Advance Wars: Dual Strike (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 22.09.2005

Review for Advance Wars: Dual Strike on Nintendo DS

Just as the Fire Emblem series from Intelligent Systems only recently made the move to the West, the same company’s Wars franchise took far too long to hit our shores, with Advance Wars on the GBA being the début. After taking the market by storm, its sequel was criticised for being too similar to its predecessor. Now the Nintendo DS version is available, can it distance itself sufficiently from the previous outings or is it more of the same?

The working title of this game was Omega Factor, and instead of having to deal with problems in Macro Land, Andy, Nell and the other Commanding Officers now have to look at staving off the threat from the reformed Black Hole Army in Omega Land. Under a new leader, the dastardly group have hit back in record time with even more force than before. Can the Allied Forces beat them down again? With your help it is certainly hoped so...

Two of the main criticisms aimed at both the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem series (both created by IS) are that the graphical level is not as high as it should be and that nothing much seems to change between versions. Now, coming off the back of the last GBA version, at first glance you would think that the differences are negligible. However, this is simply not the case! The little characters and vehicles that move around the playing field are all animated sufficiently and with great variety in colour throughout the arenas helping to liven up the whole experience. But the greatest aspect has to be the actual battle animations, which are full of life. Watching the little men blasting away or simply pressing the fire button in their tanks is fun to watch. No flies on this game, especially as some battles can take place over two screens, adding a whole new element to the play!

Screenshot for Advance Wars: Dual Strike on Nintendo DS

The same positive thinking goes for the aural side of Dual Strike. Intelligent Systems, at least in my opinion anyway, has managed to score games perfectly each time they churn out a new release. Advance Wars: Dual Strike is simply amazing, even more so when you stick your earphones in! Between the motivational tunes that fit in with the army theme to background music that proves to be so catchy that you might find yourself taking a break to soak it all in, Dual Strike should have something to please everyone. And then, once you get past the soundtrack's quality, there is the added value of voice snippets dotted around. Very nice!

For those unsure of what the game is actually all about, the basic idea behind the 'Wars' franchise is to make sure that your batch of soldiers can overpower any opponent facing you. You can do this any way you would like. However, there is clearly a specific method to ensure victory comes as hastily as is possible. The key is not only to survive, therefore, but to try and be as efficient as you can, losing only the amount of troops necessary (which should really be none if you are that good). How you go about doing this depends on the way you think, with some being slightly more gung-ho, whilst others will take the slow-but-sure patient approach. Both can work, both can fail...and you are scored on different elements of style at the end of a battle round - speed being one of the factors, as well as how many men were lost.

Screenshot for Advance Wars: Dual Strike on Nintendo DS

To start with, the game takes you through the first few levels as if they were part of a training scheme. Therefore, novices are eased into the gameplay and veterans are not too bored as part of the background storyline is being explained whilst warming you up for the trickier action later on. You have a wide range of vehicles and soldiers to use in your repertoire, such as those on foot, tanks, helicopters, submarines and fighter jets, as well as less combative aspects such as transport trucks and scouts that help you in situations where there is a lack of lighting or heavy fog restricting line-of-sight to any enemy troops. There are so much choice that sometimes it can be hard to know what is best for a particular battle, especially when you start a map with nothing and must spend money to create whatever artillery you fancy.

There is also the opportunity to use special CO powers at various stages of battle to gain even more of an advantage, with the Officer chosen building up strength the more you carry out positive steps. At some point you can even use two COs during one fight, switching between the two for a different style of battle after each turn has been taken. If both build up enough power, then you can unleash the special 'Dual Strike' manoeuvre to have both COs work together during the same round! Double the power, weakening the enemy. But none of that will mean anything if you do not keep your eye on the ball. Remember that vehicles use fuel, with the main focus being on flying craft and those at sea because if they run low they could crash / sink. Maintenance of your team is essential, as sloppy play will not lead to victory.

Screenshot for Advance Wars: Dual Strike on Nintendo DS

Neither will letting the enemy capture all of your bases. If a soldier with full health (ten points) lands on one of your buildings and chooses to start capturing it for use by the Black Hole Army, then it will only take two full turns to do so, leading to them gaining funds and you losing vital money and safe-guard territory. But with any luck, shooting around the maps with either the stylus or D-pad will get you through without too much of a hitch. Control is as fine as ever, although people will likely be split between which method to use. Whatever the case, this is probably the finest of the three versions to hit the West!

And it will not be over any time soon, with so many different modes to play through that its £30 price-tag seems like a real bargain. There is the main Campaign mode that has you going through the story, plus the War Room where you can battle against computer-controlled opponents to build up experience and, in addition, there are a multitude of multiplayer options to choose from. Two-to-eight people can battle against each other wirelessly via either single cart of multi-cart and you can even create your own maps and send them to your friends so you can compete on the creations! The amount of scope is superb and makes Dual Strike one of the lengthiest DS experiences on the market yet!

Screenshot for Advance Wars: Dual Strike on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

The Nintendo DS has already had some high quality product released for it, but Advance Wars: Dual Strike is definitely of 'AAA' standards. Whilst the gameplay will be all too familiar for some, the extras included and changes in gameplay to suit the DS setup ensure that this is the best outing in the series so far. Do not fancy raising a mutt? Go get this instead...


Intelligent Systems







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (21 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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