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Sleeper Hit, Advance!

Advance Wars 2 Won’t Be Lost in Black Hole of Lousy Games

By Chad Serrant

Staff Writer

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising

Published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance

Rated E for Everyone

Ah, the sleeper hit. It needs no fanfare. It needs no hype. All it needs is good gameplay. Advance Wars 2 is indeed a sleeper hit. It is a challenging yet rewarding strategy game that will keep you coming for more.

Each mission involves the Commanding Officer (CO) raising an army. Each side takes turns and the mission ends when one CO captures the enemy headquarters or simply squishes all enemy forces. This is a strategy game, so there are several factors to consider. Which units to build? Which properties should be captured? What should be attacked, and when?

There is a large unit selection. The basic infantry units are useful for capturing cities and airports, but that’s about it. There are direct combat units like tanks and subs, as well as sniper units like rockets and battleships that are slow but which have long-range capabilities. Air units like copters and bombers have better maneuverability, but they are expensive and anti-air units can take them down easily. No single unit is superior to the rest.

Even the Neotank, the only unit that wasn’t in the original Advance Wars, is not superior. It’s bigger, faster, and stronger than a medium tank, but it is also more expensive. A lot of units means a lot of unit choice.

The choice of CO is also important. Almost 20 COs are available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of them are good with sea units, some are good with infantry, and some are good with sniper units. And all units have CO powers that enhance their units or damage their enemies. Choosing the right time to activate CO powers is very important and is another factor to consider.

The single player campaign gives plenty of opportunities to learn about the tactics in Advance Wars 2. The lighthearted story gives a variety of mission objectives. Some are timed missions, while others require protection of towns or allied armies, and others still have powerful weapons that must be acquired or destroyed. The enemy often has the advantage, and at times it can get brutal. Even if the mission results in failure, the game gives hints. After completing the campaign, one can try the extra “war room” stages. And finally, there is an even harder version of the campaign mode, waiting for expert players to hop into.

The multiplayer mode can use a single cartridge or multiple cartridges. It can also transfer custom maps. A pair of Game Boy Advance owners will have lots of fun figuring out who is the better strategist.

Advance Wars 2 has a lot of factors backing it up; it is a deep, challenging, and rewarding game with lots of multiplayer capability to boot. The only thing it doesn’t have (or need) is hype.