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Advance Wars (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Advance Wars (Game Boy Advance) review


"Factors like terrain and weather effect the performance, speed, and attack damage of units. Units have special abilities, like being able to capture bases or transport other units. Most of the game takes place on the map-screen, but once the option to attack is selected, a new, split-screen appears which shows the battle actually taking place in detail."



Introduction:

Strategy games have always been some of the most complex and addictive
games on the market. Video-gaming wonders such as Final Fantasy
Tactics and Starcraft kept me busy for months, finishing all the levels,
finding all the secrets, and learning some really good strategies. When I
heard of Advance Wars, a turn-based strategy game coming to GBA, I was
interested. Interested to the point where I decided I'd buy the game
shortly after its release. What I discovered was an incredibly
well-made game, with all the elements of a great strategy title.

Graphics:

In Advance Wars, your jaw won't be dropping too often, but you will
still be quite impressed by the good amount of detail in parts of the
game. The actual gameplay takes place on a map which is grid-based (much
like Tactics Ogre or FFT). The graphics here are simple as can be.
This is a good idea, because it makes organizing your troops and units
that much easier, but it has it's faults. The most obvious is the fact
that the difference in a unit might only be a few pixels. I can say that
at least a couple times, I've mistaken my recon for my tank, or my
infantry for my mech. Sure, if you look closely, and have tip-top
eyesight, it shouldn't be a challenge to distinguish the units, but with a
screen so small, it's often difficult to do so. I don't have too many
problems with the map-screen, and overall, I think it works quite well, but
I actually think that the developers could've put in a bit more effort.

The battle screen on the other hand, is a totally different story.
Here, units are represented in a much more detailed and lifelike manner.
You watch as bazookas and machine guns fire across the screen, leaving
noticeable destruction. While there isn't actually that much animation
( couldn't be more than 20 frames per battle), the graphics are still
very nice, with nice background effects, and a high level of detail on
units.

Sound:

Sounds are very well-done. The music is comprised of somewhat-catchy,
techno-esque battle tunes. The quality isn't great, but they serve
their purpose, spicing up the game a notch. The sound effects, on the
other hand, are very satisfactory. Once you enter the battle screen, the
sounds of guns and bombs are very good-quality--Impressive. All in
all, the sound is well-done and fitting.

Gameplay:

How the game plays is everything I hoped it to be and more. Having
only played a few turn-based strategy games, the closest thing I can
compare this to is Square's Final Fantasy Tactics, but it really doesn't
share too many similarities. Each of your units has a movement range, an
attack range, health points, fuel, ammo, and attack damage. Movement
is based on how many squares the unit can move on the map. The map, or
board, as I like to call it, is much like a game of chess. Each unit
has it's set abilities and moves... You have a chance to move and/or
attack each of your units once in a single turn. Once you have done
this, or desire to do nothing futher, you select end turn from a menu, and
it's your opponent's turn.

Explaining all of AW would just be too complicated, and I'm finding
even explaining the main idea to be complicated, but I'll give it to you
in a nutshell: 2-4 opponents/players battle eachother on a grid-based
map. Factors like terrain and weather effect the performance, speed,
and attack damage of units. Units have special abilities, like being
able to capture bases or transport other units. Most of the game takes
place on the map-screen, but once the option to attack is selected, a
new, split-screen appears which shows the battle actually taking place in
detail. Battles can extend to as long as 4 hours (that's my record so
far), and take place on land, sea, and air.

Overall, I was astounded by the gameplay. I can't believe so much was
packed into such a tiny cartridge--Who could ask for more?

Replay value:

There is so much to do in Advance Wars. Campaign mode, field training,
war room, map creator, and vs mode, this will keep gamers playing for
several weeks--possibly even months. The campaign mode features around
20 missions, with different characters who each have their own
weaknesses, powers, and strengths. Field training is based of 14 small
missions, teaching the you how to play the game. War room gives you a chance
to play a custom game on your chosen map against the computer. Map
creator gives the player a chance to design and create their own
maps--simply excellent. Unfortunately, due to the GBA cartridge size, only
three maps can be saved at a time. Vs mode lets you ''link-up'' with 2-4 of
your friends, and have one big Advance War.

The replay value is excellent.

Challenge:

The game starts out really simple, but eventually, you'll see how very
complex and deep it is. I'm almost wanting to call it a
battle-simulation game, because it's so realistic. Like with most strategy games,
I've wanted to throw my game across the room, because after 10 tries, I
still can't beat the damn mission! If you want a challenge in a fairly
steep learning curve, grab this and enjoy it.

Conclusion:

I am so glad I picked this one up. The quality is better than most
console games--and it's handheld! With so much to do and re-do, and so
many ways to do it, AW is a gamers' paradise. This game is gold...Pure
gold.

Rating: 8.0/10

ender's avatar
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)

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