While it seems to be more focused on accessibility, new features make this game arguably the best in the series.

User Rating: 9 | Advance Wars: Dual Strike DS
I'd like to start this review by saying that I initially poured over 300 hours into the game before selling it, which I deeply regretted as a terrible mistake. After buying it a second time I know even more now how well-made and addicting this addition to the series was. It has only one weak point amidst all the incredible fun, and that is that it is a bit easier than the previous games. This is apparent in both the campaign and war rooms maps, which have been tweaked to give your side the upper hand. But, if you're a series veteran, I don't think this is enough to steer you away from this version

If you are new to advance wars, it is a turn-based strategy series which involves you moving around a wide-variety of units, either deployed for you or created by yourself in bases, and are free to destroy the enemy as you see fit. The game is extremely complex and requires a lot of skill to be successful, but I doubt that this could possibly be a negative for even the most casual player. While the strategies and techniques at your disposal are limitless the game is relatively easy to get sucked in to. To spice up the action, you will be able to choose from 27 different commanding officers (COs) to control that will change how your units perform on the battlefield. Each CO has both a power and super power that the CO can use once his/her power meter reaches certain points. These powers can really alter the course of a battle and make the game very dynamic.

I'll now focus on the new additions in this game. There are 6 new units in the game, the megatank, piperunner, stealth bomber, black bomb, black boat, and carrier. The megatank is a rediculously powerful tank with about twice the firepower of the next most powerful tank, but has the weakness of a very low movement range and ammo capacity. The piperunner is a unit that can only move along pipes but can shoot at both air and ground units and has a high movement range. The black bomb is a unit that can cause damage over a widespread area but can only be used once. The black boat is a very useful naval unit that can not only transport 2 infantry units but can also repair 1 HP to any unit next to it. Because of their low cost they can be very effective in numbers for repairing naval units far away from ports. While I really like these first 4 units, the stealth bomber and the carrier both seem a bit overpriced and underpowered. While the stealth bomber can hide so that only other fighters and stealth bombers can attack it, it uses up so much fuel while hidden that it practically requires an APC (which refuels other units) to accompany it. It also has a low movement range and although it can attack both ground units and air units, its firepower is quite a bit weaker than either the bomber or the fighter. The carrier is also overpriced. Although it can carry 2 air units, the fact that it cannot give repairs to these units makes carrying them not very useful. It does have missiles as its primary weapon that can fire at air units at long range, but the unit is just so expensive that all of its capabilities just aren't worth the price. All 6 new units have their uses and even the 2 I criticized aren't bad additions. Compared to the one unit added in the previous Advance Wars installment, this game blows it out of the water in terms of new content

There are also a total of 9 new COs in the game. I won't go in detail into each one like I did the new units, but I feel like these new COs really freshen up the cast and have unique abilities. For example, Koal, Jake, and Kindle all have high firepower on a specific terrain feature. The character, Javier, can be unstoppable and very fun to use if the map contains these new structures called COM towers. I really felt that the diversity of COs in previous games is part of what made them so great, and the fact that this version keeps all the old COs (except Sturm) as well as adds 9 of its own makes the game just so much more enjoyable and addicting.

The game also adds several new modes and methods of play. One of such additions is the ability to control two COs at once and switch between them at will. This helps make the action more varied if a little chaotic when both COs unleash the new tag power, allowing them to use their super powers at once and move twice in a turn. Another addition are dual screen battles. These battles have a primary front and a secondary front, and require you to basically play two matches at once. You are able to send units from the primary front to the secondary in order to speed your victory, but not the other way around. The purpose of the secondary front is if you win, not only do you get the advantage of having two COs instead of one, but both COs power meters fill, allowing to use the extremely powerful tag power. Losing on the secondary front is such a huge disadvantage that it likely means your doom by tag power after tag power, but doesn't directly lead to defeat. Both tag battles and dual screen battles really extended the replay value for me by allowing me to create really unique versus matches in both singleplayer and multiplayer. The two new modes in this game are survival and combat mode. Survival mode puts you through a series of maps with a certain restriction, such as number of total turns, time, or money. While it isn't all that challenging to make it through all the levels, it does benefit you to go through these levels carefully given the restriction because it will likely mean more points at the end to spend in the game's shop, called "Battle Maps." Combat mode is a real-time arcade game that lets you control some of the units from the turn-based game and use them to destroy the entire enemy or capture their HQ. The new modes aren't extremely compelling but are good diversions if you get a little tired of the standard game. One last addition that I will discuss is these CO "skills" that are in the game. By using each CO in Campaign, War Room, and Survival modes, you will gain experience and eventually level up. Each level adds are certain number of skills, which include familiar ones such as high vision but also some completely unique ones like having the ability to hide all your units during your super CO power. These skills are great if you really want an edge in battle, but also are useful if you find a need to balance any of the COs in the game. For example, I felt that the CO Sasha could be much more useful if the extra funds that she gets from bases was doubled. Thus, I added the +100 funds from bases skill to her and now I hardly noticed that it is artificially added and simply except it as part of her skill set. All these additions really make the game a lot more varied than its predecessors, and have really allowed me to play this game for much longer than all the others.

Like I said earlier the only major problem in the game is that Campaign and War Room modes have been made a bit easier. While not very challenging, the Campaign is varied and has some very enjoyable missions toward the end. This decrease in difficulty is very apparent in the War Room maps. If you don't know what war room mode is, it is basically a bunch of maps with no pre-deployed units that the game ranks you on. Many of the old maps return, but almost all are dumbed down by decreasing the number of properties the enemy starts with, sometimes by more than half, and giving you the edge in battle that will allow even new players to beat these missions with ease. While the challenge of just completing war room matches is no longer there, it now becomes easier to focus on getting higher ranks rather than just defeating the enemy. So, overall Campaign and War Room modes aren't as challenging as the previous games, but they are still a lot of fun.