Advance Wars: Dual Strike E3 2005 Preshow Report

Dual Strike, dual screens: Nintendo's popular strategy series is coming to the DS.

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After two popular tours of duty on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are getting together to deliver a new dose of Advance Wars. This time, the game is subtitled Dual Strike, and it'll be released for the Nintendo DS this fall.

The story in Dual Strike picks up a few months after Black Hole Rising. A new commanding officer has risen to power in the Black Hole Army, and he's brought an elite force of additional COs, called the Bolt Guard, with him. With many of the COs stuck at the home front, rebuilding their cities after the last war, you'll take control of a handful of new recruits as you try to push back this latest offensive.

Dual Strike will continue the series in the same style of strategic gameplay that fans of the series have come to expect. However, the game's has been changed around a bit to take advantage of the DS's feature set. For starters, you can select units and execute other commands using the stylus on the DS's touch screen. The top screen of the DS will be used to off-load a lot of the information that appeared on the subscreens on the GBA. This will allow for a clearer shot of the battle on the bottom screen. But you'll also encounter multiscreen battles, where each screen will house one battle, each led by a different commanding officer. However, you'll only have full control over the bottom screen. The top screen will be largely run by artificial intelligence, but you'll be able to give it basic commands about how aggressive it should act, and so on.

Why should you care about what some silly AI-run CO is doing on the top screen? Because if he wins his battle, his forces join your existing bottom-screen forces as a sort of tag team, with both COs under your control.

The game will contain more than six new commanding officers, each with his own new character-specific powers. You can also unleash a dual-strike move, where both COs combine to deliver devastating military maneuvers. So if you have one CO power that boosts your overall troop strength, it will stack with the other CO's power, making for a super attack that's basically two turns in one. When playing multiplayer, you can jump right into tag-team CO battles or play a dual-screen battle where you start out with full control over both officers.

In addition to these new takes on the traditional Advance Wars battle, the game will also have a mode called combat, which is a real-time battle that pits you against a horde of enemy troops. However, the catch is that you can only deploy one unit at a time. Your CO will have a number of points to spend, which can be spent on additional units to use once your first unit is eliminated. This mode will be playable in multiplayer mode with up to eight players, and it will also work via download play, if you only have one copy of the game.

The game is scheduled to be playable at E3, though it sounds like only a handful of the game's single-player options will be ready for a play test at the show. We'll have more on Advance Wars: Dual Strike from Los Angeles.

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