NINTENDO DS REVIEW: ADVANCE WARS DUAL STRIKE

Please note this page contains 2 reviews of Advance Wars: Dual Strike. Scroll down to read the second review.

As if I didn't feel like a big enough dork playing my GBA in public, now I'm forced to dab my fingers all over the dual screen of the DS like some hideous vampire cleric. I guess I should lose the black cape.

The problem with portable gaming systems is that they're portable. At least that's a problem for me. No excuses not to review a game. Instead of sneaking a peek at a 1968 Playboy in the local barbershop, I've got to review some lame GBA game. I can't even check out a National Geographic in the dentist office for crying out loud before Von's text messaging me and asking me where my review of Bambi Meets Barbi is.

At my age, it can get a little embarrassing having people watch me play a damn videogame. It probably doesn't help that I let a few choice words blast out now and then and throw the odd temper tantrum when I lose a life and have to start over again - especially when it's not even my fault. Like when the bud driver turns down a sun-drenched street that causes my screen to wash out. Or when some nosy old lady has her head hovering over my neck straining to see what incredible technology the future has wrought. She probably things I'm Dick Tracy - when in fact I'm really just a Dick.

Don't be trading in your GBA for a DS just yet. Advance Wars: Dual Strike is not so much different than the two GBA games. Nothing can compare to the original simply because there's nothing like the first time. The sequel showed a few minor improvements and that's fine for a series although you have to be mindful of developers that continuously milk a series by offering only a trace amount of upgrades, such as sports titles that offer new rosters or that damn Yu-Gi-Oh! Dual Strike does show some promise with some new features but it's still the same classic, turn-based, strategy game that's it's always been.

It's your army against an enemy's army. The enemy can be AI controlled or assigned to another human via the wireless system. The ability to play against another human using the wireless system is certainly more convenient than using the Link cable but that feature alone is not worth the expense of two DS systems and a couple of copies of the games. There really isn't anything in this game that would warrant such an expense since the control system doesn't even make exclusive use of the dual screens or the touch sensitivity. There's nothing in this version that couldn't be incorporated into the GBA. It's even to your advantage to use the D-pad instead of the stylus since it's very easy to peck out the wrong command.

The object of the game is to overwhelm your opponent by whatever means necessary to win the war. Troops, planes and ships will all be at your control. Through a series of moves you want to position yourself so that you can overtake your enemy. It's like an animated version of checkers but with more depth. It's not a very complex game to learn but the strategy can get complex depending on your opponent and your ability to adapt and counter. I don't want to sound rude, (not that that would stop me), but if you find that you always get your ass kicked in this game then you're just not smart enough to play it. Try Pokemon or Twiddly Winks. You have to have a certain amount of intelligence to think through the strategies. If there's one thing I hate more than losing, it's winning against an idiot.

Another new addition is the inclusion of two commanding officers. You can switch them in between turns to access different special abilities. It gives you more flexibility and is more reactive than proactive since you'll probably use it to counter one of your opponent's brilliant moves. You may have heard about the inclusion of a real-time battle mode and while it does exist, it's not nearly as much fun as you might be led to believe. It's slow and cumbersome. The controls are sluggish and the distances are too far apart to generate any sense of immediacy. It's a novelty that you won't get much replay value from.

The actual turn-based strategy gameplay is fast enough to satisfy action junkies. Commands are streamlined and easy to access regardless of whether you use the stylus or the D-pad. The top of the dual screen displays the various stats while the bottom half lets you issue the commands. Sometimes the animation and maps will spill into both screens. Using the stylus to create maps is perhaps the single most useful function provided by the DS. It's as simple as using Photoshop…I mean Paint Shop Pro.

With some graphical upgrades and the above-mentioned additions, Advance Wars: Dual Strike is recommended for those that already have the DS and want to experience a game that tests their gray matter instead of their trigger fingers. If you're a fan of the GBA series and you're looking for something new and different - keep looking - and let me know when you find it.

