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Advance Wars

Developer: Intelligent Systems Publisher: Nintendo
10 September 2001
Advance Wars - cover art
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3.66 / 5.0
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276 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#647 All-time
#32 for 2001
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Releases 3
Filter by: All 3 GBA 2 Wii U 1
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XNA 0 45496 73145 8 AGB-AWRE-USA
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XEU 0 45496 73145 8 AGB-AWRP-EUR
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The Gameboy Advance may be limited but with great gameplay mechanics and functional graphics, Advance Wars is up there with the best games on the system. It is a turn-based strategy on a grid, with similarities to the same developer's Fire Emblem series.

In the main campaign, most of the missions involve a fixed set of units, but some missions allow you to create more by spending money that you accumulate each turn. You win by wiping out all units or capturing the Headquarters.

There's land, air and sea units but not all are available on each mission. At first, you just have the land units to get used the mechanics. For the land units, there's Infantry, Mech (infantry with rocket launchers), Recon, Small Tank, Large Tank, APC, Anti-Air, Artillery, Rockets, and Missiles.

Infantry can capture buildings but are only really good against other infantry. Mechs do more damage to tanks but are still inherently weak because they are still infantry. Recons are basically weak vehicles which are strong against infantry but weak against tanks but have really high movement range and visibility (on maps with Fog of War). Small tanks are good against infantry, and all vehicles except the Medium Tank. APCs transport infantry and also refuel and resupply adjacent units. Anti-Air are very effective against air units but also effective against Infantry. Artillery, Rockets, and Missiles are ranged units; they have a minimum and maximum range and deal high damage. Artillery and Rockets attack ground (or sea) units, whereas Missiles are specifically anti-air.

The Air units have great movement range and are effective against land units except direct anti-air units. Fighters specifically can only attack (and are very strong against) other Air units. Air units still block ground unit's movement which is a bit illogical. The Sea units can only move on water, and you have: the ranged Battleship; the stealthy Submarine that is effective against Battleships and Transport ships; and the anti-air and anti-Submarine Cruiser.

Ground Units cannot move when they run out of fuel. Air and sea units crash and are destroyed. Ground units gain bonuses from the terrain. The terrain's defence bonus are river and roads (0), grass (1), forest (2), city (3) mountain (4). There's different movement ranges for each unit, and certain restrictions. Air and infantry can go over mountains or rivers, but land vehicles cannot.

When attacking, the aggressor has the advantage - so if an Infantry attacks Infantry, the defending unit will end up with fewer health points. It's basically the aggressor deals damage, then the remaining defenders will attack back. If you strongly overpower a unit then you will take no damage at all. Only direct fire units can counter direct fire units, so attacking with or against a ranged unit won't encounter a counter-attack.

There's Fog of War on some missions, so you need to proceed carefully to uncover units before you can attack them. Your land units can hide in forests, and ships can hide in coral.

The armies are Orange Star, Green Earth, Blue Moon, Yellow Comet and Black Hole. In the Campaign missions, you play as the Orange Star army. Their Commanding Officers (COs) are Andy, Max, and Sami which are introduced during the first several missions. You can choose a CO to play each mission and each one has a different CO Power and traits. Outside the campaign, you can unlock CO's from the other armies to play single missions with.

Andy is a balanced character and his CO power heals 2 health points which I found very useful. Max has stronger direct attack units, but loses 1 range which makes ranged units almost useless. Sami has weak mechs but infantry are stronger and have 1.5 capture rate, with transport units having 1 more range. She is useful on certain missions but generally seems a harder character to use.

Some of the enemies seem a bit overpowered with their CO powers. Grit has 1 extra range by default which makes him tricky to play against especially when his power gains an extra 1 range which is brutal. Eagle's power allows him to take an extra turn which is obviously a huge advantage. Drake damages all your units by 1 which is a massive inconvenience but if you use Andy, he is good to use against Drake to cancel that out. The final mission is really hard due to the CO having an area of effect attack in a 3x3 grid that deals 8 damage. When you feel like you are gaining an advantage, it's usually time for his power which is brutal when he drops it on a few expensive units. I did think the game was slightly easy at times, but these powers do increase the difficulty when used.

The story is a bit silly. A clone of Andy has been battling nearby regions to start a war between all these countries. Even when these armies realise a fake Andy has instigated a war, they carry on fighting as "a test" or "a distraction". Not really realistic - unnecessarily sacrificing many people's lives, although you can say the distraction tactic was for the greater good.

When you are playing a mission where you can create more units, it is vital to capture buildings where you can create units (base, airport, dock) and defend them to gain an advantage. Income is generated by how many buildings you own, so you need to take cities from your opponent to weaken them. You can repair units at captured cities or bases which is another advantage.

