Military Madness is the Western title for the Japanese tactical war game, Nectaris, and it was first released for the PC Engine in 1989 by Hudson Soft. A North American TurboGrafx-16 release followed in 1990.
Nectaris, or Military Madness, or whatever you want to call it, is an early turn-based strategy game that involves moving units around a map and engaging in combat. When units clash it then cuts away to a confrontation scene to show how the opposing forces fared against each other. These action cut scenes would later greatly influence similar games such as those in the popular Advance Wars series.
In the single player campaign, Military Madness features sixteen increasingly difficult maps that all take place on the moon, and each side is given a number of predetermined units to fight it out with. The objective on each map is to either occupy an enemy prison camp and free prisoners, or to destroy all the opposing forces, and the first side to do so is declared the winner.
Units cannot be produced, but enemy units can be captured from factories and put into use. Damaged units can also be returned to factories in some levels to be repaired. Terrain also plays an important role in the game, with certain units moving more slowly over certain parts of the landscape, forcing players to route units according to their capabilities. Transport units can also carry infantry and other smaller terrestrial units over short distances. Terrain also gives advantages during battle too, so where you place your units to attack from is an important consideration.
As well as a single-player campaign against computer AI, Military Madness also features a two-player versus mode for battles against friends.
Overall, Military Madness is a fun and involving game that has stood the test of time well – mainly because the controls and usability are so good – but also because the presentation is excellent (I particularly like the music in the game). It has been re-released a number of times, including on the Nintendo Virtual Console, Game Boy and PlayStation, and more recently on the iPhone. A sequel, called Neo Nectaris, was released on the PC Engine Super CD-ROM in 1994.