Military Madness: Nectaris

Military Madness first appeared on the TurboGrafx-16 in 1989, gathering itself a few awards along the way including “Best War Game” and “Best Military Strategy Game”. I can only assume that, in 1989, there weren’t many strategy war games around, so the competition wasn’t all that hot.

We don’t give out points in our reviews. If we did, however, Military Madness would lose a few straight off the bat for the controls. Any game that moves my cursor control to the d-pad, relegating the left thumbstick to a pointless area scroll function is already rubbing me up the wrong way. There will be many a time when you’re wondering why your cursor hasn’t moved, only for you to realise that you’ve foolishly been using the thumbstick over the d-pad. While it’s only a little annoyance it will get stuck in your craw, and sour the rest of the experience a little bit.

For those unfamiliar with Military Madness, the gameplay is very similar to Advance Wars. You’re in charge of an army out to crush the opposition and take control of the Moon. You’re playing from a top-down perspective (which can be fiddled with via the right stick) and control your various units across a hexagonal grid. In playing, it reminded me of the Spectrum game Tank Attack where you were given a board and a load of plastic tanks, to act out your war games on as you played on screen. In fact, Tank Attack was released in 1988, so maybe the resemblance isn’t all that co-incidental.

Graphicly your socks will most definately stay on your feet here. As you may have guessed fighting on the surface of the moon isn’t that exciting as it’s all kind of, well, grey. Yes there are craters and handy roads (all of which add different attack/defense modifiers to your units) but it’s still essentially a grey-scape which is re-arranged and repeated over several levels. The units are distinct enough, and the blues and greens of the opposing forces do show up against the monotonous backgrounds.

The single player campaign is generous in length and there is, as ever, a multiplayer experience as well – both co-op and versus are there to be had. There’s even a brand new Commander Unit which allows you to use special skills during the game to boost your units or interfere with your enemies. What there isn’t, however, is anyone online to play with. Anytime I went on looking for a game I was met with empty lobbies or people who’d connect and then run away.







One response to “Military Madness: Nectaris”

  1. Ramsden avatar

    I really don’t see how this game got released on XBLA at all… it’s not exactly a classic, or a cult game. It’s just an old game that won a couple of awards because the competition was either nonexistant or just as bad. It’d be some years until X-COM was released, and Advance Wars and Fire Emblem hadn’t gotten over here from Japan.

    The control issue had me stumped for a good 5 minutes wondering what the hell I was supposed to do, partly because I got the demo at 4 in the morning when I was slightly drunk, but mostly because as you said in the demo it is incredibly counter-intuitive after gamers have been conditioned to use the analog sticks in the last couple of console generations.

    As previous comments will show, I usually go mad for strategy games, especially turn-based ones. I’m normally the sole commenter who really loved the obscure, little-played tower defence, or the grid-based strat-rpg, or liked an rts for the gameplay rather than the ham-fisted b-list acting in the cut-scenes. But for once I really didn’t go much on this. Mild irritation and an overall sense of crushing apathy are actually worse than all-out hatred of it too, because at least hating it would require me to have given a damn.

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