Have you ever played a board game or a tabletop role-playing game with a rules lawyer? Anything you try to do is met with a citation of an obscure rule or a favorable reinterpretation thereof, usually to the rules lawyer's benefit. He's usually technically right, but when he has an encyclopedic knowledge of rules exploits and you don't, it feels like he's cheating.
Military Madness feels like you're up against one of those guys. Every mistake you make in this game costs you, and come-from-behind victories are basically impossible. Rounds are over very quickly, one way or another, and there's a random element in play to boot.
Nectaris is a 3D remake of the original Military Madness, which was a flagship title for the TurboGrafx-16 almost twenty years ago. You can probably draw a straight line between the original game and many of the console strategy games that have been released in the last couple of decades, particularly Advance Wars. It's influential and an old-school favorite. Unfortunately, that doesn't immediately translate into being playable now.
When two units meet in combat, the game calculates each unit's attack and defense strength based upon terrain, other nearby units, and each unit's current population status, and calculates the ensuing exchange of fire. Damage is represented as a number of casualties taken on both sides, and the fight continues.
The surviving units take a permanent hit to their attack and defense values, which means the fastest way to win Military Madness is to continually burn down one enemy unit at a time. Even when you stack the deck as heavily in your favor as possible, an enemy may inexplicably shrug off your concentrated fire and deal out losses to you in return.
In keeping with the original game, Nectaris has no in-game tutorial and tells you nothing about your units, leaving it up to you to figure out how to play. In the early nineties, you played these kinds of games with the manual open on your lap; now, as a downloadable game, you pretty much flip open the Help & Options menu every ten seconds. Computer opponents, of course, know the rules intimately, which means you'll lose several units on every map to each new enemy you face before you figure out what the deal is.
It's genuinely strange that Hudson would release a game like this. Military Madness earned its position as a classic, and adding multiplayer to it seems like a good idea. There were a number of issues with the original game that could've stood a tweak or update while they were at it, though. It's unforgiving, user-unfriendly, and the computer routinely cheats. I can't recommend it to modern gamers at all.