Glory Days 2, the sequel to a Game Boy Advance game that was released here in the US as Super Army War, whips together a light blend of 2D side-scrolling shooter action, tactical combat, and modern real-time strategy convention into something that feels simultaneously unique and familiar. For the most part, the action and the strategy are never terribly taxing, but the constant juggle between deploying units, capturing bunkers, rescuing civilians, and raining death from above onto enemy forces keeps the game constantly engaging.
The loose narrative, which sees you fighting as a procession of pilots fighting different wars during different eras, is driven by written correspondence between your soldier and his loved ones back home. There's a natural quality to the writing in the letters, which see the characters go through a range of emotions as they progress from mission to mission. They share feelings of dread, longing for home, a steeled determination to do what's right, and anecdotes about their day-to-day lives and their comrades. There are occasions of overly politicized heavy-handedness over the cost of war and the relative value of the opinions of those who aren't on the frontlines, but for the most part it's a disarmingly effective device.
Glory Days 2 comes from an alternate dimension where Desert Strike and Command & Conquer are the same game.
Though you'll fight across sandy beaches, snowy mountains, the sun-bleached desert, lush plains, and city streets, the battlefield in Glory Days 2 is invariably a long, flat, horizontal stretch of road. At either end, you'll find your base, as well as your enemy's base. In between you'll find bunkers, gunner positions, and civilians caught in the middle of your military quagmire. Depending on the mission, you have direct control over either a plane or a helicopter, and which one you're given has a significant impact on the feel of the mission. Both have air-to-air artillery and air-to-ground payloads. The planes benefit from speed and a certain maneuverability, while the choppers can change direction more easily, can be landed in the middle of the battlefield to rescue civilians, and can be used to pick up soldiers at your base and deploy them in the field. Their relative flexibility end up making the chopper missions inherently more fun.
Rescuing civilians--be it by chopper or ambulance--and deploying troops on the battlefield are important, because civilians that you're able to pluck from the field and shepherd to safety translate directly into cash, and troops can take up position inside empty bunkers, which provide a regular revenue stream. All of this cash is then used to deploy troops, tanks, antiaircraft jeeps, and ambulances, and your ground forces are key to victory. While you're flying overhead, bombing enemy-held bunkers and the never-ending procession of enemy vehicles, your ground forces are marching along, engaging whatever enemy forces happen to be coming from the opposite direction. You're essentially fighting a huge, militarized game of tug-of-war, and victory is invariably had by pushing enemy forces all the way back to their base on the other side of the field, and destroying it.