Game Review #143: Wargroove (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Publisher: Chucklefish LTD
Release Date: 02.01.2019
Price (at time of review): $19.99
Buy Wargroove from the Nintendo eShop here.
A Day To Remember...
Turn-based strategy games are something I’ve always enjoyed, though when I do play them, I tend to be more judgement-laden with the games than with any other genre. I try to only play the very best, or ones I feel I’ll truly enjoy. So, back in 2001, I was excited to get my hands on Advance Wars for Game Boy Advance, as I’d heard nothing but good things about it. Crazy, considering most people around the world didn’t see its release until quite a bit later, as it was released in North America the day before the September 11th attacks, so Europe didn’t see it for almost a year, and it was even longer before Japan got its hands on it. I played Advance Wars and immediately became a huge fan. With the game being such a critical hit and gathering a large following of fans, I was sure that this, like other classics, would see more releases over the years as the consoles kept evolving.
Well, the good people over at Chucklefish must have felt our woes and decided to answer them in a spectacular way. Taking the look and feel of Advance Wars, trading in the guns and tanks for swords and dragons to give it a slight Fire Emblem touch. Luckily, Wargroove is much more than an Advance Wars re-skin. It has depth, story, and a hell of a lot of heart! Let’s jump in and talk Wargroove.
A Foul Plot Is Afoot. The War Is Here!
Just like many fantasy plots, it starts with an assassination that sets off a set of events that will change the Kingdom of Cherrystone forever. Sigrid is a High Vampire whose murderous plot thrusts the brave young Princess Mercia into being Queen before anyone had planned, and she must flee her home and prepare for war. As her enemies take chase, she must travel to the new lands and seek out allegiances to help her save the kingdom. She will meet a plethora of characters and face nefarious challenges along the way. This is a great story, and one of the best reasons to jump in immediately, as Chucklefish has a great starting point to launch a huge storyline spanning many games in the future.
Let’s Get Our Groove On
The gameplay is what you come to expect from a turn-based strategy game, as everything is pretty standard. Your mage guide takes you by the hand and teaches you the basics, and tells you how everything works and how to read stats and so on. This is perfect for new comers to the genre and players who don’t play TBS games all the time. You choose your commander from 1 of 13 choices of different characters with distinct personalities and motivations. Each commander has a unique ability, called Groove, which you’ll have to work to master. You also choose an alliance to one of the other warring factions of the Cherrystone Kingdom: Heavensong Empire, Felheim Legion, and the Floran Tribes. This plays differently than say, a Fire Emblem, where you’re worried about losing a certain character with a name, as instead you are the main character and you lead armies, and lives will be lost.
There will be a learning curve at points, because as the game went on, it did become increasingly harder and I had to stay on my toes. But, learning how to read your opponent is satisfying, though it can be a hell of a tricky task. Thankfully though, to anyone having trouble with the game, there are difficulty options that you can play with that are so much more than just easy/normal/hard. You can scale damage taken, money made, and move groove ability charge time up and down. I warn you to use this carefully though, because if it’s too low, you’ll only get one star. You need a certain number of stars to see the true ending.
Wargroove is something I’ve been yearning for, and now that’s it here, it will be in my game rotation for years to come. There are 3 modes you can play. Arcade Mode was fun but wasn’t where I spent a lot of time. Puzzle Mode was a lot of fun, and something you have to work really hard to master, as it all happens within one move. Then, of course, we have the main Campaign Mode, which I thought would be my all-out favorite; and I was wrong, which is saying a lot, because I love the campaign. The story is fantastic, the cut scenes and art are gorgeous, but there is something I liked even more.
Multiplayer gameplay is where it’s at! Of course, you can play local, but the online multiplayer is cross-platform over Switch, PC, and Xbox One, and it’s so easy to find each other and play. Like playing a well-crafted game of chess, you can take as much time as needed between turns. I could make a turn, leave and go run errands, and come back to see my opponent had taken a turn. This made the experience so enjoyable, and I am having a blast with it.
Finally, you can build your own maps and campaigns and share them with in the community. While I’ve never been great at or had much fun building maps, the great part is you can get other players’ maps. That was such a pleasant surprise, and at the time of me writing this, people in the community are already building maps in homage to Fire Emblem and Advance Wars, which has to make the creators smile that they’re supplying something everyone wanted so badly in high demand.
Audio & Visuals
Every single thing, from the sweeping soundtrack, to the amazing voice work, to the hilarious and amazing story/dialogue, all scream triple A. It screams passion and dedication, as you can tell a lot of heart was poured into this project. The updated-but-still-pixel-art graphics are nostalgic, but still fresh, and the beautiful cutscenes make me want to start a petition for a full on anime of Wargroove!
It’s A Wrap!
I know it’s been said before, but this is a no-brainer to new and old fans of the TBS genre. Wargroove has made the spiritual successor to Advance Wars we’ve been waiting for for far too long, but puts its own spin on the genre and story. This has so many options, so much you can do and unlock, a great campaign, and amazing multiplayer. This is the new gold standard for turn-based strategy games, and everyone should have this title in their collection. I will be playing this for years to come too, so find me on the battlefield and let’s groove!
Buy Wargroove from the Nintendo eShop here.
*Review Code Provided by Chucklefish