If the classic Apple II game Choplifter ever hooked up with Nintendo’s Advance Wars series, their love child might look a little something like Glory Days 2.
Combining a high-flying, side-scrolling shooter with real-time military strategy, Glory Days 2 puts you in the dual role of combat pilot and army General. The singleplayer campaign opens with a couple of missions that act as a piloting tutorial, tasking you to rescue civilians caught in the middle of a battle and bomb bunkers controlled by enemy troops. It’s not long before you’re awarded the double duty of not only piloting various aircraft, but also deploying troops onto the battlefield. As you progress through the campaign you’ll unlock better aircraft to fly, additional ground units to deploy, and earn special weapons to help gain an edge in combat, such as paratroopers, rockets and drones.
The battlefield is represented as a long, two-dimensional road. At one end of that road is your home base and at the opposite end, the enemy’s base. In between are a handful of bunkers that when captured, earn its controller cash to spend on more ground troops. The object is to eliminate the enemy army by gaining control of the bunkers and pushing them back to their home base. This is where military strategy comes into play.
Soldiers and paratroopers are the only units that can capture bunkers. However, soldiers are the weakest unit in the game. Tanks can crush soldiers but they cost a little more to produce. As a pilot, you can bomb tanks, bunkers, soldiers or any ground unit for that matter, but you have to be careful because the enemy often has aircraft of their own. A battle for air space will ensue. Back on the ground, there’s an anti-aircraft unit in the form of a jeep, as well as other units including trucks, ambulances and artillery units, each with their special use. When you get to the later stages of the campaign, the battles become very tactical as to which units you should deploy and how much money you have to spend.
This might sound a little complicated but once you deploy a ground unit, you don’t have to micromanage them. Their actions are fully automated. All you have to focus on is two things: piloting and controlling the air space, and troop deployment. On the topic of piloting, whether you use the stylus or control pad to maneuver your aircraft, you’ll find there’s a bit of a learning curve at first. Performing a dive bomb, for example, will take a few attempts to get right. If you get too close to the ground you can easily clip bunkers or tanks and crash land. If you crash land two or three times the mission will be a faiure, no matter if you’re winning the war or not.
Once you get the hang of flying you’ll relish the opportunity to take down opposing fighter jets with your V2 rockets while bombing enemy ground units below. Just don’t forget you’re also the acting General. The Unit Deploy screen is accessed by pressing the R button, selecting the unit you’d like to purchase and then pressing the A button. You can also use the touch screen to deploy units. I wouldn’t say it’s taxing to perform this double duty as pilot and General but there will be times when you’ll forget all about the fact you’re running low on ground troops because you’re in the heat of battle in the sky. It takes some getting used to but once you grasp the concept, it’s an experience that’s both engaging and rewarding.
When you’ve had enough of the singleplayer campaign, the Battle Mode awaits. Here you can construct your own battle scenarios using technologies and environments that you’ve unlocked throughout the campaign. There’s also a wireless multiplayer mode in which up to eight players can take to the sky for some aerial search and destroy action.
Glory Days 2 is published by Secret Stash Games (an Eidos label), which is befitting since Glory Days 2 is a bit of a hidden gem. While there’s definitely a learning curve with respect to the controls and the fact you’re performing double duty as a pilot and army General, the combination of aerial combat and real-time military strategy is a rather enjoyable mix. If the premise sounds appealing to you, Glory Days 2 is a Nintendo DS game worth seeking out.