconds. Apparently the enemy is unaware that we call it the Iron Tank for a reason, 'cause it's the strongest tank in the world! For the record, this is the last giveaway boss fight you get- from here on out, the giant enemy
battleships tanks you'll encounter will not go down so easily.
Once you beat the Puma, you get some infantry units to run over for extra health, before the next area.
We now enter the town, and this is a bit breezier than what you've just come through. Unlike the bridge, you're not confined, and you've actually got places to hide. There are still plenty of Beck Haus tanks to give you grief, and it's not like the enemy numbers dwindle, but you've got more options for taking cover and avoiding cannon fire this time. There's also less mines, so that's a plus. The only other thing of note here is another ? item to the left of the start, so be sure to pick it up while you're here. Aside from that, just take cover when necessary and edge your way out of town.
Once you hit the forest, you'll get a message. Incoming transmission!
Before we find out what they're blabbering about, there's a small gauntlet of Waltars to take out...
On the plus side, there's a few E and F items along the way, so stock up.
Ah, here we go. The secret base, I presume?
This is the most basic kind of fort entrance, as they'll only get nastier from here on out, but what they all have in common are these cylinder turrets that try to lock on to your position and promptly cover the screen in bullets very quickly. They'll pummel your health bar, and it doesn't help that other tanks will sometimes appear from the sides of the screen to take a potshot and then scarper- be careful not to crash into these guys. If you've got some of your L meter left, switch it on along with F and scroll the turrets into view, then hang back and take them out from a safe distance. If you're out of L, then move left or right to get a turret in your line of fire, shoot it then circle back and keep moving like this to stay away from their bullets. Once they're destroyed, blow the door open to enter the fort.
Have you spotted the pattern with radio transmissions yet? Yeah, here's another. Incoming transmission!
This is an odd one- it's a 'stock' message that, depending on your actions, may or may not appear again later. Kinda weird.
Anyway, this short section is a little prelude to your first real boss fight. As you enter, take out the tanks that appear and keep an eye on the left, as a bullet train will zoom down the tracks and try to fill you with cannon fire. Either shoot it with a B-powered cannon shot or make a beeline for the boxes in the right to avoid the shots. After that, make your way to the end of this short area, and you'll find two round turrets on top of a door. You don't need to hit the turrets, just blow the doors off and you're set. Blowing them up reveals a few items, including the most important pick-up of the game- R, the Reserve Fuel icon. It's essentially a Metroid-esque upgrade! Once you pick it up here, it becomes a permanent part of your inventory, and as long as you remember to select it, your energy meter will automatically refill should it empty. Collecting E icons when your energy meter is full will refill it a bit, and grabbing another R tops up both meters completely. So, essentially, this means you'll have at least two bars worth of energy upon starting a new life before you have to go back to a checkpoint. Handy, that.
So, flick the R on if you want, and enter the door, to face...
Finally, a challenge. This is Think Tank (F-Type), one of the enemy's strongest weapons.
The F in F-Type apparently stands for fire, as this Think Tank model is armed with a massive flamethrower. Its pattern is straightforward- it'll slide from one side of the screen to the other, firing flame shots off as it does so, then lurch to the bottom of the screen before reversing, then travelling across the screen again. The thing to watch out for here is that touching this thing will murder your energy meter, so you need to watch out when it changes direction- you don't want it to trample all over you when it moves across the screen. The strategy here is to try and stay on the opposite side of the screen of the hulking tank so it doesn't crush you when it rolls forward, and fire at it diagonally. You might also want to switch your available weapons off if you want to make this quick. Just stay the hell out of its way!
Once you destroy it, more mission orders are on their way. Incoming transmission!
Actually, Tommy J won't be giving you any info of the sort, but it's a nice thought anyway.
This is the railway area, and straight away you'll see a B icon to pick up. Grab it, switch it on, then start heading upwards via the middle track. You'll start encountering the fast-moving bullet trains called J-Types in the manual. They zoom down the screen at a frightening pace and launch cannon fire to to the side. If you're firing B-cannons at them, though, they'll go down in one hit, so what you need to do is fire a cannon the second the appear on-screen. Don't let them crash into you, otherwise you'll take a tonne of damage! You won't have much of a choice in where to go, because the path becomes a tight bridge quickly, so destroy them before they can derail (ho ho ho) your mission.
Your radio will go off while this is happening. Incoming transmission!
You might think this is useless info, but to be fair, they're talking about a different kind of bullet train.
Eventually the path will open up again, with three railway tracks. Pick one of the side tracks here, because the J-Types in the middle track fire straight ahead, meaning you'll take damage even if you pre-empt them with your cannon fire. The ones to the left and right will always fire to the side, so they're less of a hassle. Once you reach the end of this area, a small group of Louis tanks will show up to mildly annoy you- remember to switch your B-cannon off, because you should try and conserve ammo, you'll need it in a minute. Once you're past the bridge, this area's over, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. At least you've got a Reserve fuel tank now, eh?
After all that, this is the prison camp where Tommy J is.
Blow open the prison doors with cannon fire to rescue the P.O.W.s. Three of them are grateful:
The fourth is Mr. J who provides this stunning information:
Shoot it. OK, got it. Thanks. You might want to listen to him if you want to do your job, though...
There's a few soldiers and tanks here, but nothing you can't handle.
Your next path-split of the game is just ahead:
Head left (forest path) for Section 3B: Canyon Battle, or right (train tracks) for Section 3C: The Long Range Weapon.