Military Madness. Diner Dash. Water Warfare. What is it with Hudson games and alliteration? Earlier today, we had a chance to check out this trio of downloadable games for ourselves. While all three might rely on alliteration for their title, each game is entirely different both in play style and, it seems, intended audience.
While a version of this 1989 TurboGrafx-16 RTS game currently exists on the Wii Virtual Console--the version of Military Madness we played today will be available via Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare. The difference between this game and the Virtual Console version? A visual upgrade--with HD graphics on the PSN and XBLA versions of the game--as well as online multiplayer for up to four players. The individual units--which included tanks, soldiers, and mechs--had a stripped-down look, similar to units in the old Total Annihilation PC game.
The easiest description of Military Madness might be Advance Wars in space; in each scenario, you'll be pitted against one or more opponents, and you'll have a certain number of units to complete your mission. That starting force will be predetermined for each scenario, though you can take control of neutral factories on the map and use them to produce new units. Movement is based on a hexagonal grid, with different units able to move different distances.
Combat takes place with small cutscenes that, like Advance Wars, give you an idea of how you've done. The game takes attributes like offensive and defensive power into consideration, naturally, as well as other variables, such as terrain height, and the placement of adjacent units. For instance, if you're attacking a tank that happens to have a soldier unit next to it, that soldier unit will join in the defense of the tank, giving combat a layer of depth that should make matches interesting. Look for Military Madness in the third quarter of 2009.
On its surface, Diner Dash might not have the strategy cool factor of Military Madness but, after just a few minutes with it, you'll realize there's a lot more to being a virtual waitress than you think. In the game's single player career mode, you'll play as Flo. Your goal is serve customers at a series of progressively bigger restaurants, eventually opening new food joints as you go. Diner Dash has been been making the rounds on mobile and handheld platforms but now it's coming to PSN, XBLA, and WiiWare.
The fun of Diner Dash comes in keeping up with ever-present rush of customers. During a single service you'll need to seat guests, take their orders (when they're ready, of course), send the orders to the kitchen, serve the food, collect the check and bus the table. Then repeat the process over and over again for each of your customers. If it sounds maddening, it is. In a fun way, that is, as you're constantly juggling between tasks, trying to keep your patrons happy and well-fed, and upgrading your restaurant as you go.
We played the 360 version of Diner Dash today and had a good time with the local cooperative multiplayer. Here, you work with a friend (either local or online) to serve customers as they come in the door. Though you are working together, there's still a mild competitive aspect to this mode, as both waitresses are competing for tips. As a result, you can swipe a table's order before your partner gets to it, or manage to bus a table that your buddy was just serving. In addition to cooperative play, there are also competitive modes, where you're going head-to-head to see who can get to a certain score first. Expect dirty tricks from your opponent here and, if our hands-on time with the game was anything to go by, much accusatory yelling. Just another day in the diner, it seems. Diner Dash is coming in the second quarter of 2009.
Technically, Water Warfare is an FPS but, in the case of this kid-friendly WiiWare game, the "S" in "FPS" might as well stand for "soaker." Replace the submachine guns and sniper rifles from your standard shooter with water pistols and super-soaker guns; replace the battle-scarred vets with Mii-like avatars and set the action not on a war-torn dystopia but on one of four levels that look like a virtual playground, and you'll have Water Warfare in a nutshell.
Up to eight people can play competitively online (or two locally). You control the game with the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, moving the Wii Remote left and right to aim (and turn your character). The controls are a bit clumsy and the game's horizontal split screen doesn't make it any easier to play, serving really just to obscure your view.
You'll have several water weapons to choose from--pistols, machine guns, and sniper rifles and the game will let you dual-wield certain weapons. You won't have unlimited ammo, of course, but you can reload at the water fountains you find spread around the levels. The game's basic visuals and slow control scheme means that CounterStrike fans will want to stay away but, if you've got a little one in the house, this might be his or her first step towards dominating you in FPS games years from now.