Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising Hands-On

We take a few turns on the upcoming sequel to one of our very favorite Game Boy Advance games.

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Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
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Of all the Game Boy Advance games being shown at E3, we were most eager to get a chance to play Advance Wars 2. After all, this is the sequel to our 2001 GBA Game of the Year, a finely tuned and extremely fun and addictive turn-based strategy game suitable for all audiences. So we got our hands-on time with Advance Wars 2 in, and we found that it doesn't take any major detours from its predecessor's formula. And that's fine by us.

The game features all the military units of the original, and the main characters are also back and looking rather more experienced than before. A number of new commanding officers have also joined the fray, and they all have unique personalities and special abilities. For instance, one of the new COs emphasizes brute strength at the cost of efficiency, and sometimes inflicts greater-than-normal damage upon his enemies--though sometimes his attacks fall flat, causing less harm than they normally would.

Advance Wars 2's gameplay is slightly refined in some respects, such as how units take their turns more quickly than in the first game. COs have more special powers than before, too, and some new units--such as the spiderlike neo tank--can be found in some of the skirmishes. Combat still involves regiments of units trading blows until one or the other is destroyed, and the game's impeccable balance remains well intact as far as we could tell.

The game features a brand-new campaign, numerous stand-alone maps, a multiplayer mode, and a map editor. Advance Wars 2 plays great, just like the first one, and the English text is all in there, so we couldn't really tell at a glance whether any aspects of the game still needed work.

Advance Wars 2 is nearly finished if it isn't finished already--the game is due out about a month from now. Fans of the original will definitely want to keep on the lookout, while those who might have missed the first game won't want to miss this next opportunity.

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