Advance Wars
System: Game Boy Advance
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent System
Released: September 2001
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Capabilities: Game Link Compatible for up to 4 Players (Multi and Single Pak Play)

Review Originally Written: October 1, 2001
Review Revised: December 14, 2003

Itís time to take a look back at one of Nintendoís first GBA games, and boy did it take the gaming community by storm. Iím talking about the turned based strategy, Advance Wars that caught everyone by surprise. Its great and addicting gameplay garnered garthered this game plenty of acclaim, and a sequel is already out that fared just as well. So letís take a look back at one of the earlier GBA titles that Nintendo proved it can churn out more unique and original games than SNES ports on the GBA.  

The controls are easy to learn, but takes another thing to master. Thankfully the Field Training mode easily takes you through and allows you to get the hang of things in no time. Itís just too bad it takes several hours to complete the 13 missions in Field Training before concentrating on the main missions, but thatís beside the point since its still quite fun to play through. Each battle is started off with a map filled with random units and bases, you highlight a unit and a certain area of the map highlighted for where he can move. There are options for the units to attack other opposing enemies, capture enemy bases, and many other options. There are three type of main units: Infantry, Mechanical Units (Tanks), and Air Units. There are many ways to plan a strategy in playing this game, like by having units attack from a mountain where they have extra protection, for example.

The game has several ways to play. There are only two modes, besides multi player modes, available at the start. The first is Vs. mode where you can go against either computer or human players and customize the settings to your choosing. Once you complete Field Training, Mission mode is unlocked where several campaigns are available to play through. Another interesting option is Design/Custom mode where you can make your own map, and multiplayer options for up to four players in single or multi-pak options.
 
There are buckets of replay value to be found. First of all, the Field Training mode is quite a task to beat, but very fun to play through because it gets you adapted to the gameplay mechanics and teaches you some strategic maneuvers. Then the multiple campaigns in the game will take many more hours to complete. And even if you manage to complete all those and still get bored, you can design your own maps and scenarios and test them out against friends in multi player.

The actual in game graphics may seem pretty simple at first, like they came from the 8-bit era, but they are some damn good 8-bit graphics, and that the gameplay is the thing that makes this game. The overhead field maps have little icons indicating mountains, woods, valleys, oceans, bases, and so on, like it came right out of an early RPG. All the units have some idle animation so they donít eventually bug out your eyes on the GBA screen. When you initiate a battle with an enemy opponent there are decent little cut-scene of the units attacking each other (people playing in the single pak mode get to miss out on the cut-scenes).

The audio is surprisingly well done in Advance Wars. I actually enjoy listening to background music. The type of rhythm they use for the music fits the combat genre as good as it can on GB. The sound is actually a lot better when you use headphones. The sound effects for the game are the simple bleeps you expect out of the GBA, but get the job done, and all the gunshots and explosions sound appropriate enough.

RATINGS

Graphics: 7.4
Sound: 8.9
Game play: 9.6
Replay Value: 9.9

Overall: 8.9

If any of you out there are into turned based or real time strategy games make sure to pick this up. First of all, games like this on portables are rare, and second of all, you never would of thought that they couldíve been done this good before. If you have never played any of the pair of Advance Wars titles, then the original would be a perfect place to start. Add this sleeper hit to your GBA collection if you havenít already.

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