Review By StewXX
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
5.0
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
5.0

I've just spent a few days with the latest and final build of Intelligent Systems Advance Wars Duel Strike and I can tell you that it r0ckZ! No really. It's the epitome of turn based strategy games. I've loved AW since it appeared out of left field on the GBA and Duel Strike knocks it out of the park on the DS.

The play remains the same, but some magnificent bastard at Intelligent Systems upped the ante of the challenge and I love him for it. Duel Strike might start by holding your hand but it becomes instantly obvious that it was really made with veterans in mind. I have seen game journalists balk at the series, thinking it was for children and in their all-knowing "I've mastered C&C Red Alert" ways, had their behinds handed to them.

The single player missions have been increased to provide not only weeks of entertainment but education as well. You won't do well playing in the 8 person multiplayer games without the knowledge you'll acquire with a completed single player mode under your belt. Success literally hinges on a few key decisions and only those who have dedicated a good chuck of their gaming lives to everything AW will recognize when those opportunities arise.

Players who have used exploits in previous games to achieve success will be blown away at how Intelligent Systems has literally thought of everything. I stay awake at night thinking of ways I can achieve the impossible, arrive at the Eureka! moment and turn on the DS only to discover that the developers have thought of a brilliant way to counter that particular combo attack too. Some might call that frustration; I call it addiction.

Playing Duel Strike on the DS makes good sense and it's the one game that I truly believes elevates the system above and beyond a cool gimmick and makes it a necessary tool. Being able to play on the half or fullscreen is a welcome choice and depending on what I'm playing, I find I switch back and forth as I go from game to game. There is absolutely no way I can imagine a more effective interface than the two screens for playing this game. It's the perfect combination of want and desire. Everything you could want in an Advance Wars game is present and the control interface is fantastically functional and intuitive.

The new units appearing in Duel Strike (super tanks, aircraft carriers, stealth bombers etc), Tag Team mode (handle two CO's at once!) and the seamlessly integrated wireless gameplay up to 8 players will have you rushing out for a DS system if you don't own one already. Trust me on that.

Aside from some inherent balance issues which will frustrate even the most patient gamers, Duel Strike is firing on all pistons. If parents think videogames are mindkillers, have them take a closer look at the fantastic amount of strategic planning that is required in even the simplest of battles. Duel Strike will awaken areas of your brain that have either remained dormant for years or simply haven't been developed yet. Your DS and your cerebral cortex is in dire need of Duel Strike.

Preview By Chris

Nintendo announced that the popular Advance War series will make it's way to the DS system. The new version of the game will take full advantage of the DS system and it's capabilities. We know the game will support the wireless abilities and have more control options while show casing the touch screen technology. The turn base game has been a big hit for Nintendo and both games have done well for the GBA in the past. It looks like this one will be loaded with more CO's, weapons and cool options.

 

Nintendo announced that the game will feature an all new battle system. While details where scarce, it looks like they have some big plans for this one. It looks like players will be able to command ground troops using the bottom touch screen while at the same time launching air attacks from the top screen. Nintendo did not mention how many players will be able to play at one time. We expect more information to start pouring out any day now, as the launch date is almost a month away for the system. So far it looks like they have big plans for one of their hot titles. For fans of the series this may be exciting news!

Features:

  • Use the top screen for quick-reference battle intel, or take control in battles that rage across both screens. Command a fleet of fighters high in the skies while troops clash with the enemy on the ground far below.
  • New COs, new Tag-Team battles: Choose from new Commanding Officers, and combine their powers for incredible attacks that can turn the tide of battles.
  • Real-time Combat mode: For a battle with a twist, players lead soldiers into a fast-paced, action-oriented battle against a storm of enemies.
  • Easy-to-use map editor: Just grab a stylus and draw maps right on the touch screen, then send the maps to friends wirelessly.
System: DS
Dev: Intelligent Sys.
Pub: Nintendo
Release: August 2005
Players: 1-8
Review By Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
4.0