Do you like Advance Wars? The 2001 Game Boy Advance turn-based strategy game holds a special place in a lot of folks' hearts because it was an interesting and accessible game, being the first strategy game that many people played, myself included. Many turn-based strategy games to this day owe a signifcant debt to Advance Wars. Warbits [$4.99] falls well in that category, but it's probably more accurate to say that it's trying to be Advance Wars. It lacks originality, but it doesn't screw anything up on the way, and it's Advance Wars on your phone with online play. I'm not hearing any objections.

Warbits 1

Warbits seriously copies the feel and structure of Advance Wars to a T. You fight on square-grid battlefields, moving all of your units in one turn before other players go. You can capture buildings, use factories to build new units, win by annhilation or conquering the enemy base. Even if you haven't touched Advance Wars in eons, you'll be familiar with this. It might be a tougher pickup if you're new, but I assure you, stick with it for a while. The early missions do a good job at easing you into the peril yet to come. But what makes Warbits so much fun is that it strikes that balance between being accessible while having enough depth to keep you satisfied. The number of units and their rules is manageable to keep track of. You still have to learn how they all work, and it's possible to slip up, but the game doesn't throw too much at you. It's that emergent complexity that Warbits excels at, as you feel like you're in command when you need to be. Just give it some time, and you'll be a decent strategist. Thankfully, the interface does a great job too at showing you what your units are capable of, along with your enemies.

The Warbits multiplayer features are top-notch. There's the asynchronous multiplayer, which lets you play in up-to-4-player matches against friends or random opponents. But there's also the clever tag match system. You put in a hashtag, and you can compete and participate in league matches against people also in that tag. It's a really cool system that makes it easy to form up leagues and whatnot. And of course people are throwing down in the #toucharcade tag, because y'all are good folks.

Warbits 2

Unfortunately, Warbits is another victim of the dreaded Game Center issues around the time of its release. The bulk of the game is centrered around its multiplayer modes, but those rely on Game Center. So, if your Game Center is broken, well, at least half of the game is cut off to you! This is less the fault of Risky Lab and more a shame on Apple for having allowed Game Center to get so decrepit. And maybe on the mobile gaming media for having not raised a bigger stink about it, myself included. Because a killer feature in a game that Apple deemed their Editor's Choice is broken for many dedicated players. You know, the kind of people that would buy a game like this? Thankfully, iOS 9.3.2 might just be our savior for Game Center issues.

The solo campaign itself is fun, spending the first chunk of the game getting you acclimated to the missions before dropping you into a world of hurt in its 20 total missions. The campaign quickly ramps up into something rather challenging, or maybe I'm an idiot. Still, while I don't think you'd get the same lengthy campaign one of the Advance Wars games has, you also only pay a few bucks for this, so consider what you're getting here. It's a fun diversion for when you have to wait for new turns, or are out of data range, or if your Game Center doesn't work at all. The writing is pretty funny, too.

Warbits 3

The thing that's kind of disappointing about Warbits is that you have this game that's so slick and well-constructed, and yet it feels like it's aiming a bit low to make what is pretty much a shameless Advance Wars clone. Seriously, this is one of the slickest production jobs I've seen on a mobile game; everything from the animations to the menus and animations is an A-grade design effort. I'm consistently impressed by this game as a product. But yet, it shows very little actual originality in its actual gameplay, preferring to instead kowtow to skewing close to another game. Granted, "Advance Wars clone with turn-based multiplayer" is not the worst thing in the world. But I think back to when I was talking with forum moderator metalcasket about the game, and why I thought he should stick with it rather than just abandon the game for being too difficult. All the while, I kept referring to how accessible Advance Wars was back in the day, because it really as. It took a genre that seemed impenetrable and made it understadable and accessible for someone playing it for the first time. And as Warbits is basically that, I saw no reason to not discuss the two games as if they were different entities, because minus a few tweaks to things like the powers system, and the online features, what difference is there? They're minimal at best.

I feel like Warbits could have taken some risks, tried to do some things that were more than just trying to ape Advance Wars. Risky Lab clearly has talent – the work they did on the art and interface is seriously just superb. I think Pixel Machines [$0.99] being a shameless Micro Machines clone is fine, perhaps because the game it's copying is older and less-imitated. But I think there's a bunch of Advance Wars-style strategy games, and none have the production values that Warbits has. And I don't know, I would have loved to have seen the effort here go into something that I didn't feel so familiar with. Yet, that's not a bad thing: if you're going to copy, copy from the best. And I can't play Advance Wars with asynchronous online multiplayer on my phone (yet), so Warbits fills that void quite well. And a comment I saw that celebrated Warbits as an Advance Wars clone that they could play on their phone perhaps should cement that as long as you know to not expect anything too out of the ordinary, you'll have a great time reliving a strategy classic in new paint.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • dancj

    I don't know Advance Wars, but I loved Mecho Wars - which I gather is something of an Advance Wars clone.

    How does this compare with that?

    • Reydn

      Better in most every way. Macho was decent though.

      • dancj

        I had a feeling it would be. Mecho Wars is great fun, but very basic - and I think I completed it without losing a single battle.

  • antoniojose

    itΒ΄s better

    • dancj

      Ah sod it. Bought.

      I really am getting wild and crazy with my money lately!

      • Chowderbatter

        Look at you, crazy man, dropping $2.99 like it was nothing.

        Which... it is.

