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Advance Wars
Platform:  GB Advance
# of Players:  4
Developer:  Nintendo
Publisher:  Nintendo
Features:  link
Ratings:  Early Childhood
Memory Req.:  battery save
Info:  http://nintendo.com
Unlike a few other strategy games such as Shining Force, you don't want to get too attached to any of the units on the field, with the exception of the commanding officers. All the other forces are there to stop the enemy at all costs, and you can make more troops if your cash holds up. You'll take over cities, build and repair damaged units and most importantly, use your CO's special abilities in order to help you crush the enemy. You can control 18 different units in four classes, Land, Sea, Air, and Troops, and often, the best strategy is to whittle away at an enemy force with smaller forces while you sneak in the big guns and/or your CO for a decisive strike. You can merge damaged units of the same type together during turns, use APCs and ships to carry troops and tanks, or subs to sink enemy battleships from afar, among other things. You're graded according to your performance by speed, technique, and power- this gives you AW coins, which you can use to buy better troops and vehicles, and later, CO's of varying experience. Each CO has a special attack which can turn the tide of a tough battle in a few moves, and like any great strategy game, when you use that power is key.








Rather than putting you on the battlefield directly, in Advance Wars, you're an Orange Star Army "advisor" in charge of deploying troops and equipment against assorted enemies on 150 different maps. If that's not enough, the game also has a stellar map edit and a few multiplayer modes so you can hook your friends up whether or not they own a GBA. You have to complete a 14-stage tutorial in order to access the main game- think of it as a boot camp of sorts- but once you're done, you'll have a better eye on how to get through the actual game. The thing is, the tutorial gives ou just enough information to get by- you really, really have to think your way through some of the harder maps, and chess fans will have a total blast here. It's all about movement ranges, capturing enemy bases, and a really fun and challenging "Fog of War" effect that adds a bit of stress for both you and the enemy when it's turned on.


Unlike a few other strategy games such as Shining Force, you don't want to get too attached to any of the units on the field, with the exception of the commanding officers. All the other forces are there to stop the enemy at all costs, and you can make more troops if your cash holds up. You'll take over cities, build and repair damaged units and most importantly, use your CO's special abilities in order to help you crush the enemy. You can control 18 different units in four classes, Land, Sea, Air, and Troops, and often, the best strategy is to whittle away at an enemy force with smaller forces while you sneak in the big guns and/or your CO for a decisive strike. You can merge damaged units of the same type together during turns, use APCs and ships to carry troops and tanks, or subs to sink enemy battleships from afar, among other things. You're graded according to your performance by speed, technique, and power- this gives you AW coins, which you can use to buy better troops and vehicles, and later, CO's of varying experience. Each CO has a special attack which can turn the tide of a tough battle in a few moves, and like any great strategy game, when you use that power is key.


Graphically, the game has an anime-style look to the characters and battle sequences, which may turn off a small amount of people, but I say if you still buy games based on what you see on the back of a package, you need to have your head examined. Advance Wars is chock full of simple, but constantly moving little sprites, weather effects, and SNES-quality visuals that will bring a smile to your face as you play. Unless you're getting beat down hard by the enemy, that is. The sound effects and music are also quite well done, and even though you'll be hearing the same tunes and noises over and over, you'll never grow tired of them. As I said earlier, the Map Editor allows you to create and save your own battlefields, and you can even trade them with other players via the link cable (go buy one if you don't have it already). The only drawback is that you can only save three maps on a single cart, so you may want to buy a few copies of the game, if you're feeling really creative.


Intelligent Systems and Nintendo have come up with the best GBA game to date, and i'm hoping that they do a Game Cube update/sequel that utilizes the power of the system to it's fullest with even more upgrades and features (a 4-player GBA link, perhaps). Advance Wars is a great, great game that has to be played, whether or not you own a Game Boy Advance.


Greg Wilcox

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