GEN – #45 – Tyrants: Fight Through Time

History:

My only time spent with this game was a couple minutes it took to get the screenshot for the title image…

Expectations:

I’m a bit worried about this one. It reminds me a little of Warcraft 2 for the PS1, which I very much disliked. To clarify, I loved Warcraft 2 on the PC, it’s what got me started in RTS games, I just hated the console port. This game just looks like it’s going to be incredibly cumbersome…


Day 1:

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And we’re back to playing Genesis games!

This has been… a strange game for me to play. I came into it very skeptical, and I’m still skeptical, and after an hour or playing I still only barely just understand some of what I’m doing, and I can’t quite bring myself to quitting this game yet.

Tyrants is an extremely rudimentary RTS game doing it’s best to work in a 16-bit console environment. For the most part, it does work, and while it’s not as fun and frenetic as General Chaos was, I’m finding it to be a more complete package. You build units, research tech, harvest resources and raise buildings… and are offered zero explanation as to how any of it actually works!

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I spent my first 30 or so with Tyrants just trying to figure out how to play the game. The basics are that you start with a chosen amount of units which increases over time at a rate based on your tech level. Anything you want to do in the game, research, training, construction, gathering, requires you to assign unused units to the task, much like a traditional RTS.

The time it takes to complete any given task is based on how many units you have assigned to it. As a result I found the best way for me to win was to simply assign ALL my units to research things one item at a time, which only took about five seconds per item at most, and quickly jump a tech level or two. Essentially, a Tech Rush strategy. The upside is that I’ll have armored spearmen and longbowmen while my opponents are still wearing loincloths and throwing rocks. The only real drawback is that if I get rushed during the initial setup phase I can find myself at a severe military disadvantage.

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The game spans nine “epochs”, which consist of three actual rounds each. With every epoch, everyone’s starting tech level increases by one, or at least that’s the case so far. As a result, every epoch will have you progressing further and further through time.

My issue is that every time I think I get a handle on that game, it throws some new weird mechanic my way. For example, the last game I played forced me to mine for resources before I could even research the most basic of technologies, whereas every match up to this point has not required me to do so. I figure this is just the nature of this map and everyone is playing under these restriction, until I suddenly get slammed by a 111 unit army! How the hell did they get that many units! After I turned off the recorder I decided to hop right back into that very same map, and it played out just like any other game up to that point… I really ought to read the manual… I planned to call it quits for good, but I can’t get this game out of my head just yet, so I’m going ot do some research of my own and give it another go.


Day 2:

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After doing some reading during the day, I was actually looking forward to giving this game another try. Unfortunately, even with some new understanding of how the game works, I was even less enamored with Tyrants than I was yesterday. Part of this was due to the fact that, even when I had a slightly better idea of what was going on, the game itself just wasn’t very compelling.

I got to about the same point I did last night when the boredom really started to hit home. I gave it a couple more matches resigned to defeat.

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Conclusion:

Tyrants is… interesting. It’s kind of hard for me to wrap my head around this one, as it’s so easy to pass it off as mediocre, but at the same time the RTS scene back in 1992 was vastly different than it it today. Warcraft and Command & Conquer hadn’t even hit the PC yet, and in some ways this game feels ahead of its time, especially on a home console!

The problem with Tyrants is that it doesn’t have those genre staples to help refine it, and so while it has several perfectly fine ideas, they don’t always come together. There is missing information, like available resources on a map tile, or timers outside of their respective menu, Troop activity isn’t visualized, so unless you know better, which is to say you can see this game in the same way that Neo sees the Matrix, you’d have no idea what’s actually going on at any given time.

At the same time, I recognize that when this game came out there was likely a niche market that wanted EXACTLY this kind of game, and they wouldn’t be able to find anything else like it for their Genesis. I mean I remember trying to sell people on Harvest Moon back in the late 90s and getting just the strangest looks… This is one of those games that I could see myself pouring hours into as a kid, but it’s hard to look at a game like this now, knowing that Warcraft II was just a few years away.

Liked:

– Very unique game for its time.
– Once you started understanding some of the game’s mechanics, it can be easy to lose yourself in several rounds.

Disliked:

– Absolutely no in-game guidance for a game that desperately needs it.
– Every time you think you have a handle on the mechanics, they change…
– Visuals and sounds do little to make Tyrants more compelling. In fact this whole game could have been kept entirely in tact as a text-based strategy game… and may have even been better.
– No Mega Mouse support. Yep, I went there.

Review:

Tyrants Fight Through Time

Playthrough:


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