The game takes place in the year 2089, when the Guicy Empire has launched a surprise attack on the Moon and occupied Base Nectaris. The few surviving units of the Union forces strike back to liberate the Moon and save the Earth from the imperial menace.
The principal mechanics of the game can be described briefly:
- Each map has a fixed number of units. All units not on the hexagonal playing field are inside factories, which may be unclaimed to begin with. Only infantry units can capture factories or the enemy base.
- Each unit class has its own movement rate, which can be further limited by terrain or the zones of control exerted by opposing units on surrounding hexes. Some units cannot move once deployed.
- In combat, units gain offensive bonuses for surrounding the enemy and defensive bonuses based on support and terrain. Units receive experience stars for combat.
The game was originally developed for the TurboGrafx-16 and released in 1989 in Japan and under the title Military Madness in the U.S. A Japan-exclusive sequel, Neo Nectaris, was released in 1994, taking full advantage of the PC Engine's Super CD-ROM² add-on. Ports of Nectaris for the PC-98 and Sharp X68000 were released in 1992 by Japan's prolific strategy game publisher SystemSoft, and a IBM Personal Computer version of Nectaris, with features not found in any other version, was published in Germany in 1995. Another Japan-exclusive release, Nectaris GB, was issued for the monochrome Game Boy in 1998; it was one of the few games to support Hudson's GB KISS LINK infrared modem. Nectaris was remade for the PlayStation in 1998 (this version was released by Jaleco USA under the title Nectaris: Military Madness), and remade again for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii in 2009 and 2010. 2010 also saw the iOS release of Military Madness: Neo Nectaris.
There is also a spinoff series titled Earth Light which uses the same strategy formula but offers a completely different experience with a new story, setting, and unit roster.
Tropes appearing in this game:
- Animal Theme Naming: Most units that aren't foot soldiers are named after animals, e.g. Panther, Bison, Rabbit, Octopus, Eagle, Mule.
- Anti-Air: The Seeker AAG-4, a sort of light tank designed to be more effective against aircraft than against ground units, the Hawkeye M-107, a dedicated anti-aircraft artillery unit with formidable power and range, and the Falcon FX-1, a plane that can only attack other planes.
- Back from the Brink: Before the opening mission, the entire moon has been taken over and, in the opening mission, the player commands the last survivors of the Union army (little of this is mentioned in game though; mainly, it's All There in the Manual).
- Colonized Solar System: The game is about a war fought on a colonized Moon.
- Color-Coded Armies: The Union Forces' units and buildings are all green, while The Empire's are all blue. Unclaimed factories are yellow, and units that have already moved become gray until the present turn ends.
- Defenseless Transports: Of the game's two transport units, the NC-1 Mule truck averts this, being capable of attacking ground and air units. The C-61 Pelican plane, however, is totally weaponless, and makes easy prey for other airplanes (all of which have greater movement range).
- Deployable Cover: Triggers are somewhat like a form of deployable cover, despite looking like land mines and acting like units for most purposes, though they can neither move or attack once deployed.
- Easy Logistics: Logistics are very easy indeed. No unit ever runs out of fuel or ammunition. Factories can repair any damaged unit in one turn to better-than-new condition.
- Geo Effects: Rough terrain restricts movement range, but it also gives units defensive bonuses. Mountains provide a whopping 40% bonus, though they're inaccessible except to infantry, artillery and aircraft.
- "Instant Death" Radius: It's best to avoid moving a ground unit within six hexes of any enemy Atlas SS-80, since the Atlas can then hit it with one of the most powerful attacks in the game. On the advanced maps, the enemy often has multiple Atlases pre-deployed in close proximity. A stand-out example is Deshta, where the enemy base is protected by two Atlases guarding a chokepoint also lined with Triggers.
- Instant-Win Condition: If one army captures the other's base camp, they win the battle instantly. The usual way to attempt this is to load an infantry unit into a Pelican and fly it past enemy lines.
- Mighty Glacier: The Giant HMB-2 tank is incredibly strong in terms of attack and defense power, but it's also one of the slowest units that can even move on its own.
- Non-Entity General: The game gives no characterization to the player character, who is described in no more detail than "Commander of the Union Forces."
- Password Save: The game makes level passwords easy by making them identical with the map names, each of which is six letters in length.
- Theme Music Power-Up: The ordinary music during the player's turn changes when the player gains a 2:1 advantage in unit count. There are also alternate player turn and computer turn themes that play if the computer gains a 2:1 advantage.
- Trauma Inn: Factories don't really produce new units; they just build any damaged units that move in back to full strength.
- Veteran Unit: Units' stats improve as they acquire stars for battle experience, finally attaining their full potential when they have one large star.