Strategy games aren't exactly known for thier quality on the NES. Enter North and South, the historical simulation recreating the Civil War. You can rewrite history on your NES! This game I had never even heard of before, I only bought it because it was complete, and it turned out to be a good decision.
The game is made by Infogrames (which, before now I never even realized they MADE NES games) and published by Kemco/Sieka, known for thier point and click adventure games. The graphics are pretty good in the cutscenes, and it has a lot of text effects the likes of which I've never seen in any NES game, glowing text, spinning text, you'd have to see it to see what I mean. The graphics during gameplay are much less impressive, and serve only as a basic interface. The sprites during battles are small making them hard to control sometimes. Graphics during sidescrolling parts just plain suck.
The game is fairly customizable for a NES game, the player can choose to be North or South, what strength level your side and the computers side is at (meaning you can make yourself much stronger than the computer or give yourself a challenge and make the CPU stronger), the year you play in (from 1861 to 1864) and the desired outside factors, out of Indians, rain clouds, and cargo ships. Once play begins, you see from 2-5 different sprites for both the North and the South, these are your different parties. You can move them to a number of different strategic positions chosen by the CPU, when you move into the same space as an enemy party, battle ensues, while if you move into the same space as an allie party you combine forces. Battles are pretty cool, you have 3 different assets to work with: Horsemen, cannon guys and foot soldiers. Horsemen can't be stopped once you select and move them, so you have to be careful not to run into any canyons, cannon guys must stay far in the back while foot soldiers are the most versatile and can go anywhere. A attacks and B selects a different asset, kill the other side before they kill you and you win the battle, and that enemy party is taken off the map. When all parties of one side are dead, you win the "war".
Also adding to the game is the railroad system. Each side has thier own railroad, which picks up supplies on every turn and after a while adds a new party to the map. You can stop thier train by moving a party to an enemy base positioned alongside thier railroad, then go into a sidescrolling part. BE WARNED, the sidescrolling parts completely suck ass, they are coded like Color Dreams games, but they are not ultimately important to the game, which is fortunate. You also go into a similar sidescrolling part when you take over certain enemy bases.
It's too bad there's really no goal to the game, all you do is set up your own scenario, play it, and that's it. You win or you lose, there's no overall ending to the game, and there is no preprogrammed set of scenarios to play through.
The sound is alright in this game, it has some classic tunes often associated with the Civil War era. Adding to the coolness of the sound considerably, it has the most elaborate sound test I've ever seen. Using the Konami code on the title screen brings you to a sound test with full options (rewind, fast forward, stop, play etc) with a digital timer and KEYBOARDS along the bottom, on which the correct keys light up when each note is played. Very cool indeed.
North and South is a good game, overall, but it does have it's downsides. Namely, the sidescrolling parts, but that is forgivable. Also, I really hate that you have to wait a good 10 seconds at the title screen before starting the game, but maybe that's just nitpicking.
Good cut scenes and text effects
Other than that, nothing fancy, and the sidescrolling sucks balls
Classic didees, and an elaborate sound test
It's a history sim, what do you expect?
Very cool idea, really puts you in the Civil War with an almost cartoon-ish twist
Fun, addictive, strategy-intensive play
Can get boring, and it would be a lot better if the sidescrolling didn't suck
Replay Value 7
There's really no goal to it, the only thing you can play is your customized scenarios