Thursday, May 13, 2010

Military Madness

Hudson Soft / NEC

I make no bones about it: I don't like strategy games. Of all the prominent old-school game genres, strategy is probably the one I like the least. But I actually think Military Madness is pretty darn cool.

It won points right off the bat with its approach: the sci-fi angle appeals to me, and for military maneuvers, I prefer armies consisting of tanks and jets to the pods of fantasy-themed bums and beasts in something like Langrisser. Sure, you need to perform the usual old-school-strategy actions of occupying advantageous terrain and seeking out favorable match-ups for your units, but there are lots and lots of potential conflict combinations here. And even with all the different types of troops and machines at your command, the game never becomes overwhelming. You get right into a groove, easily picking up on the strengths and weaknesses of each of your unit types, and roll from there. Plus, you typically don't have to spend much time fiddling around at the beginning of each stage "setting things up"; rarely must you wait long before sinking your teeth into some combat.

Most of the tunes are also appealing. They're nothing special technically; they simply sound cool.

In spite of all this, for years, my innate hatred for strategy games would eventually show itself when I'd sit down with MM. Maps that are large and time consuming caused my interest to wane. I'd feel like I was doing the same thing as before, only it was taking longer. While those who were more into the game's nuances would determinedly present arguments against such claims, I just figured I wasn't wired for these sorts of things.

Over time, I gained a greater appreciation for MM's vast lunar theaters. It's during the game's epic engagements that the most memorable military exploits take place. There were times when I thought my battered army was done for, but a ragtag tank crew would seize the day and carry me to victory. And then there were instances when I thought my victory was assured only for the computer to pull off a brilliant move and send my stunned soldiers reeling. Some battles of attrition conclude after dozens of strikes and counterblows, with but a few weary units left scouring a desolate battlefield...

...while other campaigns come down to winner-takes-all corner-of-the-map showdowns.

Regardless of the fashion in which matters are decided, PAPPASIZATION is inevitable.

Here I must mention that Lee Pappas, legendary game journalist and Turbo mega-warrior, cites MM as his favorite TG-16 title of all time. So famous are the stratagems Lee devised during his numerous runs through the game that whenever annihilation of one side occurs, the loser is said to have been PAPPASIZED.

A graphical representation of PAPPASIZATION.

As for me, I look upon my experiences with the chip quite positively, which might say a lot considering my feelings about the genre it's a member of.

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