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Game Profile
Intelligent Systems
GENRE: Strategy
PLAYERS:   1-8
August 22, 2005
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

Battalion Wars 2

Battalion Wars

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising

Advance Wars

 Written by Dave Hulick  on August 12, 2005

Final Glimpse: Will two prove to be better than one?

The evil Black Hole army is at it again! They just can't get enough war and invasion to finally be content with themselves, can they? Once more, it's up to you to stop them in Advance Wars: Dual Strike for the Nintendo DS. Oh, I know what you're thinking. War is normally a bad thing.Well, what good would an excellent strategy series such as Advance Wars be without any war? So read on and brief yourself for the coming invasion! That's an order.

If it isn't broken, don't fix it, right? Wrong! Advance Wars: Dual Strike is the first significant update in the series thus far. Whereas Advance Wars 2 felt like an expansion pack, Dual Strike is adding enough new content, gameplay, and mechanics to finally be worthy of being called a sequel. It'd be a crime to let the potential of dual displays and a touch screen go untapped, and Nintendo is well-aware of this. As a result, they've added a few new key features into the Advance Wars mix.

The most noticeable new feature is the battlefield layout, which now spans two screens instead of one. During traditional battles, the top screen is used to display data and statistics that would normally take 4 or 5 button presses to access on the Game Boy Advance. In Dual Strike, any relevant data is automatically displayed for you without obstructing the view of the battle. However, it is during Dual-Screen battles that things get interesting. In this mode, the bottom screen is used to control ground and sea units and the top screen is a separate battlefield used to control air units. This doubles the intensity of battle and makes managing things more complex.

Another new feature related to the "dual" theme of the title is the ability to use two CO's at once. For the uninitiated, CO's are characters you can choose to "help" you command your armies. While only you have direct control, CO's add different stats and traits to units. For example, one CO might excel at long-range attacking but have poor up-close stats. CO's also have special CO powers. These abilities charge up during battle and can be used to give yourself an edge in combat by healing your units, dealing damage, increasing move range, among many other things. This time around, there will be 40 of these powers available, many more than Dual Strike's predecessors. All of these added aspects add a whole new layer of depth to the Advance Wars formula.

Unfortunately, Intelligent Systems hasn't added much in the way of new visuals or music. The game still features a 2D battlefield with tiny, cartoon-like sprites battling it out. While there are some neat new graphics added, such as cloud shadows and flocks of birds flying past on the screen, the game still looks very similar to the GBA titles. Sound was left almost entirely untouched, too. The game features the same exact music that was in the original Advance Wars, as well. The same tinny, low-quality synths and sound effects are still in use despite the vast superiority of the DS's sound system.

Final Thoughts
Advance Wars: Dual Strike is finally adding some innovation to the addictive formula that made Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2 such great games. Don't expect a massive update to the Game Boy Advance titles, but do expect an evolution of an already incredibly fun strategy game series.

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