The battle animations will get old at some point but you can turn them off. There's a few options too so you can just have them on when you attack if you wanted.

One slight flaw in the game is that there's a First player advantage. On some missions, you can take down powerful units on the first turn. They may be intentionally placed close to you as part of a story - you destroy nearby units then take the fight to the enemy.

On some missions, the AI seems intentionally nerfed, like he has a tank but wont move it until you come in range, even though taking the initiative and attacking would be extremely beneficial. APC and transports seem high priority for them to attack, so sometimes you can sacrifice these units and sneak some tanks through to deal damage next turn. I also think the AI struggles in certain scenarios, particularly the larger maps that you unlock outside the Campaign.

Even though there's a few flaws, I think Advance Wars is a brilliant turn-based strategy with well-designed units and mechanics. I still remember playing Advance Wars 2 a lot, so I went into this game with knowledge of the mechanics and strategy. Newer or younger players will find the game much more challenging.
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CaptainClam 2022-04-07T21:46:44Z
2022-04-07T21:46:44Z
4.5
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Advance Wars is a very underappreciated game in Nintendo's catalogue. The game's mechanics are fairly simple, but the game is very fun.
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funkmasterfuma 2021-08-03T08:09:20Z
2021-08-03T08:09:20Z
4.0
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While the bright presentation and expressive characters might convince you that it's built for kids, Advance Wars is a disarmingly punishing turn-based tactics game with a very strong, if simple mechanical foundation. I am by no means whatsoever an expert of any kind at strategy games (they're like the last frontier of gaming that I don't understand yet), but even to my amateurish eyes there are a few avoidable missteps that I noticed that took me out of the experience at times.

The core gameplay of Advance Wars (and presumably the previous Wars titles) revolves around moving your units around a plausibly realistic area of terrain to defeat an enemy militia by either wiping out every unit or capturing their home base. The maps tend to have rivers, mountains, roads, and bridges that create chokepoints, directional lanes of attack, and generally draw your attention or encourage a particular playstyle. The armies are made up of the mobile but weak foot soldiers who can capture bases, and various vehicular units in the ground, sea, and sky. There are a lot of different types, usually one for every matchup you can imagine - bomber planes that can attack ground units but not other flying ones, long-range artillery units that can attack without returning fire but can't move and shoot the same turn, transport-only units to quickly move infantry, battleships for aerial units to dock and refuel, and so on. There's a lot to keep track of but nothing stands out as massively complicated, and in general it feels like the distillation of an imaginary war-by-paper. No units are especially creative or unique, it's all based on real-world war imagery and pretty much as standard as you could imagine such a title.

The units' interactions are compounded by the CO system, wherein the commanding officer that you pick for your mission will alter their squad's abilities and stats, increasing range or mobility or firepower at the expense of another. Additionally, each CO has a special power they can activate after a certain amount of in-match progress that they can use to increase their advantages even further and make a decisive strike. The catch here is that you will always being facing an opposing CO as well, so being wary of the enemy's strengths is just as important as maximizing your own. If you aren't careful you can have your entire squad taken behind the shed in just a couple of unfortunate turns.

In my mind, the weakest part of Advance Wars' combat design is the indecision surrounding the factories. Some of the maps have factory tiles that, when captured, can produce units with the funds you accumulate as you capture more neutral cities and outposts, something that I think helps the player make more crucial or daring tactical maneuvers: if you are able to create more units, the present units become more disposable, and you're able to sacrifice them to pull off daring backdoor rushes for the opposing base or safely complete a retreat. Additionally, it adds a layer of managerial depth to each turn, as you can assess what units would be most helpful to your existing troops and allocate resources accordingly. All that is great, but a large amount of the maps don't have these factories at all, which is awkward. Not only do you endlessly accumulate funds that you can't use, but the value of capturing cities is dropped significantly without their money generating function, and in turn that weakens the utility of the foot soldier units who are the only ones capable of capturing a city to begin with. It really feels like at one point the game would revolve around these factories, but they couldn't commit to them in every map as it raised the complexity too much for a game that's trying to be a bit simpler to pick up. As it stands, this whole implementation can occasionally feel awkward, but it's more of a steady annoyance than a game-breaking oversight.

Interestingly, the game doesn't allow you to actually dig into the meat of the content - the Campaign and War Room modes - until you complete a very rigorous and well-considered Training mode, consisting of 14 tutorials to teach you about the basics of the combat and how different units interact. The complexity of the challenges is raised throughout the missions as less guidance is given, perfectly easing the player into the early missions in the campaign mode. While locking off the content is a controversial decision, I think it was for the better, as there are a shit-ton of unit types in this game, and learning them in the actual campaign missions themselves may have been a bit overbearing.

