Review: SEGA AGES Herzog Zwei – A Seminal RTS And One Of The Best Two-Player Games Ever Made

Duke it out.

When it launched on the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis back in the very early days of the system, Techno Soft’s Herzog Zwei confounded quite a few people. It came from a studio which – in the west, at least – was most famous for its Thunder Force series of blasters. The top-down perspective looked similar to the free-roaming overhead stages in stablemate Thunder Force II, which led many to assume it was the same kind of deal. In reality, Herzog Zwei – so named because it’s the sequel to the MSX and PC-8801 game Herzog, which means “Duke” in German – is a totally different kettle of fish; in fact, it’s credited as being instrumental in the evolution of the Real-Time Strategy genre and is cited as an influence by the developers of RTS titles such as Dune II and Warcraft.

Still, it’s easy to see why that wasn’t immediately obvious back in the early ’90s. Rather than controlling a mouse pointer – as you might expect in other RTS games – you’re actually placed in the cockpit of a fighter jet which is capable of transforming into a robot at the touch of a button. In both modes, you can call upon a fairly powerful projectile attack which is used to dispatch enemy units and the opposing commander, who also zips around the 8 available arena-like maps in his own morphing mech. Your craft has an energy gauge and fuel gauge; the former is depleted when you’re attacked and the latter is consumed by movement. Either of them reaching zero causes you to dramatically explode and respawn back at your HQ, which is located in one of the corners of the map, but you can restore both gauges by hovering over said HQ or any friendly outpost. You also have an ammo gauge, which, once depleted, leaves you unable to defend yourself.

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