#456 – North and South

North-and-South

                                     

                                                                                I expect Bugs Bunny to come out at any time.

 

North-amp-South-U-5B-5D-0

                                            

                                                                                             Ride on, you buck-wild stallions!

 

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous

PUBLISHER: Kemco

DEVELOPER: Seita

GENRE: Strategy/action

RELEASE DATE: December 1990

 

Allow me to share an excerpt from the North and South manual: “With North and South, you now have the opportunity to relive the historic Civil War. Every effort has been made to simulate the strategic circumstances actually faced by the Union and Confederacy. This is your chance to rewrite the history books!” Yes, you can play as both the Union and the Confederacy in this game. I’m all for playing a strategy game based on the Civil War, but does anyone really want to “rewrite the history books” besides Ku Klux Klan members and other unapologetic racists? I’m probably caring too much about that one sentence, but I was truly shocked to read it (and with an exclamation point at the end of the sentence, even!). North and South is still an enjoyable beginner strategy game, but more consideration should have been given to the game’s premise.

 

Alternate historical ramifications aside, North and South manages to entertain by stripping down strategic warfare to the barest elements. From the menu screen, you decide whether you play as North or South, level of difficulty, if strategic elements like weather, European reinforcements, or Native Americans/Hispanics sabotage either your army or the opposing army, and what year to play. Each year from 1861-1864 is accounted for with historical background (1865 is not available to play, since the South had all but lost by that point). Once you begin the scenario, you advance onto unclaimed and enemy territories. If a territory hasn’t been claimed yet, all you have to do is move one of your men onto it. If you move onto the opposing armies territory, war occurs. Each side has the same number of units, typically: one cannon firer, three horseback riders, and six ground shooters. Control between the three units can be awkward at first. Press the ‘B’ button to switch between units, then press ‘A’ to begin controlling them. The horsemen are your most valuable commodity, as they can easily slaughter cannon firers, ground shooters, and other horsemen, if controlled properly. Whoever destroys all of the soldiers on the opposing side first wins and secedes their territory. As you conquer more territories, you’ll begin to notice trains and forts. Trains supply taxes from each of your territories. The more gold bags you have, the more units will be given to you (five gold bags per unit). Infiltrating a fort turns the game from a strategy into a side-scroller. If you avoid/kill attacking dogs, soldiers and dynamite, and collect the fort’s flag, you win the territory. Defeat all soldiers to end the scenario and go back to the main menu.

 

North-amp-South-U-5B-5D-1

 

                                                                                 This here’s a map. What a time to be alive.

 

North and South‘s strategy-lite is an excellent alternative to those of us who aren’t loyal Koei devotees. I’m particularly thankful that, unlike Nobunaga’s Ambition, Genghis Khan, or any other Koei clusterfluffle, I understood everything North and South presented to me. Better yet, each of the scenarios can be conquered within fifteen-to-thirty minutes on the easiest setting; perfect for a quick pick-up-and-play session. North and South‘s potential re-writing of history doesn’t impress me, but its sense of focus and clarity is certainly welcome.

 

B

 

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Latest posts by Dylan Cornelius (see all)

  • I’m still trying to figure out why the horses look so pissed lol

  • Watch out for that sneaky injun around Oklahoma!!

  • Thanks for the reviews, and keep ’em coming!

    As a combination – History, Government, Economics and English teacher, I must disagree with your statement:

    “…Historical revisionists can write whatever they want: the Civil War was primarily about the abolition of slavery, and the economic collapse of the South because of abolition…”

    In my research, I must state that while slavery is (and was) a horrible institution, the Civil War was primarily about states rights. The issue of slavery was simply the torch which the federalists choose to carry in their quest for bigger government. This bigger government, by the way, which has only grown larger and larger basically unchecked ever since.

  • @Bard Oly: I apparently overstepped my boundaries with that sentence (I’ve also gotten an e-mail regarding it), so I’m going to delete it.

    I stand by my original argument: who would want to play as the South?

  • Thanks!

    In response to, “I stand by my original argument: who would want to play as the South?”, I would assume that the game balance is skewed (if slightly to one side or the other, so beginners might want to play the easier side first, then gamers who’ve mastered that might then choose to play the more difficult side? I have never played this game before, and I don’t recall ever knowing anything about it prior to reading your review, and after doing do, I am inclined to try to find this game and try it out. Thanks for the reviews!

  • In my research, I must state that while slavery is (and was) a horrible institution, the Civil War was primarily about states rights. The issue of slavery was simply the torch which the federalists choose to carry in their quest for bigger government. This bigger government, by the way, which has only grown larger and larger basically unchecked ever since.

    Is “in my research” meant to validate this, or what? And is this REALLY an insinuation that “bigger government” is an evil in some way comparable to slavery?

    You were right the first time, Dylan, and fuck a buncha neo-confederate apologists.

  • Wow. Who knew a game based on a French comic book would inspire such controversy in the comments section on a NES review site so many years later?

    Wait, that’s it. The FRENCH are to blame for all this! Channel your anger in their direction, boys.

    In all seriousness, I think anyone interested in wars and/or alternate history fans are the crowds most likely to play as the south in a game like this. The ability to change the outcome of a battle is like porn for your average military history buff. They’re not thinking about what Side A or Side B represented politically or philosophically, they’re thinking “if this unit went northwest and charged, maybe they would’ve won the day — let’s try it and see!” I think it’s as harmless as a sports junkie recreating a famous championship match in their sports game of choice and trying to guide the real-life losing side to victory.

  • That’s probably the best argument I’ve heard, Matt. Kudos to your reasoning.

  • Alanna

    I grew up in the south, and can assure you that everyone I knew wanted to play as The South because thats where we lived. Plain and simple. Its just alternate history, amd a cracking fun two player game. I revisited this one a month or so ago and had a great time with it all over again. The south will rise again… in all its 8 bit glory!

  • Jamez Dean

    It’s a pity you don’t seem to have played this multiplayer as it’s mine and my friend’s favourite game on the system. Having had this as kids, we recently got hold of it again and were surprised at the nuance and subtle mechanics we’d never noticed (taking a fort by taking all the surrounding territories for instance).

    Great!