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As I played one of Nintendo's latest DS offerings I reminisced to a time when I was younger. This particular memory goes something like this:

...as I sat back in my chair, I looked at a friend of mine and said "that is one cool game". We had just finished a marathon effort in an attempt to finish it, but amazingly we were only halfway through. This game had a steep learning curve but once we got into it we just couldn't stop. The slightly cartoony game was a turned based war sim that had us hooked and we could not put the controller down...

The game I so highly speak of is one of my favorite games of all time and is called "Military Madness", also known as Nectaris. This game was released for the Turbo Graphix systems in Japan and in limited release in North America. Very few games get my imagination going like this one did so many years ago. It also formed my love for the turn based strategy game.

Fast forward a decade or so, soon after Nintendo's Gameboy Advance launch, another turned based game, known as "Advance Wars", was released to the unsuspecting public. This somewhat cartoony turned based war strategy game, that looks and plays much like my old retro fave of yesteryear, became my favorite portable game and it soon went on to become one of the best GBA launch titles. With many gamers loving the style, look, and not to mention the depth, game developer Intelligent Systems really had a hit on their hands. After another Advance Wars title on the GBA the folks at Intelligent Systems turned their efforts to the Nintendo DS. Having played and loved the earlier GBA titles I knew that playing this one was a no brainer. With more horsepower and an extra screen I couldn't wait to start strategizing once again!

Graphics

Advance Wars: Dual Strike continues the series long tradition of very colourful and cartoon-style graphics to depict its warfare activities. Interestingly enough I would think that this is one of the few war games that will ever be rated "E" as there is no gratuitous blood, guts or violence that will ever grace the screens. In fact the most you will see are things like beaten and rag tag CO's or defeated enemies looking war torn, all in a most humorous way. The visual style will feel immediately familiar to anyone who has played the previous GBA titles. In coming to the DS, Advance Wars: Dual Strike obviously takes everything up a few notches. A bright colour palette gives the whole game almost a plastic toy-like quality that is quite pleasant on the eyes. The battle cut scenes and character artwork spring up to show the game's attention to detail and excellent production values. The DS is a much more powerful machine then the GBA and it shows. Nowhere in the game are there signs of clipping and or slowdown. The frame rate is consistent throughout the game, even in the various battle screens, and it really shows how well built the game engine is. The inclusion of another screen is also a major bonus as it gives the gamer all the highlights and battle strategy at a glance. The animation is awesome and, as in previous entries, every character (CO's) has his or her has a unique presentation based on their own persona.

Sound

Audio-wise not much of the DS's capabilities are used in Dual Strike. Many of the old and familiar themes seem to be present and some of them seem to have been worked over. I quite love the enemy Dual Strike theme though, which is new to the game. The only other new things for the audio which are not overly impressive are the sound effects themselves. As an example, sinking a submarine is now accompanied with a nice effect informing you that all the men on the sub have become one with the sea. Most all the effects are clearly audible and sound pretty good but there are times when the sound may tend to hiss and crackle. You would really have to be picky to really complain about it though as it is almost non-existent. On a very positive note is that the sound through the headphones is much better, giving the gamer way more sound separation and obvious clarity.

Gameplay

Series developer Intelligent Systems has done such an amazing job in bringing Advance Wars from the GBA to the DS. They have managed to maintain the root of original style of gameplay while updating the formula enough to make sure it continues to evolve with fresh and innovative ideas, something that should keep their loyal fan base happy. One thing is clearly eviednet is that they certainly have upped the ante in terms of new ideas as is readily apparent by the plethora of gameplay modes listed in the game's main menu. There are five main modes including Campaign, War Room, Versus, Survival and Combat. Add to these modes a well implemented map editor, a Battle Maps shop, Commanding Officer outfits, special skills, sound and artwork galleries (unlocked after completing the campaign), a history section that tracks all of your play statistics, and a Wireless mode for multiplayer game play and other friendly activities. All these features are wrapped into one DS cartridge and there is so much to do that one will be glued to their DS's Dual Screens for quite sometime.

The main goal in this game is to outsmart your enemy with strategy and tact. Dual Strike is absolutely loaded with depth and strategy, although not to a point to make your head spin, but just enough to really hook the gamer while maintaining a consistent

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

 

