The Nectaris series has been around for two decades, gracing such gaming systems as the TurboGrafx-16, Game Boy, and Playstation. Now, Military Madness: Nectaris has hit the Xbox Live Arcade, looking for a much needed makeover.
XBLA hasn’t been around for long, but it has already given us titles that will be remembered for years to come. Does Military Madness: Nectaris continue the trend of high standard XBLA games? Or should it have been left in the past as a much-loved retro title?
There is no doubt that nostalgia has played a huge part in the production of this game. The developers were keen to keep a lot of the same elements that made previous Nectaris titles so successful, and there is an immediate sense that you are playing a revamped 80s game. However, this is also where the game goes wrong.
Simply put, there’s no love that can be seen in Military Madness: Nectaris. It’s as if Hudson Soft, the original creators of Military Madness, told their new developers, Backbone Entertainment, to make a Nectaris game for next-gen consoles as well as they possibly could, and they have. Disappointingly, it is simply a cut-copy, turn-based strategy game that feels more like a chore to play than entertainment.
Players who have never picked up a turn-based strategy game, or at least aren’t familiar with the genre, may immediately be turned off by the fact that there is no in-game tutorial. Sure, there are a plenty of pages of written content describing how the game is played, but a lack of visuals for references, and hardly any mention of which buttons do what, will have you tearing your hair out before you even start the campaign.
Single player is a bore. Unfortunately, even the snazzy graphics and hilariously retro cut-scenes can’t make up for the fact that Military Madness: Nectaris has little to no plot. There is some banal nonsense at the start of the game that attempts to be taken seriously, but a lack of plot connection between levels leaves you wondering why the developers even bothered with a storyline at all.
In terms of gameplay, Military Madness: Nectaris is lightyears behind the competition. You command a small battalion of troops, including tanks and gunners, and it is your mission to defeat the opposition by either capturing their base camp or destroying their army.
Sounds simple? That’s because it is.
Military Madness: Nectaris suffers from a lack of innovation. There is no fog of war, no deep strategy that needs to be implemented, and the size of each map leaves a lot to be desired. I can see how fans of the previous titles will be able to take something away from this game, but for everyone else, there’s really nothing much to offer.
Thankfully, there is a saving grace; even if it’s only a small one. Multiplayer is available for up to four players online, and when you’ve spent the last few hours boring yourself to death through the single player campaign, you will be thankful for a bit of unpredictable human gameplay.
Military Madness: Nectaris can’t be recommended to anyone other than devotees of the original titles. Turn-based strategy fans may have their interest piqued by a console game of this genre, but they may also be left unimpressed by the basic production value and lack of originality. Ultimately, Military Madness: Nectaris feels like an unfinished game.
The graphics are nothing to get excited about, but the engagement cut-scenes boast plenty of grin-inducing rockets and explosions.
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The basic strategy gameplay may have 80s fanboys cheering in the hallways, but for the rest of us, the question must be asked: why am I playing such a dated game?
At first, the retro soundtrack will have you fired up and ready to conquer the stars, but after an hour or so you will despise the person who invented the “repeat” button.
Depending on your ability as a turn-based strategy gamer, the campaign length will fluctuate. There are plenty of hours to get out of single player, and online play offers endless battles.
Gamers who are familiar with previous incarnations may find that Military Madness: Nectaris is a neat little addition to their collection, but for everyone else, there isn’t much to offer here in terms of entertainment.