Section 5A: Long Road Ver. A
Here we are, the long road to the enemy headquarters. Hence the name.
Of the three choices you could've made... This is the middle-of-the-road option in terms of difficulty.
After a short little forest section, our radio will start beeping. Incoming transmission!
Luckily our next stop is the enemy's air base, so we'd better sort this out.
The first section here is probably the only place in the game where the enemy fighter planes will really give you bother. It's basically a runway, so it's a long vertical stretch, and bombers will constantly rain fire down on you. Your only recourse is to get the hell out of their way as unlike previous encounters, they seem to be designed to actually hit you. They also cross the screen horizontally here which they don't do very often elsewhere. Generally, the safest place to be is on the grass to either side of the runway, but you can't stay on either side long before something blocks your way. On the runway itself, there's mostly Waltar and Becks Haus tanks in the way. The enemy really do want you out of their hair, don't they? Take it slowly, being sure to take out any tanks along the way, and get used to changing direction quickly to avoid those bombs!
At the end, you'll find the air base itself. Bust the door open, and...
Well, this is different. Grounded aircraft that still put up a fight.
As you approach these planes, tiny turrets will appear on them and open fire. Destroy the turret and the plan will explode just like when a boss is defeated, i.e. the screen fills with white flashes and everything slows down. However, while the turrets will trace your position to an extent, they can't aim behind themslves... So when you first enter this area, you can just march straight ahead and they'll never hit you. As you pass then, though, some tanks will arrive, and they're better shots. Try not to move left or right though- try to stay central, as that's the perfect position for encountering the first of these planes you have to fight. It's a huge plane that completely blocks your path, and as well as two mini-turrets that won't be able to hit you if you didn't move horizontally and two smaller planes to each side, it has a turret in the middle. This one won't appear until you're close enough (and it'll probably hit you) but once it's there, switch L on, stand back and hit it. Destroying the turret blows the whole plane up.
Further into the base there's a few more tanks and one more massive plane blocking the exit...
Again, just blow up the middle turret and we're out of here.
There's a small stretch of airfield left (watch out for those bombers) but then... Incoming transmission!
Unless you count a few P.O.W.s later down the line, this is the last communiqué we'll get from our allies.
At least we stopped the bombs. Let's press on.
The next section is what I call the Heart Base, simply because some parts of it have giant heart shapes made out in tiles on the floor. Aww. This is a long section which consists of biege walled areas split up by small forest paths, and every kind of enemy tank- the one-hit Louis and Gustafu and two-hit Waltar and Becks Haus machines- will attack you en-masse (although it's mostly Gustafus backed up by Becks Haus in this version), as well as infantry who guard entrance-ways to the walled-in sections (can't get past the doors? Blow 'em up, of course!). The main problems you'll encounter in this area are the confined spaces (very few opportunities to take cover) and the limited supplies. Aside from a V icon at the very beginning and some F icons near the end, there's barely any items here... There aren't that many multi-hit tanks, luckily, but this can still be tough. There's only two checkpoints throughout, too. Your best bet is to just avoid taking damage as much as possible- use what little cover is here, and when tanks appear in packs of three, only destroy one. If you destroy all three, another pack will spawn quickly, but just bust one and move along and you won't be bothered again.
You'll know when you're at the end of this section when you enter a forest area with a an F icon at the start- here you'll initially be barraged with trios of Waltar tanks, later trios of Gustafus. Even when you're past them, though (I suggest falling back and using F shots, but sparingly) you're not done yet. The music will change, and we get another fort to fight! This should be the fourth you've encountered. This is a simpler fort than some of the others you've fought- just four cylinder turrets. Sadly, they do track your movements, but with the F icons you've picked up, you should be able to take them out. Just get in a safe space, wait until one stops firing, then close in and pelt it. Alternatively, if you have health to spare, do a figure-of-eight motion in front of them, picking them off when they're in your line of fire- this gets less risky as you take 'em out. Once all of them are down, there's no mega-cannon to fight this time, so go through the door.
Next area is the crate maze, and a proper boss lurks at the end.
Not much to say about this crate maze- it makes use of the weird horizontally-wrapping nature of the world of Iron Tank. One odd thing is that you have to bust open doors to progress, but they're actually guarded by circular turrets. That's unusual, but blowing the door open destroys the turret anyway. This place also has some much-needed supplies, mostly F icons so be sure to grab them... And, er, take your time because the place is crawling with Gustafu tanks. Try to keep your special weapons for what's ahead, though- reaching the top reveals an open entrance, and inside...
It's the second Think Tank model... Think Tank (C-Type).
