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Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by Ty Shughart - August 8, 2005, 11:55 pm PDT



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Advance Wars: Dual Strike (or the Japanese version, Famicom Wars DS, in this case) may have pretty much the same presentation as the GBA versions in terms of graphics, sound, etc., but the real strength of the game comes in the form of the massive amount of content added and the Wireless multiplayer. 27 playable COs (commanders), 26 types of units, five play modes; the sheer size of the game is intimidating. It's a pretty big step up from Advance Wars 2, and the new dual-CO tagging system adds a new dimension to the strategy that actually works quite well.

Since Advance Wars 2, nine new COs have been added, and all of the old COs (except Sturm, it seems) have returned. Altogether, that makes 27 COs. The big deal, though, is that two COs are used together to command one army. Here's how CO tagging works; all units have the attributes of the CO that's currently commanding, even if they were built while the other CO was commanding. For example, Colin can manufacture a bunch of cheap units on day one, and then Kanbei can kick ass with them at full Kanbei power on day two. COs can only be switched at the end of a turn, though, so you always have to think a day ahead.

As for CO powers, they are used normally too, except if both COs have full meters, a tag CO power can be done (I'm guessing it's going to be called a Dual Strike in the US version). First, the CO that's out plays a turn with their super CO power, and then the other CO takes a turn consecutively with their own super CO power. Needless to say, properly planned, this can be quite devastating. Consider some strategic tomfoolery like Hachi building a bunch of units out of cities and Kanbei or Max or Grit surprise attacking with them. Or any CO combined with Sami could move a soldier unit absurd distances and then capture an HQ or important factory. It's pretty essential to utilize tag CO powers in the campaign, and the computer tends to build both meters fast and evenly by tagging COs every turn. The meter of the CO that's currently in use builds at normal speed, and the second CO’s meter builds at only about a third of the pace. Sometimes it's a tough strategic call on just when to switch COs...

All of the returning COs are apparently completely unchanged from Advance Wars 2, and the new guys are pretty interesting:

  • Jake, Orange Star: Well-balanced and gets extra power on fields as well as extra distance-weapon range during his CO powers.

  • Rachel, Orange Star: Can repair three HP a day instead of just two. Gets three free missile shots during her super CO power.

  • Javier, Yellow Comet: He gets crazy kamikaze offense power at the expense of lowered defense.

  • Sasha, Blue Moon: Colin's older sister. Gets an extra 10% funding from properties and can get money by damaging units during her CO power. A natural tag partner for Colin!

  • Grimm, Green Earth: The opposite of Javier, he has huge defensive power at the expense of attack power. Just the kind of guy you'd want to hold a choke point.

  • Kindle, Black Hole: Gets extra power on urban terrain, and can zap enemy units in cities for a few HP with her CO power.

  • Jugger, Black Hole: This crazy robot dude can do random extra damage, pretty much the same as Flak does.

  • Koal, Black Hole: Pretty standard, with added stats (and distance with CO powers) on roads.

  • Von Bolt, Black Hole: The new big bad guy. His powers are almost exactly the same as Sturm's. His CO power doesn't do as much damage, but it freezes units for a turn.

    Although Advance Wars 2 barely added any new units, AW DS adds new units for land, sea, air, and, uh, rail:

  • Mega Tank: Gigantic, absurdly-powered tank that can end Neo Tanks in one hit if at full power. The downsides are low ammo capacity, low movement range, and a pretty high cost. It's still totally worth it to roll that bad boy out, though!

  • Piperunner: This unit is actually pretty useful for only being able to move on rails. It has a large indirect range that can hit any kind of visible unit, flying or not. Clever folks can move it to an inside corner where direct attacking units can't reach it unless they go all the way around the pipe.

  • Stealth: This Stealth jet can also attack any kind of unit, and when cloaked, the only unit that can even damage it is the Fighter jet. This unit can dominate maps easily if it's kept fueled.

  • Black Bomb: A remote missile that can do huge damage in a 3-space radius.

  • Black Boat: It's like a lander and APC combined, and it can repair other units, too, with the usual repair expenses.

  • Carrier: The Carrier has a large indirect anti-air attack range, and it can load and supply any kind of air unit.

    There's one more kind of new unit that shows up in the Campaign that can't be bought. That surprise won't be spoiled here! There's also a new capture-able property, a radio tower; the more of these that are controlled, the stronger the attacks of the army.

    The new campaign has no failings and introduces the player to the new aspects of AW: DS, including dual-screen battles and time and turn-limit battles. It's about on par with the AW 1 & 2 campaigns (with some cool storyline twists) and gets the player started on using CO pairs pretty quickly. One difference is that COs can also gain ranks and equip up to four bonus abilities, like an extra 5% direct offense or defense, extra power on certain terrains, extra sight range in fog of war, etc. These are entirely optional, of course. They're useful for 'tweaking' a CO for a certain campaign map, but probably aren't preferable for a balanced multiplayer game. They can be turned off or rearranged before any battle. As an extra bonus, ranking a CO all the way up to level ten will earn a new costume (not just new colors, but additional art). The prime reason for this is to make Grit look like Shaggy.

