Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yet More Advance Wars Ramblings

Time for another update on the brand-new Advance Wars: Days of Ruin for Nintendo DS. I figured I should continue to highlight some rambling thoughts, while porting and updating my old AW2 maps to the new game.

The graphics have been greatly improved. It's a subtle difference, something that won't immediately grab you. But as time goes by, you'll appreciate how much better everything looks. This was one of my major beefs with the last game, Dual Strike. The game graphics, aside from some minor tweaking, almost completely unchanged from the Gameboy Advance titles. How could a title that important feel like a rush job? Ah, well, that's in the past now.

There is a zoom function which is used by the R button. The far view is classic Advance Wars, with similar animations. Zooming in reveals an almost entirely new visual style. Everything takes on a new sheen, and all units are redrawn at slight angles. Everything's been completely redrawn.

One interesting visual treat, which fits perfectly with the game's apocalyptic theme: rockets launched from the silos will leave scorch marks on the ground. A very nice touch. There's a subtle use of shading and shadows everywhere, like on the mountains. That old cartoony look is long gone.

Watching heavy units, like war tanks and boats, explode is great fun.

The bronze metal pipes are gone. They've been a staple in the last two games. This has required me to redesign some of my old maps, and I still don't know what to do with some of the ones that were really pipe-heavy. I may just have to scrap those.

In place of the pipes, I've been using two new units, the meteorites and the plasma fields. The plasma can be connected like pipe, with the meteorites serving as the hubs and keeping these electric blue fences together. Destroying the meteors will collapse the field. I've used this for my Warlords map, and it's working pretty good.

There are other new terrain units which add to the atmosphere, such as ruins and wasteland. Oceans can be peppered with mists and rough waters. I have no idea what to do with the fire just yet. This is another reason why I want Nintendo to host larger maps on their servers. I'm eager to see all the crazy new ideas from the mapmakers, and that puny 10x10 grid is just completely useless.

There are now six air units, and six naval units. This is a crucial fix to what was arguable Advance Wars' greatest flaw, the complete dominance of the ground game. Air and sea were treated as throwaways. Now things are far more balanced.

The History Records screen includes shaded spaces on the top screen for ten medals. I wonder what you have to do to earn them. Should be interesting. There are bound to be some surprises hidden in this game, I'll wager.

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