I’m all in favor of developers drawing upon old games for inspiration, improving them and turning them into entirely new ideas. And I like fan-made homages when they expand significantly on the original and–this is important–are not sold for commercial gain (Vector Tanks cost $1, and Extreme cost $2). But in this case, the makers of Vector Tanks simply copied Battlezone’s look, feel and core play mechanics, and added a few frills. That’s a soulless approach to game design, and it’s best left to Atari.
Jared Newman defends Atari’s decision to go after Black Powder Media, an iOS developer which released a Battlezone-style tank combat game. He raises some good points, including the double-standard often applied to big game developers that engage in the same sort of action as indie developers. Read it for a different perspective on this debate.