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1991 Genesis Sega

Advanced Daisenryaku… (Mega Drive, 1991)

Leave history alone, dag nab it.

I’ll have what Churchill is having.

PUBLISHER: Sega

DEVELOPER: Sega (original design by SystemSoft)

RELEASE DATE: 04/17/91 – (JP)

Everybody loves a good World War II strategy game, right? You control the Allies, you cripple the Axis, and you liberate the world. Most importantly, you feel really good about yourself. With a single controller (or keyboard/mouse combo), you prevent radical tyranny and oppression from conquering societies everywhere.

Advanced Daisenryaku: Desutsch Denguki Sakusen (which roughly translates to Advanced Military Commander: German Blitz Strategy) opts for a different, more controversial approach. Instead of guiding the US, Great Britain, and (gulp) Soviet Union forces to victory, you control the Nazi German army as they steamroll through most of Europe and North Africa. First stop: Poland, 1939!

Playing for keeps.

Doesn’t that sound like fun, kids? Put yourselves in the shoes of the enemies that your grandparents fought! You can’t switch countries either. If you want to play the main campaign, you have to control Nazi Germany. Now, within scenarios detached from the main campaign, you can switch Germany to the computer and take control of Denmark or whoever, but you have to adjust the countries manually. And admittedly, I’m unsure if Germany is the only country you control throughout the entire campaign. Little information exists for Advanced Daisenryaku online, and I didn’t get far enough into the game’s 40+ scenarios to find out. Both Giant Bomb and Sega Retro claim, however, that you control the German military during World War II for the duration of the game. Sega Retro even claims that you can change the outcome of the war, which would make Advanced Daisenryaku sort-of related to the “what if the Nazi’s won?” Wolfenstein franchise.

The weather is feeling very Central Europe today.

Yes, Advanced Daisenryaku is a game, it isn’t real life. I’m not actually supporting Nazis by playing this. I also understand that Sega is not advocating for Nazi Germany to rise again or some other stupid idea like that. That’s all fine, I get it. Nevertheless, I still am not a big fan of controlling Nazi forces in a video game; even if the game is just recreating various World War II battles and not highlighting their other atrocities.

That said, I didn’t quit Advanced Daisenryaku because Nazi Germany is lame and I want nothing to do with them. No, I quit the game because the strategy here is slow, confusing, and infuriating. Battles go on for far too long. Enemy troops appear out of nowhere. Running out of ammunition is a real problem, and your ammunition strength isn’t that great anyway. If Sega’s forcing the player to control a horrible, formidable dictatorship, shouldn’t we feel somewhat powerful?

NOT A STRATE-GEM

Like its predecessor, Advanced Daisenryaku is a tile-based strategy-sim. With each scenario, you’re provided a select amount of troops, and your goal is to break through the enemy line and capture their base. The type of unit dictates how far you’re able to move and how powerful you are. Cavalry and Infantry are weaker than Tanks and Artillery Units, for example, but the former are far more agile. You don’t necessarily have to defeat every enemy unit to capture the enemy base, but the closer you come to the base, the more hell they’re going to give you.

At least Germany has some freedom money to fall back on in case this Nazi thing doesn’t work out.

The battle system is funky. One would think that ten tanks would blow ten cavalry units away with an engagement or two, but you’d be wrong. I’ve had tanks launch missiles at cavalry units upwards of four separate encounters before the little men on horseback were finally annihilated; this seemed excessive. Terrain plays a part in each battle, of course. If the enemy cavalry is in the forest, and your tanks are in plain sight, you probably won’t be able to hit as many units. That said, terrain didn’t seem to make much of a difference with certain encounters. In one specific battle that took place completely out in the open, it took three of my large tanks to obliterate one small enemy tank. Do my weapons just completely suck? Can my men not aim properly? I demand answers! Preferably German answers shouted right into my face, like these sucky weapons are my fault, not theirs.

The cavalry ate their Wheaties this morning.

After my three large tanks took out the enemy mini tank, they were almost out of ammunition. To get more ammunition, you drive to one of your bases and select ‘Rearm’ from the menu. No big deal, right? That depends. If your bases are somewhat close to the fighting, you can outfit your units with more ammo quickly and send them on their way. What happens when your strongest unit runs out of ammo and the closest base is halfway across the map? What if an enemy unit has captured a nearby base and you want to kill them to get it back, but you don’t have any ammo? These “what-if’s” can crush your progress, forcing you to restart.

Stats are always welcome, though not always helpful.

Once your turn is over, a small picture of the map appears and single-digit numbers flicker all over the place, along with commands like ‘Attack,’ ‘Defend,’ etc. Your enemy is taking their turn but what they’re doing – perhaps moving or restocking units – I can’t say. Is this the fog of war I’ve heard so much about? In the midst of the confusion, the enemy occasionally engages you, and a battle (from their perspective) plays out on the screen. Once that’s over, however, the tiny map re-appears, and the random numbers continue flickering until the enemy decides they’re finished.

Ah yes, the children’s placemat battle strategy.

As you emerge back onto the main map, things have changed. More enemy units have appeared from the darkness. This is terrible. Despite the fact that neither you nor your enemy are that powerful, they have more units than you, which means the already lengthy-for-no-reason battles will extend even longer. Can you create more units to take some of the edge off? I didn’t see any option to do so. You can dismantle your units, which seems counterproductive. You can try to just steamroll your way to the enemy base if you’re feeling frisky. But creating more units/calling for reinforcements? Sir, no sir.

Historical Shenanigans

Interestingly, Advanced Daisenryaku is one of the few games to be compatible with the Sega Mega Modem in Japan. Makes sense. The modem’s 1200 baud (1.2 kb/s) limit probably lent itself well to the game’s slow-paced nature. I wonder, though, if any of these modem-equipped games ever suffered from lag. Imagine kicking off Operation Barbarossa with Russia, only for the game’s connection to scramble, freeze, and fall apart. The worst!

Some additional freewheeling nonsense.

If you couldn’t tell by the title, Advanced Daisenryaku was only released in Japan for the Mega Drive. No way in hell would this have been approved to sell in the States or Europe – in 1991, at least. In 2023? Who can say. The amount of WWII strategy games released in the last three decades is staggering. Surely in a couple of them, you control the Axis powers, if only for a battle or two?

May as well just surrender there, Denmark.

Even if you controlled America or Britain (not the Soviet Union, thanks) circa WWII, Advanced Daisenryaku is too tedious to be worth the bother. The mechanics just aren’t fun to control or use, and they feel designed to take up as much of the player’s time as possible. Perfect if you’re insane, like the Nazis. The rest of us would like a little peace.

D

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