A void has existed in the gaming world since the absence of the Wars series (Advance Wars, Battalion Wars, etc.). There are other amazing turn-based tactics games (Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics being the best examples), but nothing is quite like Advance Wars. The first one on the Game Boy Advance showed potential. The second one improved on the formula and paved the way for the third one to become a masterpiece. The fourth one was a curveball that may have inadvertently ended the franchise. Over the last 11 years, there have been a few copycats, but the genre has seemingly gone out of fashion. Then along comes Chucklefish’s Wargroove.
Wargroove is so similar to the first three Advance Wars games, at times, it’s hard to differentiate between them. The general concept, numerous commanders with varying special abilities, and different unit types with specific strengths and weaknesses are all on display again. Despite this, Wargroove does still manage to set itself apart. With a unique art style, incredibly different music, and a fantastic map and campaign editor, Wargroove holds its own. Does that make it worth buying though?
The beginning of the campaign does a great job of teaching you battle mechanics. Over time, it slowly lets go of your hand so you can start figuring things out on your own. At the same time, small pieces of the story are given, but it doesn’t overburden you with it. The pups and dragons are basically the best part of the game. These units are amazing, cute, and majestic, all at the same time.
The music is also very impressive. There are a ton of enjoyable tracks, which is where the game separates itself best from the Advance Wars series. Musicians and those familiar with music terminology will also get a kick out of words like “requiem” and “cacophony” being used during the campaign. Online multiplayer is a huge plus, with endless hours to hone your strategy. It’s interesting to see what other players are able to do with equal parameters.
The text is stylistic, but can be hard to read. For example, “N’s” have a weird shape to them and look more like “M’s” that have been squished on the right side. Another weird aspect is that the map doesn’t move if you are pressing directional buttons while a unit is moving. Players can move the map again once the unit has arrived at its destination.
The battle animations are cool, but you have to wait three seconds with a button hold (every, single, time). It would’ve been better to to have the option to instantly skip them with a button press. At least the game gives players the option to skip the battle animations entirely, but it’s a little too “all or nothing”. Even though the campaign is very robust, it does feel like a slog after a while. The default difficulty is also a bit too hard. There are difficulty sliders, but this locks you out of attaining higher marks once the battle has been won.
Wargroove will undoubtedly please the majority of fans of the genre, but it is not without faults. Hopefully, this will bring life back to the turn-based tactics genre, and take it to new heights.