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Game Profile
Kuju Entertainment
GENRE: Strategy
September 19, 2005
Not Rated
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Advance Wars

 Written by D'Marcus Beatty  on December 23, 2004

First Impressions: Hopefully not under fire from strategy purists.

The Advance Wars series is well-known on the Game Boy Advance. Revered for its solid strategy formula and fun gameplay, Advance Wars is among the best strategy games that the GBA has to offer. Now, Nintendo has wisely decided to bring the series to the GBA's big brother, hoping to translate the portable war to the Nintendo Gamecube.

Anytime that a game is moved from one system to another, especially when the transition is to a more powerful system, changes should be made to take advantage of the system's strengths. Kuju Entertainment, AW's new developers have made a number of changes to the Advance War franchise, the most striking of which is the translation to three dimensions. However, the graphics, while far more detailed, still consist of cartoonish characters, which may keep the game from viewed as too violent or mature. For better or worse, depending on your stance towards the contemporary trend towards bloody gaming, this will undoubtedly reinforce Nintendo's image as a more ?family orientated? console.

The story remains familiar to those that have played the GBA versions. Betty, the Commanding Officer of the Orange Army, is leading the attack against Vlad, who is the game's villain and the opposing commander of the evil invading Xylvanians. Another enhancement, however, comes in the form of actual voice-acting, so that you will be able to hear banter and one-liners being bandied about.

Perhaps the biggest change to the game, however, comes in the form of its gameplay. While the Game Boy versions were pure strategy titles, this iteration will be more action-oriented. Players will be able to watch the battle from a disembodied viewpoint, then will be able to take control of certain units to directly command. Take control of an infantry unit, and you will personally lead a group of soldiers, as the camera zooms in for a more intimate view of the battle. Players will also be able to commandeer vehicles, such as tanks, trucks, and helicopters, which can also be directly controlled. However, even with this new degree of control there are some units that have advantages over others, so an element of strategy must still be utilized to ensure victory.

The new ability to view and participate in the battle first hand makes the gaming a completely different experience. The battle segments play out like an action title, with little characters that roll, hop into vehicles, and fire weapons at enemies. Fellow soldiers will help out as well, acting with great A.I. to aid you and protect themselves. However, the targeting does seem a little imprecise, although the developers have plenty of time to tighten up this and any other flaws that the game may possess.

Final Thoughts
Nintendo seems to have taken an interesting direction with Advance Wars, a direction that fans may or may not appreciate. The ability to directly control units and become involved in the battle is a far cry from watching the battle and giving orders from afar. Although it makes the fighting feel more personal and gives the player more input as to how the battles pan out, it also pulls some of the strategy out of the game. It remains to be seen, however, if the changes will alienate more fans than it attracts. The battle begins in June.

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