A Metanode

Westwood Studio's classic RTS series boasts the following entries, expansion packs, spinoffs, and related games: (Not all of them are noded, but I aim to change that.)

The series proper, in the order they were released:


Related games (the Dune series of games shares more than a little history with the C&C games):

  • Dune - Not really an RTS, but included here for posterity.
  • Dune II - The first RTS.
  • Dune 2000 - The remake of Dune II.
  • Emperor: The Battle for Dune - Westwood does 3D RTS.

Source: memory and generic mining of various retail websites (e.g. amazon.com)

A Nintendo 64 Game

Looking Glass Studios developed (and Nintendo published) a version of this classic RTS for the Nintendo 64, which was released in May of 1999. Westwood's name is also attached, though I think their involvement was limited to creating the original.

Consoles and real-time strategy games generally don't mix. Moving units is something usually done with a cursor, and moving a cursor is a great deal easier when you have a mouse. However, it is bearable with the N64's analog joystick. The A and B buttons on the controller take the place of left- and right-click (you can even swap them, if you wish); one selects and moves units, while the other cancels any selection you may have made.

The graphics are worth mentioning: Looking Glass completely re-did the graphics into 3D (the N64 being better suited for 3D than for 2D, I suppose), though honestly the only real difference is that the view now has perspective: things farther north are farther from the camera, and therefore look a little smaller. It's actually a very minor visual effect. Also, if you have the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak, you can have more detailed terrain than you could otherwise, but this sucks up the framerate.

Like the PC version, there is no "skirmish" mode (or custom game, or instant action, or whatever you want to call it), and, because this version has framerate problems enough already (the game chokes when a number of explosions are visible), there is no multiplayer mode. The standard single player campaign is there, but it very sadly lacks the briefing movies I enjoyed so much from the PC version (due to a lack of space on the cartridge, I'd guess), opting instead for slideshows with the audio track from the PC movies running over them. The game also includes a new campaign unique to the N64 version, which is a nice touch. The short "teaser" movies (those things which just show units from the game doing cool things) are rendered in-game (there's a 3D engine now, remember?), again I'd guess to reduce the space they use. The soundtrack, as far as I can tell, is here in all its glory. The awesome channel-changing opening movie appears to be gone completely, replaced with something cribbed from the installation sequence of the PC version (those old DOS games could have installation sequences that this modern InstallShield stuff can't possibly match; most games don't even try).

Ever play the version of Red Alert for the PlayStation? That game had a very horrible control scheme. It involved a very convoluted method of accessing the all-important sidebar, wherein all of your build options are contained. This game has a much simpler method: pressing the Z-trigger button will bring up the sidebar, and pressing it again will make it go away. Simple enough. There's also a shortcut: holding Z while clicking on a unit will cause you to start building another of that unit; very very useful for when you're in the middle of a battle.

The R shoulder button cycles the cursor through its various modes: sell, repair, guard, that sort of thing. It also, used in conjunction with the C-directional arrow buttons, can define up to four quick groups, which can later be selected with the C-button you defined it to (it's just like the number-grouping in the PC version). The Directional Pad, way on the left side of the controller, can either center the screen on your Construction Yard (with down) or cause the current selection to scatter in random directions (with right). Various combinations of these buttons, not documented in the game and difficult to figure out without a manual (I bought it used), cover many of the other functions.

It suddenly occurs to me that it would be slightly ironic to play this on an N64 emulator. Not that I endorse the illegal copying of older console games. Ahem.

The game is eminently playable, which is quite a feat for an RTS on a console. However, it is just C&C; moreover, it's C&C without the briefing movies, which add so much character to the game. If you have an N64, find this used, and for some reason would rather have this than the PC version (which is unquestionably better and can usually be found in the used section of your local videogame outlet), by all means pick it up. Or you can save your $10 and get, I don't know, Fallout or something. This game will merely go down as a nice try in bringing RTS's to consoles, but it just goes to show that PC's are just plain better at them.