Friday, November 27, 2015

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes of Division

Rarely do fans of this series have a middling view on Metroid Prime 2. It's a love-it-or-hate-it kind of affair.

Personally, just like its not spinoff counterpart, Metroid II, I can't seem to appreciate this game for what it is.

Interesting setting? It's got it. Dual world mechanic. Light/dark worlds.

Interesting powerups? It's got it. The light and dark suits are pretty intriguing and segue into the gameplay very well.

Story? Moreso than any other Metroid game prior. Ing lore, Aether lore, you name it - it's there.

But it feels so off. It's the black sheep of the Prime series. Something is missing that makes it a less enjoyable experience overall. Prime had a varied set of locations that still carried the Metroid feel, and all of its soundtrack was phenomenal. Retro had a mission, to prove that first person Metroid could work, and they completed said mission in style by blending nostalgia with new and innovative elements. Prime 3 used the Wiimote to its full potential, and took advantage of Samus' position as a bounty hunter working with The Federation to tell a unique story involving planet hopping. Prime 3 also tied together the subseries very well and had interesting bosses and environments that carried that "Metroid" feel.

Prime 2 is difficult, moreso than its prequel or sequel. Prime 2 has a unique atmosphere, almost as if Retro said that they were going to do what they wanted and went totally into their own comfort zone regarding storytelling and atmosphere, abandoning nostalgia entirely. Gravity Suit, Chozo, Metroid staples... gone. Replaced with Retro's own thing. Normally, I'd be behind this 100%, but I just can't click with Prime 2's storytelling and aesthetic.

I recognize it as an amazing game, but one that I don't appreciate.

Not everyone agrees with me. User _Alkaline_ meticulously lays out his appreciation for the game in his thread titled "Let's talk about the best Metroid Prime game..." He makes a very strong argument, and his affection for the game pours off the page, almost making me want to change my opinion of the game. It's a bit contagious.

"...Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.

You can ignore the provocative, sensationalist thread title. If you think the original Prime, or even Corruption is the best in the trilogy, I harbour no resentment. They’re all fantastic games. They also differ considerably from each other, each offering unique experiences that allow them to feel like separate pieces of a puzzle, rather than one long-ass overdrawn puzzle itself. I’ll also point that until rather recently, I was in the “Echoes is great but I preferred Prime” band. Going through the entire series reminded me that I was mistaken.

For the most part, this thread will be about Echoes. For those who haven’t played the game, you can pick it up on the GameCube or (and I highly suggest you do) buy Metroid Prime Trilogy, which is the exact same package with 16:9 and pointer controls. Don’t underestimate the benefit of pointer controls for this game (and the original), particularly in the way it improves the speed and fluidity of exploration. It’s akin to the cherry on top of a delicious cake.

Echoes came out late in 2004 alongside some games called Halo 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Half-Life 2. Never heard of them either. Oh, and Killzone, which was kinda shit. Not to anyone’s surprise, Echoes was practically forgotten by the majority of gaming outlets as well as gamers themselves. The game sold pretty average numbers – in fact, it sold the worst of three Prime games. And no, I’m not counting Hunters. ‘Cause it’s Hunters.

There will be spoilers in this thread. If you’ve never played Echoes before (or even any Prime game) and were enticed by the thread title, be aware that you’re gonna get spoiled. If that bothers you, consider skipping to the end of the thread where I’ll sum it up in a concise, easy-to-digest package that should up your interest in trying out the game. For the rest of us – those who love Echoes and those who don’t (and there’s quite a lot of you) - let’s dive right in.

One could sum up Echoes as 'Prime on steroids.' You liked all those environmental puzzles in Prime? Now they’re even more complex. You liked those gigantic bosses in Prime? Now they’re even bigger. You liked those morph ball puzzles in Prime? Now they’re everywhere. Hell, one area in the game is practically a giant morph ball puzzle. And so is one of its bosses. Echoes feels like the result of a developer that had its chains released – for good and for worse, as I’ll explain throughout this discussion. I feel it's also important to keep in mind that Echoes, despite very much being a sequel, is a different animal to Prime.

