Forum Overview :: Reviews
oops never mind use this one by FABIO 07/23/2004, 5:30am PDT
I'm going to assume everyone's played the first Advance Wars and just list what's different. If you've never played the original, and you own a GBA and even have a marginal interest in strategy games, just buy it. I only own two games for the gameboy advance, both of them are Advance Wars and it's sequel and I consider either one enough reason own a GBA.

Difference from the original:

More CO's- Each country now has a new CO and Black Hole has five. I was worried that a lot of the CO's would just turn out to be rehashes of the first game's. This was partially due to the enemy Black Hole CO's looking like simple Bizarro world clones of existing CO's. Turns out that the CO's all have an interesting variety of powers.

The CO's are also a lot more balanced than the original: no one is as flat out overpowered as Max and Grit were (both of whom have been toned down), also none are as useless as some of the original ones (Sami has been beefed up, and Olaf isn't useless anymore). Some cool examples are one CO who deploys units costless, but are less powerful (he's the anti-Kanbei), a paratrooper who gives you a free infantry or mech unit in every city you own, and another that adds terrain bonuses to her attack as well as defense, which really forces you to watch where you move. They aren't perfect though, a few have the strengths of others but not many of the weaknesses (one gets the improved infantry like Sami and improved helicopter on top of that, but then receives no weaknesses).

Well, the regular CO's are nicely balanced anyways. Black Hole's run the range from worse than useless to ridiculous over the top broken. One does random damage instead of the usual calculated; it could be higher or lower. So his "power" is the ability to break even on average. The game says his name is Flak but I just called him "Average Man". Another gets terrain bonuses for offense as well as defense, which makes her super deadly in cities and mountains, but then no weaknesses are assigned to her to make up for this deadly advantage. Yet another not only gets bonuses to every single unit in his army, but on top of that gets the single best CO power in the game, and he also comes with no weaknesses whatsoever. And forget about using Sturm in multiplayer if you even want a semblance of balance.

CO powers work differently- Each CO now has 2 powers, a regular and a super. The regular can be used when his power meter is partially full (the minimum amounts varies for each CO), and the super can only be used when it's completely full. The super is obviously more powerful than the normal one. This leads to more variety in choices and tactics for each CO.

New unit- Only one new unit, the neotank (octopus thingies). I don't consider only adding one new unit to be a bad thing, after all the original was so well balanced adding a bunch of new units probably would have messed it up. Basically the neotank is a stronger and more mobile medium tank. It's approximately 35% stronger than a medium tank and also costs about 35% more. It has +1 movement over the medium tank, twice the fuel, and one more max ammo. A lot of people say they're too powerful and ruin the game since it become just who can get more neotanks. I don't quite think this is the case, but they ARE powerful and I cant quite see why you would ever get a medium tank instead unless you simply couldn't afford a neotank. It's kind of silly that they made it more powerful AND faster AND have more fuel. Why not make it a super strong combat unit with severely limited supplies? Or plagued by horribly slow movement? Or even an all terrain spider tank that could climb over mountains and make it equal in strength to a light tank but with the cost of a medium tank? I just wiped the floor with their designers in 10 seconds of brainstorming.

New buildings- Some maps have missile silos scattered throughout them. As soon as an infantry unit reaches one, you can launch the missile to anyplace on the map. Any units caught within the area blast are reduced by 3 points. Each silo is a one-shot deal. Sort of an interesting new feature but nothing huge.

In campaign mode the enemy gets several new buildings. Small and giant static cannons have a large cone of fire and do 3 and 5 damage (respectively) but cannot rotate, making the player maneuver around them. Another laser static defense building fires a beam with unlimited range in a straight line up, down, left, and right, damaging every unit caught in it's path. These static defenses add some cool new strategies to campaign missions, and vary it up so the computer has a different way of giving it a fighting chance other than just simply starting out with more stuff than you every time. The only complaint about them is a gay pipeline structure that runs across some maps and blocks all movement across it, even for air units. Huh?

