Section 3B: Canyon Battle
As you enter this area, you'll find a squad of infantry to run over, and then... Incoming transmission!
Hmm. Didn't we get that message before?
Anyway, after the radio message, you'll start getting hassled by tanks, and the canyon area begins. It's a relatively short area, especially compared to where you've just come from, but the enemy makes sure the road's stuffed with tanks- although you get assaulted by a group of Louis tanks from behind at the start, they're mostly throwing Gustafu and Becks Haus tanks in your direction, both of which take two cannon shots to destroy. Luckily, early on there's a Reserve icon, which will be the first one you get if you've come here via Section 2A, so be sure to grab it- it's essentially a second life-bar that, when equipped, will refill your energy when it empties. It's a permanent part of your inventory now, so be sure to use it. This section's mostly notable for being completely evil and throwing three Becks Haus units at once at you. Switch B on if you want to live!
As you get further in, the road begins to narrow, and more land mines start showing up. Negotiate those mines carefully, because they don't care if you only brush against them- without a Reserve item, it's instant death. Naturally, you'll still be attacked by tanks even in this confined space, so if you haven't flicked B on already, do so now- you won't be needing heavy firepower for the section after this one, so feel free to cut loose. Eventually the area will open up again, but just before the exit, you get to deal with some turrets and a load of tanks- so many, in fact, that this encounter has the worst flicker you're likely to see in the entire game. It's pretty brutal! You're probably just as well to march on rather than deal with the turrets- we'll meet them again later, don't you worry.
Soon, you'll reach a small P.O.W. camp. Another message comes through as you enter. Incoming transmission!
The Power Plant is our next stop after this place, by the way.
There's not much in this place. Two of the prisoners are just grateful:
The other one, though...
What happened to this poor guy's unit? The only survivor...?
OK, let's talk about this for a second, because it's a surprisingly subtle thing for a NES game to do. See, the game wants you to follow the railway tracks and head to Section 3A/C when you have to make the choice at the P.O.W. camp. This is where the enemy's long-range weapon is, which you fight as a boss- Tommy J tells you that and says you should go that way- and the intro of Ralf hopping in the tank tells you this is what your mission is (despite what the text intro/manual tell you). This little bit of dialogue seems like it's unrelated, doesn't it? The first time I played the game, I took this route and it didn't strike me as odd. Play through the other routes and destroy the long-range weapon, though, and you get radio messages like "The safety of the back-up unit is your goal" on the way there, and ones like 'Thanks Snake, we avoided total wipeout" and "Operation completed successfully" when you're done, suggesting that's what you're supposed to do- you get no such messages on this route. There's also the fact that the 'Allies are destroyed' message appears twice in this route, but stops appearing on the others after you destroy the weapon.
Basically what the game seems to be saying- never explicitly so, but it's suggested- is that by taking this route and not destroying the long-range weapon, you're responsible for the back-up unit being wiped out.
You've failed, Iron Tank. Badly.
Pretty heavy for a game from this era.
Anyway, we've completed the first half of the game.
We now move on to Section 4B: The Power Plant.