Echoes starts off pretty similar to the first. After a minimal amount of cut scenes, you’re thrown into a little-known planet called Aether that has obviously endured recent distress. Shit is broken everywhere, things are on fire and the music is pretty creepy. Echoes takes it a step further though – instead of the dead bodies of Space Pirates and Queen Parasites that you saw in the Frigate Orpheon, you encounter the remains of GF soldiers. One particularly creepy room contains bodies hanging from the roof with small creatures crawling around them. Some of these soldiers will also, later on, rise up and attack you. And let's not forget the weird vegetation that wiggles when you're close. It’s a pretty creepy opening, though that’s certainly not foreign ground for the franchise.

The beginning of Echoes is short, sharp and creepy.
Echoes is structured quite similarly to the original. You find a new area, explore that area, find a new item while fighting a boss along the way, and finally go back to previous areas and use that item to find new areas. Also, like Prime, there are multiple varied environments that connect to both a hubworld (swap Tallon Overworld for Temple Grounds) and to each other. Echoes also introduces keys for unlocking certain doors, new for the franchise, but aside from the final stages of the game these keys are barely worth mentioning.

One of the main areas where Echoes differs from Prime is in Dark Aether. A parallel dimension and the home-world of the Ing, a race hell-bent on taking over Aether and its sentients the Luminoth, Dark Aether is a huge part of Echoes. Massive. Inter-dimensional puzzles, in which changing the environment in one dimension affects the other, are found everywhere. Major bosses are only fought in Dark Aether. And much of Dark Aether itself is one giant puzzle, thanks to the toxic atmosphere which depletes your health. Whenever you’re transported to Dark Aether, particularly early in the game, it’s critical that you are aware of the environment and where the safe zones are. Later in the game, once you acquire the Light and Anihilator beams, these safe zones can be not only for protection but for offense as well.

While we're at it, I'm not really going to discuss the addition of beam ammo. No, it's not a problem. And no, it's not an improvement. It's just there.

If you ever find someone who doesn’t like Echoes, chances are his or her reason will be Dark Aether. You either love it or hate it. It’s just one of those things. My opinion is that Retro had a vision for what they wanted Dark Aether to be and succeeded with flying colours. You don’t want to go to Dark Aether, but that’s exactly it. It’s drab. It’s hostile. It’s a genuinely awful place to be in. And it works. There are not many areas in video gaming that are as oppressive and claustrophobic as Dark Aether. Some will be quick to point out the loading cinematic used for travelling between dimensions, but it’s a small price to pay for such a brilliantly realized creation.

That said, Dark Aether is only a small part of what makes Echoes such a fantastic experience.

Let’s start at the environments. As good as Prime’s artistic design and architecture was – and it was damn good – most of the game’s environments could have belonged on Earth. Even Phendrana Drifts, the visual highlight of the original, appeared as if it would have been a rather nice place to stay in a log cabin (aside from, you know, deadly monsters and shit). I wouldn’t go so far as to label its environments ‘generic,’ as that wouldn’t do service to how brilliantly realised they still are. At the same time, it would be fair to say that they were too earthly in nature. Compare Magmoor Caverns to Super Metroid’s bubble-filled Norfair, for instance.

Echoes was a considerable improvement. Aether – both its dark and regular varieties – is an outstanding depiction of an alien world. Sanctuary Fortress, for instance, is an enormous castle containing hostile machinery that once served to protect. A neon city lives below while electric rain cascades from above. It’s jaw-dropping. Torvus Bog is similarly impressive. Dripping in atmosphere, half the swamp is drenched in rain while the other is completely submerged. Much of the original Prime can’t touch this kind of environmental design, and indeed, feels somewhat plain in comparison.

dat atmosphere.
Even Echoes’ less adventurous environments still impress. Agon Wastes, an area that some might even suggest is ‘uninspired,’ contains waterfalls of sand, lightning that strikes the very ground in front you, and trees that render the world around you in a bright blue hue. I feel it’s also worth mentioning that restoring light to each area in the game will alter its climate – a nice little detail.

As I’ve already alluded to, Echoes is a prime example of the kinds of atmosphere that video games can convey. This is no surprise given how outstanding the original Prime was in this regard, but I’m willing to argue that Echoes is even better. The combination of incredibly complex artistic creations, the Luminoth bodies which detail the events of their deaths, unsettling sound design and the aforementioned alien environments together create something truly remarkable.

