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LONG BLOG

DS REVIEWS: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

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For those reading one of my DS review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The DS is one of the greatest consoles ever, and it had a massive games library. Despite playing a lot of DS games a huge number of great under appreciated games flew under the radar. This series attempts to review those game and see if they should have had more time in the spotlight.

Originally, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin:
Year: 2008.
Genre: Tactical Strategy.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Intelligent Systems.

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

For three consecutive games, the Advance Wars continued with the same style, much of the same characters, a limited story, and focused on developing the base game play without shaking things too far. This culminated with the excellent release of Dual Strike, which is one of the best games on the DS.

With Days of Ruin, Intelligent Systems wanted to change things as much as possible. Introducing a renewed focus on story, and a different style, they could have made an even better Advance Wars game than Dual Strike.

However, for that step forward, they took two steps back through the unnecessary changes to the gameplay, which in my opinion makes this an ultimately less fun game than its predecessor.

"We stopped being soldiers when the meteors hit"

The biggest and most apparent change to the Advance Wars formula is how story is now actually given some attention. While the plot of the past games was simply a background for some cool characters to interact with each other and give the player some battles to fight, Days of Ruin actually attempts to tell a story. It does a pretty good job at it.

If anyone wants to see Nintendo take a stab at the post-apocalyptic theme, then Days of Ruin would be their game. Even before the meteors hit the earth and reduced mankind to a fraction of what they were, humanity was in a constant case of war.

With the apocalypse, war became the default mean of survival, especially with a sinister disease being spread around.

Meteors are a popular cause of apocalypse, you would think we we are Dinosaurs

While the plot is somewhat basic, its told well, and it remains interesting throughout, even if its almost always predictable. At least you cannot say the game cheats you with its "surprise" reveals. Unfortunately, the cast of characters is not as memorable as in past AW games, but that is to bee expected with this more serious story.

Focusing on Will, a previous cadet who now idolizes the heroic Commander Brenner who save him, the game makes a small mistake. Will isn't an interesting character, and the game would have been much more interesting with Lt. Lin being at center stage.

Still, Lin does have her moments, and Will is ok as far as over eager JRPG heroes go.

Good Story: +3
Good Dialogue: +2
Interesting Setting: +2
Boring Characters: -2

"]Will you let your gun take the place of your honor"

At its most basic, Dual Strike still offers the same solid tactical strategy gameplay the series is known far. In each turn, you can control the various units at your disposal to destroy the enemy. In most maps, you can utilize factories to build more units while capturing cities to secure funds. Usually you can see the entire map, but some levels shake things up by introducing the fog of war, which significantly changes the way you approach a level.

Dual Strike does little to change the basics other than change the balancing a little bit and add some extra units. Some of these units are very good additions, like an artillery unit that can defend itself and a fast infantry unit that makes capturing cities easier. Other new units are cool, but have limited use like the Flare unit.

The Fighter is one of the poorer new additions

Some changes to the balancing are negative, especially the increased strength of the rocket launcher unit to compensate for its low maneuverability. It makes it a powerful defense weapon, which greatly benefits the computer who rarely ever need to actually attack you.

Outside of the main campaign, there isn't the wealth of content available in the last AW game. While there are training maps to be enjoyed, they do not come close to the variety and number of the past titles.

However, that is not a problem, because even if the maps were there, I don't think I would play Days of Ruin much past its campaign. Simply because going back and playing Dual Strike again is simply more fun.

Same Solid Base: +3
A Good Campaign: +2
Some Good Additions: +1

"The reality is there is nothing out there but corpses and cockroaches"

While Days of Ruin doesn't change the basic gameplay format much, it changed something major in how the game played. Basically, it killed all influence of CO powers.

For those unfamiliar with the term, CO powers is basically the special power available to the commanding officer leading the battle, and associated bonuses as well. In past AW games, this ensured the CO will have a significant effect on how you approach a battle. Besides their passive abilities, which encourage you to use some specific strategies, they also have special powers that have drastic effects.

Using those powers ensured battle wouldn't drag on, as you can unleash them at a stage where you can totally obliterate the enemy in two turns, when otherwise a war of attrition (which you will eventually win) can drag to ten.

In Days of Ruin, CO powers were nearly thrown out of the window. In fact, it might have been better if they did. First, they no longer effect all your soldiers. No, you must first WASTE a turn to have your CO board a unit. Then, only units around the very narrow radius of that unit can benefit from those bonuses. To use the special move, that same unit that you would rather protect should kill of enemy units to fill the special gauge.

When that happens, you are treated to unremarkable special moves.

Commanding Officers are as good looking as always, but this time offer very little effect to your army

In fact, the entire system is useless for most characters you are nearly punished for using it. Apparently ,the game knows CO powers suck, which is why they introduce them only after the halfway point in the campaign.

Not having these CO powers make battle noticeably less fun that past AW games. Due to the way the game is played, you can virtually be in the course of winning a battle, with no chance of defeat, but will need to chip down at a losing AI for 20 more turns to finally win. In the past, CO powers helped deliver the Coup de grace to the enemy, bring you back from defeat, or even give them a fighting chance against your superior intellect.

Worse yet, this eliminates the wonderful variety CO powers helped create in past games. Playing with different COs meant a different play-style, but these Days of Ruin bastards might all be cardboard cutouts of the same character.

