TurboGrafx-16 - 1989
Also available on: Sharp X68000
Description of Military Madness
"Experience the Madness!" That's how my friend and I used to refer to playing our favorite war strategy game, Hudson Soft's Military Madness for the Turbografx-16. My friend bought a TG-16 when we were in high school, and one day he started describing this new game that he had. To be honest, it sounded kind of boring to me at first, and after playing the first board, which was very simple, I was still unimpressed. But soon after, the boards got bigger, the strategies got more complex, and I was hooked.
Military Madness is a turn-based, war strategy game set on the moon in the future (April 6, 2089, to be exact). There is a rudimentary story behind the game and if you're patient enough, you can read through it in the intro. Basically, Earth is overcrowded, so the moon has become prime real estate. The bad guys, known simply as the "Axis Empire", have seized most of the moon, and have captured many important good guys, known as the "Allied Powers" (Axis and Allies on the moon). Furthermore, the bad guys are building the "SAM", or supreme atomic missile (you know, the one the comes with sour cream AND guacamole), which they plan to launch against the earth. You must stop them!
So basically, it's good guys vs. bad guys. The game is for one or two players, and in one player mode, you play the role of, you guessed it, the good guys. In two-player mode, obviously, one player is the good guys and the other is the bad guys. The game has thirty two levels, split into 16 beginner levels and 16 advanced levels. Each set of 16 levels is a complete game, with an animated ending if you win.
At the beginning of each level, you are first shown a big map of the entire moonscape on which the battles take place (i.e. this is a picture of the entire war). This shows you your progress in the war, as well as the password for that level. Unlike a lot of console games, the passwords are simple six-letter names rather than complicated text codes.
After the big map fades away, the battle begins. Each side starts out with a certain contingent of battle units strewn about the board, usually close to their home base. Each unit is comprised of eight individual machines and/or soldiers. There is a great variety of units in this game: several types of tanks, soldiers, transport vehicles, jeeps, artillery, and in later levels, fighter planes and bombers. During your turn (this is a turn based game, not real time like Command and Conquer), there's basically two things you can do with your units - move and attack. When you move a unit, a honeycomb-like grid of hexes will appear, showing you all of the possible locations to which your unit can move. Some units are faster than others, and rough terrain can slow your movements as well. If you happen to be within range of an enemy unit after your move, you have the option of attacking it. You can also choose to attack before your move if you are in range. If you attack first, though, you forfeit your right to move (except for a few jeeps that can move once after attacking).
When you attack, a battle erupts. The screen fades to a close up of the skirmish (like in Battle Chess). Your eight men or machines and the enemy's eight form ranks and fire at each other. Usually there are losses on both sides, so your unit of eight is reduced to a unit of however many survivors are left. Several things affect the outcome of skirmishes, such as support from nearby units, terrain effects, and surrounding effects. The best strategy is to secure as many advantages as possible before attacking. If all eight pieces in your unit are eventually destroyed, the unit is lost.
The only way to return a damaged unit back to full strength is to repair it in a factory. Even if only one guy remains in your unit, if you get it back to a factory, it can emerge on the next turn as a full unit of eight. On some levels, you start out with a factory, and some levels start with neutral factories that must be captured (only foot soldiers can capture factories) before you can use them.
Finally, there are two ways you can win a battle: you can win by either by destroying all of your enemy's units or by capturing the enemy's home base (like factories, only foot soldiers can capture a base).
Military Madness is a great war strategy game. You can learn how to play relatively easily, but getting the hang of some winning strategies is the tricky part (easy to learn, difficult to master). The sounds and graphics are nothing spectacular, but the game is so enthralling that you barely notice this. The animated skirmishes are very basic, the explosions don't look realistic and they sound like either a pop or a strange squishing sound. Still, if you manage to pull off a well planned attack, it's thrilling to watch your guys wipe out an entire enemy unit in a single, crushing blow. A few months ago, I bought a TG-16 off of eBay just to play this game, and I'm glad I did. If you like war strategy games and this one has somehow passed you by, what are you waiting for? Buy or download it today and experience the madness!
Review By Mark Messina
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Sharp X68000 Version
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