I should also point out the exceptional foreshadowing contained with the game. Prime was already an excellent demonstration of how foreshadowing in games should be done, but once again Echoes takes it a step further. The statue of Amorbis in Agon Wastes. The roars of the Grapple Guardian in Torvus Bog. The pieces of Quadraxis scattered within Sanctuary Fortress. You even get to watch the caged Alpha Blogg swim around before you face him, which is completely unsettling since you know that you’ll have to face him sooner or later.

Which brings us to the boss fights. Once again something that Prime excelled at, and once again something that Echoes does even better. Initial bosses in the game are enjoyable without being outstanding, but it’s right around the time to you get to Torvus Bog that it starts to ramp up. The infamous Boost Guardian is a terrific battle of attrition, while Chykka is the first boss in the series to require the use of the grapple beam. It only gets better. The Spider Guardian is fought completely in morph ball, essentially taking the form of a 2D puzzle game. The Caretaker Drone and Power Bomb Guardian also rely on precise use of the spider and boost abilities, as does a certain boss named Quadraxis. This guy is not only an incredible visual feat but also a multi-layered boss that would impress even the harshest of cynics.

Do I even need to say anything?
Environmental puzzles and general complexity are also a huge part of Metroid, and yet another thing Echoes trumps Prime in. The game becomes pretty byzantine in the second half of the game, requiring you to remember small details of previous areas that may hold the key to progressing further. You’ll likely become lost and confused more times in Echoes than the other two Prime games put together. That’s a good thing, by the way, but it's not rare for some to be put off by it. Echoes can be a bitter pill to swallow at times. It requires players to use their heads more than most games, even other Metroid titles.

Environments are also more interactive, there are more secrets, and there’s a hell of a lot more morph ball. The latter is probably the most significant of the three. Morph ball puzzles are everywhere. Everywhere. You’ll see a lot of them right off the bat, but it’s when you get to Sanctuary Fortress that you really sit-up and take notice. Almost every wall of each room is lined with spider-ball tracks. And that’s barely exaggerating. It’s staggering how much effort Retro put into getting the most out of the morph ball and the game is all the better for it.

Oh, and it goes without saying - Sanctuary Fortress is one of the greatest areas in video gaming. Ever.

By now many of you probably have the same question – so if Echoes is better in so many ways, why do most people say the original is superior? Well, I’d be lying if I said Echoes was perfect. Perhaps I give it more leeway because of everything it does well. However, I’m certainly aware of the things it does wrong, and while this is indeed an appreciation thread for the game, there’s no harm in discussing some of the areas in which Echoes slips up.

First off – pacing. The original Prime, for everything it did right, was considerably slower than prior Metroid games. This didn’t really matter given the first-person viewpoint and how well-constructed the game was itself, but it was still a potential deterrent to those who enjoyed Samus’ previous speed and agility. Echoes does very little to improve this, and in some ways actually makes it slower. For instance, most enemies require more shots to take down than Prime. A minor issue in theory, but frustrating when trying to backtrack through the various environments. I mean, Dark Splinters (one of the game's initial enemies) takes two charged Light Beam shots to take down? The fuck? At times, the game will also lock doors until you’ve killed every enemy in the area - or at least fought them for long enough. Not great. Even the biggest critics of Other M would have to appreciate, in comparison, how quick and effortlessly you can traverse each area in the second half of the game.

Speaking of pacing, it’s probably worth bringing up the Sky Temple Key quest. Along with Dark Aether, this tends to be the other thing people bring up when they explain why they didn’t like the game. Personally, I’m indifferent towards it. It’s not nearly as long and convoluted as, say, the Triforce hunt in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. At the same time, did Echoes really need it? All it really offers is (1) a slightly longer game and (2) more use out of the Dark Visor. Neither of those were important, so why have it? Just chuck in some cool puzzles before the final boss and you’re golden. In the end it feels needless, but on the flipside, the uproar towards it can be defined as making a ‘mountain out of a molehill.’ If you have any competence whatsoever, it takes little time to complete and even offers a good opportunity to collect some extra expansions along the way.

