VGF.Net - Video Gamers First Network
   Navigation menu
NGF Home
Release List



-Staff Picks: Favorite Video Game Theme Songs
-Sonic Comparison Part III
-Sonic Comparison Part II
(More Specials)

GCN Reviews:
-Enter the Matrix
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
-Charlie's Angels
(More GCN Reviews)

GBA Reviews:
-Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
-Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire
-Mega Man & Bass

More GBA Reviews)

GCN Previews:
-X-Men: Legends
-The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords

More GCN Previews)

GBA Previews:
-Sword of Mana
-Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
(More GBA Previews)

-GameCube Now $99
-Atlus Ships Shining Soul
-Mario Kart Pre-Order Bonus
-XIII Multiplayer Details
-WWE Wrestlemania XIX Ships
-THQ & Disney Deal on GBA
-New Player's Choice Titles
-Dr. Pepper Contest
-Soul Calibur II Ships
-Two Atlus GBA Screens
-GBA Selling Well
-Midway Announces NARC
-Majesco Ships Iridion II
-DBZ Character Profiles

-BAM! Ships Ed, Edd n Eddy
-Splinter Cell Ships Early
-Splinter Cell Connectivity Details
-ATI Working on Next Nintendo?
(More News)

Message Boards | Free Email | | Hosting/Get Affiliated  
Ad Info
Advance Wars

Review By:  Adrian V.

Developer:  Nintendo
Publisher:  Nintendo
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Strategy
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  11-23-01

Stupid name, great game.

I will admit, I’ve never been a big strategy gamer. Sure, I enjoyed Civ2, but anymore that’s the cover charge for admission to gaming geekdom. "Yep, loved Civ 2. And Metroid. Oh yeah, big fan. Ever play A.P.B.? Er, nevermind." The problem with strategy games was that the subject matter rarely appealed to me. Let’s be frank, horses and cannons are boring. Even Mel ‘Martin Riggs’ Gibson couldn’t keep me from yawning with his "I’ll toss this tomahawk into your back if you look at me wrong" War of Independence opus. Come on... he and his siblings were smuggled out of the country by their father so none of them would have to fight in the Vietnam War, and now Mel’s a hero of the American Resistance? That works how?

Where was I?

Right, gaming. So pre-industrial scenarios were out, and the only other turn-based strategy titles that seemed worth investigating involved re-enacting quasi-realistic 20th century military campaigns. And unless Mel was coming over to personally explain the best way to flee in terror from a conflict in the Orient, those titles were just plain depressing. I play games to escape reality.

But for some reason, I picked up Advance Wars. Mostly because I don’t think I could have found another ‘hidden tape’ or ‘old school gap’ without puking, and a little because I wanted to pretend I was using my brain while wasting more precious hours of my life gaping at a piece of plastic while the other people on the train gave me those ‘You’re how old?’ looks. So there you have it.

Amazingly, my purchase appears to have paid off, which is more than I can say for those suckers who bought GT Advance. And if there’s anyone else out there waiting to become one of those suckers, I have a *nearly* new copy of said game in my possession that I would gladly part with for say, the price of a Happy Meal. With a Simpson’s toy.

Or a used copy of Powerstone 2. I’m flexible.

So what exactly is Advance Wars? And more importantly, should it be in your possession yet? And why did that skinny kid always sit with the fat kid at lunch? What the hell did they have to talk about?

"Hey, can you see your feet?"


"Wow. I haven’t been able to cut my toenails in six years."

"I’m gonna go sit over there now."

The answer to these, and many more questions will be presented in the following paragraphs.

So what’s the game about? Put simply, it’s a Junior League strategy game. By Junior, I mean that a lot of micromanagement has been trimmed like so much fat from a cheap steak. And by League, I meant nothing. It just thought it would make ‘Junior’ sound less juvenile. Looking at it, I see that it instead sounds like an organization of pre-schoolers playing T-ball and trading Pokémon, but that’s the chance you take, owning something called a Game BOY. I guess Portable Masculine Entertainment Device was already taken. Or too creepy.

