Advance Wars Review by: TheJJ405Playing with peoples lives is FUN!!
OH damn, that was a trip. Hello everyone and welcome to my review of what is now one of my favorite games, "Advance Wars." I will start by saying I have been having so much fun playing this game and that you can expect high scores in the future. Alright let's move on to the main event.
Advance Wars is a turn based strategy game for the Game Boy Advance. The game takes place during a war between four color coded countries. These countries are Orange Star, Blue moon, Green Earth, and Yellow Comet. You control one of their armies and fight the other(s) until their army is destroyed. The game has several game modes including Campaign, Vs Mode, and Link mode. I will cover these modes and more during the depth section so just wait until then for more information on that. I guess that's most of the basic info for the game so let's move on to the beef of this review so I can start talking about how great this game is.
This game looks great. From the sprites, to the environments, to the battle animations. I personally wouldn't change a thing if I had the chance to. I love the graphics just the way they are and that's final. However we come to the reason I have rated it a nine instead of a ten. The only qualm I have with the graphics is this. When a unit finishes it's turn, rather than staying the position it is already in, it reverts to a standard "facing right" position. This just strikes me as odd and it has no effect on the gameplay in any way. That being said, I still would not change this given the chance to because I can see the benefit of it to some people. Now to get into more detail about what makes the graphics so beautiful. We'll start with the sprites. The sprites are what you would call "beyond cute" and yet however they still do a great job of conveying which unit they are and can still be quite scar at times. (Especially when you realize just how many mid tanks your opponent has) The environment is my favorite part of the graphics. The environment, being a very important part of the gameplay, is perfect. It is able to convey exactly how well positioned your units are and it looks pretty as well. This game also makes use of a grid system to help with the defensive cover system and attack range system. I can go into detail about those later so let's move onto the final, and probably most important part of the graphics, the battle animations. Now first an explanation of what a battle animation is. Whenever your units attack other units a battle animation will play out. Though it is possible to turn these off for convenience, it is these animations that make it so much more satisfying to destroy your foes. The battle animations consist of both your unit and your opponents unit on either side of the screen and can play out in a couple different ways. During a direct battle animation (a battle between two direct battle units) the two units will both fire at each other and damage will be done to both parties. (With the exception of destroying a unit in which case the destroyed unit will get no chance to fire back) The unit that does the attacking will usually have the advantage and do more damage to the opposing force however there are exceptions. Now, during an indirect battle animation (a battle that includes an indirect battle unit on either the attacking or defending side or both) only the attacking unit will fire. Now it is needless to say that these animations are beautiful and are probably the biggest reason I had so much fun with this game. However, like I have said before, they can be turned off if you do not wish to view them.
All of the sound in this game is music to my ears. This includes the sound of the weapons firing and explosions of battle as well as the catchy music that each character has. It`ll be easier to understand if we break it down. First off the battle sounds, though a bit dated, are doing their job and have no glitches. (such as playing an explosion sound while firing a minigun) The music is where this game really shines. Each character gets their own theme that plays during their turn of battle. These themes were composed to reflect the personality of each character, such as the epic rumble of Max`s theme, to the strategic, tactical nature of Sami`s theme, and the childish yet intellectual theme for Sonja. You will find that each character`s theme fits them perfectly and at the same time will have you tapping out the beat while you wait for your opponents turn to end. Believe me, this music is catchy beyond belief and absolutely will get stuck in your head for days upon weeks. Not much else to say here so I guess we should move on.
Needless to say, I am hooked on this game. I suggest that before you play, make sure that you have several hours of free time in advance or you may have to reschedule some appointments. Though the game has an in-battle save function, you will probably find it next to unused, being that you will continually tell yourself "just one more turn, just one more turn" until the battle eventually ends. I myself, having completed the Campaign, and moved onto the Advance Campaign as well as the War Room maps (which will be explained in the depth section) will probably continue to play this game until I have unlocked everything. It is just that addictive and to me, totally worth it. I believe that, being that there are so many likable qualities in this game, there will be a quality in this game to hook everybody and anybody. Whether it's the strategic combat, the music, or even just the story. If you don't find anything in this game fun, then it's probably just not your game, however I highly doubt that you could hate this game. That being said I think I'll get back to it after I'm done writing this. Okay now moving one lets talk story.
To me, the story was the least likable part of the game. The funny part is, I enjoyed the story quite a bit, so if the least likable quality of the game was great well, you can see why I love this game so much. I don't wanna spoil anything so I'll just give the basics. The Story of the game follows the Orange Star army (even if they are red...) and it's newest C.O. Andy. Being Andy's new strategic adviser, you make all of the strategic decisions whilst he handles the combat. Anyway Orange star and Blue Moon have been at war and Blue Moon has taken over most of Orange Star's territory. So it's up to you and Andy to take it back and take the fight to Blue Moon. Along the way you will encounter several enemy C.O.'s as well as a couple friendlies known as Max and Sami. Together with your rag-tag team of misfits you will battle the opposing armies and discover the truth of who has really been pulling the strings. First of all I'd like to get the bad points of the story out of the way. To me, I wish they would have explained a bit more about the enemy C.O.'s as well as the past they all had, but that could easily have just been saved for the sequel so it's not that bad. The main reason I did not like the story was the main villain and his overall plot. He literally just came out of nowhere and it all seemed just a bit unnecessary. Sadly though, his theme was the most Bada** track I've heard in a strategy game to date so I can't really hate too much. Now that that is over, I can get onto the reasons I liked the story. Though the end of the game wasn't too great it began really interesting and I had a lot of fun learning about the opposing armies and C.O.'s. The little side nods towards Sami's behavior were funny and getting to learn why each character fights the way they do was great. Sadly we never got to know why Olaf is weakened in the rain... anyway, though we got no backstory on anyone, the plot was steered mostly by the personalities of the characters and it was all just a fun ride till the end. I gave the story an 8 simply because, though I loved it a lot, the ending left a bad taste in my mouth and I would have loved to learn about the characters more than they let off.
