A Gamecube version of Advance Wars DS, the task Nintendo gave Kuju Entertainment was certainly not easy. A tactical multiplayer made Advance Wars successful. One look at the box reveals that there isn’t a multiplayer mode in Battalion Wars. We immediately found the first big mistake!
As soon as you start the game, you will notice they tried to maintain the atmosphere of Advance Wars. War in a happy coat! The cartoonish style doesn’t make you think of blood or pain at all and the voices of the commanders (one with an American, the other with a Russian dialect) are not exactly frightening. But don’t let this look deceive you, you need a lot of tactical insight for this game.
The story starts in a quiet period. The Western Frontier and the Tundran Territories live next to each other in a stressed truce. To keep the troops fighting fit, the cheery Betty proposes a training. That’s how you learn everything you need to know. When suddenly a Tundran spy is spotted in your camp, it’s clear that Tsar Gorgi has something else in mind. Again, the Western Frontier and the Tundran Territories become enemies. Untill Kaiser Vlad of Xylvania uses his vampire army (don’t ask me how they came up with this!) to take revenge. Then both camps are forced to work together.
Battalion Wars is what they call a “real-time strategy action”. In every mission you get a couple of troops to get the job done. Variation enough: the infantry consists of rifle grunts, assaults, flames, bazookaveterans, missiles and mortars. Moreover, there are seven ground vehicles and five air vehicles. Even halfway the game, you still unlock new units! Of course, the most important thing is knowing which troops are the most effective against which hostile units and this way come up with a good strategy. Only little down side is that you have to order all troops separately. In other words, if you want to send out the bazookaveterans and the tanks, they can’t form one team. This means you have to order one after another (follow, stay, move to or attack), which sometimes costs you too much effort and time. Unlike in Advance Wars, the action is here real-time. Moreover, you’re one of the units so you can kill some enemies yourself.
In the middle of a battle, things can get pretty hectic: watch what you’re doing, working out a strategy, giving orders to each of the troops,… Fortunately, the AI is good. Your men don’t get stuck behind obstacles, pick up health when they need it, etc. Of course, this is not only the case for your own troops, but also for the enemies. When they attack, they will first focus on your weakest group of soldiers. But hey, a challenge is always welcome.
You can give the best of yourself in twenty missions. Free some of your men and get behind the wheel of airborne gunships, pilot jeeps or other transport vehicles. That way, the game brings you some variation. After every mission you get a score depending on your speed, technique and power. Who gets a C has to learn what strategy means. A B is ok and an A is top-class. For extraordinary courage and strategic brilliance you receive the S from Special. If your general score is good enough, you can unlock a bonus mission in each of the four campaigns. Perhaps this will motivate you to replay a less good mission.
Battalion Wars looks cheerful, but don’t be mistaken: the game is pretty challenging. It offers you a perfect mix of action and strategy. Who is used to playing strategic games on pc might miss some possibilities, but the control system works very well. Unfortunately, the biggest advantage of Advance Wars is the biggest disappointment of Battalion Wars: no multiplayer mode!