A game by Technodot for PC, originally released in 2021.
Gel-Tank, also known as Nantai Todoroki wa Gel-Tank (軟体轟輪ゲルタンク), is a sidescrolling shooter starring a jelly-like creature named Gel, whose planet has come under attack by the invading Human Kingdom. While being chased through the forest by soldiers, the ground suddenly gives way and Gel finds himself in a cave system. In a scene reminiscent of Blaster Master, Gel soon stumbles across a tiny tank, which has an AI support unit named Eia. Eia suggests that Gel wear the tank as a sort of armor, which she promises will give him the power to fight back against the colonizers. Not one to look a gift-tank in the mouth, Gel squeezes inside and begins his adventure to thwart the invasion.
While outside the confines of the tank, Gel is a black blob with big yellow eyes. He can move quickly, jump very high, and he can stick to walls and climb them. Inside the tank – where his eyes peer cutely out from between the treads – he loses the ability to stick to walls, but he is instead able to shoot a rapid fire machine gun. The gun may be fired in four directions (down while jumping), and holding the FIRE button locks its aim so the player can continue firing in one direction while moving in another (this can be toggled off in the options menu). The player is able swap between these two forms instantaneously at any time.
In addition to a rapid fire machine gun, the tank has two additional weapon slots, which are filled by grabbing weapon pickups from killed enemies and destroyed objects (and later purchased from the shop). There’s quite a lot of variety here, with missiles that fire in a straight line, a fire bomb that lobs explosives in a long arc, a sonic blast that fires a wide slow beam that causes continuous damage, a bouncing tomahawk, a freeze weapon, a double machine gun, and a super powerful impact cannon. Some of these weapons are set to auto-fire but most must be fired manually and therefore do not allow for aim locking. All weapons offer infinite ammo.
In addition to these three equippable weapons, the Gel-Tank can also enter other vehicles to control them… including an even bigger tank! The absurdity of a small tank controlling a big tank is in line with the game’s cutesy style and humor.
While inside a big tank, your movement and jumping speed is slowed to emphasize the weight of the vehicle, and the tank has its own health meter so your health is preserved while driving it… working similarly to Metal Slug and other such games. The big tank also has a rapid-fire machine gun, although it can be aimed freely (not just in four directions) and it can also be locked to fire in any direction. The large tank also has a limited stock of fire bombs that it can shoot to the left or right, and the player must tap a button to change the tank's direction.
Other controllable vehicles include a submarine, a helicopter, and motorcycle. They work similarly to the tank, in that they each have rapid-fire machine guns that can be aimed in any direction. The submarine, as expected, is confined to water-based sequences, where it chugs along slowly while blasting enemies and sea mines. The submarine’s secondary weapon is a homing missile that's great for taking down tough enemies or those that are out of reach.
The helicopter’s secondary weapon is just another machine gun, but it can only fire forward, allowing you to aim in two directions at once or deliver extra firepower to an enemy in front of you. The motorcycle has no secondary weapon, but its machine guns are affixed to its wheels, offering a wider spray of fire, and its movement is extremely fast, allowing you to speed through danger and jump over gaps. All of the vehicles are able to take down weak enemies by running into them. You can enter and exit the vehicles at any time, and if a vehicle takes too much damage, you’ll need to bail before it explodes.
Gel has a life bar – as do each of the vehicles – and some destroyed enemies and objects drop repair kits to restore a chunk of health. Collecting a repair kit while inside a vehicle restores its health, while hopping out and grabbing the kit restores your core health (although there are some sequences where you can't exit the vehicle). With a large array of firepower and vehicles available, a long health bar, and a generous invincibility period after taking damage, most skilled players will have little trouble making it through most levels on their first attempt, even with the game's small number of checkpoints and some insta-death bottomless pits.
To that end, the game offers five difficulty levels, and one is selected for you based on your performance in the first level… although you can change this at any time in the options menu. On the Freedom setting, you’re all but invincible, while Casual mode grants you half damage from enemies, Standard mode offers normal damage, Classic mode does double damage, and the Expert mode gives you just three units of health and disables shop upgrades.