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: n/a
 
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As I played one of Nintendo's latest DS offerings I reminisced to a time when I was younger. This particular memory goes something like this: ...as I sat back in my chair, I looked at a friend of mine and said "that is one cool game". We had just finished a marathon effort in an attempt to finish it, but amazingly we were only halfway through. This game had a steep learning curve but once we got into it we just couldn't stop. The slightly cartoony game was a turned based war sim that had us hooked and we could not put the controller down... The game I so highly speak of is one of my favorite games of all time and is called "Military Madness", also known as Nectaris. This game was released for the Turbo Graphix systems in Japan and in limited release in North America. Very few games get my imagination going like this one did so many years ago. It also formed my love for the turn based strategy game. Fast forward a decade or so, soon after Nintendo's Gameboy Advance launch, another turned based game, known as "Advance Wars", was released to the unsuspecting public. This somewhat cartoony turned based war strategy game, that looks and plays much like my old retro fave of yesteryear, became my favorite portable game and it soon went on to become one of the best GBA launch titles. With many gamers loving the style, look, and not to mention the depth, game developer Intelligent Systems really had a hit on their hands. After another Advance Wars title on the GBA the folks at Intelligent Systems turned their efforts to the Nintendo DS. Having played and loved the earlier GBA titles I knew that playing this one was a no brainer. With more horsepower and an extra screen I couldn't wait to start strategizing once again! Graphics Advance Wars: Dual Strike continues the series long tradition of very colourful and cartoon-style graphics to depict its warfare activities. Interestingly enough I would think that this is one of the few war games that will ever be rated "E" as there is no gratuitous blood, guts or violence that will ever grace the screens. In fact the most you will see are things like beaten and rag tag CO's or defeated enemies looking war torn, all in a most humorous way. The visual style will feel immediately familiar to anyone who has played the previous GBA titles. In coming to the DS, Advance Wars: Dual Strike obviously takes everything up a few notches. A bright colour palette gives the whole game almost a plastic toy-like quality that is quite pleasant on the eyes. The battle cut scenes and character artwork spring up to show the game's attention to detail and excellent production values. The DS is a much more powerful machine then the GBA and it shows. Nowhere in the game are there signs of clipping and or slowdown. The frame rate is consistent throughout the game, even in the various battle screens, and it really shows how well built the game engine is. The inclusion of another screen is also a major bonus as it gives the gamer all the highlights and battle strategy at a glance. The animation is awesome and, as in previous entries, every character (CO's) has his or her has a unique presentation based on their own persona. Sound Audio-wise not much of the DS's capabilities are used in Dual Strike. Many of the old and familiar themes seem to be present and some of them seem to have been worked over. I quite love the enemy Dual Strike theme though, which is new to the game. The only other new things for the audio which are not overly impressive are the sound effects themselves. As an example, sinking a submarine is now accompanied with a nice effect informing you that all the men on the sub have become one with the sea. Most all the effects are clearly audible and sound pretty good but there are times when the sound may tend to hiss and crackle. You would really have to be picky to really complain about it though as it is almost non-existent. On a very positive note is that the sound through the headphones is much better, giving the gamer way more sound separation and obvious clarity. Gameplay Series developer Intelligent Systems has done such an amazing job in bringing Advance Wars from the GBA to the DS. They have managed to maintain the root of original style of gameplay while updating the formula enough to make sure it continues to evolve with fresh and innovative ideas, something that should keep their loyal fan base happy. One thing is clearly eviednet is that they certainly have upped the ante in terms of new ideas as is readily apparent by the plethora of gameplay modes listed in the game's main menu. There are five main modes including Campaign, War Room, Versus, Survival and Combat. Add to these modes a well implemented map editor, a Battle Maps shop, Commanding Officer outfits, special skills, sound and artwork galleries (unlocked after completing the campaign), a history section that tracks all of your play statistics, and a Wireless mode for multiplayer game play and other friendly activities. All these features are wrapped into one DS cartridge and there is so much to do that one will be glued to their DS's Dual Screens for quite sometime. The main goal in this game is to outsmart your enemy with strategy and tact. Dual Strike is absolutely loaded with depth and strategy, although not to a point to make your head spin, but just enough to really hook the gamer while maintaining a consistent ‘fun' factor all along the way. Terrain, weather, map position, attack type and other tactical factors all play into how one's units (tanks, planes etc…) can effectively move and conquer the current foe, and it's important to understand these details if you want to survive. Another key tactical decision that must be made is in choosing the proper Commanding Officer (CO) for each battle at hand. Each of the available COs has specific and special skills and abilities that enhance the powers of certain units. For example, one CO may give a boost to direct combat units while another may do the same for long-range or air-based units. Each CO also has two superpowers that can be used to provide devastating results once a power gauge has been filled. The power gauge fills slowly after every turn taken and once it is filled the CO has the option of unleashing their specific lethal attack on the enemy. The bulk of Advance Wars: Dual Strike gameplay is in the Campaign Mode's offerings but there's still so much more to this game. As indicated earlier there are four more modes of play on top of the Campaign Mode. War Room is essentially a quick battle type of mode for taking on opponents to earn points, and the Versus Mode enables four players to pass around a single DS system and take turns in battle. Survival Mode comes in three different types of flavor, including Money, Turn and Time. Each of these places certain restrictions on the impending battle. Money Survival, for example, requires you to win using a set amount of money while Turn and Time Survival adds turn and time limits to each battle series. Of course the biggest gameplay addition to the Advance Warrior series, more so than any of the modes described above, is the new Combat Mode and it specifically utilizes the DS's stylus and touch screen as control inputs. It may not sound like much on paper, but it's a ton of fun and a welcomed bit of freshness to the tried-and-true turn-based combat. I think it is important that I touch on (ed. note: pun intended) is the usage of the DS's touch screen. Instead of using the buttons to control your army, you can now use the touch screen and enter all commands through it. This is very handy for those who do not move their fingers a lot, but using this method can be a bit sensitive. The gamer can easily touch the wrong area of the screen and be in immediate trouble. Combat Mode is a real-time action mode where one manually controls a single unit around a standard map tapping on the screen to fire at enemy combatants and any slight mistakes can be costly. The control scheme is a selectable option in the menu, so you can experiment with your own preferences. Overall there are no real problems with the controls, as the menu screens are nice and easy to navigate and all the information you need on your units is made handy with the use of two screens. Conclusion Advance Wars: Dual Strike is a worthy addition to the series and to anyone's DS library. The sheer amounts of gameplay modes both in single player and in wireless multiplayer make this one of the best DS releases in sometime. A very highly addictive and very time-consuming gameplay engine has this reviewer playing every spare minute I can squeeze in as Dual Strike really does take me back to my old school gaming days, where simplicity and depth meld into one of the best things going. I would chalk this up to a very well constructed game by a developer who clearly has honed their craft, well-done Intelligent Systems.





 
 

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