Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin

By giving the franchise a somber visual overhaul, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin could have easily been accused of not only diminishing the property’s cartoonish charm, but also of falling into a thematic pit where hundreds of games containing a grim and serious portrayal of war can be found. Yet, even if those accusations do hold some value, they are ultimately undone because here, for the first time ever, the excellent battles of the saga are met with a storyline that is much more than an excuse for conflict. Given such seriousness in tone happens to overflow into gameplay, which is far more stripped down than that of its predecessor, Dual Strike, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin might be seen by some as excessively dry. But in the end, this characteristic is more of a feature than a flaw: the game does not sink because of it; quite on the contrary, it emerges as an installment that is unique because it is consistently solemn. And it is exactly in this manner that the title does what seemed to be impossible or at least very unlikely: producing yet another Advance Wars game that operates in restrict strategic traditions, but that finds a niche to call its own.

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Advance Wars: Dual Strike

As part of the sole Nintendo property that offers a take on the strategy genre at its purest state, Advance Wars: Dual Strike is proof that it is possible to work within traditions while also expanding boundaries, even if ever so slightly. The difficulty eventually reached by its main campaign might prove excessive to some, but anyone who walks into it is bound to notice the company’s usual suspects: the charming visuals; the excellent level design; and the creativity that is necessary to keep on coming up with new ideas inside such a limited scope. Thanks to the capabilities of the Nintendo DS, Advance Wars: Dual Strike finds not just a control scheme that is ideal for the type of experience it provides, but also the opportunity to exhibit battles in two fronts that interact with one another. And thanks to the incredible talent of the Intelligent Systems team behind it, it finds enough polished war scenarios to keep fans going for dozens of hours.

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Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising is still a blast, though. It is a fun, engaging, and challenging game whose value is a sight to behold. It may feel far closer to an expansion pack than to a true sequel, but it is a must-buy to either those who greatly enjoyed the original and are looking for more missions of deep strategic values pained with a charming cartoonish look or those that want to get to know the franchise and feel like starting with its most complete and well-presented installment.

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Advance Wars

Although it is technically simple, with its visual presentation lacking any considerable fireworks and its limited number of short songs quickly becoming repetitive, Advance Wars is a masterpiece of game design. It is a strategy title that absolutely excels in all areas that truly matter, offering gameplay that is astonishingly complex presented in a way that is accessible and charming. Given its sheer amount of missions, maps, units, and commanding officers, it is hard to fathom the degree of effort that Nintendo and Intelligent Systems put into making everything the title offers be as balanced as it is. However, even in the face of so many eye-popping victories, which are rarely found in such a cohesive conjunction in a single game, its greatest achievement is how it seamlessly brought a new franchise to new territory with so much quality and personality that the results could not have been different from absolute success and millions of enamored fans.

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Steampunk Freedom

From a superficial outlook, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. easily comes off as redundant; a product that will naturally tackle the same terrain plowed by Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. However, a more profound analysis proves otherwise; the title is in fact a much needed addition to Intelligent Systems’ library, for it gives the company something neither Advance Wars nor Fire Emblem can offer: sheer freedom in game design.

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