In Robot Tank for the Atari 2600, the player remotely controls a robot tank in the year 2019, using radar to locate and destroy enemy robot tanks that are trying to reach downtown Santa Clara, California. The enemy is organized into squadrons of 12 tanks each, and defeating a squadron adds a reserve tank to the initial three, up to a maximum of 12. The game ends when all the player’s tanks are destroyed.
As the player’s tank takes damage, its firepower and/or visual display capabilities worsen irreparably. Eventually, enough damage destroys the tank. Combat can occur at any time of day or night, displayed on the screen, which poses a challenge in tracking enemy combatants using radar alone. Weather conditions, announced at the beginning of each level, can be clear, rainy, snowy, or foggy. Rain slows the tank’s movements, snow causes the tank to lose traction, and fog impairs the tank’s vision.