‘Wargroove’ takes strategy back in time

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Jacob Clary and Jacob Clary

Nintendo seems to think that their Advance Wars series wouldn’t be worth another entry, there hasn’t been a new one since the release of “Advance Wars: Days of Ruin” in 2008, and that’s where “Wargroove” comes in. Advance wars, the sister series to Fire Emblem, carries many similar aspects like moving multiple soldiers around a map to defeat enemies but also has differences. A couple of them are a lack of focus on named characters, setting, as Fire Emblem is in a medieval one and Advance Wars is modern, as well as the ability to capture property. “Wargroove” is like the Advance Wars series in terms of gameplay, but like Fire Emblem in its setting.

       To begin with, the gameplay is the most important aspect of “Wargroove.” It requires strategy to complete the objectives unlike a lot of games where it feels like the player can just move around the map all willy-nilly. I like this aspect of the game a lot. The player must think about where they move their soldiers, or they could lose them almost immediately.

However, unlike a game like Fire Emblem, where you have the soldiers on your field, and there isn’t really a way to make more, “Wargroove” has a barracks and property system on each mission. The player can capture villages, which helps give them income, allowing them to make more soldiers during the mission. So, even if the player loses a lot of soldiers, that doesn’t mean they’ve lost the mission. I like this extra bit of strategy too. Do you want to have a lot of battlepups or a lot of pikemen? Each soldier has different strengths and weaknesses. It gives the player a lot of choices in the way they want to craft their battle strategy and in this case choice is a very good thing.

“Wargroove” also has commanders, which is a single unit that is much more powerful than the normal soldier. The commander also has a special power which the player can use when they get in a groove, and that happens if the commander gets in a lot of battles. Some of the powers are a heal for the surrounding soldiers and another is higher defense for soldiers in the nearby area. The commanders have the power to take out many soldiers by themselves, but if they die, then the player fails the mission.

That is one of the more interesting, and important, aspects of the game. Should I use my commander like a machine gun, taking out many soldiers but also getting hurt a lot? Or should I use them as a sniper rifle, only taking out a few important soldiers but leave the commander healthy as a security blanket?

Like the player has a commander, so too does the enemy. Their commander is very powerful, but also if the player takes them down, it most of the times automatically win the mission. Some missions have different objectives, but most of the time that’s the objective. It’s simple enough an objective, but sometimes it takes a bit of strategy to get the stronger soldiers to the commander to be able to take them out. Or you could take down the enemy’s castle, which is another way the player can complete the mission.

I love the amount of choice that “Wargroove” gives the player. The type of soldiers they want to use, how they want to use those soldiers and how they want to complete the mission all allow the player to put their own stamp on the game.

The game’s art style is also gorgeous. It employs a hyper-bit art style, which means it looks like an 8 or 16-bit game but adds even more detail to that. This isn’t one of those games that could have been played on the old hardware, it needs the new systems to work. Games like “Shovel Knight” tried their best to looks as similar as possible to an NES game, but “Wargroove” relishes in being able to use the extended color palette. Some of the characters and soldiers look spectacular and kept surprising me with the level of creativity. The battlepups looks so cute and emberwings, which are like dragons, look devastating. Just look the soldier designs up and you will be there for a while just looking at the designs and reading the descriptions of them. I know I did.

The game’s story is also interesting. It starts out in a unique way, one I haven’t seen in a game, and that made me get into the game immediately. The objectives of the game come into play in the story. Something I hate about strategy games is that there might be a mission objective, but then the player completes it, and the objectives have nothing to do with the story. Like you might need to destroy all the weapons or kill all the soldiers, but then the mission completes, and it’s never mentioned again. However, in this game, because of the simplicity of the missions, the story can use those missions to its advantage. I haven’t completed the story yet, but right now I am very excited to see how it ends.

Something I dislike a lot about Nintendo, and this may be weird to say, is that they have too many different IPs. Because of that, they can’t make a new entry in every series I want them to. A couple of those are F-Zero and Advance Wars. I am happy “Wargroove” exists to take the place of an Advance Wars game because I have been yearning for a strategy game with unique mechanics like that series. It takes the best parts of the series, like the commander and income systems, but it also helps move the genre to the future. The art style in “Wargroove” is what I pictured the old strategy games looking like and it’s perfect. I really hope “Wargroove” does well so we can get another game because it deserves to sell like hotcakes.