Advance Wars: Dual Strike (Nintendo DS) Reader Review

Posted by By Cheesing It Up 4 Number of reads 1021 Posted 31.01.2009

So Advance Wars comes to the DS for the first time. The basic idea is still the same: out-build and out-destroy your opponent using turn based strategy. As always it's easy to get into, but hard to master. This time the game comes with a host of new features. The question is, are they any good?

The first addition is the ability to use the touch screen instead of the d-pad and buttons. It's a small detail, and either method works with no problems. The graphics have been given an overhaul, giving the 2D grid an angled view rather then birds eye. It looks good enough, but that game was never really about graphics. The sound has also been improved, with the occasional bit of speech in there and quite a few more tunes. So far, so good, even if nothing exceptional has jumped out.

One of the main additions is the ability to use 2 COs. (For those new to the series a CO is basically a character that tells you the strengths and weaknesses of your units, for example one CO may have stronger direct-combat units and another may have stronger long-distance units.) The ability to use 2 COs and switch between them at the end of your turn offers another dimension to your strategy. Do you go for 2 that cover each others weaknesses or 2 that have similar strengths?

Coupled with this is a revision to the CO powers. As usual your power meter builds up as you destroy your opponents units or visa versa. Once it's high enough you can use a CO power (each CO power is unique to its CO) to gain an advantage or store it up until you can use your Super Power. With Dual Strike though, you can store up both your CO's powers until full, when the option of a TAG power becomes available . This basically allows you to attack/move twice in 1 turn, each time with a Super Power of 1 CO. In short, it's a huge advantage and in many cases it actually decides the game. This may seem unfair, but of course it works both ways.

Yet another new feature is the ability to have 2 battles at once, one on each screen. The idea is that you send units to a 2nd front, and if you secure the front you gain access to both COs and the ability to use a TAG power. The theory falls flat on its face though, as you be thrashing an opponent on the 2nd front, but if you lose the main one it all counts for nothing. Also troops sent up to the 2nd front can't be sent back. In short the feature is a bit rubbish, but really its only used in a few Campaign Missions and can largely be ignored.

More additions come in the form of new units. There are 7 in total, and all but one are extremely powerful. The more impressive is the Megatank, which can destroy and MDtank (the most powerful ground unit in the original game) in one turn. As always there's a catch: the Megatank is expensive, slow and runs our of ammo quickly. The new units introduced gradually in campaign mode, and whilst 1 or 2 of them don't do much interesting, the relief of finally being able to cheaply move infantry across water was a big plus!

And yet the new features keep on coming! A feature that allows you to level up CO's is added. Higher levels gives you a host of bonuses, but you can only choose a max of 4 at once. Also new are the survival and combat modes. Survival makes you get through several maps on limited funds/time/number of turns, whilst combat is a real-time version of the game. Survival is a great addition to add yet more life to the game, whereas combat is more of a mini-game then anything else.

The game has taken the originals (which were by no means short games) and made them bigger and longer. The amount of stuff to do really is amazing. The campaign itself will last you quite a while, then there's a hard mode and 3 survival modes, each with a hard mode. Once you've gone that there's still the war rooms. There's a huge amount of maps to complete here, and each can be done in 4 ways (2 COs and level bonuses, 2COs, 1 CO and bonuses, 1 CO). And of course War Rooms are great for repeating to try and beat your score. In short: YOU WILL NEVER GET TO THE END OF THIS GAME. Did I mention that there's also a few new COs to try out?

The map maker also returns and is definitely quicker then ever thanks to the touch screen. Multiplayer is still great fun and can use any map from the war room, plus a whole lot more (including ones made yourself). Features such as 2 screen battles or using 2 COs can be selected in or out as you wish.

In short, the game excels beyond belief in length and keeps the addictive gameplay of the originals. Some of the new features are slightly flawed (TAG powers are often too powerful and 2 front battles don't really work) but there's more then enough stuff to do without spending time onthose features.

Apologies for not talking about how the strategy in Advance Wars works in general, but the review was getting on a bit and I guessed it would be more useful to focus on the new. Most members probably have a vague idea of what it's all about anyway.

To conclude, it's a must have game for strategy fans, even if all the new features didn't quite work out. Those new to the series might prefer the original first, as the gameplay was perfectly balanced and simpler (as opposed to very well balanced here), but this would still be a very good place to start. Smilie

Overall score: 9/10 (and it gets an 11/10 for value, but apparently on C3 the highest score you can give is 10/10 for some reason.)

The cheese.

Cheesing It Up's Rating Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Tis a fab game, well worth grabbing a copy of! I'm not usually a fan of strategy, but got me hooked for a while! Smilie

Good stuff Cheese!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Fantastic review Cheese! Definitely one of the best turn based strategy titles you can get, though I give Days of Ruin the edge because it toned down the insane CO powers.

Do you have Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict Cheese?

I swear this is the easiest way to get stars ever! Smilie

I don't own Days of Ruin but I've played quite a few multiplayer battles on it and a couple of campaign levels that my mate was struggling with. (That's not to say I found them easy either!) It's on my 'to get at some point' list. Smilie

To be honest, I thought Days of Ruin was a far easier than Dual Strike. I think I only had to replay two levels. Still, I like it better because of the tighter gameplay.

Plus, the map editor actually allows you to save like 50 maps, instead of the 3 that Dual Strike allowed, which sucked.

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Intelligent Systems







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (21 Votes)

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