Mar 26 AT 10:42 AM Alex Byrnes 20 Comments

Battle for Mars. Android Game Review.

Battle for Mars is one of the more expensive games you’ll find on the Android market, but it’s well worth it. The character art is funny and unique, it works well with the controls on the G1, and, best of all, it’s based on one of the best video games ever made, Advance Wars.

The basic premise is the same as other turn-based strategy games.  You create units of various kinds (Soldier, Elite Soldier, SniperBot, TransBot, BombBot, MegaBot, RocketBot etc. as well as sea and air units eventually).  Each has a different cost and unique abilities.  The opposing side, or sides, have the same types of units and usually about the same ability to produce them.  Depending on the terrain and factory/city layout of a particular map, different strategies will need to be used.

Usually, the map is not symmetrical and you’ll have to use a different strategy from the one the computer is using.  This is what makes these games fun.  It’s a little Bad News Bears against the computer the first couple of times you play a map before you get the hang of it.  If you’re like me, you’ll try to “break” the game a few times to see if you can.  All SniperBots.  Nope.  Save up for a Doom Boat and then take them all out.  Nope.  A war of attrition with footsoldiers, a.k.a. the fire ant strategy.  Nope.  Good games don’t “break,” and this one won’t either (although the computer is not smart enough to keep you from occupying its one factory and preventing it from creating new units, but usually the game is about over by then anyway).

Different Units You Can Build

Different Units You Can Build

You’ll have to develop good strategies using the whole variety of unit types and they’ll be used roughly the way they were intended.  Doing a long press on a unit will give you a breakdown of its abilities, and show you the extent of an enemy’s range in the case of projectile bots.  Yes, when the maps get tough, you’ll be figuring out where the blind spot is amongst three or four RocketBots, and counting how many turns it’s going to take for an Attack Boat to reach your Gun Boat,  but it’s all worth it in the end.  Advance Wars afficionatos will be familiar.  Usually the bug strikes hard.

I’m sure I’m not doing the developers any favors by saying this game is almost an exact clone of Advance Wars, but it is.  If the game is not licensed, we may be looking at a Scrabulous type situation.  The units are basically the same with the same strengths and weaknesses, number of squares they can move over different terrain, range etc.  Even the little battle animations are almost identical.  One side shoots — pause — a few units on the other side blow up, the other side shots…  It’s the same thing.  The different typs of terrain are the same and the function of each type is the same. Basically, it stomps all over any intellectual property rights the original developers had in whatever country they had them in.  I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know what those rights may be, but, as with Scrabulous, the winner is… you.

The developers have picked up the ball where Advance Wars left it and squashed it right into our cellphones.  And let’s face it, it’s not acceptable to carry around a GameBoy Advance anymore.  Plus, they’ve taken away one of Advance War’s more onerous features, the multi-turn capture of cities.  This would often make your games stretch into the two hour area for no good reason.  For instance, if you only had one unit at the end, you’d be capturing that last city for ten turns.

A Battle Animation

A Battle Animation

In video games, clones work.  There isn’t a lot of development time spent making the game balanced and fun.  There isn’t a lot of time spent on the game part of the game, period.  What’s involved is adapting to a new platform and putting a new face and new features on the old guts.  Battle for Mars has done a good job of that and they started with great guts.

If you like turn-based strategy games, you will like Battle for Mars.  If you don’t like turn-based strategy games, you will still probably like Battle for Mars.  If you turn your nose up at people playing Stratego in the back of comic book stores, you will still probably like this game.  It’s pure Mars-themed fun.

For more strategy tips, see the Larva Labs blog.

Battle for Mars
Version: 1.0.6
Developed by: Larva Labs Ltd.
Price: $4.99
File Size: 1.24 MB

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