Now I know that this review has already been a long one, but sadly we aren't even through the bulk of it. This section will be by far the longest since there is so much to cover, from gameplay mechanics to game modes and unlockables. I know it may looks scary but please bear with me. Alright now, once you've taken a few deep breaths and grabbed some emergency rations just in case you get lost inside this thick forest, then we can begin. Alrighty, if you are ready we will start with gameplay mechanics so that you can better understand the strategy that comes with this games battle system. To sum it up with an example, this game's battle system is like a cross between Risk and Rock, Paper Scissors. If you have never played either of those games before then I shall explain it to you in a bit more detail. The game Includes an income system which allows the player to strategically pick the units they wish to deploy, but limit them to make choices based on their economy. As for the rock paper scissors part, one of the most important things to keep in mind at all times is that certain units battle against specific other units. For example, Tanks can easily take down Infantry and Anti-Air but are considerably weak against Copters and other air units. Tanks will also be easily beaten by Mid Tanks, Copters, and Bombers. Seems like a lot to remember but it sticks quickly so it shouldn't be too tough to grasp after a few battles. Now I will talk about defensive cover. One of the earlier things taught in field training is making use of defensive cover. Basically, defensive cover will decrease the damage done to a unit when it is attacked. For example, if you place a Tank in the woods at one end of a bridge then you will be able to create a defensive wall more easily than if the Tank was placed on the bridge because the bridge provides less defensive cover than the woods. Defensive cover will also help you take less damage during a direct battle so choose your attacking position wisely. Now to get more into the Economy and Income system. You will gain $1000 for every base you own at the start of your turn. To capture a base you require an infantry unit. Simply place the infantry unit on a neutral or enemy base and s
elect capture. It will take at least 2 turns/days to capture a base, however based on unit hp it can take up to 20. Having bases is crucial to success otherwise you will have a significantly smaller force than your opponent and will end up losing due to being smothered by the horde. Now as far as each unit goes, the game will explain everything to you as it becomes apparent so let's move onto game modes. We will start with the campaign. Simply said the campaign allows you to play through the story of the game and will be the best starting point for any player. Next is Vs Mode which allows you to play against the A.I. Or with your friends on a singular GBA. These battles are fully customizable from winning conditions to the map and even how much money you receive for your bases. This is where you will spend your time after you have unlocked everything there is to offer. You can even play on your own custom made maps here but we will talk about those later. Alright, then there is Link Mode. Link Mode is basically Vs Mode except you can play on multiple GBA's rather than just one. You can also trade created maps like this. Then we have the War Room. War Room is basically a challenge mode where you are placed into different maps against random opponents and have to fight your way to the end from scratch. This mode is best for after you have completed the campaign. Two more to go, we have Battle Maps which is just a shop where you will buy maps and other unlockables. And lastly we have Design Maps mode, which allows the player to design their own maps to play on. (And is the greatest way to blow off some steam. Making maps that give you an unfair advantage is always a great way to vent) Okay finally the unlockables. Now I won't go over the exact requirements for each but I will list the unlockables here. While playing the game you will unlock the C.O.'s Grit, Eagle, Drake, Sonja, Kanbei, Nell, and (Spoiler Block) all of which will need to be bought from the Battle Maps shop. You can also unlock secret missions during the campaign by playing as certain characters on certain stages or by completing certain maps within a certain amount of turns. DID I MENTION CERTAIN? Finally, after beating the Campaign you will be able to unlock the Advance Campaign which is basically... Super Hard Mode. And by super hard mode I mean IT MADE THE GAME DEVS CRY!! Okay maybe not but it is still freaking hard okay. That leads us into the final category of this review.
Now, I wanna keep this brief because this review has already taken up so much time and I feel sorry for anyone who reads this in a rush. The game's difficulty isn't really that bad, I mean for the most part you can just take the long way out and you won't have any worries other than if you'll finish in time before you reach the dentist. However during some of the Secret missions, and War Room maps, not to mention the Advance Campaign, you will be ripping your hair out and if your bald well.... you may be tearing something apart. I gave Difficulty an 8 simply because I believe this game provides a good enough challenge, but not such a challenge that it drops your self esteem and makes you feel bad about yourself and that you can`t do it.
Overall this Game gets a 9.5 and a recommendation to play it and if you like it then definitely buy it. However playing on this site is just fine if you can`t get your hands on a physical copy. I now thank you for reading this review, I know it was lengthy and possibly boring at times but I hope it has still given you a reason to check out this masterpiece. Who knows, maybe it`ll be you writing a review of it next.
(Also this is my first review so any feedback is welcome, Good or Bad)