Another option pops up, I have no idea what the icons mean so I blindly click and hope for the best. Eventually my men teleport to another square on the map, but they don’t attack the enemy base right in front of them they just stroll about. I would tell them to do so, but I have no idea how. Eventually from out of the enemies hut an army appear. They have sticks, and throw them at my helpless men. What follows is a massacre that rivals the most brutal scenes in ‘Game of Thrones’. My army is defeated, all except one man in my base who somehow got left behind and spared. Problem is I can’t seem to do anything with this potential hero. He doesn’t seem to be allowed to attack. He can’t ‘invent’ whatever that is and he can’t ‘defend’. All I can do is listen to the music, which started off fun and quirky but after repeating every 40 seconds only serves to ramp up my irritation. I wish the war would end but it seems my enemy has no desire to attack. I watch as their castle gets bigger and bigger, until eventually they launch a full scale assault on my base. 20 minutes of waiting, were rendered utterly pointless in 20 seconds. This was war, but it certainly had often been much more fun. I’m told I’m a failure, but I’ve no idea what I did wrong.
The sprites are brilliant, and the synthesised speech; so novel at the time, give a uniquely British humour to the game. I love the camp voice of Oberon, the king of the fairies as much as I adore Caesar with his ridiculously stereotyped Italian quips.
Like the start of the game, none of this is explained while you play. Learning via making mistakes is frustrating, time consuming and baffling.
I know what I want to do with my army, but with just so many options and things to consider I have no idea how to actually do it in the time I have before the opponent obliterates me. I’m a third of the way into a game, and still don’t understand it and it’s a fault of the game being unwilling to offer any instruction.
Jon is in agreement that despite being a war simulation, the game is actually essentially pacifistic. "You spend the whole game building something only to destroy it all in a moment. Nuclear weapons are a lot more destructive than men throwing rocks." The similarities with ‘CannonFodder’ also extend to humour being used to soften the abrasive edge of social satire. Nothing quite glosses over the idea that hundreds of men have been reduced to completely unusable smoking radioactive craters than a voice declaring “we’ve nuked them”.
The strategic element involves the man-management and territorial control aspects of the game. Despite the fact that the now iconic Sensible art style originated in ‘Mega Lo Mania’, its distinct visual style was only a quirky way to best illustrate what's going on. Considering you have no control over them, you quickly realise that in actual fact the "little men" that became so famous are not even needed at all. "With 'Mega lo Mania' it wasn't the graphics we focused on first. We started with just the control panel at the side, no world to look at. You'd click on the numbers to change them and play the game that way” If Jon is quick to dismiss the need for his famous “little men”, he is positively spritely when he acknowledges another key failing of the game, the titular last level when everything falls apart.