Actually, there is something good about the fetch quest. This thing.
On a lesser note, I also lament the wasted opportunities of a few items. For a game that makes such comprehensive use of the morph ball, Retro seemed reluctant to give other items – namely the Screw Attack and Echo Visor – much attention at all. Both are acquired late in the game and, aside from reach far-off platforms and opening locked doors, respectively, they’re practically unused. The Screw Attack is particularly disappointing, as its unwieldy and difficult to use in most of the game’s environments. You can also count the number of times you need the wall-jump on one hand. It’s unfortunate, but can likely be put down to time restraints.

Speaking of time restraints, Ridley was once intended to make an appearance. He doesn’t, but the game didn’t need him anyway.

Prime was an incredible achievement. Almost unrealistic. For a rookie studio to turn one of Nintendo’s most complex franchises into 3D without a hitch – especially given its development troubles – was such an amazing turn of events. For it to be such a damn good game is even more impressive.

Echoes represents a team without restraints. Retro weren’t pressured by the need to convert such a revered franchise into 3D. They weren’t pressured in trying to match the excellence of Super Metroid. They certainly weren’t pressured into trying to demonstrate the credibility of motion and pointer controls for traditional gaming. Instead, Retro had the foundations laid out by Prime and proceeded to go bonkers with it.

Echoes feels like game created by the minds of scarily-talented people with no inhibition. At times this hinders the game, but with it, it would never reach the peaks that it does. It takes everything from Prime and twists them into new, eye-opening forms. It's as Retro said "sure, we did that in Prime, but did we do this?"

Keep in mind that Echoes is a different beast than Prime (and Corruption). It's more complex, it's more confusing, it's more hostile and it's more punishing. Essentially what it boils down to is that Echoes is the more satisfying game, but only if you're willing to work for it. It doesn't go as kind and easy on the player as Prime. It can also get a little stilted and convoulted at times and, understandably, that's going to put some people off.

This thread isn’t designed to change existing thoughts on the game. If you don’t like it, I certainly don’t expect my words to change anything. Perhaps, though, it’ll get you thinking about giving it another shot. And for those who have never played it, maybe you’ll see it in stores one day and think to yourself “you know, I reckon I might give it a go.” And you should, 'cause it's fucking awesome."

So there you have it. Metroid Prime 2 was a more creative detour for Retro after finding success with its much more "Metroidy" predecessor, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.

Phendrana Drifts Appreciation

Ice and snow can be some of the most beautiful things on this earth.

There's a reason most children love and look forward to snow - it's breathtaking and otherwordly, and a nice break from the monotony of year round weather. The fact that, in most regions of the world, it's confined to the season of Winter, gives it a sense of uniqueness and a distinct identity and symbolism. There's also something about snow that's very comforting. It makes you feel safe. It's soft, it's inviting, and it's stunning to look at. The silence of gentle snow, or even the wind blowing in a snowstorm, are intensely calming sounds that put one's heart at ease. Even the smell of snow is soothing.

With that in mind, let's take a look at one of the greatest snow themed areas in gaming history: Phendrana Drifts, from Metroid Prime.

The snow falling in the air. The crunch of the snow beneath your feet. The fauna living here all bearing characteristics of creatures that have adapted to the snow. The dark and lonely Space Pirate base. The abandoned Chozo temple. This place oozes atmosphere, and was made even more impressive by showing off what was at the time top of the line graphical effects for consoles. I'll always remember my first trip here, stepping out of the elevator into the full view of the open Phendrana field. I stopped and took in the atmosphere countless times, and I actually felt upset whenever I had to leave this area. Luckily, Metroid is full of backtracking!

Let's talk about the music for a moment. The Metroid series thrives on an atmosphere defined by both isolation and exploration, and this is captured perfectly in Prime's soundtrack, which is a topic of its own, for another time. When you step off that elevator into the drifts, you're greeted by this sample of auditory bliss. The chimes in the background, the calm tempo, the almost windy quality that this music has all represent not only its snow capped, icy terrain, but also fall in line with that feeling of being alone on an alien planet. It's peaceful, whimsical, and beautiful, but there's also a certain loneliness to it that only adds to its masterful presentation.

