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Advance Wars: Dual Strike

Review posted October 2005 by Sean Kasheri

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: August, 2005
ESRB Rating: "E" for Everyone
Genre: Strategy
Price: $34.99

The hit GBA (GameBoy Advance) game Advance Wars returns yet again to the handhelds. Advance Wars Dual Strike, on the Nintendo DS, brings back all the great aspects of the past Advance Wars and takes it up a notch by add new COs (Commanding Officers), new units, and even more stuff to do. Advance Wars Dual Strike brings the strategy genre to the DS and doesn't disappoint.

You start off as Jake, a new Orange Star CO. But as soon as you start, Black Hole launches an invasion and your training time is cut down. You move out and fight back the Black Hole Army and do your best to save your homeland. Good luck soldier, we're counting on you.

Game play

Advance Wars brings RTS to a new level. Dual Strike improves all the great things that were in the previous Wars and brings in even more. All your favorite characters like Andy, Max, Nell, and others return to help fight back the Black Hole Army, which has speedily come back to power and invaded Omega Land, the new Dual Strike battlefront. Of course all new characters join the fight, like Jake, Rachel, and others, as well as new Black Hole COs.

The newest thing about Dual Strike is of course, the dual front, or DS battle. Here, you battle with 2 COs on 2 different screens, with you controlling the main front and your other CO controlling the secondary front. You can also control the second front should you wish to do so. This set up makes for twice the fun and replay ability.

With all new elements in the game, there is even more game time and things to do. For instance survival mode is where you have certain hindrances, like a certain amount of money, or certain number of days, to complete your objective. The all-new combat mode brings a breath of fresh air to gamers who are fans of playing non-stop campaign, versus, war room, or survival. You choose a CO, pick units, and then play. But where it's different is that you fight in 3rd person, controlling separate units and shooting using the stylus to attack the other units and win. It's a totally new formula being added to the already excellent Wars gameplay and it makes the game even more interesting.

And what's a new Wars game without new units? All the new units in this installment of Advance Wars are great. The new Mega Tank is a monstrous tank capable of one-hit KOs… but just send in your stealth bomber to kill it… and then take down that bomber with you aircraft carrier… and then take out that carrier with your new pipe runner…and then repair your carrier with your black boat. All of these new units add tons of new strategy to the game and that makes the combat in this Advance Wars more intensive than the previous Wars.

The new Comm. Tower adds a boost to all units, making them invaluable on the field. And those pesky missile silos are back, allowing you to fire anywhere on the map and doing tons of damage.

The new and returning COs and their powers add lots of fun and strategy as well. COs are the officers you use to fight. Each CO comes with his/her own specialty. For instance the new CO Jake is a hip young officer who specializes on fighting on plains. So put a unit on a plain and attack with it and all of a sudden, you get a firepower bonus. COs have powers, which give them a boost in battle, and Super CO Powers, which are like huge kidney punches to your enemy if you use them right. The new almighty tag power adds even more strategy, capable of turning the tide of battle with just that one power. 2 COs use their Super CO Power in 1, that's right 1 turn, to do some mega damage, sometimes even completely destroying your foe. This incredible move forces you to rethink your strategy and make a counter attack. Of course, once you beat the game, there's still plenty more to do. Go over to Battle Maps and buy more COs to use, new maps to play on, and editing options for COs and maps.

You can even design your own maps and play on them with friends or the computer.
Another big thing is Wi-Fi. You can play with up to 4 friends if each has their own copy of Advance Wars DS or you can play 8 player combat mode with just one game, and of course, 8 Nintendo DS (http://www.mobiletechreview.com/nintendo_DS.htm) machines. Talk about helping you make new friends.

And if you're a hardcore, Advance Wars vet, you'll spend all your time trying to earn all 300 medals. So get to work soldier.

Controls

Basic controls are the same as the old Wars. Build a unit, move it next to a bad guy, kill the bad guy, repeat. But with different types of terrains, lots of different units, and all sorts of strategies, Dual Strike ups the ante for strategy games on the handheld. Even though controls are the same, you can now use the stylus to speed up game play and be more accurate. But if you're a returning Advance Wars veteran, you'll most likely stick to thee button controls because you're used to it. Using the stylus to control the game play is a great way to integrate the new touch screen interface and it works very well. But both control interfaces work very well and are very accurate.

Graphics

Graphics are pretty much the same as previous Advance Wars games. It's a shame the game didn't sport a 3D environment, but the 2D graphics works well for the game. The map has been tilted a bit to add more depth and the graphics are just a bit sharper and more detailed, such as when a unit is destroyed, they are blown up differently (seriously). But of course, they're not drab. Watching the units devastate each other, bring a sort of suspense as you hope your precious unit survives. And the buildings and terrain still look good. The detailed and different sprites look absolutely fantastic. But if you were looking for 3D graphics, you'll be disappointed.

 

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Sound

All the great little tunes from the previous Wars titles are back and as you suspected, there are plenty of new tunes to listen to as you blast away at your enemy. And with 2 speakers now, the music is twice as strong on the DS compared to the GBA versions, which can really get you in the game and get you in the mood of fighting. With all the old tunes also redone a little, as well as the addition of 2 speakers, and cool new tunes, you can kick back and enjoy both the sounds and sights of Dual Strike with style.

Conclusion

In the end, Dual Strike doesn't disappoint. All new units, new COs and the Comm. Towers add more depth to the Advance Wars series. New units, music, modes, and the tag powers, take Dual Strike to a whole new level. The crisp, detailed graphics still look good and watching infantry units get blown off the screen is better than ever. Fans of the Advance Wars series and of this game genre should look at this installment as a must-have title.

Playing Tips/Hints

- Be sure to capture cities and bases, since they give you additional funds to buy units. Comm. Towers also add boosts to your units. Those help a lot.

- Use your CO and Super CO Powers. They really do help in battle.

- Be sure to use all the different COs. Each CO has his/her specialty which may help on a certain map or level.

- Just because the Mega Tank is super strong, doesn't mean it's weak. It's slow and has only 3 rounds of fire. Check your enemy's CO meter, so they don't surprise you with a CO Power.

- Check for chemistry between COs. This will cause your tag power to get a little boost. For instance Jake and Rachel get a 20% boost together.

- Use your Regular CO Power. Just because it's a regular Power doesn't mean it's not good.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

The graphics are pretty much the same, but that doesn't mean they don't look good. They have become a little crisper, even though no 3D was added.

Sound

Sound definitely gets a makeover in Dual Strike. Redone tunes, new tunes, and 2 speakers make the music that much better. Definitely a nice touch.

Fun Meter

This is where Dual Strike rocks. You can play levels or maps over and over again and there are new ways to win as well as tons of replay ability.

Addictivity

This game can keep you playing for hours if you're a hardcore fan. Play against a friend or the computer in multiplayer mode adds even more depth to the gameplay.

Total Score= 4.625 Dragons, 92.5%



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