Advance Wars puts you in charge of the Orange Star Army (whose enemies include Blue Moon, Yellow Comet, Green Earth and Black Hole...those guys work overtime at the Backstory Content desk, eh?) and asks you to guide them in their efforts to...well, take over the world. Their dreams of global domination are kept kinda quiet, but really, there’s no other reason for most of the things you’re asked to do. You frequently take massive military forces into foreign countries without asking permission or giving as explanation to the inhabitants, so I guess the designers were adhering to American foreign policy when putting this one together. Nice to see them trying to be more accommodating of Western philosophy. Now if only one of the missions was ‘Protect Our Overseas Oil Interests’ or ‘Drive Out The Canadian Nuisance’ they’d be guaranteed to get a US Government contract. Can’t you just see all those guys in fatigues ‘training’ on their ArmedforcesBOYs? No more worries about looking childish with one of those in your pocket, eh?

It is unfortunate though, that storming Fidel Castro’s compound wasn’t made into a game level, because that would have made all the difference. As it is, the campaign ends up being a series of missions putting your limited forces in a myriad of difficult circumstances, with the ultimate goal usually being either total elimination of hostile forces, or the capture of the enemy’s base. You take turns moving your units about the map, engaging in skirmishes and generally doing your best to do less dying than the guys you shoot at.

So let’s break the gameplay down into good and bad.

Good: Simple units and battle conditions. You only have eighteen unit types to deal with, and any time you choose to engage a hostile, you are told exactly how much damage you will deal. Also, you can lay multiple courses and gauge your unit’s effectiveness before committing to the action, which is truly a blessing. The only consideration is that, supposedly, choosing the route and then negating it still uses fuel. But re-supplying my units was not a concern that arose often enough to make me worry about burning diesel. Maybe if they put those ‘Oil Interest’ missions in, I’d care more.

You eventually have three different CO’s to choose from before each battle. Essentially, they do nothing other than provide specific benefits and/or hindrances to your units. They make no strategic decisions, but can be quite useful. For example, once charged, Andy can unleash a ‘special’ that repairs 2 hit points to all of your units. Then there’s Max, who gives all your melee (or direct-fire) forces an attack bonus but all his long-range units, simply put, suck. That’s a military term.

The campaign has branching paths that allow for different secrets to be available once you’ve finished the game. The choices you make also have a direct affect on the final battle (which I won’t ruin for you, suffice to say that the CO’s involved in that conflict are influenced heavily by previous actions).

The control is entirely without issue, since there is no precision gaming involved in any way. Maybe the cursor could have moved a bit faster, but that’s just looking for fault.

And finally, there is a save feature that can be used at any point (which really should be a given on a portable system).

And then we have the Bad:

Repetetive missions. Essentially, you just have to blow the other guy up all the time. There were only a handful of times (read: less than 5 on my first run through) where the victory conditions were even remotely interesting. A few more ‘Defend this specific thing’ or ‘Destroy that specific thing’ would have been a big help. You can only blow up so many medium tanks before the existential angst sets in.

Also, I’m getting a little tired of playing the underdog. When are we going to be able to take on an enemy when our forces are obviously superior, or at least equal? Why do I continually have to begin the mission at such a pronounced disadvantage that half of my gaming time is sucked away in a clichéd, monstrously boring struggle to churn out enough forces to keep the enemy from destroying my factories as they churn out enough forces to keep the enemy from destroying my factories as they churn out enough forces to....

Page 2 of 2-->
Cheat Codes
PC Gamers First
PlayStation Gamers First
Xbox Gamers First
© 1999-2005 All Rights Reserved. All content contained herein is property of VGF, Inc. VGF is not affiliated with any video game companies. Logos, trademarks, names, images, etc. are property of their respective companies. More legal info. Privacy Statement.
Click for Main Nintendo Sony PlayStation/Playstation 2 Sega X-Box PC