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Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Advance Wars

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bill-swift - April 9, 2014

If our buddies in Hollywood have taught us anything, it's that warfare is a man-tastic business. In the movies, you can't move for the rippling pectorals of Arnold Schwarzenegger or the testosterone-soaked bandana of Sly Stalone. Even Orlando Bloom got his Medieval manliness on for some good ol' fashioned swordplay in Kingdom of Heaven.

But one place you wouldn't expect to find steely balls of steely, steelish steel is Advance Wars. Look at it there, all toontastic and garishly colored and everything. But that's just a facade for this utter hard-ass of a game. Before you know it, it'll be the cutest thing that ever kicked your butt, since that girl in fourth grade (yes, she was big, she'd be held back, the sun was in your eyes, we know).

Advance Wars was released on the Game Boy Advance in 2001. In Japan, this series was introduced in 1988 under the guise Famicom Wars (Famicom for Family Computer, the original name for the NES, nerdly fact fans), but this was its debut internationally. Let's take a look.

In this cutesy-but-pretty-goddamn-violent world, we play as Andy, and other Commanding Officers in the Orange Star army. The nation is under attack by the forces of their dastardly bastardly neighbors, Blue Moon. Along the way, you meet COs from the other two nations, Green Earth and Yellow Comet, who come to believe that Andy has been launching unprovoked attacks on them. It gets a little screwy, and there are aliens involved. Let's just leave it at that.

Five bazookas coming at your faces, blue dudes.

It's a turn-based strategy game, a Nintendo twist on a pretty beardy genre. Battles ensue on a small area of the world map, which is divided into a grid. You can move your tiny, furious war machines --from infantry to fighter planes and battleships-- once per turn, attacking or retreating to resupply as you see fit. Every unit has uses against certain types of others, and you must deploy your midget army in response.

All of the nerdly strategy mainstays are here: resource management, defensive cover, capturing properties, all those sorts of shenanigans. The miracle of Advance Wars is in its accessibility. In not making these aspects feel like rolling a forty-thousand-sided die in Dungeons and Dragons and hoping you get the roll required to stab that ogre in the gonads.

But this doesn't, as we probably established earlier, mean it's easy. The campaign mode begins harmlessly enough, but piles on the pressure until you're left sobbing sad, sad tears of salty sadness onto your living room carpet. You'll be fending off squadrons of bombers, trying to sneak between the attack ranges of a crapton of missile launchers, hiding from angry submarines in the one tiny safe space... it's enough to twist your melon. Twist it right off.

And then there's the advanced campaign. You don't want to know.

Source of images: gamefaqs.

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