WW III Video Game Review: Conflict

The Nintendo Entertainment System owned the late 1980s hands down. From ’85 through to the end of 1990 the NES was king. If you were a kid during around this time you know what I’m talking about. Nintendo could do no wrong and kept belting out smash hits like Lawrence Taylor high on coke. They just kept coming and each one was bigger than the last. If the NES had an Achilles’ heel it was its strategy and war games. To put it simply, the NES just did not have the technology to run a game of this type well, even by the standards of the day. PCs were far superior in every way. NES strategy and war titles were generally clunky and moved with the grace of a steamroller.  Anyone who has ever played Romance of the Three Kingdoms on the console know what I mean.

Conflict was the first real attempt to bring a modern wargame to an NES setting. The concept was ambitious to say the least. Vic Tokai, the company that developed, and published the game, did not cut any corners and made an honest effort to release a quality product. Overall, they succeeded.

For now, let’s start with a description, and the basics. Conflict is a hex-based tactical wargame between two sides (Red and Blue) armed and organized along the lines of the US and Soviet militaries at the time. The game was released in 1990 and a wide variety of aircraft, MBTs, helicopters, and even SAM vehicles are included. The concept of the game is very straight forward. You take command of either Blue or Red and play 16 missions out over a series of maps, each one containing its own unique terrain layout. The goal in each scenario is the same: destroy the opposing side’s flag tank. To accomplish this, you’re given a force made up of different units with different capabilities. They should be used to chip away at the other side’s defenses and open the door to its flag tank. In each mission both sides have two factories to produce units. One can produce air units, and the other one ground units. Fame points are needed to buy and build. The players earn them by destroying the other side’s units, and capturing city hexes. As points are earned, more advanced units become available. For example, a player can start off a mission with an F-4 Phantom as your primary air unit, but once he or she reaches a certain amount of points the F-16 becomes available for purchase and production. But be careful. Losing friendly units will result in your own points being reduced, narrowing the type of units available in your replacement/production pool. The single restriction is that each player can only produce a single unit per turn.

When a mission begins the player is presented with a hex map. Landscape is laid out nicely with different types of terrain included, as well as city and airfields, which need to be captured to resupply, and repair air and land units. The terrain types include plains, forest, mountains, water, and even bridges to name a few. Even though none of the mission maps represent a real-world geographic area it’s pretty clear the maps have a very Western Europe feel to them. Which makes sense given that Red and Blue are just generic titles for the Soviet Union and United States.

The player moves his units around the map, trying to capture cities, airfields, and maneuver to seek out the other side’s flag tank. When opposing units meet, the game shifts to the combat screen and the real action. Players control their respective units and have to decide on their actions. Attacking players usually fire first but this isn’t always the case. A number of variables go into the mixture including terrain and types of units involved. For example, if your M-151 TOW jeep is attacked by an enemy Hind, it will not be an equal engagement. The Hind has missiles and all the jeep has is a machine gun. Can’t use TOW’s against choppers in this game unfortunately.

Below is a Youtube clip showing the start of a game, and the first engagement. It’ll give you a good idea of game play, and flow.

Now, the combat screen is where Conflict becomes clunky. There’s a considerable amount of dialogue, and decisions to be made in between the action. It doesn’t flow smoothly, and I guess considering 1989-1990 technology it really couldn’t back then. Yet I can’t help but think it could’ve been put together in a more acceptable fashion.

There is no point in making this review a chapter-long analysis. In short, Conflict is a good game. More or less, it is a tabletop tactical game like TacAir, or Fire Team refined and put on a video game console. The visuals are good, and the music is catchy. Vic Tokai must’ve done something right because when the Super NES was released, they produced a sequel. Mistakes were corrected and it plays much smoother than the NES version. It might be worth a review one day.

As for the NES game, it’s solid and worth trying out. I give it four out of five mushroom clouds.

Author’s Note: This weekend I’ll review the movie By Dawn’s Early Light and next week we jump into D+13. 😊

10 Replies to “WW III Video Game Review: Conflict”

    1. That happened to me too! Still not as bad as how they rigged the scoring. Blue loses a jet and its like -1200 points but if Red loses one its -300. That used to grind on me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Mike,
    I LOVED “Conflict!” I played it all the time and it was my favorite Nintendo game. In fact one of my most prized possessions was the list of the letters for winning battles so I could unlock “the final conflict” which was the last battle in the game.

    I figured out as a teenager that Conflict had a trick. Fighting the Red “top line” equipment was a guaranteed way to lose the game (M60 vrs a T80 for example) but going toe to toe against lesser equipment and racking up points would unlock the top line equipment for the blue player. Just like airland battle, Conflict wanted you to attack the weak spots (I loved going after enemy BRDMs, ZSUs or infantry with M60 tanks).

    I used to stay up to obscene hours on fridays to play this game.

    You can download it and play it free via emulator now. Thanks Mike this was a great trip down memory lane. -Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I swear we are brothers! 🙂 I never made it to the final conflict but not because I didn’t try.

      You’re right, the game was all about hitting Red at the weakest points. My favorite piece of equipment was the Sgt York. Never entered service but that AA gun saved me in a number of missions!

      I’ve had it downloaded for a while. One of my favorite NES roms.

      Thanks, Steve! Hope you made it through those storms ok yesterday. I was stuck out in Lancaster when they started. Not fun.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mike,
        I’ve thought that myself! We’ll have to link up sometime soon.

        I was caught out on a run yesterday when those storms hit in a wooded area / office park. I ended up sheltering under the entrance to an unoccupied office building and remarkably stayed pretty dry. We lost power briefly but it came back on.

        The Sgt York! Yes! I always loved when I could get the Abrams unlocked. IIRC, there were also “moves” you had to do to survive the attacks. “Adjust” or “move” with tanks and troops. I agree with the comments here though, it did feel rigged. Nothing worse than when you’re playing for hours and you end up losing a fight you should have won. The red AI would do stupid things sometimes and I swear they’d lose but they’d end up winning a fight.

        Well done sir! So glad you posted this!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sometime soon, come hell or high water!

          Thank heaven for unoccupied office buildings. 🙂 Just got a weather warning, storms are in Lancaster now so you might be getting more action soon.

          My favorite move to defend against an attack was to swing when I had an Apache or Cobra. Doubt it did any good but it was funny to watch the choppers act like they were having seizures 🙂

          My pleasure, sir. Just another good memory from our childhood. Gosh, it was a violent childhood wasn’t it? 🙂


    1. I think Nestopia might work for Mac. If you need the ROM and can’t find it, let me know. I have it in my library.


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