February 12, 2013
Gaming Flashback: Advance Wars – Dual Strike
Yes, we’re going back to the Nintendo DS with a bit of commentary on one of gaming’s best turn-based video games.
My first experience with a strategy game was on a three by two inch screen of a Nintendo DS that fit comfortably in my hands. The game was Advance Wars and back then it was the greatest and most time consuming experience that I had ever enjoyed.
Advance Wars was a turn-based strategy game. A bit like Fire Emblem, Advance Wars took advantage of a DS game A.I. and massive scaled battles with units that fought by Land, Sea and, of course, Air. This was just the first game in a series of turn-based strategy games that would be responsible for various missed work assignments.
Dual Strike was released in the fall of 2005 and is still regarded by fans as the greatest rendition of the series. The name ‘Dual Strike’ was a play on the games newfound element of tag team super powers. But before I get ahead of myself, I’ll go back to the mechanics to better explain.
As already stated, Advance Wars is a turn-based strategy game. It’s based around a fictional country of Omega Land, home to Andy, Max, and Sami — military COs of the Orange Star Army. In previous games, the Orange Star Army went to war with military CO Olaf and Grit of the Blue Moon Army. The game set itself apart from other strategy games by implementing characters that have special abilities and advantages over others. These advantages could be anything from stronger units in snowstorms, to longer range and more devastating indirect attack units.
The object of the game is to either destroy all enemy units on the map or capture the enemy HQ. The enemy HQ would obviously be guarded by many enemy units, thus making it very difficult to accomplish, should you go for that tactic.
Terrain difficulties, such as moving over mountains and past rivers, complicate movement in a single turn. Weather forces also take effect on vehicles, such as snow depleting gas resources and movement distances for tanks and planes.
For example: Andy is a master vehicular engineer and, as such, has the special ability to heal all units by 20 percent when his power meter has reached its max.
Sami is an infantry general (odd, since you would think she’s only 18) that has stronger infantry and mechanized units than others. Alongside these units being able to traverse difficult terrain faster and more efficiently than other COs, she also has the ability to capture buildings faster than everyone else, which will make for a very good tactic in single move HQ captures.
Max is a blue haired brute of a man that is aptly known for possessing much stronger than usual units. Max is absolutely devastating at direct combat, and is usually the preferred CO for a defensive stance.
These three aren’t the super stars of Dual Strike, but they do make appearances throughout the game.
Dual Strike appealed to me as a game because it harbored a lot more content than any of the other games. The game showcased a better version of War Room, every Advance Wars map from previous games, and even a sound room where you could listen to the theme song of every CO.
Speaking of the music, it’s worth noting that every game character had their very own theme song.
The story of Dual Strike revolves around the mystery of the Black Hole Army causing mayhem across Omega Land, despite their defeat in previous games. It turns out that their grand emperor, Von Bolt, had invented a new biochemical unit that sucks energy from the environment and feeds it back to the manufacturing of war machines.
The story was enough of an emotional grip to ring 50+ hours of game play out of your time, which is far more than any DS game could muster, with the possible exception of Pokemon.
My only gripe with Intelligent Systems is that they stopped the production of Advance Wars, which is why we haven’t seen a proper sequel in the works for some years now. This is a shame, since Advance Wars was the only reason I bothered with playing on a DS.
Hopefully, they haven’t forgotten about the series and have a few more ideas up their sleeves for the future. Let me know how you feel about the Advance Wars series in the comments below.
Image Credit: Intelligent Systems