Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.My nostalgia doesn’t reach back as far as some of my colleagues’. I don’t remember those days when we’d head to the arcade and spend all our quarters on Street Fighter (or whatever you older folks liked to do). No, my halcyon days are the ones of the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, back when I’d come home from school to immediately walk my probably now long-dead Nintendogs and my mum would never fail to refer to whatever console I was playing as “The Nintendo”.
Those were the days I’d while away on all manner of all-time classics. Ace Attorney. Professor Layton. Pokémon. The works. The series I look back on most fondly, though? That’d be Advance Wars.The turn-based cutesy-military strategy series made world war adorable and fun, with super likeable characters in the campaigns and a multiplayer system that let me pass my DS around to friends as we traded Mechs into Neotanks like no one’s business. So, why’s it been almost 13 years since the latest iteration of the series?
Someone at Chucklefish clearly shared this sentiment. It might seem unfair to compare a game so heavily with another, but it’s impossible to divorce Wargroove from its direct Advance Wars inspiration. After seeing the game at Rezzed, I was extremely excited to get my hands on it upon release.
Wargroove uses a lot of the same systems as Advance Wars, with unit strengths and weaknesses all being somewhat comparable, as well as a cool fantasy setting with walking skeletons and dragons and such. It even tweaked some features and improved on them (caputring buildings works far better in Wargroove, in my opinion), and the addition of super-powerful Commander units was a cool idea, combining Fire Emblem’s unique characters with Advance Wars’ disposable units.
There’s still something missing to me, though I don’t even know what it is. Maybe it’s balance? Maybe it’s the fact that Commanders are so ludicrously strong that the games rotate far too heavily around them? Or maybe it’s just my nostalgia goggles fogging my vision. I’m still looking for the same cute cartoon murder from the days of my youth – days when I had the time and energy to learn a strategy game’s systems to that level of depth.
Regardless, I hopped back into Wargroove before writing this up, and if you haven’t tried this genre, or felt bad about getting your students killed in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Wargroove is a nice way to get into it. It’s a lovely game and you can play as a dog. He’s a really good boy.