Developed by Techno Soft and first published in 1989, Herzog Zwei is an early real-time strategy game, predating Dune II by three years. It is the sequel to Herzog on the MSX2 and it shares the same DNA as that game.
Herzog Zwei might seem a little confusing to play initially, but the process of playing is fairly simple. The aim is to destroy your opponent by producing units and using them to out-gun him. You can only produce units when you are over a base, so that’s what you start by doing.
The key thing in Herzog Zwei, though, is to understand how to issue your units with orders. In short: you have to buy them! Ouch – I know… And – not only do you have to buy them – but you also have to pay more to change the orders on a unit. Double ouch! You set a unit’s orders when you ask it to be made, so it pays to be careful when producing them. On the ‘build units’ screen there’s an icon for the kind of unit you’re building, and underneath that there is an icon to choose that unit’s orders. Some units have unique orders, but generally the same orders apply to all of them. See this video for a tutorial on Herzog Zwei orders.
Other key things to remember: 1. you are constantly losing defensive energy and the only place you can recharge is over one of your bases; 2. you can land (like in Herzog) and shoot enemy units; 3. you and your opponent can shoot each other, on land or in the air; 4. your gun has limited energy and must be recharged like your defensive energy – over a base; 5. you can pick up units and reposition them, and also change their orders; 6. units cost money to build; and 7. you are constantly earning money – the more bases you have the quicker you earn it.
Once you have a few defence units up and running the next task is to send out expeditionary forces to capture neutral bases (to extend your reach) and to harass – and ultimately destroy – your opponent’s bases. You can build tanks, surface-to-air missiles, motorbikes, resupply vehicles, armoured carriers – even boats – and place them in the battlefield to fight for you. And this was years before Command & Conquer…
To beat the computer opponent in Herzog Zwei you have to think and act quickly although there are four different difficulty levels per each of the eight different landscapes.
One of the best ways of learning how to play the game is to watch two AI opponents fight with each other, which is easily possible from the menu. Or: to play with another human being, which is how Herzog Zwei works best.
The graphics and presentation throughout are top notch. The game has silky smooth, fast scrolling and some really nice music.
Herzog Zwei is a Megadrive classic, a hidden gem on the system, a pioneering old game, and one that still deserves playing today. Look it up if you’ve never played it before.
More: Herzog Zwei on Wikipedia