November 15, 2011

[Game 008] Famicom Wars (NES - 1988)

Translation by aka

Granddaddy to the excellent Advance Wars series, Famicom Wars is a testament to getting a formula right the first time and sticking with it for the sequels.  The initial release is the formula at its most pure and uncut.  There's no teen-aged commanders or abilities that let you specialize in certain units or rechargeable special attacks.  It's just Red vs Blue in all-out warfare.

Gameplay consists of buying various units of three types: land, air, and sea.  Cash money is acquired by capturing and holding onto cities spread across the map.  Various terrain types offer different amounts of protection everything you would expect in a strategy game.  Winning is accomplished by either wiping out all enemy forces or capturing the opponent's capital.

I usually elect to do the former. *giggle*

The two factions within the game are the Red Star and the Blue Moon.  The obvious choice here is to take control of the Red Star armies because I'm a big communist.  Not sure what the Blue Moons would be.  I'll default to democracy, I guess.  Not that it matters much as both sides start with the same resources (at least in the beginning maps).

Unit selection is surprisingly vast for such an early game.  I was expecting the choices to be more limited but it's on par with the later releases.  Every unit has strengths and weaknesses to other units and this ensures that armies must be heterogeneous.  There hasn't been a map yet where a unit type wasn't used at least once.

Pvt. Reynolds taking the APC for a quick spin.

The first two maps were introductory maps in that the unit selection was limited.  Map 1 had land-based only and Map 2 introduced air units.  As such, they were fairly easy.  Map 3 was much harder.  This map consists of each side holding an island nation cut by a narrow channel of sea in between.  The channel is the line of symmetry between the two land masses.  Though it was sorely needed for the map, sea units were not introduced here but rather in Map 4.  Without carriers for the heavy units like tanks and artillery, the only option to get land troops across is via helicopter and they can only carry a single infantry unit.  These units do not do well against tanks (which the opponent can build to defend).  This led to a stalemate where neither side could do much of anything to the other.

Hmm, indeed.

Sending expensive bombers to hit the tanks usually results in them getting shot down before taking a single tank out.  Even if one managed to take a tank out before being destroyed, it would still result in a negative cost-to-damage ratio.  The solution ended up being to stockpile fleets of helicopters while the Blue Moons continued to throw the occasional unit at my impenetrable defences.  By launching a smaller attempt at the northern tip of the enemy's island, we succeeded in distracting the Blues while our major attack commenced at the southern tip.  After taking one of the cities, the funding balance was finally tipped in favour of the glorious communists.  From then on, it was just pouring resources into helicopters and infantry in order to replenish the massive loss of units on the other side.  Slowly but surely we spread to take over other cities as well.  As the funding gap got bigger and bigger, the Red Stars were able to build some costly bombers and fighter jets, fully expecting that their trip would be one way.  Eventually the Blue Moons could not support any more units and were crushed.

Still, gold star for perseverance.

Though the cost in life and war machines was high and the streets must just be running red with blood, this didn't stop the remaining soldiers from having a shindig on the rooftop of the enemy headquarters.  Let it not be said that communists don't know how to party.

*hic* Pashta da vodak, komrade.