Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – War in the Pocket

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin takes a page from the Fallouts, Gears of Wars, Halos and Battlestars and tells a darker sci-fi tale than is expected from a series known for smiley C.O.’s painted with primary colors. This time the palette is muted, the character design has a rougher edge to it and the story questions the worth of humanity in a world decimated by meteorites. Amidst the destruction bands of marauders kill and pillage the few survivors left, and rival countries take the chance to wipe each other out. There is one savior in the maelstrom of violence, Captain Brenner of Razulia, who finds and recruits Will, the game’s naive protagonist, into his army of do-gooders. Along with Lin, Brenner’s headstrong lieutenant, the ragtag group battles rival countries, insane generals, and a mad scientist. It’s a straightforward story with a few twists and characters told well enough to grip anyone familiar with the aforementioned sci-fi titles. The writing drifts into childish “Hope conquers all!” maxims more often than I’d like, otherwise it’s another excellent script in a handheld Nintendo game. (See: Hotel Dusk)

The turn-based strategy differs from Final Fantasy Tactics and its ilk, employing a rock-paper-scissors style of weakness and strength to its characters. Unlike Pokemon which cruelly requires you to memorize convoluted character details Days of Ruin grants you each unit’s stats and the like on one of the DS’ screens. Throw in differing terrain, capturing bases, Commanding Officer powers (like granting your units +2 move points so they can move farther), and special mission-specific events like rockets raining from above and baby, you got a stew goin’.

For a series so renowned for its difficulty I found the curve very forgiving. The first several missions (there are 26 in all, as well as several extra ones) teach you all the basics and each consecutive episode offers a few advanced techniques until you’re left on your own. Even then you can access a little “hints” section at any time in the menu for a comedic sideshow – it’s rarely anything laugh-out-loud hilarious, they’re more like omake , fourth wall breaking and all – detailing some possible tactics you can use, making for a very user-friendly experience. Of course, the final few missions are controller-throwing hard. Er, except in this case the system is also a controller, so please have patience. With hard work and guts anything is possible!

Oh, there’s also a host of other options like online Wi-Fi multiplayer and a create-your-own map mode which I didn’t touch yet. I see myself perhaaaaps returning to the game to complete the extra missions but unless anyone’s up for an online match I had a great run with the story missions. Addicting, snappy gameplay, memorable characters and a decent plot – ooh, and tons and tons of techno/rock/industrial music – is all I need in yet another great Nintendo DS game.

Valdareee valdaraahhhh

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2 Responses to “Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – War in the Pocket”

  1. John Mora Says:

    I got Advance Wars 2, buying into the hype, and a few missions into the game I couldn’t even proceed. That game is so, so ball-bustingly hard and one day I flipped through the strategy guide and saw some of the end missions and just said “Forget it.” What is it with strategy-RPGs and difficulty curves?!

  2. Rick Says:

    I beat Advance Wars on GBA, because it was a fun romp with easy-to-like protagonists and easy-to-laugh-at-or-hate antagonists, but Advance Wars 2 couldn’t really keep my interest, and I think I own Dual Strike… maybe, probably. I don’t remember. But I got a few missions into it and still didn’t care. Tactical warfare that doesn’t really change much. I’m glad someone enjoys it, though, because they’re not bad games, just not really my thing.

    But the darker tone of this one might compel me to someday check it out when I can get my hands on it really cheap.

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