The campaign is a cheeky romp through various countries where your group of COs are ordered to chase down the Blue Star commander Olaf and put a stop to him. Across your travels you'll pick fights with just about every nation on earth, all of whom marvel at each others' power like some kind of shounen. It's a bit weird, and it begs some questions that probably aren't meant to be asked, like who's calling the shots on this mission? Why aren't precautions being taken to avoid unnecessary conflict? Why do the resources and unit support fluctuate so wildly for your team, who appear to be the squadron taking on the most pressing and important mission for your country at all times? Most of the storyline is just an excuse to run into certain COs of varying skillsets and temperaments and blast them all to smithereens, and the relationships between the COs are cliched. It's quaint, and it has its charms with the colorful presentation, but it's a bit lacking overall. Fundamentally, it just never produces a compelling reason to keep playing the game beyond just wanting a tactics game to play.

You have three COs under your command for a majority of the campaign, but they were certainly not created equal. Some of the characters are just completely outmatched in certain levels, but the general strategy reveals itself simply by looking at the terrain, which you can't see until you start the mission. Not being able to see a layout of the terrain before selecting your CO is really frustrating and feels like guesswork at times. Most of the missions are designed with a single CO in mind, but I really struggled to find a good use for Sami, as Andy's defensive bonuses and Max's ridiculous firepower gave me everything I needed for the entire campaign.

After you're done with the campaign, the War Room mode gives the game some additional longevity. This is something of a challenge course where the player has to face some difficult odds on a carefully crafted scenario in given terrain and against a given CO. You're given a choice of CO, including some of the enemies from the campaign if you've managed to unlock them. It's a fun diversion and a lot of them are really tough, but they do definitely sharpen your brain and let you focus a little bit more on the easier stuff elsewhere in the game. Finally, there's a pretty cool one-console multiplayer mode where you can pass the gameboy to a friend and play against one another. This is really fun but unfortunately, unless both of you are quite good at the game, the AI COs probably act more optimally and are tougher as a result.

In all, Advance Wars is a charming and entertaining pure tactics game that was still trying to find its footing. The game's polish and quality varies a lot, with a strange and ultimately inconsequential storyline in the campaign mode, a very thorough and detailed tutorial, and fun basic unit combat held back slightly by the awkward resources system. I do think in general this is certainly worth a play, if you fancy yourself smart enough to figure out how to outthink some of the more punishing levels and scenarios. The CO powers bring some interesting dynamics to the experience and for a handheld title this is among the decent non-RPG offerings in the genre. Worth a try, with some conditions.
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the_lockpick 2020-06-16T20:41:25Z
2020-06-16T20:41:25Z
3.0
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A game so cute, you'll forget how many people were killed over completely avoidable missions
A game very similar to Fire Emblem. Great stylized and colorful art, catchy background tunes, and loads of warfare. But only this time, you can let your units die because none of them have names. Very challenging and fun gameplay that requires a lot of thinking before you make your moves; I would say even more than Fire Emblem. While units are expendable, there is no leveling. Your enemy is just as strong as you are. Take caution.
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HUnewm 2016-04-08T01:13:48Z
2016-04-08T01:13:48Z
★ Liked ★
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Catalog

hewwix Advance Wars 2022-06-27T11:27:43Z
2022-06-27T11:27:43Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Dustz Advance Wars 2022-06-08T21:17:57Z
2022-06-08T21:17:57Z
4.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DiabolicalCon Advance Wars 2022-06-08T17:04:14Z
2022-06-08T17:04:14Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Velual Advance Wars 2022-06-08T15:01:34Z
2022-06-08T15:01:34Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
cosmicjoke_astronomer Advance Wars 2022-06-08T02:43:54Z
2022-06-08T02:43:54Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LandonAlex Advance Wars 2022-06-05T11:31:25Z
2022-06-05T11:31:25Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
landschneckt Advance Wars 2022-05-27T07:02:57Z
2022-05-27T07:02:57Z
1.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Antidistinct Advance Wars 2022-05-25T18:25:14Z
2022-05-25T18:25:14Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Nagual Advance Wars 2022-05-22T14:33:07Z
2022-05-22T14:33:07Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
guerrilla Advance Wars 2022-05-21T15:00:55Z
2022-05-21T15:00:55Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Vakaz Advance Wars 2022-05-19T07:59:25Z
2022-05-19T07:59:25Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
EelSedaka Advance Wars 2022-05-16T20:48:56Z
GBA • XNA
2022-05-16T20:48:56Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: E
Player modes
1-4 players
Media
1x Cartridge
Multiplayer modes
Deathmatch / FFA
Multiplayer options
Hotseat, LAN
Franchises
In collections

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  • pollyangel00 2021-08-10 02:56:42.554512+00
    if u like this game, look up advance wars by web
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