In Desert Commander, you are at war with Iraq or Iran or one of those Middle Eastern countries that sells gas for 29 cents a gallon.
You have a certain amount of units you control – bi-planes, trucks, tanks, infantry – and your mission is to meet your rival head-on and take them out. The enemy has similar units to you, but in five out of the six campaigns, their numbers will be larger. Each unit can move a limited number of spaces and carries a limited amount of ammo, so mind your stats.
Be aware of the terrain your units move onto, as well. For example, anything that has wheels or feet is slowed by more mountainous terrain. When you engage your enemy, you’ll be treated to a cutscene of bullets, bombs, and explosions. In the current go-go age of 20XX, the war feels chunky; granted, this was the NES and sprites could only move so fast, but still.
Thankfully, the elephant pace doesn’t deter much from the nail-biting strategic gameplay. At its best, Desert Commander plays similarly to Advance Wars, the GBA strategy series that many consider to be among the best handheld strategy games of all time. The visuals aren’t as sharp, the combat isn’t as smooth, but the steady, addictive rhythms of moving each unit into place are timeless.
PUBLISHER/DEVELOPER: Kemco GENRE: Strategy
RELEASE DATE: 04/28/88 – (JP), 06/1989 – (US)