Wargroove Review: Advanced Wars with Extra Benefits
Nintendo's Wars series began with the original Famicom Wars title in 1988, which spawned a host of sequels that eventually led to the creation of Advance Wars for the Game Boy Advance in 2001.
The Advance Wars titles were beloved for their strategic gameplay where you control an army on a battlefield, hell-bent on destroying the opposing team by any means necessary.
You'd win a game either be destroying the enemy's main base, destroying their entire army, or through other win conditions that are decided on a map-to-map basis. You can, of course, create your custom win conditions with friends as well to make it that much more entertaining. For example, you can make it, so there's a lone soldier that you have to keep alive to win the game.
The charm and whimsy that these titles have had since the latest entry in the series, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, have led many fans to reach out to Nintendo in hopes of a brand-new title on the Switch. That, however, has never happened and fans have been left in the dark ever since, just praying for another Wars title to show itself in the future.
But that's enough about the Wars series since we aren't here to talk about Advance Wars. We're here to discuss its spiritual successor: Wargroove.
Created by Chucklefish, Wargroove is another turn-based tactics game that looks and feels like an Advance Wars title that fans have been craving for years. It's not only a labor of love to the series that takes many elements from the Wars games, but it also does its own thing and feels like it's evolving the genre in the right direction.
The game has suffered multiple delays since its supposed early 2019 release date, which is now set for Feb. 1, 2019—but it has been worth the wait.
Stepping it up
The developers of Wargroove made it clear to Gamepur at Birmingham's Eurogamer Expo last year that while the game was created due to a fondness of the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem series, it wants to be so much more.
The pixel art encapsulates classic gaming while the fantasy setting offers a wide array of different unit types to explore, such as witches, dragons, and even a feisty golem that's looking to crush everyone that stands before it—but it's not invincible.
Every unit has its abilities and is superior or weak to other units on the battlefield. Learning these strengths and weaknesses is one way to outdo an opponent in battle, and the game actively encourages you to learn from your mistakes.
Knowledge is power and could tip the tide of battle in your favor. It's all about knowing what each unit is capable of and what the best frontline is for each battle.
One area where the game also excels, to make it that much better than the Wars games it's based on, is the inclusion of playable commanders that sit on the battlefield. These commanders offer an extra level of depth to your strategy since you can use them like a bulldozer to take down waves of troops in your path.
Be careful, though—if your commander dies, you lose regardless of how the game was going. So some players might choose to station their commander as a last resort, while others will throw them into battle. It all comes down to how you play.
One gripe in Wargroove was something players also felt when playing the Wars series—it's incredibly tricky and unforgiving for a casual player.
We can imagine most players picking this up to play in their spare time will find themselves never touching it again a few hours in. The game's difficulty rises immensely over time, and some players that are tactically lacking will also feel less inclined to continue playing, especially against other players online.
The game gives you enough resources to know each units' strengths and weaknesses, the area in which they can all move and attack, and enough intel to allow you to plan accordingly. If you rush into battle or lose easily, it's your fault for not considering all the options available.
The game is punishing, sure, but it's hard for a reason. A tactical game can't be easy, and if you came to enjoy the story, there are additional options to tone down the AI's intelligence, power, and health to make battles a little bit easier.
Controls also feel a little rigid while playing. In the Wars series, you could select a character you wanted to move and scroll right to the end of the movement box. Wargroove, however, doesn't have that feature, so sometimes you might misclick or make a move you didn't mean to make.
The controls issue, however, feels like something that could be fixed with a simple patch or an option being added to the settings menu, so it's not something we're going to dwell on.
Into the final third
All in all, Wargroove is a fantastic game and something that fans of the Advance Wars series will be salivating to play.
The amount of tactical options at your disposal, along with the mixture of old and fresh mechanics, makes the game have a lot of replayability as you strive to get perfect scores in every mission on the campaign.
And once you're done with the solo campaign, be sure to take the battle online or with a friend to prove who in your party is the superior tactician. This is a game that's brimming with content and a lot to do to keep you playing for hours to come.
If Wargroove sells well, and it should, then Chucklefish should have a case with Nintendo to make the next real installment in the Wars series. The studio has already proven that it's up to the task with its spiritual successor, and fans will surely be eager to see what the team would come up with to revive one of gaming's biggest series.
If not, Wargroove should continue. Wargroove 2, anyone?
Disclosure: Our Nintendo Switch review copy of Wargroove was provided courtesy of Chucklefish.