Who's picking this up? Who's picking this up, he asks ever so casually
Let me tell you a tale of friends who have been waiting for a new Advance Wars like experience with proper asynchronous online play for over 10 years.
My love for Advance Wars started after I gave it a second chance on an emulator back when I was 14 years old. I didn't have a GBA, but I'd be damned if I was going to miss out on titles such as Advance Wars, and having played it initially I hadn't the foggiest as to what was going on or how I should play it. After having tried it for a second time though, and really committing myself, I soon found myself with a friend hooked in front of the PC planning out strategies and eventually playing against each other as well.
This went on for a while, first with the original Advance Wars, and then with Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising (I just burst out laughing realizing just how porn-like this sounds).
Then I got I got a DS, and then Advance Wars: Dual Strike came out. This game had some mileage on it, I tell you, and had been played on my DS by several of my friends throughout my secondary school days. I had introduced in to multiple groups of friends, and both at home and at school we could be found with one guy holding the DS finishing his turn, and the rest anxiously discussing the game whilst waiting for our turn.
A shift happened, because in my senior years of secondary school I was shifted to another building, and so new friendly contacts had to be established and friendships built. After a year or so, having recruited new potential candidates who were interested in games and did not shy away from strategy, I offered to take my DS with me to school so I could introduce them to the world of Advance Wars: Dual Strike during the lunch break. I wasn't long before they too bought the game so they could practice at home. Many an intense match was held, and we soon discovered the tactical joys of Fog of War which also came with it's fair share of meta-game and psychological warfare.
It became obvious, however, that Advance Wars: Dual Strike had a balancing problem. Not only with some of the insane CO powers (I'm looking at you Javier, with you COM-towers, or Colin with his Money buff), but also some of the insane units that were available. Though we attempted to restrict usage of certain COs, and tinkered with the units we could use, it became unnecessary, because on the horizon was the greatest Turn-Based Strategy game that had ever graced our simple souls: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin.
Yes, the themes, atmosphere, art direction, and music were a 180 from previous Advance Wars titles, but my goodness did it cut back on many of the insane excesses of Dual Strike, opting for a more concise and 'less-is-more' approach, while still innovating when it came to how COs were used and with some of the units. This became our gold standard going forward, and though we did cut Stolos and his daughters from being used during our matches, other than that everything was allowed.
Many a laughs were had with the random weather, and since we were now staunch supports of Fog of War (in fact, we couldn't even imagine how you could play the game without it anymore, since it plays almost like real war where you just don't know what your enemy is doing) the mind games took on new levels of insanity. Backstabbing though not knowing who is doing it, forming secret pacts outside of the game since the other player was getting too strong, pretending you saw someone's battleship in the hope they would cave under the pressure, bluffing that you're heading towards an island whilst actually preparing a secret invasion in the other direction; still to this day do we partake in said shenanigans, but my friend's submarine mindfuckery has influenced me so much that during ever game where there is water and naval bases, I am extremely cautious. His expert use of submarines has caused us to sweat profusely whenever we set out to create an armada. He raped our minds in a game many years ago and it still has its effect: THAT is Advance Wars Fog of War Meta-Game Insanity, my fellow Nyurpers!
With 800 hours combined on both game cartridges (my friend has one as well) and no end in sight when it came to the willingness of playing this game we knew it would become harder and harder to finish matches within a respectable time, because one friend moved to Germany and we all came to have busier lives as we entered the mad rat race of society. Heck, even before that we took about 2 years to complete one game just because our schedules did not align or I was abroad for many, many months.
Every E3 I would tell them that there may be a chance a new Advance Wars title could be announced, though it never got as far as a comment by some man from Intelligent Systems saying that they are still thinking about Advance Wars. This was during the resurgence of Fire Emblem, and it was obvious they were going for that anime-lewd people money, haha. But between Fire Emblem and Paper Mario, I had always hoped that whenever one of those games got finished a new Advance Wars may be on the horizon.
Alas, 'twas all for naught.
BUT THEN! THE FISH THAT CHUCKLED ANNOUNCED A SPIRITUAL SUCCESSOR. WE HAD CHUCKLES!!
We learned about asynchronous online play and we couldn't be more ecstatic, then we learned about cross play (my Red October Strategist friend doesn't own a Switch), and then we saw matches in Fog of War. Some tears were shed, I won't front.
This was the game we had been clamouring for for many years now, and you can be damn sure 800 more hours of fun will be had with this gem.
Though nothing beats a physical get-together and seeing the live reaction of your friend who tries to keep a stoic poker face, but knows he has just lost his CO unit and has to do a 'strategic retreat', it is a great solution for when we live apart.
I thank Chucklefish with all my heart, and the hearts of my friends. In fact, blood sacrifice is not out of the question.