TheOfficeMut has this to add:

"I nominate Phendrana Drifts from Metroid Prime as the most breathtaking environmental transition I have ever experienced in a game. First off, you're coming out of Magmoor Caverns, a scorching, hostile place, and you arrive in a bidirectional frozen shaft. At the end of this shaft is a door that opens up to a snow covered field, levitating rock masses, flying critters, and an ancient building in the background. But what truly encapsulates the feeling of awe in this area is its music. The god damn music in this area is what drives it all home.

I know that a lot of people love Metroid Prime, but for those of you who don't, I really wish that you could somehow muster up the strength to still play through the game and finish it. It may be difficult to play through something you don't enjoy, but god damn, there has to be something that bodes well with you in this game. I find it impossible for there to be no redeeming quality about this game to you. At least get up to Phendrana Drifts, I beg of you!"

He then treats us to a visual of both areas.

"This is Magmoor Caverns, where you are as the player just before taking an elevator up to Phendrana Drifts."

"This is Phendrana Drifts when you emerge from the shaft after getting off of the elevator."

Vanillalite agrees, stating the following:

"I'd mark this moment down as the single best moment in any of the Metroid Prime games, and one of the top if not the top moment of last gen. The lead up ambient music you get after you take the elevator is just so chill. Then you step out into the snowy landscape where the Phendrana theme kicks in, and it's just awe inspiring in terms of graphics, sound, and overall atmosphere.

The first look upon the snowy landscape and buildings of Phendrana Drifts truly is a gaming god tier moment.

TheOfficeMut and Vanillalite have a great point. Part of Phendrana's excellence is in its stark contrast to the dark, oppressive atmosphere from which you've just left behind. It is, in many ways, a breath of fresh air, only adding to its overall feeling of serenity.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

OT Hour - Advance Wars: What's an Airport? (GBA)

This was originally the official thread for the Wii U Virtual Console release.

Original Platform: Game Boy Advance
Genre: Turn-based Tactics
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems

Advance Wars Wii U VC Trailer

Wii U Release Date:
(NA) April 3, 2014
(EU) April 3, 2014

(NA) $7.99
(EU) £6.29/€6.99

Interestingly enough, this game was set to be a Japanese exclusive before its original release, much like its predecessors, Famicom Wars. Ultimately, the game ended up releasing in America and Europe before Japan, who did not get the game until 2004, when it was bundled with its sequel. Because of this, I believe Japan is getting the AW1+2 bundle, while America and Europe are only getting AW1 for now. Hence, the lack of a Japanese release date.

That being said...

Welcome to Wars World!

War is dark. War is dirty. War is Hell. War is waged for logical, ethical, or religious reasons, with highly trained commanding officers taking charge of the lives of gritty, determined, and patriotic men. Take all of these concepts and reverse them, and you have the premise for Advance Wars. Wars World is, obviously, all about war, but there's no darkness or grit here; everything is bright and colorful, and armies are led by children, rednecks, Santa Claus, and aliens. War is waged for almost no reason at all, and soldiers die in family friendly, violence free explosions.

There's several continents in Wars World, each under the jurisdiction of a certain color coded army. Advance Wars 2 and Dual Strike will take us to other lands, but this time, we're in a place by the name of Cosmo Land.

The Armies of Wars World and Their COs



Hit: Mechanics

Miss: Waking up early

CO Power - Hyper Repair 

Andy is really dumb. Seriously. He is the source of the OT's title, and is made as dumb as possible from a narrative standpoint in order for him to ask questions that are designed to help the player ease into the game. That being said, he's an expert mechanic, and his CO power repairs all of his units, as well as gives them an offensive and defensive boost. A great CO for beginners, as he has no real weaknesses. Andy is the first CO you get in the main campaign and is with you throughout the rest of the game.


Hit: Weight Training

Miss: Studying

CO Power - Max Force 

The stereotypical meathead, Max does, in fact, lift. He's a direct combat specialist, with a glorious 150% attack power for all of his direct combat units. His indirect units operate at 90% offensive and defensive power, though, and have -1 range. His CO power makes his units even more powerful, boosting their attack power up to 187%.