The C stands for cannon as that's what it has for its main weapon, much like the long-range turret that I'm hoping you destroyed like you were supposed to. The Think Tank moves weirdly- it can only move up and diagonally down, and while it's doing that it'll periodically launch cannon shells that veer in one direction- usually your direction- and that's all it really does. Its movement can be deadly, as just brushing against this thing will ravage your health bar, so don''t run into it! Your best bet is to switch any available weapon upgrades (V is the most important) and try to stay above the nozzle of its canon. As long as you're out of the cannon's range, all you have to worry about is the tank itself. You can't stay on one side forever though, so wait until it fires a cannon then swoop in-front of it and get to the other side before it fires again. Just keep your cannon on it, and it'll eventually explode.
After we're done here, we move on to the Lake, and it's fairly tough.
There's a few things going on here that make it hard. First, the majority of the area is water, so you have to make your way across over small islands and very cramped boardwalks that leave no room for evading or hiding behind cover. Next, there's no infantry to be found, as the whole place is crawling with tanks- every type of tank you've encountered so far, in fact, although there's not as many Becks Haus tanks as in a different version of this stage. Additionally, we get a new enemy here. It's a submarine that rises to the surface and fires a homing bullet at you then re-submerges with just enough time to destroy it. By the time it appears, you won't be able to hit it before its bullet is on your tail, and if you waste too much time lining up a shot, it'll hit you. It does as much damage as a tank cannon shot, but it will eventually get bored and lose your scent... By which time another one has been fired. If you can take the submarine out, then great! They just appear in packs of two or three, so, you know, good luck with that. Oh, and the area is teeming with mines blocking your path, too.
Oddly, unlike the versions in Section 5B and 5C, there's some hostages halfway through.
They don't give any intel, but save them anyway, OK?
The best advice is a combination of 'take your time' and 'run, run quite fast'. You'd be best to move as fast as possible from the submarines, as the time and effort you need to take them out isn't worth it. However, you will need to stop and take out the tanks carefully, as in the confined areas you'll find yourself in here, they'll be able to rip through your energy meter like butter. If you've got them to spare, flick on Long Range and Armour Piercing rounds- you can use L to pick off tanks across the water, and F is handy for the multi-hit tanks clogging this area up, especially since there's a few F icons around here. You may struggle with the last stretch, which is one long boardwalk with branches to the right with goodies... And not only is each one guarded by several tanks, but the left side houses submarines. You need to take this section slowly, to a point- take out every tank and boat, and try to scroll submarines off-screen before grabbing any icons. Also, once you reach dry land, don't rest on your laurels- the checkpoint's a little further down the road... Persevere, though, and you'll get through. This is also a lot easier than the equivalent area in Section 5C!
Once back on terra firma, keep going and...
Oh, hi, fort, how you doin'?
This should be the third fort you've seen so far, and it's actually a bit easier than previous ones. There's four cylinder turrets, but these ones won't track your movements this time- they'll only fire forward, so they're simple to take out, just fire from the side. The big cannon is pretty intimidating, mind- four cannons! However, you should deal with it as you've dealt with all the forts up to this port- switch your V on, keep central to its massive weak point, and it'll blow up sooner or later. Blast the doors open and we'll press on.
Once you're in the door, there's a boat-themed pre-boss area for you to get through. It's pretty tough, actually- it's mostly a straight path, but you're attacked from both sides by massive ships loaded with turrets. They fire a mixture of gunfire and cannons, and you're attacked by tanks too. You won't be able to just run through and avoid their fire, sadly, but what you can do is abuse the ? icons that appear on this path- you should have some in stock already, so use one to clear the screen, then grab the ones that appear here. You should be able to keep at least one use of it left by the time you reach the end of this area. Not much to report beyond that- just be sure to make a detour for the R icon to get all your energy back.
What's waiting for you at the end? A boss fight! This time it's a huge enemy battleship (no, not that kind of enemy battleship). Unidentified in the instruction manual, this giant ship comes equipped with two massive cannons that barrage you with fire constantly (always aimed at you, Raiden-style), and can be a tough fight if you're ill-equipped. The cannons are the weak point, but actually hitting them is the hard part, as you'll need to stay behind cover as much as possible. Ideally, you should flick L and F on, so your shots will be able to reach and will sail over the building with doors so you can stay under cover. Just having L will do nicely too, although you'll have to pop from behind cover, fire then flank back. If you've got nothing in your L meter... The only way to reach the cannons with standard fire is to press up against the edge of the platform, so you'll have to do that while there's an opening- I recommend hugging the side of the wall with doors on the opposite side the boat's on- getting a few shots in then retreating to cover. It'll take longer, but you can beat the boss this way!
Cripes, that took a while... But we're almost there. Proceed to the final area, Section 6: Enemy Headquarters.