There are so many fans clamouring for a new Advance Wars game that it’s really surprising Nintendo hasn’t come up with a sequel yet. While Tiny Metal may have hit the spot for some, Chucklefish have a more fantasy themed alternative in Wargroove.
The developer has obviously got a soft spot for Advance Wars and it shows in the game. With that said, it cuts its own path, both in terms of the setting and in gameplay, which manages to add quite a few neat twists and new ideas to the formula while keeping it simple enough to get to grips with quickly. Wargroove also has the advantage of being available on multiple platforms
Wargroove is more nuanced than past games, allowing different units to come into the fight at any point and instead of a rock-paper-scissors approach it allows more freedom for each unit to be a force in itself against the enemy. That said, there is a system in place where certain units have boosted stats when fighting alongside others, so there’s an element of team work added to the strategy. The commander is the most important character in the field as they have a specific power, or ‘groove’ they can use that can often help turn the tide of a battle. While they’re strong, it’s worth ensuring that they are also protected.
The fantasy setting means a typical fantasy story, this one being about Cherrystone Kingdom and the newly appointed queen who must protect against their frosty undead neighbours who happened to have assassinated her father. The world is big and beautifully detailed with specific areas throwing up new challenges. It’s a rather sprawling story at times and does wander off but manages to wrap up well. Although its pixel-art style means that it looks a little dated, the choice works in the game’s favour as well, allowing for large and detailed battlefields, It is still difficult to lose troops in the field in these large maps but not very often.
Movement is turn-based and the large maps mean battles can take quite a while to resolve, with units moving backward and forward to counter each other. It’s not for those gamers who lack patience but I always felt that there was an element of danger and the strategy is intriguing. Difficulty is harsh but fair and will offer a challenge. Units are varied, from dogs in armour to knights and even dragons, there’s always something on the enemy side to counter them, too. I don’t think I ever felt overpowered. Taking buildings to earn money and building a barracks are also essential to winning, allowing you to build up troops in order to surround the enemy, while they do the same. Taking their stronghold or defeating all their army or their commander will end the round but each option has its own pros and cons.
For those who complete the game and are looking for something else to do, Wargroove has you covered by sporting a rather comprehensive level builder that you can share with friends. It’s a nice addition to the arcade and campaign modes and allows you to practice your strategies as an aside.
Wargroove is a great addition to the indie strategy genre that will be enjoyed by those willing to put in the patience. Fans of Advance Wars will be no doubt split on the setting and the changes to the formula here, but I’d say it’s still well worth picking this game up if you fancy a good solid strategy title.