Hit: Chocolate

Miss: Cowards

 CO Power - Double Time 

The game's resident infantry specialist, her infantry units have a 20% boost in attack and a 10% boost in defense. Perhaps her most useful trait is her 150% capture rate, allowing her to take over buildings faster than anyone else in the game. Her direct units suffer a 10% attack penalty, though. Her CO power gives Sami's infantry +1 movement and 1 movement cost in every terrain they can move on. Sami's units may not be as powerful as Andy's or Max's, but her fast capture rate gives her an edge in quantity that more than makes up for her slight lack in quality.


Hit: Willful cadets

Miss: Olaf

CO Power - Lucky Star 

Even though Nell is the first CO you'll play as, she's one of the hardest to unlock for use outside of the game's tutorial. Nell's defining trait is luck; her units will occasionally deal an extra 1 or 2 points of damage. Her CO power lets her units deal up to five extra damage! Nell, like Andy, has no real weaknesses. She attended military school with Max and Grit.



Hit: Warm Boots

Miss: Rain Clouds

CO Power - Blizzard 

The leader of Blue Moon, Olaf's specialty is weather. Under normal conditions, Olaf is even less remarkable than Andy, with his units having no particular strengths or weaknesses. In snowy weather, however, Olaf does not suffer any movement penalties, giving him a distinct advantage over other COs during a snowstorm. Olaf reacts to rain the same way other COs react to snow, however. His CO Power makes it snow, and is particularly useful when it starts to rain. A very well rounded CO. Olaf was apparently a part of Orange Star in the past.


Hit: Cats

Miss: Rats

CO Power - Snipe Attack 

He may belong to Wars World's equivalent of Russia, but Grit talks like he's from the deep south of the United States. The polar opposite of Max, Grit specializes in long range combat. All of his indirect units get one extra tile of range. His direct units and infantry, however, get a decrease of 20% in attack. His CO power gives his long range units a 65% boost in attack, as well an extra three spaces of attack range. Grit used to belong to Orange Star, as well, but defected to Blue Moon shortly before the events of the game.



Hit: Sonja

Miss: Computers

 CO Power - Morale Boost 

The leader of Yellow Comet, Kanbei is a walking trope of the traditional Japanese warrior. Kanbei is unique in that his units have no weaknesses, and have superior stats when compared to every other CO's units. All of his units have a 20% boost in attack and defense. His CO power gives an additional 20% increase in attack and 10% in defense for all units. Max and Grit are more powerful in their respective areas, but Kanbei doesn't have the added catch of having a weaker set of units. So... what is the catch? Well, all of Kanbei's units are 20% more expensive. You get what you pay for.


Hit: Computers

Miss: Bugs

CO Power - Enhanced Vision 

Kanbei's daughter. Unlike Kanbei, who sticks to tradition, Sonja is quite tech savvy. Sonja is a tricky CO to use. She's a fog of war specialist, with an added +1 vision for all of her units. However, she has the opposite power of Nell; she suffers from bad luck, and her units often deal -2 damage. Her CO power increases Sonja's vision by two spaces, and it allows her to see woods and reefs with no need of being next to them. Sonja is only useful on maps that have fog of war.



Hit: Lucky Goggles

Miss: Swimming

CO Power - Lightning Strike 

Andy's rival, and a master of air combat. All of Eagle's air units receive a 15% increase to attack, and a 10% increase to defense. In addition, they each burn two less units of fuel than the standard air unit. His sea units take a 20% hit in attack, however. Eagle's CO power is a fan favorite, and by far one of the best in the game - it allows all of his units that have been ordered to wait to act again! All units end up getting a 20% decrease in attack and a 30% decrease in defense for the rest of the turn, but when you compare this to the 100% decrease of not doing anything at all, it's an amazing ability.


Hit: The Sea

Miss: Heights

CO Power - Tsunami 

What Eagle is to the air, Drake is to the sea. Drake specializes in naval combat, with all of his naval units receiving one extra tile of movement, and two terrain stars by default. His air units operate at 80% attack power, much like Eagle's units do not fare well in the sea. Drake is also unaffected by rain. His CO power is unique in that, unlike most other CO powers, it is not meant for utility, but is completely offensive - it deals 1 point of damage to each enemy unit.



