Advance Wars Grows Up – Latest Installment

There’s been a lot of talk about the new look and feel of the latest installment of the Advance Wars franchise and not all of it positive. Well, I’m here to drop the skinny.

The Good:

The heart of the Advance Wars survives in all its splendor. Hardcore strategy meets fast-paced fun in over 100 maps which are sure to give you more than enough distraction from work and family. The setting has moved from a happy-go-lucky world at war to a post-apocalyptic wasteland devastated by comet strikes and a deadly virus running rampant among the survivors. This may put off some die-hard loyalists, but I view the change as a positive one. The on-line play matches you up against opponents from all over the world. And, of course, your CO influences his units uniquely. The CO Power is handled differently in this release though. Where in previous installments of Advance Wars the CO stored his energy and unleashed it in outlandishly overpowered attacks like meteor strikes or map encompassing floods, this time around, the CO Power is toned down and requires more strategy to use it effectively. In fact, it is sometimes more advantageous to not use the stored power but let your CO’s sphere of influence grow to encompass more units (which powers up their offense and defense). If you want to boost your performance then you can also use elo boosting for that. It is an affordable service that you can use for improving your level in Advance Wars Grows up. 

The Bad:

While much of what players love about the Advance Wars franchise survives, one sadly missed casualty of war is the War Room. Anyone who has played the prequels knows all about the dozens and dozens of maps that players were open to. And some say that much of the replay value is lost with the exclusion of the War Room since new maps were opened up based on achievements made through the replay. And in regards to online play, there is a time limit per turn. This necessity obvious to anyone who has ever played checkers with a hesitant opponent; but the visible countdown can distract from strategy making.

The Ugly:

In a game as nearly perfect as this one, there are always some let downs. And after all my hours of play, my biggest complaint is the writing. While most of the dialog is adequate, there are many instances where I wished I had dug out my eyeballs instead. For example, the line, “Where there is life, there’s hope”, is acceptable – however cliched – once or possibly twice, I certainly didn’t need to hear it a dozen times. In addition to that, the ‘human spirit can overcome all obstacles’ theme of the hero team’s dialog can become very annoying and contrasts strongly against the post-apocalyptic setting. And the interaction of the hero and his girlfriend are very anime-influenced. While I do enjoy some melodrama, I think it should have been handled more sparingly. By no means is it “gag-inducing” but it does cause you to roll your eyes from time to time.

The Verdict:

All in all, I highly recommend purchasing this title, especially if you loved the prequels. What flaws do exist in this game are far overshadowed by everything that Nintendo and Intelligent Systems did right. Buy it, you will not be disappointed.