Whenever I encounter a new DS owner, I immediately recommend Advance Wars: Dual Strike. The most common and inevitable reaction I get is a dubious look and a reply of, “I don’t like military games.” It seems as though putting “Wars” in the title of this game has scared off many people who would otherwise enjoy the strategy and tactics of AW:DS.
Advance Wars: Dual Strike is a surprisingly addictive addition to the excellent Advance Wars series. This turn-based action/strategy RPG features one or two commanding officers facing off against the opposing faction. Your goal is threefold: Use the unique powers of your commanding officers to your advantage, maximize the profits and supplies from securing cities, and minimize your wartime spending and time spent in battle. The quicker and cheaper your battle victory, the more points you score for the win. The touch screen controls of the DS let you easily move and control your troops, and the dual screens allow you to have a view of the battlefield as well as detailed information about your combat units at any time.
Each battle takes place on a new map, and your resources can include infantry, tanks, aircraft, submarines, anti-air missiles, helicopters and more depending on the terrain and the types of production plants you’re able to capture during battle. The more property you capture, the more incoming funds you’ll have, and thus more access to stronger and better units. The battle is won by capturing the enemy headquarters.
The maps are not just backdrop for battle—they’re strategic puzzles designed to stretch your tactical skill as you decide whether to attack by land, by air or by sea. Sometimes that choice alone can cost you the battle if you make the wrong decision. Features like the mysterious Fog of War can actually obscure parts of the battlefield, and some terrain can only be traversed by certain types of units.
While all this may sound complicated and confusing, one thing AW:DS excels at is easing you into the rigors of battle. You’ll begin your campaign with very simple maps and slowly progress to more difficult and complex challenges. Each time a new type of weapon or unit is introduced, the map for that battle gives you the opportunity to learn exactly how to use it to your advantage.
The best thing about this game is the ability to save and quit at any time during your turn. Combined with the encapsulated battle system (each battle is a standalone quest to conquer), you can pick up the game at any time and start right where you left off. Don’t count on being able to put this one down easily, though!