Feeling a little more serious, Advance Wars turns post-apocalyptic with its new vision of the future. With 90 per cent of the worlds population annihilated from a cataclysmic meteor strike you have to survive the barbaric wastelands in Days of Ruin.

Strategy fans you don’t have to worry about the new “darker” persona of Advance Wars taking away from the deep strategy the franchise has always provided. Nintendo's Advance Wars: Days of Ruin remains faithful in its strategy roots and simplistic, yet advanced gameplay. The only difference in Days of Ruin is that they took away the bright colours and put on a serious face. Slapping on a menacing attitude was a weighty choice to take the normally bright and over-the-top storylines; but I guess Nintendo thought it was time for Advance Wars grow up.

The story goes like this, after a gruesome asteroid hits the earth it leaves the world in chaos. 90 per cent of the world’s population is eliminated leaving the survivors to fight for their lives. The sun has been replaced with toxic dust clouds floating in the atmosphere while disease strikes without warranting, and then you have all the crazies who are preying on the weak for their own personal gain. Joining with a group of Captain Brenner and his gang of ex-military personal, as the protagonist hero Will, you band together with the goal of restoring human dignity to a world gone mad. Ouch! Yes, I guess you can say...  Advance Wars is a lot more serious this time around.

Like previous version of Advance Wars you will be heavily thrown into thoughtful turn-based battles that can last a few hours. Aside from the lengthy narrative story, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is packed full of action. Of course this is assuming you consider turned based gaming to be action. If you haven’t been a fan of an Advance Wars game in the past then Days of Ruin isn’t going to change your tune, however interested minds should have a closer look at the latest Advance Wars creation to see if the new features and dark theme isn’t enough to give this little wartime simulator another try.

The dark mood of the story also bleeds over to the graphic and art direction of Advance Wars. Artistically the normally semi-childish looks take a turn with a darker dusty appearance with a harder edge. The environments are a wasteland of grey and browns with colour popping up now and again. The enemies have the same anime inspired vibe with a new savage element added to the mix. Keeping with the theme of change, a number of the unit types have been removed or adjusted from the perky Dual Strike with a few new units added as well. One major change is The Rig which can build temporary airports and seaports and the Aircraft carrier that can instantly build Seaplanes. Even with the changes in a few units the way you play AW isn’t going to change; it’s still a balancing act of defence and aggressive attacks, unit placement, and opening phase movement.

Days of Ruin welcomes a features first and foremost is the inclusion of some long awaited multiplayer over Wi-Fi. Now you can hop onto a Wi-Fi network and play against friends or strangers from around the world in the ultra competitive strategy game. With the map builder that is also included in Days of Ruin online gaming has been stepped to include user created maps which has many variables. Up to 50 maps can be saved on a cartridge with all the dynamics, units, terrain, ait weeks you want. This is truly amazing if you’re a fan of the series and love to keep the game in your DS. Adding the “Design Room” and “Online Multiplayer” instantly make Days of Ruin worth picking up if you have older versions of Advanced Wars.

A few other things have changed with the modes in Days of Ruin. The shop has disappeared, and an instant "Free Battle" mode is available from the get go which offers random maps to be tested. However the most radical chance is the use of CO’s (Commanding Officers) and their special powers. Following the more “realistic” style of Days of Ruin has also been demolished from the meteor. No more special power-ups means you have become victorious with the power of your brain and not relying on a special boost. In its own way this makes Advance Wars more competitive without the tricks of unexplainable mysterious powers. Officers are unlockable during the single player campaign and can be used in multiplayer. Its here you see a small difference in the leaders with a slight difference in statistics.

Advance Wars is a challenging endeavour to take on and should not be gear towards those with short attention spans. Battles in Days of Ruin can drag on, and on. This is great if you’re in it for the long haul, but if you want a pick-up-and-play styled game this is not game for you. If you want a challenge the story mode fill up your strategy craving along with providing a story-line that isn’t horrible to read through. The main campaign also unlocks training missions during your travels across the landscape. These training missions are optional and will test your leadership skills even more than the main plot line. I would have liked to scene an alternative route to the main story instead of pointless training battles, but they are better than nothing and do a good job of extending the games life.

Days of Ruin is a solid polished product on the same levels of the previous games, although I’m not overly enthused about the "darker" direction. The apocalyptic graphics feels a little sloppy and the storyline is a little too abstract given the games context. I really enjoyed the old style of Advance Wars because it had its own unique vibe, and the wasteland deal has been done before a hundred times over. That's not saying Nintendo won’t revisit their old formula the next time around. I think it’s about time; the Wii gets an Advance treatment brining the franchise up to the next level of playability and realism.

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin enters the wasteland, battling through a post-apocalyptic wind of change. Replacing the flash of the past is megalomaniacal madmen and their droning marching armies of infantry and a fight for survival. The unbalanced advantage of the CO’s has been removed or a more stable equal playing ground which really makes a difference in multiplayer matchups. The Design Room also addes an unlimited amount of replayablitiy to Advance Wars with the ability to battle and trade user-created maps.

Days of Ruin have marked a change in Advance Wars, but change doesn’t always have to mean bad. Days or Ruin isn’t better or worse then its last effort in Dual Strike, it’s only a new chapter in the Advance Wars saga. Like your treasured Dual Strike cartridge you’re going to hold on to this one for a long time. If you’re an Advance Wars fan, or a strategy gamer, Days of Ruin is the first must have purchase in 2008.

Gameplay: 9, Graphics: 8.5, Sound: 8, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 9. Final: 8.0 / 10

Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 02.04.08

  • Single-player: Players battle their way through a lengthy campaign and the twists and turns of the main story.
  • Free Battle: Players challenge themselves or up to three friends on more than 170 two-, three- and four-player maps. When playing with friends, players use one Nintendo DS and pass it among players
  • Battle: Fight up to three other players on more than 170 maps via local wireless communication or Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Each player must have his or her own game card.
  • Design Room: Players use the touch screen to design their own maps, controlling every aspect from troop placement to terrain features.
  • Trade Maps: Link to a friend via local wireless communication or Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and swap topographical masterpieces.
  • Exchange Friend Codes with a close circle of military geniuses, then declare war against one of them over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. While battling, players can communicate with each other using full voice chat.
  • Players pit their skills against the world as they take on random players. They can choose to fight against people of their own skill level or engage whoever dares to take them on.
  • One of the most robust map-creation systems ever seen. Use the stylus to paint and create the perfect map, then send it to a friend for a test run. It's easy, fun and very, very addictive.

Advance Wars
Days of Ruin

Released (US)
January '08