Thursday, September 28, 2006

Campaign Clear!

After two weeks and a half dozen attempts I finally put the finishing move on the Black Hole armies in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising.1

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The wars are over!2

Turn-based strategy games are close to my heart of hearts. I vividly remember playing the computer version of Avalon Hill's Afrika Korps on a 286 with an EGA monitor. There were six or eight scenarios and since Avalon Hill's military strategy games were heavily keyed to historical accuracy, all but two were heavily weighted to one side or the other. I had made it a point to play each one with an eye towards masterminding the upset.3

But there really wasn't much masterminding to do, really. The number of units in play was preset (so there were never any reinforcements) and there was no time limit, so even the wimpy Italian's could win despite fielding a force comprised of poorly-trained, ill-equiped troops possessing lousy morale. Advance Wars 2, even though possessed of more troublesome variables like reinforcements, special CO attacks, & time limits, still remains firmly entrenched in this turn-based military strategy truism: there's always a way, you just need to figure it out. From there, its a cake-walk.


1 It dawned on me, whilst blitzing through Fat's Dreamcast collection with him for the first time, that Advanced Wars 2 was the first video game I'd beated (not called NBA Live) since the terribly lackluster Syphon Filter 3. I think I got really close to the end of Legend of Mana but was disappointed how quickly I got there and never bothered to finish it. As I recall, this is also when the Kaiju Sessions experiment launched, at which I labored for about a year and half.
2 Heyyy. Check out that metal protective case shielding that GBA SP! Nice pickup for $2, but I've since set it aside when I realized it wouldn't let me plug in the headphone adapter.
3 And is there any more grand and preposterous upset than the Italian army defeating the British?! Zounds!

2 Comments + Unabashed Criticism:

Blogger Fat Contradiction said...

Heh. Well, if there weren't "always a way"'d be a pretty hard game, eh?

There are a couple missions in Age of Empires (for the DS) that I honestly felt weren't possible. I'd played a ton of one-off campaigns, so I'd gotten my money's worth, so I didn't mind setting aside the game. But that mission where you're supposed to defend Japan against the Mongols? And every three turns they land another invasion craft? And there's like 14 units on that craft? Including a shitload of siege engines? And you started with under a half-dozen units?

Just a brutal mission for my general AoE strategy, which is a long-term program of economic superiority, allowing/ensuring the technological AND numeric superiority of my forces. (Don't call me a turtle, motherfucker. I play a modified turtle...) In these turn-based strategy games, I'm weakest at defensive missions and time-limit missions. This Mongol invasion thing? A defensive time-limit mission. You can practically hear my men sigh and prepare themselves for their impending doom...

Sure, and there's likely a trick to the mission that I didn't figure out in any of my attempts. But, like any shitty general, I'm firmly entrenched in a truism of my own: it's my way or the highway!

9:28 AM  
Blogger Fat Contradiction said...

TBS gameplay is, as I've said before, about as good as it gets for me. However, I still hunger for story elements.

TBS + story = ...strategy RPG!!

In general, these play more or less identically to something like Advance Wars or Age of Empires, but your units aren't squads, they're people. This has two important consequences. First, they have names, and sometimes dialogue, so you care about them a little more.(1) Second, you generally can't get reinforcements during a battle. (In the Fire Emblem series, if you lose a guy, they're gone. Forever. Dead. If you've got a problem with that, you can always restart the mission.) So it's a more tactical experience, taking a given set of fighters in a given situation and trying to make it work. Terriffic fun!

(1)In addition to my habitual grind-it-out strategy, I have a bad habit of cranking out huge numbers of weak troops and throwing them into the fray, instead of saving my resources for smaller numbers of more-effective troops. Real Russian general type.

9:38 AM  

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