Hit: ???

Miss: ???

CO Power - Meteor Strike 

The leader of Black Hole, Sturm is an extraterrestrial being hellbent on conquering Wars World. He is the source of all conflict in the game's story. Sturm is unique in that there are two versions of him; the Sturm we fight in the campaign, and the Sturm that is unlockable for Vs. Mode. In the campaign, Sturm has 30% extra attack to all of his troops. Additionally, he can freely move on heavy terrain, as all his movement penalties in clear and rainy weather are 1, but he moves like everyone else does in snow. Unfortunately, all of this attack power leaves him very weak in the defense department, with a 20% loss in defense on all of his troops. Vs. Sturm has an increased defense of 20%, but suffers a 20% attack penalty, making him a defensively oriented CO.

His CO power also comes in two flavors; Campaign and Vs. Campaign Sturm summons a meteor (!) that targets the area of highest monetary value. Its trajectory is centered on a single unit, and does 8 HP of damage to all of the surrounding units in a 5x5 diamond configuration. Sturm's firepower is also raised to an impressive total of 150%, outclassing Kanbei and nearing Max's level of craziness. A truly impressive CO power worthy of his position as the final boss of the game. With Vs. Sturm, the targeting works like the campaign's meteor. However, it only does 4 damage to the squashed targets.



The objective is to defeat the enemy army. There are two ways to defeat an opponent: destroy every one of the opponent's units on the map or capture the opponent's headquarters. However, some maps have specific objectives, such as capturing a certain number of cities to claim victory. The available modes of play include "Field Training" which is a tutorial mode, a campaign mode which carries the game's storyline, the "War Room" which is a collection of maps on which the player strives for high scores, as well as multiplayer modes and a map design mode. The "Campaign" and "War Room" modes both help to rank the player up (from Rank #100 to Rank #1) and to earn coins to unlock COs and maps in the "Battle Maps" shop. The modes also gives the player a rank for effort after winning a battle on that map, which assesses by the speed, power and technique in that battle, speed being the number of days spent trying to win the battle, power being how many enemy units you defeated, and technique is the number of your units that survived (in percentage).


The battles of Advance Wars are turn-based in nature. Two to four armies, each headed by a commanding officer, take turns building and commanding units on grid-based maps.

All units are limited in the types of units they can attack. What dictates a unit’s ability to attack different targets are its primary and secondary weapons. For example, the Mech unit has a bazooka that can only be fired at land vehicles, but are more powerful for that purpose than their secondary weapons, machine guns, which Mechs can use against other Mechs, Infantry, and helicopters.

The amount of damage done to the enemy in combat is proportional to the number of hit points the attacker has. The majority of the weapons have a limited supply of ammunition. Units with secondary weapons will resort to these when their primary weapon's ammunition runs out.


The terrain on a map affects unit movement, vision, and the defense attribute of units stationed in the terrain.The different types of terrain include: Roads, Plains, Woods, Bases, HQs, Ports, Cities, Airports, the Sea, Reefs, Shoals, Rivers and Mountains. Weather conditions can also affect vision and movement of ground units. Fog of war may also be enabled, whereby a player's vision depends on the individual units' lines of sight, which varies from unit to unit.


There are 18 different types of military units in Advance Wars. Each unit has a set amount of attack power, vision range in Fog of war, movement range and type, and fuel supply, and some units have two weapons which can be used against different types of enemy units. There are both direct and indirect attack units, as well as transport units. All the units are either infantry, vehicles, ships or air units. Units have specific strengths and weaknesses.


Armies are led by Commanding Officers who control units. All COs except Andy provide units with special advantages and/or disadvantages, such as extra firepower or a shorter unit range. COs also have a Power Meter which fills up by defeating enemy units or when on the receiving end of a brutal offensive attack. When the meter is full, a CO can unleash his or her CO Power, which gives a temporary positive effect to friendly units and/or a negative effect to enemy units. For example, Nell gives a Critical Strike bonus and Olaf makes it snow, disadvantaging his opponent.


Original Release:

(NA) September 10, 2001
(EU) January 11, 2002
(JP) November 25, 2004 (as part of compilation Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2)

"You will learn to fear my power!"