Note: Military Madness was reviewed on actual Turbografx 16 hardware with no emulation.
It is Military Madness! A Turbografx 16 classic! Will it win the ever elusive Malstrom Award? Has this game stood the test of time?
Military Madness is a tactical turn based game. You move military units around the map, destroy enemy units, and try to take over the base. It is very similar to Advance Wars on Nintendo systems. These two series started around the same time. The difference with Military Madness is that there is zone of control. Depending on elevation and surroundings, you can totally devastate your enemy (or they can totally devastate you).
This is what I would call a ‘Perfect Game’. It has 32 missions of a single player campaign. It also has a multiplayer mode where you can play against friends.
People say this game is ‘underrated’, but it is not. If anything, this game is declared a ‘classic’ and talked up by its many fans. To them, Military Madness is the bee’s knees. “I have spent so many hours playing this!” This game may have been something… a quarter-century ago. But I am only concerned about TODAY. How does the game stack up TODAY? How does it stack up to current games today? We are not looking at Military Madness in a bubble confined only to the Turbografx 16 or in a certain time period. We are including all consoles and systems and all time periods. Is this game truly remarkable?
This is one of the best turn based strategy games for console ever made. This is because it is one of the FEW turn based strategy games made for the console. There are better turn based games… everywhere else. The PC is full of them. On GOG, you can pick up Panzer General II and other great classics which make this game look like a joke.
I think the best value of this game is the local multiplayer. The single player isn’t interesting. The story is garbage.
Above: “It’s my very first tactical game I played, therefore it is awesome. It has hexagons! Oh my!”
Aside from its dated gameplay, there are some bigger problems that hold Military Madness back. The graphics are not that interesting (nor should they be), but the production values are astoundingly lackluster. The music is non-existent. The sound effects get old fast. Whoever designed this game was an idiot to make the setting be the moon. Why? The moon is not colorful. The moon is just brown with some hills and craters. Zzzzzzzz….. The most boring setting was chosen for this game, and I think it hurts it significantly. There is no variety in this game. It is just… ‘more moon’. Ugh.
There is a tutorial mode which is interesting. The game DUMPS information at you. I think the ‘instructions’ go on for half an hour. After ten minutes of watching, I couldn’t stand it anymore and got out of it. This game is not complicated, but the idiot designer chose to flood the manual.
There are better tactical games out there today, more imaginative ones too. There is no reason to play this today. “But it has hexagons! OMG!” so what?
I apologize to all you people who bought this game off the Virtual Console because you saw fanboys waxing nostalgia about it. I know your response was ‘meh’, as is mine. The gameplay is OK, just dated. What REALLY sucks about the game is the terrible drab, colorless setting of the moon and the lack of decent music and sound. Unless you love Advance Wars gameplay, pass over this one.
Disclaimer: The ‘quality’ is gauged only by how often I return to the game. TG16 games are not isolated; they are compared to every other game out there. A game can be ‘bad’ and keep me coming back. A game can be ‘good’ that I never want to touch again. Irrational addictive-ness, which defies quantification, is the only element examined here.
-TG 16 Games Reviewed So Far-
Malstrom Awards: (Addictive and Awesome even today, they refuse to age. Score of 10)
Devil’s Crush (Imaginative sound and gothic theme. You’ll keep coming back to this one.)
Galaga ’90 (Purest shmup I have ever seen. This will still be played 50 years from now.)
Gradius (Four options can cause slowdown, but this arcade port remains difficult and legendary.)
R-type (Never gets old because it can never be beaten. Fun to try here and there.)
Honorable Mentions: (Good games that are flawed or gameplay has suffered aging. Score of 6-9)
(8) World Court Tennis (Most interesting RPG on the TG 16. Seriously.)
(7) Alien Crush (Interesting, addictive, but flawed. Good to play as a break to Devil’s Crush)
(6) Bonk’s Adventure (Meh platformer oozes incredible charm)
Don’t bother: (Not fun to play today. Score of 5 and below.)
(5) Military Madness (Overrated, dated gameplay, repetitious, dull colorless setting of the moon)
(5) Neutopia (boring, bad game design, can’t hold a candle to Zelda, fire wand is only thing going for this game)
(4) Bomberman (dull and boring, totally surpassed by its sequels on this system)
(4) Ninja Gaiden (Compared to NES: worse sound and controls, terrible parallax scrolling. Nothing to see here.)
(3) Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition (2 button controller is terrible for 6 button game. Good luck getting a 6 button controller.)
(1) Keith Courage in Alpha Zones (The 16 bit version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)