Released in 1989 for the NES, Desert Commander is a turn based strategy game that is loosely based on the North African theatre during World War 2. Taking control of either the green or blue army players must move their forces across the map to destroy their opponent’s army. The base mechanics of the game are similar to another game of the era for the NES called Conflict as well as more recent games such as Advance Wars. There are five scenarios to chose from that will vary the map size and number of units available and the player may alter their starting force before battle begins.
In Japan the game is called Sensha Senryaku: Sabaku no Kitsune, which roughly translates as Tank Strategy: Desert Fox.
The objective of each scenario is to destroy the other army and its headquarters unit. Each unit has its own strength and weakness in a very simple rock-paper-scissors format (tanks beat infantry, bombers beat tanks, fighters beat bombers etc). Terrain plays an important role as it will help or hinder units in battle. Infantry units are vulnerable in open desert terrain, but gain strong advantages in city or rough terrain, while tanks and armored cars fight better in the open. Scattered across each map are special terrain types that offer bonuses. Cities add defensive bonuses and also will resupply and reinforce units while airfields do the same for air units. There are also bunker placements that will give a boost to a unit’s defense.
Combat occurs when opposing units come into contact. The battles are automated and a battle screen will pop-up and show units attacking each other. Each unit has a starting strength of ten and when the strength falls to zero the unit is destroyed.
Each unit also must be continually supplied for both ammo and fuel. When ammo runs out the unit will no longer to shoot in combat preventing it from attacking and properly defending itself. If a ground unit loses fuel it will be unable to move unit it is resupplied by a supply truck. Air units must return to airfields or they will be crash and be destroyed if they run out of fuel.
- Armored Cars
- Artillery Guns
- Anti-Aircraft Guns
- Transport Trucks (moves infantry)
- Supply Trucks
- HQ Tents