Advance Wars is a Gameboy Advance tactical warfare game developed by Intelligent Systems, and is one of the best tactics games to date. In the tactic games hayday of the Gameboy Advance, with other titles like Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem, Advance Wars took the combat out of the fantasy setting of it’s fellow games and brought it to a more present day setting, and did so excellently. Creative game aspects and clever use of strategy game ideas makes Advance Wars a GBA classic.
The game follows Andy, the new CO of the Orange Star Army (which seems surprising, since he appears to be a very young teenager) as he learns how to conduct battle Advance Wars style.
Games like this are great, with character and player learning the ropes at the same time, and doing this allowed for the developers to ease the player into the ins and outs of combat and maneuvering. Once the first levels are sorted out, the battle begins as Andy is swept across Cosmo Land to do battle against the other CO’s of the other Armies (4 in all).
The player gets a choice to play as another CO of the army, like Max or Sami,
who each have abilities that differ from Andy’s (making them more or less useful given the situation), but Andy is good enough to play as through the entirety of the game.
Combat is done on a grid-like field, with various terrain and buildings to make use of, and is turn based in execution.
Mountains, for instance, are difficult to move over (and sometimes impossible depending on which unit is chosen), and provide excellent defense for the unit there. Units move across the field and, when in range, can enter battle with enemies.
Before attacking, percentage of player and enemy success in battle is calculated, giving the player a chance to choose the best course of attack. Each turn (or day) grants the player money, depending on how many buildings they own, and provides them with a way to purchase more units (better unit = more $). These units can only be built in factory spaces, which are usually the first thing to be claimed. Get money, buy units, destroy enemy; three steps to victory!
Simple controls and premise make Advance Wars a gem of a game. No ridiculous story, no complex battle system, just a turn based war strategy game that has survived for 12 years as one of the best GBA games to date.