Back in the mid to late 1990s, when I was just a young, naïve teenager who was only just beginning to face rejections from potential girlfriends for being a serious gamer(this was before there were many girl gamers), Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis had finished their battle. Not surprisingly, of course, the SNES had dominated the market, and along with the NES, had cemented the golden age for Nintendo from the mid 80s to the mid 90s. I myself, like many others, have always held the NES and SNES as the greatest consoles ever, but that’s not to say that the Genesis didn’t have some worthy gems. It certainly did, and for my two younger brothers, two closest cousins and I, one of them was General Chaos.
The game itself is rather unique, especially for the time. It’s a combat simulation game of sorts, pitting General Chaos’ blue army versus General Havoc’s red army, in which players take control of five units-four in cooperative games- on a set battlefield. You are given the option of doing boot camp first, which is basically a tutorial, or training mode. The controls are simple, and so is the gameplay. Button A fires the weapons, B tells your commando to move to where you pointed the cursor at, and C cycles between your units. The five units are Scorcher(short range flamethrower), Launcher(long-range bazooka), Gunner(machine gun), Chucker(grenade lobber), and Blaster(short range dynamite tosser). Before each battle, whoever won the previous chooses If one of your guys takes too many hits and goes down, there is still a chance to revive him by using a medic, as well. Oh, and sometimes when enemy soldiers get close, a dust cloud appears and hand to hand combat ensues. All other action on the battlefield temporarily stops while the two combatants duke it out with high, middle, and low punches and kicks, as well as crucial blocks.
The single player mode is alright, but a little clunky to control because you must move the cursor around the screen like a mouse pointer and tell your units where to go, and this can take some getting used to. Your units will all automatically fire when pressing A, but aim at the most logical target. It can get a little frustrating at times, and you won’t always know where your troops will aim. At the end of each battle, whichever army has anyone left standing is the winner, and a results screen pops up and lets you know how many points you got and how many medics you have left. The goal of the game is to keep winning battles so as to advance the campaign map, in a sort of Risk style, and get to the enemy capital and take it over. There are a variety of maps, from swamp to desert to snow, and everything in between, and there are often bonus items to pick up on the battlefield, including useful extra medics, and sometimes enemy structures or vehicles to destroy, or you might need to protect your own, depending on the map. Hazards like water are a huge detriment to the Scorcher, whose flamethrower will temporarily blow useless, but comical, bubbles at the enemy if he stays submerged too long. Any soldier can drown in the water, too.
Now, for the best part of the game, and my fondest memory of it: the multiplayer. When playing with two people side by side, you and a friend control two commandos each, and move them individually, instead of having to “point and click” at the screen for five guys. This makes for a more intense, and faster paced, match-up. If you have the 4-Player adapter, then you can really have some serious fun with either two versus two squads of commandos in four players, or two commando squads against a five man squad in three player.
My fondest memories of General Chaos are on family vacations during which my brothers, cousins and I would take turns beating the AI in two player side by side mode, and when I wasn’t playing I would stand behind the couch or to the side and give out “orders” by yelling, screaming, and just getting into the act. If they won the battle, I’d praise them and say all this great stuff, but if they lost, then I would get in their faces and tell them how they could do better next time. Sadly, we never were able to find the four player adapter, but perhaps one day I’ll be able to play using it. This event, for me, marked the time when I knew I wanted to review, write about and be involved with games professionally in some way.