A bit of strategy, some action elements and guys in Blue and Grey fighting each other. That’s what you get with North & South, a light-hearted take on the American Civil War.
Originally released in 1989 for the Amiga and Atari ST, then ported to the Commodore 64 in 1991, North & South by Infogrames is a strategy / action hybrid based on the Belgian Les Tuniques Bleues comics.
You take command of either the North or the South and try to destroy your enemy’s armies, while conquering as much territory as possible. The game follows the simple formula of ‘More Territory = More Money = More Armies‘, and to get that precious money, you not only have to own at least two key cities connected by a railroad, but also the states that railroad is passing through. Should one of those states be conquered by the other side, the game changes to an arcade-like sequence, with the goal to reach the end of the train before time runs out. If victorious, the train has been successfully robbed.
Screenshots (click to enlarge)
Now, the strategic part of the game is pretty simple. Select an army and move it to one of the adjacent states. If that state is occupied by an enemy army, the game loads up the battle screen, where you control your three different types of units (infantry, cavalry, artillery) in real-time. Winner of the battle is the last one standing, with the option to retreat. If you try to conquer one of the key cities, you get an arcade like mini-game similar to the train sequence. Reach the end of the fort before time runs out.
The game doesn’t take itself too serious and only uses the historical setting as a frame. That does explain why the war already starts in January ’61 and the deployment of the armies are ahistorical (seriously, Virginia undefended?). So if you’re looking for a historically accurate in-depth strategy game, you better look somewhere else. And if you’re only into strategy or just not in the mood for those action sequences, no problem, just turn them off in the main menu and play it as a pure strategy game.
I remember playing it for the first time on an Amiga and absolutely loved it, so one can imagine how delighted I was when it got ported over to the C64. And while, of course, technically inferior compared to its big cousin, gameplay itself remains the same and is as much fun as on the Amiga. And with various gameplay options, such as Native Americans attacking the player or bad weather, plus the always fun multiplayer, North & South is a pretty enjoyable affair.