This is going to be a really, really short review, and the reason is simple: Advance Wars is awful and I can’t bring myself to devote any significant portion of time to talking about it. It’s basically Fire Emblem for stupid people, plus all of the annoying features that have all but killed turn-based strategy games as a genre.
Why do people like this stupid series?
For some reason, Advance Wars is highly rated by just about everyone. The “why” of this is beyond me—everything about this game exudes laziness in design. The characters in the game are horrible, lacking depth, realism, and basically everything else that could make them likable. The writing is equally awful, being filled with tons of exclamation marks and lighthearted exchanges so meaningless that even a Teletubby would blush. Worst of all, however, is the fact that there’s absolutely no strategy in this game.
Micromanagement isn’t strategy
In this game, you basically take over bases until you have enough money to build units, then spam a bunch of faceless units against your enemy until you win. Sometimes you don’t get to build units, but even this still manages to have an element of micromanagement since bases that are yours will heal your troops.
The worst thing to ever happen to strategy is…
Can you guess what it is? Having a unit’s power tied directly to its health. Sure, it makes sense in this game since you’re dealing with squads of things and having fewer members in that squad means less firepower, but it’s not fun. It’s never been fun; Heroes of Might and Magic ceases to be fun because of this, Advance Wars ceases to be fun because of this, and every other game that favors attacking first over formulating complex strategies ceases to be fun in any way, shape, or form. It’s tedious to make a bunch of units just to spam them at enemies without having to pay any attention to conserving them. That’s usually the kind of thing reserved only for the laziest of real-time strategy games, and its presence in turn-based strategy games is disgusting.
Advance Wars is a game about micromanaging a bunch of faceless troops. It’s not hard, but it’s tedious and so inferior to Fire Emblem, Front Mission, and other good turn-based strategy games that have perfected “easy to learn, difficult to master” that it’s impossible to recommend it. It’s just unbearably subpar, and if you ever have this game recommended to you as a substitute for Fire Emblem, punch the person who recommended it in the face because they’re lying to you and don’t have your best interests at heart.
Here’s what you should do: