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Advance Wars - near perfection???
Perfection is rarely achieved in video games, of those who have achieved it, Nintendo are perhaps the most successful. Mario Kart Advance I thought was unbeatable on the GBA until I played Tekken Advance and then till I played Advance Wars. Yes, it’s that good and as a sequel to the Game Boy Wars classic it had to be. The concept is not original by any means but Nintendo have taken it, revamped it and made it the most essential title for the GBA and perhaps one of the best in 2002. Until recently I have had only one addiction (PSO) and I managed to overcome that through therapy and girlfriend pressure. Advance Wars has taken its place and given the fact that you can take it with you it’s ten times as worse. <br /> <br /> Advance Wars is a turn based strategy game plain and simple, a combination of Risk and Command and Conquer. The scenario is similar to that of Kessen but in a modern day setting. Various factors are fighting it out across the country and you must conquer or be conquered. The visual style employed by the developers is unique, striking, colourful and can be described as a cross between Final Fantasy, anime, Ring of Red and Front Mission. There is a comprehensive training mode beforehand which if you wish to succeed, you must learn as there is a surprising amount of depth in this game otherwise you will die a painful death. This game is a challenge and is not easy. There are 15 tutorials that cover every aspect of Advance Wars and like Zelda and Mario before are clear, concise and well presented. <br /> <br /> For those who have not played a turn-based game before it’s just as the title suggests, you make your move then wait for your opponent’s response. Yes it’s a glorified version of chess but without the boring rules and Russian grandmasters. The game is played on a battlefield map yet within Advance Wars this will not only take place on land but also on water or in the sky. You have total control over your massed forces and this includes the army, navy and air force. These forces are divided into units and each has their own strength and rating. When deploying your forces you need to take into account not only your opponent but also the terrain and weather for both play an important role in the game. As your units become damaged or weary you can repair then at certain points otherwise face losing them for good. It is always best to live to fight another day. The game contains approximately 120 different maps and as you progress through the campaigns these become available for selection in the multi player mode. This however (apart from success) is not the only incentive as you are rewarded for each victory depending on skill shown and performance ratings. Rewards take the form of the ever-original coin and these can be used to buy maps unavailable elsewhere. Like Chu Chu Rocket (which we reviewed recently) you are given the opportunity to build your own maps that can then be saved and traded amongst friends. My usual gripe with GBA titles is the lack of a save function but here Nintendo have implemented full saves, no need for passwords or codes, fantastic. <br /> <br /> For a handheld, the AI of your computer-controlled opponents is surprisingly diverse and complex. This game would score highly even without the multi player mode because each new confrontation, is just that. Each opponent has a different approach and possess varying strengths and weaknesses. Some may attack with everything but leave themselves wide open to a counter attack; others may be able to attack from a longer range forcing you to take a different approach. If anything playing against your friends soon becomes the easier option! The multiplayer mode supports upto four players and here you can compete against one another in epic battles of strength, tactical prowess and cunning. If you don’t have a link up cable or more than one GBA don’t worry as the game supports 1-4 players on a single machine given its turn-based nature. A wonderful addition by Nintendo. <br /> <br /> No game is perfect although Advance Wars does come close, more so than almost any other game I have played in recent years. If you don’t like turn based games such as this then you will unfortunately hate Advance Wars, shame, as you will miss out on something very special. Fans of the genre may dislike the graphical style and musical approach by Nintendo never mind the difficulty level involved. When playing in multi player there is a great deal of patience required, as you cannot do anything while waiting on your opponents move. A feature such as that used in F Zero X (gambit machine) or being able to check your resources would have been welcome. Given that some players analyse every possible move before selecting their own, this becomes a bigger issue depending on whom you play with obviously.