Game Review

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  • Platform: Game Boy Advance
  • ESRB: Everyone
  • Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
  • Players: 1-4
  • Save Anywhere: Yes
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Suggested Retail: $29.99
  • Graphics: B
  • Sound: C
  • Gameplay: A+
  • Replay: A+
  • Fun Factor: A+
  • Reviewer's Wild Card: A+


Turn-based strategy on the Game Boy Advance

By James Stevenson     June 24, 2003

© 2003 Nintendo

The Game Boy Advance is probably my favorite videogame system at the moment. Nowhere else do you have the large variety of cheap games that are quick to play with lots of fun. There's new 2d CASTLEVANIA games, all the classic MARIO games, MARIO KART, F-ZERO, ZELDA, the list goes on and on. There have been a few new franchises introduced as well, but on in particular stands out the most: ADVANCE WARS.

ADVANCE WARS 2: BLACK HOLE RISING is a turn-based strategy game that simulates warfare with tanks, infantry, transports, air units, and sea units, along with an economics system and a few other twists. It's the SHINING FORCE of the Game Boy Advance, and one of the most entertaining strategy games I've played in a while. The point of each battle is usually to capture the enemy headquarters, or defeat every enemy unit on the map (though there are a few exceptions). You are rated based on your speed, the amount of enemy units you destroy, and the amount of units of yours that are destroyed, these points can then be used to purchase commanding officers and maps for the other game modes.

What makes the game so entertaining is the way that you have to balance offense and defense (offense shoots first), how you deal with levels that are shrouded in the fog of war, how you handle the terrain, how you handle capturing cities, factories, airports and seaports, how you produce units, and what you do with those units. For a Game Boy Advance game, it's incredibly deep, takes some thought and planning. Hell, even the unit types very wildly, with indirect combat (artillery) and direct combat (Tanks, infantry etc.). There's a lot to learn, but even if you haven't played the first, the game slips you in gradually.

Another cool aspect of the game is the difference in commanding officers. Some battles allow you to choose the commander you think will be the best suited. Each commander has his or her own attributes such as extra offensive power at extra cost, or units that can see farther in the fog of war. Each CO also has two powers that when used take up points you gain while by engaging in battles. These powers sometimes can turn the tide of a battle and make things a lot more interesting.

From a graphics perspective the game is pretty simple, but the battles and maps all look nice and are well-drawn. There isn't much to show in the game, but nothing is bad either. How do you make a turn-based strategy game look any pretty than this? I don't know.

The sound gets annoying after a while, but that's because you hear the same sound so much. I usually turn it off, although I have gotten some strange looks as I've made my own sound effects for my artillery blowing up enemy tanks.

ADVANCE WARS 2:BLACK HOLE RISING is one of the best games to hit the market this year, portable or otherwise. Fans of the original should enjoy this one, and newcomers will find much to love as well.


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