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Advance Wars: Dual Strike

01 Nov 2005

Following the original game, the Black Hole Army has risen anew after only a few months since they were last beaten.  To combat the threat, the forces of Orange Star, Blue Moon, Green Earth, and Yellow Comet have pooled their resources to form the Allied Nations.  Now it is up to you to make sure the Black Hole Army gets their just deserts with the use of superior tactics, a bit of luck and the new character swapping ability, which is where Dual Strike gets its name from.

The game has been modified from the original GameBoy version to accommodate the technology of the DS. Although both screens are used, you’ll spend most of the time sweating over the action on the touchscreen, only consulting the information displayed on the top screen, with the exception of battles. The action in the Campaign mode ramps the challenge up at a quick pace, with just enough in the way of prodding to make the learning curve less steep than it otherwise might have been for novice players.  The story, although somewhat forgettable, is peppered with some of the most indirectly hilarious dialogue I’ve ever heard in a videogame – for example one character often ends his sentences with “Word!”  Is it just me or did that bit of slang go by the wayside about ten years ago?  At any rate, it’s funny and it’s kept to a minimum – sets up the mission, special points of interest, closing the mission – so that it doesn’t distract from the reason you’ll be playing all hours of the day and night to play “just one more map.”

It begins simply: start with a handful of units, capture cities and installations, and attempt to drive back your opponent.  Then the Chess Mentality kicks in.  Each turn is weighed with consideration of what your opponent will do, which unit should be moved and where, what the next objective should be and the units to be produced to accomplish that objective.  Should I make a dash for the airfield so I can start producing aerial units or push south to deter a possible attack?  Even when I became comfortable with Advance Wars: Dual Strike I often checked the upper screen to get a handle on various attributes of the units – from the lumbering tanks to the nimble and fragile infantry – and ensure they were well stocked with ammo and gas.  (Yes, you’ll have to make sure your mechanical units don’t get stuck on the battlefield, or worse, sink to the bottom of the ocean or drop out of the air.)  There is literally tons of gameplay in Dual Strike and this review could be pages long – however the game does everything right and offers a huge variety of game modes and situations. If you’re a fan of turn-based or strategy games, Dual Strike is at the top of the heap.