Review by Virulent
"It's the PREDECESSOR to Advance Wars for a reason..."
Intelligent Systems really learned a LOT between the time when they made this game (I'm assuming somewhere around 1998) and when they made Advance Wars (2001). Advance Wars
was great because beginners could easily pick it up while advanced players could spend months talking about different methods and strategies. Most everyone reading this review has probably already played Advance Wars so I'll skip the formalities and dive right into why this game only received a 7. ;-)
FOREWORD: I played this game on Snes9x with the ROM, so as one might imagine it was all Japanese. Being that I played this game for 5 hours WITH the language barrier, I believe my opinion will be that of the average AW player who does not know Japanese. It WILL affect my score, as much of AW's conventions are different here and not being able to read the menus hindered my gameplay. That said...
This is ultimately the game's weakest point IMHO. The graphics are reminiscent of 2nd-gen NES/Famicom titles, and the use of color comes nowhere NEAR the ability of the SFC. The intro is cute but also looks TERRIBLE in comparison to other SNES/SFC games, not to mention its progenitor AW. The COs are chosen at the beginning of the battle and are not the beautiful, highly-characteristic personalities of AW, but rather a static image in a box with (bad) animations during battle scenes. Now on to the map itself...the colors are washed up and faded, and the buildings are bigger but look horrid. Besides the 2 infantry units, the vehicle icons look so bad, I bought an artillery unit in my first game because it resembled a tank! Yes, the battle scenes actually show all 10 of your vehicles, and show more ''details'' in the cases of the transport/lander. However, for ANYONE to say they look ''better'' than AW, they must be smoking something, because once again the graphics are small and 8-bit looking. Imagine the battles from an overhead perspective and looking like units straight out of NES Contra and you have them right there. The backgrounds are godawful too. I don't believe this game was made in 1998! However, you didn't play AW for the eye candy, but it sure helped the graphics weren't an eyeSORE as they are in this game. Now on to the...
Advance Wars and it's sequel boast spectacular sound and some of the best music for their platform IMHO. You'd think it took after its parent. Thankfully, the answer is no. SFW has some of the WORST sound I have ever heard on the SNES/SFC, eschewing the awesome upbeat, catchy tunes and realistically-sampled gunfire, artillery, and bombs of the GBA games with droll, uninspired compositions and bleeps, bloops, white-noise generated gunfire sounds and worst of all, the most ANNOYING siren sound at the beginning of each day. I think I'd rather listen to the sound of a golden retriever trying to mate with a chihuahua than play this game with the sound on. Once again, I can't believe this game was made in 1998; Intelligent Systems must have been really green in the software dev business. However, they did have a great concept in the...
Now, this game loses its two points for 2 main reasons:
1. Its in Japanese.
2. I have played Advance Wars first, and AW is much more refined.
Now, on to the differences/gripes:
-The BIGGEST major difference in gameplay is that units fire at the same time. This may not seem like a major difference, but it makes direct combat a whole new ballgame. No longer can you play aggressively and expect your brutality to carry you through; expect to make a lot of use of the terrain. I personally like the old idea better, which also makes more sense and prevents camping (which is now necessary in this game).
-Terrain is different. They added railroads, a cool idea, but then messed that up by giving them an uber-powered unit.
-There are more units, and many of the current units have different functionality. Regular and Md Tanks are back and more expensive, forcing you to often buy the MiniTank, a piece of tin garbage which is good at waxing infantry and recons, but that's about it. APCs are now Transports and Supply Trucks, and while I like the fact that the Transports have machine guns now, I don't like the fact that they (and T-Copters) now damage troops inside if they take damage. Battleships now also have machine guns, although that are pretty worthless. In addition to Anti-Air and Missiles, you now have AA Artillery, which is pretty useless considering the range of air units. Subs are now downright invincible. The rest of the new units (GigaTank, Assault Fighter and Rail Turtle) are mega-cheap; the GigaTank is unstoppable on the ground, the Assault Fighter is a fighter/bomber hybrid with a slight attack penalty and the ability to thrash air, land and sea, and the Rail Turtle can fire for massive damage both direct and indirect. Intelligent did us a favor taking them out.
-Units can level up. This also encourages an overall defensive style of play; you're encouraged to keep your units in good shape rather than build new ones.
-The CO you choose has little or no bearing on how you play the game. In fact, only 1 CO has any noticeable difference in their game, whereas he receives 1000 extra gold per turn or something like that. This actually limits your tactical options, as I (and many other AW players) base their style of play around their favorite CO, their advantages & disadvantages, etc...
-On a similar note, there is NO STORY WHATSOEVER in this game. NONE. Doesn't give you much incentive to play against the...
-CHEAP AND BRUTAL AI. Yep, you heard it. The AI in SFW makes AW 2 War Room and Hard Campaign AI run for the hills. You better have your act together from Day 1 because the CPU is out for your blood and will attack aggressively until you are off the map. No longer can you exploit little tricks in the AI...it seems to know any way you can play the map and can flip the script on you at any time. However, it IS really good practice for the ''Classic'' Vs. maps!
-I could not find a way to check the attack/movement range of the opponent like in AW, which really helped me plan my strategy. The menus are ALL in Japanese and have no cute little icons like AW, so you're left guessing. The functions after movement are the same though so you can figure out much of it.
After all this whining, it is at its heart the same idea as its better-known successor; turn-based strategy with almost infinite replay value. This alone is why I've given it such a lenient score...I can imagine Japanese kids playing this against each other night after night back in 98 (although by then the Super Fami was ''old and busted'' in the gaming market). Besides being visually and aurally repulsive, it is still the same game you know and love. Its just a little less refined, a little more rugged, a bit, as you might say.....ghetto. The game has a home-brew feel, the edge of a great idea which is about to be honed to razor-sharp perfection as it was with AW/2.
Overall, I recommend this game to die-hard enthusiasts of Advance Wars only. The language barrier, fetid graphics, putrid sound, and sheer difficulty will repel anyone else. Those (who don't care about a/v perks) looking for a different, less balanced version of their favorite game with a CPU opponent that is beyond tough need look no further; Super Famicom Wars might just be for you.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 06/18/03, Updated 06/18/03
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