Review by wolverinefan
"Advance Wars: DS is the second must own DS title. It does have some flaws though"
had no real interest in Advance Wars: DS. It just looked stupid. A friend of mine kept raving about how much he loved the originals and that I should give it a try. I went and got the rom of the first game so I could test it out. After a few battles I found myself enjoying it so I went and picked up the title. I was hooked at first but then the major flaws of the game hit me....
The story is really bad in Advance Wars: DS. Black Hole is now attack some new country and it's up to Blue Moon, Green Earth and Orange Star to stop them. A new enemy is behind it all and.... that's all. There isn't any other plot. Perhaps Final fantasy tactics spoiled me with its plot since the last Strategy game I played was Front Mission4 and I found that story to be mediocre as well. Anyway, the bad guys in Advance Wars: DS are humorous but the heroes are paper thin. I can't stand how annoying Collin is. The girls have no personality and most of the characters get very little dialog in the game. The worst offense though is Jake, he uses slang and it just got on my nerves. Thankfully you can skip the sometimes long and wordy dialog moments and get straight to the action.
The graphics in Advance Wars: DS seem to have been downgraded from the previous game. The maps are kind of bland looking. The biggest problem I had was that some of the buildings and stuff look just like each other and sometimes I would be missing a base because I thought it was a city, thus causing me to lose some long drawn out battle. The same goes for some units. I have a slight problem remember which unit is which and when some look very close to each other, missiles and rockets, you can easily get confused. The game does offer the names when they're clicked but seriously, I should be able to tell my unity apart just by looking at them. The characters profiles look nice in the dialog boxes. Nice and colorful.
The control in the game is fairly spot on. You control everything on the bottom screen by using the stylus. It's very simple. Menus are easy to use, easy to move the troops but I did run into problems. It might just be me but there was times where I was trying to confirm an action and instead it canceled it. Sometimes the screen wouldn't recognize me touching certain spaces. It might just be me but that is a mild problem.
The sound in the game is a mixed bag. There isn't any voice acting, not even a single sound bit which is annoying. The sound effects are on the sub par side, nothing overly exciting. The music is fairly good though. Almost good enough to buy the soundtrack but not really. I did have a problem with one song. Not sure which but I first noticed it in one of the last 6 stages. It almost sounds like the theme song from Halloween, it starts the same and goes on for a bit but then it changes completely. I just found that to be very odd.
The game play is very well done but it does have a few flaws. Now, if you have played the original games then you know how this all works. You are in control of an army. Sometimes four but in the beginning it's just one. You start with specific troops. Some levels allow you to make new ones at bases but not all maps have bases. It costs money to build stuff but you can use your humans to capture cities and stuff which gives you more money. If you've played Star Craft, think of it along those lines. The game tends to require a specific thing for you to finish but usually, either destroy the big bad object in the mission or just capture their base. That usually ends the mission.
There is a fair amount of guys to choose from making and sending out in the war. The thing is some do look a lot a like and the game never gives you time to remember where they can attack, if they can move AND attack or if they have to be still to attack. It gets confusing after a while. Oh and the game has a really nasty habit of showing that you can attack an area but not allowing you to for whatever reason. It seems very random to me but oh well.
The maps can be fun and unique. Fog of war adds an extra ounce of strategy to the game. It adds fog to the map and hides you from the enemy but also hides them from you. It leads to some interesting fights. Sometimes the game throws two fields at you. One on the top screen and one on the bottom. If the top screen is land/sea based then it will move down for that turn. However, if it's a sky fight, the game automatically does it. It's kind of lame but what can you do? There might be an option but I don't remember. The game really does assume you have played the original games and that you know how everything works.
Now, you also use COs in the missions. You pick two for each team. They all have their own specials and when you max both you can Tag team which is VERY useful in the later levels since it gives you an extra round. You can switch CO's during a battle but doing so ends your turn, unless you used a Tag Team CO power. They all have different powers though. One lets you decrease the enemies meter via your current amount of money. It's a very useful one for those enemy teams that are overly powerful. Some CO Powers give you more money per round or allow more damage when you have certain things under your control.
The game has 25 levels, plus 3 secret ones, which just open up very high and useless things to use. I found the game to be kind of long. It's only 13 hours or so to beat the normal campaign but then that unlocks hard campaign so add 13 more on. You also get points and ranks when you beat a level. You use the points to buy new maps and stuff which there is a ton of. The maps are used in the battle room. The game also features two other modes. One has you given X amount of money and you can only use that amount to finish off X amount of missions. The other mode is timed and you have X amount of time to finish X amount of missions. That all put together is a crap load of stuff to do but then throw in multiplayer and you have yourself an overly stuffed game. I honestly felt overwhelmed by how much this game has to offer.
Now, like I said. The game does have some flaws. So-so graphics, bad plot, hard to tell units/buildings apart. The biggest problem though. The game is super easy for the first 8 missions, then you get some super hard mission. A few super easy missions again and then one or two insanely hard missions. The game does nothing but alternate like that and it isn't fair to the gamer. A game should have a steady difficulty not one that bounces around. The game truly does lose a point for that because I think for a game to be excellent; it also needs to be fair in how it works. It would be like playing Pokemon and having the first battle is near impossible for anyone new to the series.
Now, if you love this series then I'm sure you own this title already. If this is your first time playing an Advance Wars game, just buy it. It's one of the few must own DS titles at this point (Oct 2005) and it should be in most DS collections. It offers a whole lot and while it does have flaws; I found myself trying again and again because I just wanted to accomplish something that was giving me more trouble than any other game has given me in awhile.
Story - 4/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 7/10
Control - 8/10
Game play - 8/10
Replay Value - 10/10
Final Score - 8/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 10/11/05, Updated 08/31/07
Game Release: Advance Wars: Dual Strike (US, 08/22/05)
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