Sunday, October 07, 2007

Advance Wars 2 - Nintendo DS

After a seemingly endless wait, Intelligent Systems is finally ready to bring out the newest Advance Wars on Nintendo DS. I'm a great fan of the series on Gameboy Advance; I'd still rank Advance Wars 2 as among my favorite multiplayer games, since, like ever. I held out on buying a DS until Advance Wars arrived, and despite some annoying issues, was terrific fun.

Now that Nintendo finally has their wi-fi system established, endless thrills of online Advance Wars battles and tournaments await. That, for me, was always the sticking point about Dual Strike; that, and the baffling decision to offer only three save slots for custom maps. If IS and Nintendo were smart at all (and this is something that remains their blind spot), they would do everything in their power to nurture and support the fan community. You know, the way everybody else in the civilized world does.

Early reports were somewhat dramatic, claiming that IS had scrapped the anime style that was the series' hallmark, in favor of a grittier, more "realistic" look. I really wonder what the fuss was all about. The last three games were almost indistinguishable; this new installment feels like an evolution from the past, without completely cutting its ties. I'd expect nothing less. Heck, it's been two years since the last game. They better have been working all this time.

I've also read that the entire cast of characters has been replaced with a new set, but I really cannot say one way or another. I wouldn't be surprised, to be honest; remember that IS made that annoying, fake-hipster kid the main hero. Would any of you miss him? Puleeze. He was about as hip as Vanilla Ice. Good riddance.

And, also, since we're all here, I really hope we get a better script. The storyline from Advance Wars has been replayed almost note for note twice already. Come up with something different this time! But maybe that's me; I'm still angry at that final battle from the first Advance Wars on the Advance. You know, the one where the main villain wipes out 90% of your forces in the first turn. That sucked.

This new game looks pretty damn good. I have to admit, I miss seeing those little guys stomp on building as you capture cities, but the new battle animations are impressive. Each side now takes up its own screen, and the sprites (rendered with heavy marker, it seems) are arranged in 3D formations. You really do feel like you're in the middle of the action.

I haven't read any specifics of the game, but I do understand that a motorcycle will be included. That should be interesting. The problem with this series has been the ever-increasing firepower. IS has been too eager to offer bigger tanks and bigger guns, often at the expense of the game's balance. That's something that really struck me about Dual Strike, and I hope the designers return with some better ideas. The naval and air battles, in particular, could use some help. They deserve to be equals, and not mere accessories to, the ground game.

Here are some screenshots, courtesy of JeauxFrance, and a short gameplay clip, courtesy of YouTube. Ahh....looks very good. The music is nice. I'm really looking forward to this one. The poor DS really needs more great games. When should we expect this....Christmas, or sometime next year? No firm date yet. Cheat Commandos! Rock, rock on!

1 comment:

Hockeyrama said...

Wow, that looks (and sounds) great. The one worry I have with online play though is that with potentially lengthy battles, there's an increased possibility for disconnects. As for online map trading, a system like the one they implemented with picross would be perfect with a few adjustments.