Monday, March 30, 2015

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising game review for the Game Boy Advance

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
Box art for the game

This game for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance was released back in 2003. When it came to store shelves, I bought it right away knowing that it’s a Nintendo turn-based strategy game and I knew that this will be a quality game... Nintendo always makes fun, high-quality and polished games, I’d always admired Nintendo for that although I’m also a big Sega fan.
I have never played the first one, but after reading the reviews I made sure that I would get the sequel. The gameplay is very addicting, and can easily take hours from your whole day. As a turn-based strategy game, you take turns in issuing commands to individual groups of units. The military units range from infantry, tanks, planes, ships – almost all types of military units are represented here. The battles takes place in maps where there are various buildings and bases that you can take over… Taking over an airport for example, will give you the ability to produce planes, taking over a shipyard enables you to produce ships… It’s all very strategic and involves taking over the buildings and bases of the enemies to gain control of the map. You could also take over some ordinary buildings which protects your units that are camped there from attacks, and can also heal/repair damaged units. The battles take place when you are on range and you clash with an enemy unit… The screen then cuts off to a brief cinematic where your units fire on the enemy units – by the way, this is all done in a non-brutal and non-bloody way… That’s Nintendo for you. You win when you take over the enemy headquarters and obliterate all of the enemy units… This can take time as the battles can last for as long as 4 hours, depending on the number of CO’s involved in the battle.

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising title screen
The Title Screen

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising main menu
The Mode Select Screen

This game is very addicting, that is for sure. When I started playing it, I just couldn’t stop. All of the game modes are superb… There is a campaign mode – which lets you take control of various CO’s (Commanding Officers) of the protagonist nation in a war against the antagonist nation, the Black Hole army. The missions are non-linear, so you can choose which missions to play next. The game takes place on five different continents/countries. Some of the other CO’s from other nations help you on your fight with the Black Hole army. All of the individual CO’s have unique strengths and power moves… One of the CO’s have a high defense and repair capabilities for his units, while the other one have a high offense and strong attacks. There are a lot of variation in attributes and special attacks for the different CO’s in the game, which can be used to gain an advantage in different battle situations and makes for interesting match-ups. 

Advance Wars 2 battle screen
The Battle Screen
Advance Wars 2 battle cutscene
The Battle Cutscene

There is also a Versus Mode, which lets you play with different CO’s from different nations and play with an existing maps or customized maps with customized settings. You can play against the A.I. or with other players through Hotseat gameplay – which involves taking turns in playing and using only one GBA. There is also a Link Mode using the GBA link cable – if you don’t like sharing GBAs and prefer a smoother multi-player experience. Another mode is the Design Mode, which you can change the color palette of the characters and create custom maps. The maps and the game progress are saved in the cartridge via battery back-up… I just recently encountered a situation where the batteries on the cartridge died out and can no longer save, so I just replaced the old battery with a new one after opening up the cartridge. I have an article on the procedures of changing the cartridge battery here on my blog, so you can check it out.

My favorite mode though is the War Room mode, in which you can play against the A.I. in different maps and different situations. The maps and number of the CO’s involved varies, and you can have an ally or you can take on all enemies in battles. You could easily spend hours in this mode, after finishing the Campaign Mode and unlocking all the characters and nations. This I think is where the meat of the game lies… You can just come in and select a CO and map, and then just battle right away. 
In conclusion, I can honestly say that this is one of the best GBA games out there… And, also one of the best strategy games on any platform. It ranks a one of the top GBA games of all time due to the sheer fun and variety you could have with the game play. It’s very addictive and very polished as you would expect from a Nintendo game. All in all, a worthy addition to any game collection.
Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising is still available for sale new and used

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