    The hard campaign, however, exceeds all expectations in its awesomeness. Of course, it's tougher and has enemy units deployed in all sorts of uncomfortable places, but you can use any CO that's been unlocked, even from the Black Hole crew.

    Aside from the campaign, there's a new Survival mode. It's really more like a ranking course; the player battles through about a dozen maps with a limit on turns, money, or time, and gets a final grade and a bunch of unlock points at the end. Harder versions can be unlocked too. The turn limit course seems pretty easy, but the time and money courses are rough, probably a bit tougher than the Hard Campaign, even.

    Good ol' Trial mode (War Room in the US version) allows the player to select a map and duke it out with the CPU for a grade and unlock points. However, if the player only chooses a single CO and/or opts not to use rank upgrades, they can get up to 2.5 times the regular unlock/experience points. That's extra sweet, because rank upgrades are for wusses.

    Along the lines of Trial mode, there's Free Mode where you can set up any kind of battle that you want or do single-DS turn-based multiplayer. It’s pretty considerate of the designers to still include that for people with friends who do not own their own DS systems because their dog ate it. Like I always say, better buy two or three, just in case.

    The single-player version of Combat mode is a great way to earn thousands and thousands of unlock points fast. It's really just a simple action game. The player can choose 20,000g worth of units (from Mech, Recon, Small Tank, and Artillery) and start in on the eight missions. There are three difficulty levels, and the last one is really, really hard. It's terribly addictive, though. And in the multiplayer version, up to eight players can blow each other up. Controlling the unit with the pad and firing at any direction on the stylus works surprisingly well

    That's only about half of the options on the menu. There's the good ol' Wars Shop where you buy stuff from Hachi. There's History to examine the statistics. There's Wireless multiplayer (with Normal, Dual Screen, Map Trade, Combat, Download, and Message macros to edit for in-game use). Also, there are the Sound Room (there are 67 songs in this game!), Gallery, and Edit mode. Editing maps is now much easier thanks to the stylus, and you can trade them with your friends, too.

    Advance Wars: Dual Strike's tag-team system definitely adds an extra layer of strategy -- a prudent move for a strategy game, right? Along with entirely too many game modes and wireless multiplayer, well, that's enough gameplay to ruin a human brain. Force rank abilities probably weren't really necessary, but it hasn't really broken the game, either. AW: DS comes highly recommended for fans of the series, and hey, everyone else, too. Click here to order the U.S. version from Lik-Sang!

  • Score

    Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
    7 7.5 9 9 10 9

    Not much better than the GBA versions. The battle animations show up with a bit of scaling, and that's kind of cool, I guess.


    Still mostly the same as the GBA versions, but a couple of the old songs sound slightly better now. Javier and Jake in particular have awesome new theme songs.


    The stylus can be used, but I still issue commands more quickly with the control pad. The stylus is a MUST for Combat mode, though.


    Adding tag-play with COs was a great idea. Previously useless COs can be used for their strengths only when necessary, and players must think ahead even more to use COs properly and find strong combinations. Meanwhile, Combat mode is there to give your brain a rest and blow things up.


    Clearing every mode will take 100+ hours, I'm sure of it. Combat mode is a fun game to go to every now and then, and great for getting eight players in on a quick game if playing an hour-long regular match isn't exactly preferable.


    Advance Wars: DS might not be that flashy, but it dispenses consistent fun for a long, long time. I've finished normal and hard campaign, Combat mode on all three difficulties, played a bit of Trial and Survival mode, and spent 50 hours on it according to the in-game timer... and it says I'm only about 1/3 done!


    • Many, many gameplay modes and plenty of new units
    • Tons of COs and thus, hundreds of possible pairings
    • Will take your entire life to clear the whole game
    • Wireless, single-cartridge multiplayer and also turn-based single-DS multiplayer
    • Sturm was twice the end boss that Van Bolt is
    • The DS is definitely capable of better graphics and sound
    • The "leveling up" thing probably wasn't necessary
    Review Page 2: Conclusion

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    Advance Wars: Dual Strike Box Art

    Genre Strategy
    Developer Intelligent Systems
    Players1 - 8

    Worldwide Releases

    na: Advance Wars: Dual Strike
    Release Aug 22, 2005
    jpn: Famicom Wars DS
    Release Jun 23, 2005
    RatingAll Ages
    eu: Advance Wars: Dual Strike
    Release Sep 30, 2005
    aus: Advance Wars: Dual Strike
    Release Mar 22, 2006
    RatingParental Guidance
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