So WarGroove came out yesterday. I was interested in this game back before I got my launch Switch. Almost two years later, it arrived the day after I got my new Switch.
At first I was skeptical. I knew I wanted to try the game, but was worried it would feel like a "poor man's" Advance Wars. After all, most games in a similar vein to AW that I've tried just differed too much to be as fun as the classic.
I'd have to say developer Chucklefish Games has come the closest yet to that beloved gameplay of Advance Wars. The gameplay isn't a carbon copy, and there are noticable differences. This is not a bad thing though - the core game is solid enough that the changes help to give WG its own identity.
One thing you notice immediately is that capturing bases works differently in WG. You can't move units onto bases, only adjacent to them. And bases can heal damaged units for a price, also damaging the health of the base to restore a corresponding number of health points to a unit.
Commanders, the WG answer to AW's CO's, also work differently than in most Wars games. They are an actual unit on the battlefield, stronger than generic units but with their own sets of units they have weaknesses and advantages to. Their Groove powers are this game's answer to CO powers, typically effecting a small area on the battlefield. But unlike AW, the player's army receives no passive unit specialties or stat changes. Instead, some Commanders offer bonuses to certain types of adjacent units.
Both bases and Commanders restore health slowly each turn. Other units do not.
Critical hits, something that was randomized in AW, does not rely on luck in WG. Instead crits are a bonus that comes into play based off of the strategic placement of specific units. For example, pikemen gain a critical and defensive bonus when adjacent, and rangers will always crit unless they move before attacking.
The fantasy theme suits the AW style of gameplay well, something that shouldn't be too much of a surprise to Fire Emblem fans, but does a fantastic job of fitting the AW style of gameplay. Soldiers are your infantry, pikemen are your mechs, cavalry are your tanks, archers are your artillery, and so on.
The characters are story are likable enough, even if the cast isn't as lovable as the characters from Wars World. A quick look at the game's informative Codex shows off the 12-or-so characters you'll meet across the story's four kingdoms, and delves a bit into each of their back-stories and gameplay differences. If Mercia doesn't appeal to you with her plucky personality and Andy-like healing ability, and Ragna doesn't inspire laughs with her failed attempts as a rival and her dragoon-like spear jump ability, then maybe you'll be happy to know that you can play as the goodest boye of all, Caeser - a canine commander who can inspire troops with a second-wind.
Having played a couple of hours, I am very happy with WarGroove. It is a definite recommendation to Advance Wars fans, or even someone who has never played an AW-like game but would like to do so.
I recommend playing in docked mode for the campaign at least, as reading the in-game text in handheld mode seems like it would be hard on the eyes.