e clear, I’m a huge Advance Wars fan. It is easily the best handheld strategy series I’ve ever played, and my excitement for this new dual screen version couldn’t have been higher. In fact, I consider this to be the first must-have title for the system (with all due respect to Meteos and Kirby: Canvas Curse – both amazing games in their own right).
Thankfully, Advance Wars: Dual Strike delivers at just about every level to meet my very high expectations. As you would expect for a DS title, the big innovation in this game is how it uses two screens to deliver the action. In fact, you can fight the Black Hole army on two fronts. Sometimes you can’t control the action on the second front directly, but you can send units up to the second screen to help complete the battles. Other times you are able to switch the two screens so you can control every facet of the battlefield. And winning these skirmishes on the second front is important, as it can disable one of the Commanding Officers (or COs) from the enemy’s arsenal.
Players are given the option to play with either the stylus or the d-pad, which was good news for me as I didn’t find that the stylus control added a whole lot to the play control.
Thankfully, the second screen and the stylus control aren’t the only innovations that have been added to the title. Before each fight, you are given the option to pick which CO or COs you wish to use in battle. By completing missions, your COs gain experience. When they gain a level it unlocks new powers that you can select before each encounter. Powers like Direct Attack +5%, Vision +1, Road Attack + 10%, Funds From Bases +100, and Attack in Snow + 20% are just a few examples of some of the things you can unlock. You can only enable a few powers at a time, so understanding the battle ahead and choosing accordingly is key to victory.
You can also switch out COs at the end of each turn. By using your COs equally you can then unlock a Tag Power which essentially lets you unleash two rounds of combat to your opponents’ one. But be forewarned, this is a two-way street; the enemy can also Tag Power, which can be devastating if you haven’t planned accordingly.
As you would expect, there are also a number of new units that you will encounter during the missions, but I will save that surprise for when you play. I will say that the new units add some unique strategic twists to an already exciting and challenging series.
Ultimately, the gameplay at its core is still the same, but the new additions such as the multi-front battles, CO experience, and wireless multiplayer take the series to all-new heights. If you love strategy, it really doesn’t get any better than this.