Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising was a 2003 turn-based tactics game for the Game Boy Advance. Compared to the first Advance Wars on Game Boy Advance, this sequel was more of an expansion pack. It didn’t really change the gameplay up all that much (the sign of a sequel). It mostly just added a lot more content. There was a new campaign, many more maps for custom games, and eight new Commanding Officers (COs) to play as.
The only new gameplay was in the form of two new map features, the Missile Silo and Oil Pipes, and a new unit, the Neotank. The Missile Silo was a special building that could be captured. Once captured, the player could launch attacks with large area-of-effect damage almost anywhere on the battlefield. It was pretty powerful, so most games involving Missile Silos meant making a beeline to them as soon as possible. The Pipes were mostly just barriers that units couldn’t pass. The Pipes could have weak points, however, that units could attack to destroy and eventually open a new passageway on the battlefield. The Neotank was a new ultimate Tank unit that was strong against almost all other units in the game.
The new gameplay changes definitely changed the strategy a little bit, but the gameplay was mostly the same. Advance Wars 2 was superior to the first game in every way. It just didn’t offer a lot of fresh gameplay. It was one of those cases where new players should always get the sequel. Unless they wanted to see the story from the first game’s campaign, there was no reason to ever play the first game if they had the sequel. The sequel had everything from the first game and more.
This is always slightly disappointing to me as a player because I have become so used to amazing new game mechanics in sequels. If they don’t add new mechanics, they at least do a lot of polishing to existing gameplay and improve the graphics. Advance Wars 2 didn’t do much of that. It was mostly just an expansion pack. That’s fine, but it should be priced as an expansion pack, not a full game. It wasn’t such a big deal for me though because I played this game through the Wii U’s Virtual Console. I got both games for a low price. It didn’t matter that the sequel wasn’t any cheaper. I haven’t done everything in these games yet, but I will enjoy them for many more hours still.