With Mecho Wars, Oyaji Games has produced its own impressive take on the strategy gameplay popularized by the excellent turn-based Advance Wars series, which has appeared on Nintendo's Game Boy Advance and DS handhelds. Although it still lacks online multiplayer, it has a stunning presentation and offers a very strong single-player value to mobile tacticians.
Mecho Wars puts you in the role of a soldier and tactician on the side of the Winged Crusade, which is fighting a heated battle against the Landians, a strange mechanical species--basically, you enlist in a war between fliers and ground walkers. There is no explicit introduction to the two sides, but you come to know them through the story-revealing dialogue at the start of each battle. Each side gets its own 10-mission campaign, along with 10 special challenge maps, for a grand total of 30 single-player levels. You can also set up pass-and-play matches against a friend using a single device.
The game's design and gameplay draw heavily from Advance Wars, so it will be very familiar to fans of those games. Basically, you capture and hold bases to earn credits every turn, spend those credits on various units to form an army, and then deploy your troops across the gridded map to crush the enemy. There are many different kinds of units, all with different attack and defense capabilities, and you must use them in efficient combinations to reach your goals. There is no tutorial to introduce you to all this, but the first levels do ease you into it nicely.
Mecho Wars is a brilliant take on this well-worn genre. The music provides a nicely composed ambience to accompany your battles, and it is matched by the stylized appearance of the gameplay. The battle sequences, as in Advance Wars, are depicted by a split-screen close-up of the units on either side of the battle, performing various attack animations. The depiction of the battleground is fantastically colorful, aided in no small part by its creative premise and strange species.
One of the most innovative aspects of Mecho Wars is its inclusion of time and its relation to the environment. As time passes (an hour each turn), the light on the battleground changes. In the very early hours of the morning, any water on the map freezes. This lets ground troops pass over the sea, adding a whole new strategy element to the game, but it comes with a risk, since tanks don't float once that sea thaws.
Thanks to its engrossing strategy and interesting time-based gameplay innovations, Mecho Wars is an excellent turn-based strategy game, quite possibly the best of its kind on the App Store.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.