Better AI- In the original, you could easily befuddle the computer once you realized that it would ALWAYS attack an APC over any other unit. This is no longer the case. The computer now seems to do exactly what I DON'T want it to do and punishes you for making stupid mistakes and leaving yourself open. The problem of the AI wasting money on building more transports than it will ever need is now (mostly) alleviated, making this the FIRST turn based strategy game to do so (I'm looking at YOU, Master of Orion 3!).

No more ranks- Gone are the Ebon Wolf/Grey Dog/whatever ranks. The lettered ranks (S,A,B,etc.) are still there though. Some people are furious that the ranks are gone. I say who cares, the actual game is fun to play. If not being able to brag about your Golden Albatross ranking is going to ruin the game for you, I warn you to stay away.

More fun campaign- You get to play as every country in the campaign now instead of just Orange Star, defending each nation as they're simultaneously invaded by Black Hole. At least now the backstory behind each mission is much better than the original's silly premise of every country in the world attacking you just to ''test you''. You get to pick which mission you play on an overhead map ala the original command and conquer. You progress by beating back the invasions of each country and reclaiming their land until you launch an attack on Black Hole's home territory. There is a secret objective in one of the missions for each country where you can recover a map that shows the location of an enemy research lab. Successfully capture their lab and that country will have neotanks added to their list of unit purchase choices.

There are now a much greater variety of mission objectives other than ''capture the HQ or destroy all enemy units''. Some will have you accomplish a task in a certain number of days, or destroy certain static defenses across the map (the original had a couple of these, but they're a lot more prominent in the sequel).

The campaign mission design is what has me questioning whether or not some Japanese holdouts from World War 2 were on the design team trying to leak in Axis propaganda. In the campaign, you play the ''good'' guys. One of the nations, Yellow Comet, is obviously modelled after Imperial Japan. Since this is the case, they cleverly assign all the ''GO GO HITLER/TOJO!'' levels to the other nations. Case in point: on one level your ''evil'' enemy has a wall of giant cannon forts and brags that you'll never get past them. The mission then has you sneak through the woods (they hide units in fog of war) until you emerge behind the cannons and capture the vulnerable HQ, forcing the enemy to surrender. Seems the Japs might still have a soft spot for their German allies. Even more blatant is one level where you lead a surprise raid to destroy a group of moored battleships. Does that one even need any explanation? To further disguise their intent, they replace the cutesy ''war is fun! no death or destruction!'' tone of the original with frequent reminders from the characters that war is bad and hurts people. The ''good'' guys acknowledge that war is hell and should be used as a last resort, but they have been forced into this war by their aggressor enemy and now must PROCEED TO BOMB DEFENSELESS DOCKED BATTLESHIPS DID YOU THINK NO ONE WOULD CATCH THAT?! YOU DID KNOW THIS GAME WAS BEING PORTED TO THE STATES DIDN'T YOU?!!!

Final Verdict- Better than the original with a greater variety of CO's, powers, and missions. The only real gripe is the disapointing number of new war room and vs. maps you get. The original game had an EXTREME shortage of quality multiplayer maps, as in almost zero. A lot of the maps in the sequel are just old maps ported over from the original, and you still have almost zero good multiplayer maps. Sure there's a map editor included where you can make your own, but why should I, the player, have to do their job for them?

Buy it. Now. This is seriously the single best investment you could ever make for your Gameboy Advance. If you haven't played the original Advance Wars, I strongly advise you to pick this one up instead of the original unless you can't afford the $10 price difference. If you play the sequel you will be unable to go back and have fun with the original do to the sequel just being flat out more fun. Even though the game sports cartoony graphics and extremely mild violence, it is not a game for children. Your child will be exposed to secret Axis propaganda and will grow up to be a Manchurian Candidate-esque sleeper agent for the secret Japanese Yakuza Tojo cabal.
Advance Wars 2: my old short review from Gamefaqs by FABIO 07/23/2004, 5:16am PDT NEW
    oops never mind use this one by FABIO 07/23/2004, 5:30am PDT NEW
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