Tucked away at this weekend's Penny Arcade Expo was indie game AirMech, a real-time strategy title that looks a hell of a lot like a spiritual sequel to Herzog Zwei. Don't know it? It's not only of the earliest real-time strategy games, it's one of the best multiplayer experiences on the Sega Genesis.
So, yeah, it's perfectly fine to get really, really excited about AirMech.
AirMech, which you can watch being demoed at PAX 2011 in the video above, is the work of Seattle-based Carbon Games. The independent developer is formerly of Titan Studios and Fat Princess development fame. AirMech is Carbon's first title and currently running on the PC.
As you can see, there's some clear Herzog Zwei influence here: transforming jet mech, base occupation, unit building and transport. But Carbon Games artist James Green told me in an e-mail that AirMech draws additional inspiration from Defense of the Ancients-like strategy games, a trend that seems to be going around.
"Think of the AirMech as your hero," Green explained, "and you also select a Pilot, and then the 8 units you take into battle. As you level up, you unlock AirMechs/Pilots/Units and then can customize your loadout that way—light/fast/cheap units for rushing, heavy units for defense, etc."
"When playing 2v2 multiplayer, each player can take in their own loadout, even though you are on the same team and can move around each other's units."
Other modernized concessions include twin stick shooter-style controls and a UI that looks way more polished than what Technosoft was capable of in 1989.
AirMech is being developed on PC and "plays well" with either mouse and keyboard or gamepad controls, Green says. The indie game is currently without a publisher, but I can't imagine it will be without one for long.