Useless COs: -5
Lack of Variety in Playing: -3

"Dust covered the earth, bloating all signs of the sun"

With a post apocalyptic setting, it is tough making your art stand out from the rest of the grey brown painted  games using the setting, and Days of Ruin doesn't necessarily try to do that. Instead, it commits to theme, and adapts AWs colorful style to fit the world. The cartoonish red tanks of past games are not similar looking, but with more realistic colors and extra details showing wear and tear. As for the environment, its looks like one deprived from the sun.

Its the CO drawings that seal the deal though, as the series abandons the stylish colorful portraits of the past. The drawings here are much more detailed, and they are showing characters wearing actual functional clothing instead of just a stylish wardrobe. It works really well for the setting of the game, especially as each characters has a lot of detail in their design.

Battles still look good with these sprites

Where the game really shines though is in its soundtrack, which I think is really the only thing better than past games. The tracks are more complex, more varied, and more special. However, unlike past games where you can choose a level's track through selecting the CO, all of Days of Ruin campaigns select the CO for you.

This can be a major annoyance, and it probably keeps me from praising the music as much as I want to. Since I am not interested in playing anything outside of the campaign, some of the best CO track I rarely had the chance to listen to.

Suitable Graphical Style: +2
Cool Sprites: +2
Very Good Music: +3


In Conclusion:

As I said above, Days of Ruin is one step forward for the series, but two step back. It delivers a good campaign, with an interesting story and interesting characters. However, the much marginalized CO powers makes it a less fun game.

While it ends up being a more balanced game in the process, Days of Ruin forgot what made the past games fun to begin with.

Still, this doesn't mean this is a bad game, or that's its ultimately very boring. It still is a good game, and a must play for fans of the series, even if I am just going back to playing Dual Strike after this.

Final: 35/50

******************************************************************************

Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:

Perhaps due to not being actually a big fan of the previous Advance Wars games, Aaron Linde really like Days of Ruin, giving it a 9. He sums it up in the end of his review: "Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is built upon some of the most startling changes in the series to date. But unlike other evolutions of similar series, Days of Ruin doesn't function so much on the building upon as it does a tight reworking of the principles at play, a retooling of its fundamentals. Gamers are notorious for reacting loudly to disagreeable change, and where Days of Ruin will land for many fans is largely a matter of preference; it's worth noting, however, that the most key changes brought unto the series were made deliberately, with foresight, and precision. Days of Ruin is a marked improvement on an established and aging formula, but for gamers who love that formula, Days of Ruin is a no-brainer."

Community reception was apparenlty generally favorable towards the game.

Pheonix Gamma loved the game, and its music in particular:

"Funny. I LOVE the music. Will's Isabella's Lin's, and Gage's theme are win. I can't wait for an actual arranged album.

I play this game into the wee hours of the morning; something I haven't done with a strategy game since FE7."

In the other hand, pink pixel agrees with me on it being poorer than other AW games:

"There are some new additions that I really like, such as the flare unit and WiFi capabilities. However, I've gotta agree with MrHaVoC in that I also feel that the game is a bit empty and lacking in detail in certain areas. For example, in Free Battle, if you beat a map, you don't even get a ranking. You just get a random medal awarded... Not much sense of accomplishment there. I just hope they take the good things from DoR and DS, and combine them into an awesomely radical AW the next time around."

Nontheless, the general opinion, as expressed by Yashoki:

"Nice review, i haven't played dual strike, so my stance might be skewed, but I fucking love this game, the fact that theres even a real story makes me giddy, in short it's a must buy title for the DS. Think how TF2 is the same as TFC, except polished to hell."

You should actually listen to the damn briefing

Sales Data:

I am generally not interested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the success of games I like. However, sales data is interesting in studying market trends, people's general interest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

Considiring Days of Ruin is the last game released for the Advance Wars series in more than 8 years, you would think it sold poorly. However, it actually out sold Dual strike by 50% more, selling a respectable 630K Units, and that's without even selling the game in Japan. Take into account that the game sold as much as Fire Emblem on the DS, which despite being a best selling hardware didn't actually contribute greatly to sales due to rampant piracy and the second hand market.

If anything, Days of Ruin actually proved there is potential in the series, and Nintendo usually consider such a number a positive sign.

Tips:

1- Do not incorporate CO powers in your regular strategy, they are mostly luxury bonuses.
2- You can upgrade your units through destroying other units, protect upgraded units if you can.
3- While the bike units is great for capturing cities, it doesn't mean you should neglect infantry and mechs.
4- In this game, due to not having CO powers, bunching up and attacking from one front is usually better than dividing your forces.
5- Rockets can seriously kill your advance, make sure to take out enemy artillery before going forward.

Next Game:

As a send off to the Advance Wars series, Days of Ruin doesn't do a good enough job. We really should be getting another game in the series, one that hopefully has better CO powers.

Next game I am playing is a sequel to on of my favorite games, Okamiden is a natural follow-up to the excellent Okami game. Hopefully it doesn't cause me to scratch my new 3DS screen.

Stay Tuned

For Previous DS game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

See Here

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Seeing as my top 10 games of all time would change depending on the day you ask me, I am just going to put in Random games I don't think are in anyone's top 10 list:

-Blood Will Tell
-Mega Man Legends 2
-Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
-Donkey Kong Country 2
-Suikoden 2




Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
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