Military Madness (TurboGrafx-16)

  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Audio
  • Visuals
  • Entertainment

Also available on Wii via Virtual Console, Android, PC-9801, X68000, MS-DOS, and Windows

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Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 06/08/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night

Military Madness (or Nectaris in Japan) is a turn-based strategy game from Hudson.  While it may have gotten ports to early home computers and remakes for later consoles, it’s mainly known for its original release on TurboGrafx-16.  I first found it when it got added to the Wii Virtual Console back when Napoleon’s armies were marching across Europe (or it at least feels that long ago).  It was actually my very first Wii Virtual Console download and kickstarted my love of the TurboGrafx-16, so it’s got a special place in my heart.

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Military Madness is basically World War II in space.  You play as the Allies, and your enemies are the Axis.  It’s probably not the same Axis, but that’s all I could think when I was playing, so my head-canon is that it’s space FDR versus space Hitler.  Humanity colonized the moon hoping that the moon’s plentiful resources (which I don’t think it actually has, but I could be mistaken) would solve humanity’s resource scarcity issues, but because humanity is stupid, space Hitler annexes space Poland…I mean, the moon….and starts building a superweapon called SAM (Supreme Atomic Missile) to attack Earth.  The Allied soldiers who escaped from the Axis and their prisons mount a resistance to stop space Hitler from finishing his superweapon and retake the moon for space FDR.  I assume space Churchill, space Stalin, and space Kai-shek are somewhere there, too.  Space France doesn’t get a place in my head-canon.

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Military Madness is often compared to Advance Wars, and there are some similarities, but there is a super key difference; in Military Madness, you can’t produce new units.  The only way you can get more units is to capture a factory thereby capturing any units inside.  This makes the game much more challenging in my opinion as “hold the line while you produce reinforcements” isn’t an option.  The game also takes place on a hexagonal grid rather than a square grid.  I know a lot of strategy fans prefer working with a hex grid, but I personally much prefer square grids.  I guess it’s because my strategy roots are Fire Emblem, but I’m not a big fan of the hex.

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There are 32 maps in the game, but you’re really “beaten” it after the first 16.  The first 16 maps constitute the “Normal” campaign whereas the last 16 maps are the “Advanced” campaign that is the same maps but way harder.  As the patron saint of Bitch Mode, I had no interest in playing a much harder version of the campaign I already struggled to finish the second half of.  It is, however, a really nice addition for folks who are masochists (it’s cool; I don’t kink shame) and want a brutal challenge.  The game’s visuals aren’t necessarily the best the TurboGrafx-16 has to offer, but I found the sprites to be very well done nonetheless and never grew tired to seeing them move across the field and engage the enemy.  The sound is a bit more middling in my opinion; the background music is nice, but it’s the same throughout the game.  There are three tracks you’ll hear in combat; the normal one that will be playing for most of your playthrough, a more upbeat track that plays when your advantage over the enemy grows overwhelming, and a more ominous track that plays when the enemy’s advantage over you grows overwhelming.  As for the sound effects, they’re fine.  They do the job.

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Military Madness is a game that I thoroughly enjoyed, although I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back and replay it.  It got a remake on PS1, and I might play that if I ever want to revisit the maps, but between the starting advantage the AI always seems to have and the rather complex systems I’m too lazy to keep straight, this version will probably be a game that I’ll look back on fondly but only ever look *back* on.  If you haven’t played it, though, it’s absolutely worth playing.  Unfortunately, with the discontinuation of the Wii Shop Channel, the most accessible way to play it has been closed off to gamers, but if you’re able to get your hands on a TurboGrafx-16 Mini, it’s included on there (and the save states are a godsend).  Regardless of how you play it, I definitely recommend it to fans of strategy games.  It may be primitive by modern standards, but it’s a lot of fun and definitely worth experiencing at least once.

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