In each level, there are five cat-dolphin creatures called Nekodolphins. By finding and rescuing these creatures (some are hidden or placed off the beaten path), new options become available in the between-level shop. Gems are used as currency and are aquired by breaking objects, killing enemies, and completing level objectives such as completing the level without dying, rescuing all the Nekodolphins, and reaching a 50-hit combo (and more gems are awarded for killing enemies during higher combos). Gems are easy to get, and you can replay levels if you need more, but new items only become available for sale once enough Nekodolphins have been rescued, thus encouraging a thorough scouring of each level. The shopkeeper lets you know the thresholds for each item, and new items are slowly revealed throughout the experience.
Upgrades include increased health, the ability to start a level with a special weapon already equipped, increased jump height (plus a double jump and hover maneuver), increased speed outside of vehicles, extra invincibility time after taking damage, and more. Even the game’s time attack mode is purchased via the shop. Eventually you gain the ability to bring vehicles into the levels as well, and you can upgrade your weapons by adding additional damage or abilities. For instance, the missile can be upgraded to include a homing ability.
However, you can’t just go crazy and buy every upgrade to become an unstoppable killing machine… You have a limited number of equipment slots (with a couple extra slots available for purchase), and each upgrade takes up one or more slots. This limiting factor means you’ll generally be able to select one special weapon and one or two upgrades to take into a mission. Fortunately, movement perks typically only occupy one slot, but you may want to forego maneuverability for firepower depending on the situation, and you’ll get plenty of advice from the game’s NPC’s.
There’s a lot of dialogue in the game, including plenty that plays out during the missions themselves, which can be difficult to digest while fighting enemies. Strangely, each time you complete a level, you are given the option to revisit the area to speak with Eia and one or two of the locals – and eventually some enemy soldiers – who fill you in on the history of the planet, the impact of the invasion, and helpful tips to aid you on your journey.
The English version of the game was translated by ChatGPT, so it’s not great, but it’s also not that bad. The meaning of the narrative is preserved, and you’ll have no difficulty following the overall story and character motivations. Some of the simple writing even supports the childlike perspective of Gel, who often shares things like his apprehension about going into battle, his excitement for getting to pilot a new vehicle, or how frustrated he is that he can’t wash off all the sand after a desert mission. Even human-translated works often have difficulty conveying humor, so it’s a bit surprising to see so much of it coming through in an AI translation.
The game is very much a popcorn shooter, with loads of enemies coming at you from all direction, which you dispatch with a steady stream of murder pellets. Little enemies are dumb and die quickly… often within a second or two of entering the screen, while big enemies are dumb and die in fiery explosions. Level layouts are simple, and despite the ability to get out of the tank to climb walls and explore, you’re rarely called upon to do so… most of the time you just keep moving to the right, killing things, and occasionally stopping to clear out a few waves of enemies before the screen unlocks and you move on.
Still, the variety of weapons and vehicles means that things change quickly, completing levels almost always results in getting more cool stuff in the shop, and the pace never lets up. Taking its inspirations from 16-bit arcade actioners, there’s basically never a time when you shouldn’t be hammering the trigger, and the upbeat soundtrack is there to motivate your infatuation with destruciton. Character designs are cute and generally charming, and the game features CRT filters to make you feel more like you’re pumping quarters into an old school arcade cabinet.
Also falling in line with arcade-era actioners, bosses are huge screen-filling mechs that have a few simple attack patterns and take dumptruck-loads full of munitions to destroy. Skilled players should expect to complete these encounters in a small number of attempts, and likely on their first try, and there’s a checkpoint before each so they can dive back in if they’re killed. Areas are divided into four levels each, and after you finish the first area, you are free to select from any of the next three areas, which then unlocks a linear set of areas leading up to the final encounter.

Gel-Tank was developed by Technodot (テクノドット), a studio headed by Koki “Corky” Thlal, whose most recent work was Shanghai.EXE: Genso Network, a fangame based on the Mega Man Battle Network series and set in the Touhou universe. The game received a DMCA notice from Capcom in 2018 after years of development, but fans continued to work on the game, and it was released in 2021. Prior to this, Corky developed a Touhou-based Live-A-Live fangame entitled Touhou-A-Live, as well as VanishingFairy.