Many DS games use the two screens as an afterthought. Not so with Advance Wars: Dual Strike, which incorporates the hardware's features into the series' already addicting turn-based gameplay. The goal in remains the same: pound the enemy army into the ground. There are several Commanding Officers to choose from, each with advantages and weaknesses - usually having a proficiency in one type of combat while lacking another. The same goes for specific units, such as submarines, stealth fighters or anti-aircraft batteries. Build too many of one type and you're likely to get blown off the map. Similarly, capturing cities brings in more money but leaves your base open for attack. It’s this simple yet surprisingly layered approach that makes the series appealing.
Some missions use the top screen for an entirely different battlefront, forcing you to manage twice the number of units and fend off the enemy in two places at once. Succeed on the secondary front and your companion CO hops over to your battlefield ready to lend a hand. By launching successful attacks you can fill both COs' power meters and can pull off a Dual Strike, the most devastating attack in the game. It lets you take two turns in a row with additional powers activated. Play this card at a crucial moment and you could annihilate the enemy before they know what’s coming.
The touch system for selecting units functions well, but the sensitivity is suspect. More than once you'll tap a unit and accidentally hit cancel, putting it out of the fight until next turn. Taking the fight to your friends in multiplayer is a riot of course, but why not make Dual Strike the launch title for the Wi-Fi Connection? The head-to-head nature of this game makes it ideal.
An unexpectedly cool bonus feature is the Combat minigame. Instead of taking turns, you directly control one unit at a time and blast your way through the enemy's ranks. The same paper-scissors-rock idea applies to the units but it happens in real time. Combat's a fun diversion from the main game and easy enough to pick up and play without any familiarity to the series.
Bulldozing your way through single player will last for hours, but the war chest of multiplayer options extends the game's life well into infinity. Turn-based warfare or eight-player Combat, you make the call.
Tack onto all this a robust soundtrack, a comprehensive level editor and a war room filled with new maps and unlockable features and you’ve found one of the longest, most rewarding DS games out there. Put this online and it'd be damn near perfect.