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Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising

Score: 82%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

The map tiles in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising are very basic. There are perhaps only 10-12 different terrain tiles such as woods, mountains, hills, plains, etc. However, the battle animations are quite good. While itís not the most graphically intensive GBA game produced, it still gets by and looks pretty good doing it.

The one thing that seems to be done a good bit on GBA games is pushing the system too far. This causes slowdown in many games, and it could cause a good bit of annoyance for the player as well. This is why simplistic graphics arenít necessarily a bad thing, and are actually better suited for the Game Boy Advance.

Advance Wars 2 has pretty average sound overall. Each C.O. (Commanding Officer) has their own background music that plays during their turn, so there are a wide variety of tracks available. Each unit also has its own sound when firing on the battle screen. The sound isnít spectacular, but itís good.


Gameplay:

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising follows the story of four countries (Orange Star, Blue Moon, Yellow Comet, and Green Earth) in their bid to drive the invading forces of the Black Hole country out of their own. The countries each have three Commanding Officers, each of which has different abilities and weaknesses.

The game starts in the Orange Star country, where you take charge and remove the Black Hole menace from your country. The war then progresses to the many other countries and then finally to Black Hole itself.

Each mission you pass earns you points which can be used in the shop to buy multiplayer maps and other bonus features, so points are important. For each mission, you can win up to 100 points each for Speed, Power, and Technique, for a maximum amount of 300 points per mission. These points arenít necessary, but if you would like to unlock things in your game, they are important. Getting points is pretty easy, though. Even in my first run-through, I never got below 250 points in each mission.

Multiplayer in Advance Wars 2 contains both single-cart and multi-cart modes, so all you really need is one cart to war with friends. There is also a map-trading function where you and friends can trade maps that you bought or created with each other. There is also a skirmish-type mode called War Room, where you can play out maps that you buy or create against computer players and earn points.


Difficulty:

There is a star rating system for each level, and of course, the more stars the level has, the harder the level is. Levels with one or two stars can be beaten quite easily and quickly, but as you start moving up to three or four stars, the levels increase in toughness and complexity. Some levels, you start out at a disadvantage as well, so you have to build yourself up before you even start.

The fact that this is a turn-based game gives you all the time in the world to make a decision about a certain attack or to plan out your strategy like chess. This puts more emphasis on strategy and less on quick thinking and reaction as in games like Command & Conquer.

Another factor in how difficult the game is lies in how you use your C.O. powers. Each C.O. has a normal power and a super power that can be activated depending on how well or how much damage a certain C.O.ís units are doing. C.O. powers can do things such as temporarily increase firepower for all your units or damage all the enemy units on the screen. If you use the C.O. powers well in conjunction with your attacks, you can make short work of the enemy.


Game Mechanics:

There are many different units in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. Each unit has different ratings for movement, range, defense, and offense. You may start out with some units in easier missions, but you have to start from scratch and build your units with the harder missions.

The first and most basic types of units are the foot soldiers. Foot soldiers can be either stronger mech or weaker and faster infantry units. Foot soldiers are the weakest types, but theyíre the only units that can take over a town, so they are necessary. On top of foot soldiers, there are various types of armored units such as tanks, APCs, and scouting vehicles. Advance Wars 2 also has air and sea units, which can be very devastating if used correctly.

The object of each mission is to either destroy all the other C.O.'s units, or capture their headquarters building. There are a few special terms in some missions, such as time limits (for instance, beat the level in 15 turns), but overall, if you complete one of those things, you will win. In order to capture a building, you have to use infantry, so the way must be cleared with strong units before you can move in.

Overall, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising is a great game for strategy buffs. If you enjoy games such as Command & Conquer and Heroes of Might and Magic, then you will enjoy Advance Wars 2. However, this is not a game for everyone. With some of its missions, it can try your patience to the very end, and itís definitely not a game you can play through all in one sitting... or even five sittings.


-Z64freak, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bret Hall

Nintendo GameBoy Advance The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap Nintendo GameCube Tales of Symphonia

 
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