      • dancj

        It's more than I usually pay. (I also just bought a PS4)

      • Tallgeese

        Whoa, man, if you wanna ride and die with us mobile gamers you better smash up that console as a test of loyalty, bro!

      • dancj

        Ha. I bought it for my kids really. I thought the main use I'd get out of it would be watching Powers, but it turns out that's not available in the UK

      • Tallgeese

        Haha, all the more reason to smash it up then! Wait 'til they get to a good part in Skylanders and are like "parental unit A, you're the best, and our favorite, parental unit A, nothing you could do within the next few minutes could ever change our current estimation of how great you are!" And then take the bat to it! Muwahahaha! And by bat I mean one of those silly inflatable ones you get at the fair that makes silly squeaking noises.

  • gmattergames

    True: it's faithful to AW in almost every respect, but there really hasn't been a polished true-to-form AW clone, so definitely fills the void and is certainly poised for expansions and dlc to take it beyond AW.

    • Mike

      my sentiment exactly...i hope they read what you said and take note. I want to buy some expansions and dlc from risky labs

  • one.sixty.four

    Nice nod to fallout 4 in the review title. πŸ˜‰

    • Zohar

      "War never changes" is a gimmick that appeared first in Fallout 1.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Nothing gets past this guy!

      • Zohar

        I think it's a bit sad you take it that way : you should cherish serious gamers as much as more casual ones, especially if you want mobile gaming to be taken seriously and more than just "toilet gaming".

      • Tallgeese

        Yeah, Eli! You better smash up a toilet! Or pull all the sinks off the wall like Dewey C.!

      • Michal Hochmajer

        What is wrong with "toilet gaming". Nothing! Hemorrhoids crying out of loud.
        "especially if you want mobile gaming to be taken seriously"
        This is really weird one. Do You realize how massive mobile gaming is? Definitely this part of industry can easily ignore "serious old school gamers and developers who knows best, what's good for all players, yet can't influence and sell more".
        Btw. I am taking mobile gaming seriously, no matter what Eli writes or says.
        And of course, you are right with your previous post about Fallout. Just enjoy "toilet gaming" as much as the others! That's an order gamer! πŸ™‚
        Good review Carter, thx.

      • one.sixty.four

        My bad, fallout 4 was my first fallout, so I didn't know. πŸ˜‰

      • Zohar

        No worries mate, but you should definitely check the other games, as they are really good. I'd recommend Fallout 2 if you can get pass the technology gap, or New Vegas if you can't.

      • Tallgeese

        "I didn't know winky face?!?" No, man, you gonna have to smash up a console or an arcade machine or one of those claw-grabber things and bring us all the stuffed animals, bro, or we'll never forgive you! (I'll take that smiley sharp-tooth and his long-neck friend, thank you)

      • Tallgeese

        Also either of the Fallout wikis are great if you wanna get lost in the lore (lotta references between F2 and NV), there are also
        tons of mods on the nexus if you play via PC and want to change the ghastly made-for-console UI that Bethesda always ships with.

    • zergslayer69

      My first thought was metal gear solid 4 where snake says that in the beginning of the game. Or I think he did?

  • iosuser

    I don't recall ever seeing an Advanced Wars clone on ios and that particular criticism seems odd. Great game and since we will never see Advanced Wars on ios this fits perfect. I hope they add more single player campaign, I'd gladly pay extra IAP for it.

    • mr_bez

      I think the devs are hoping to add Challenge maps in a future update.

  • FastShoes

    "The campaign quickly ramps up into something rather challenging"

    Agreed, that is why I'm having a hard time with it. You really have to dedicate some time to learning the units stats. I'm toughing it out for now, but it may fall off my list.

    • rezn

      Yeah this game seems tougher than what I remember from AW series. I do remember having to play levels over again. But by the 2nd area I was already getting my butt handed to me. Hopefully they do some more beta testing and I'm sure they'll add something extra down the road. Easily one of the best games this year imo.

  • Modjular

    The way I see it, their studio's strength must be in the UI and art department. It makes sense that they'd use a concept that's tried and true as a vessel for their very well-done visuals. I appreciate the fact that it isn't some "innovative" attempt that turned out crappy, which seems to be the case a lot.

  • mr_bez

    On the subject of Game Center, iOS9.3.2 definitely solved all my issues. You guys should definitely do a big feature on "Game Center games you may have missed" once 9.3.2 goes public, though!

    • mr_bez

      And here's the beta link if you want to download it now and get your multiplayer Warbits on!

      You can sign up here and have the new software downloading within a few minutes: https://beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/.

  • Andy Clarke

    I really like the game, I am a massive advance wars fan, my only issue is that a lot of the units look very similar, which leads to confusion and you have to go into a menu to see the enemy's range which slows the game down.

  • Jake7905

    I didn't see this mentioned in the review; even if you're experiencing the Game Center bug, you can still play the multiplayer maps with AI opponents. And the AI is no pushover, so it's definitely an option worth exploring.

  • Mike

    what an excellent review. i was playing warbits, and then i read this and completely agreed. Innovation would have been nice. but excellent AW clone, and catchy dialogue, and its considerate to parents making this a digital simulator that's actually non-violent, and the competitors are having disputes over issues like strawberries being true berries or not. Its funny

  • Tallgeese

    Is the champagne story any good and does it have heroes? I really like the Days of Ruin characters and story. I noticed from the trailer the battles aren't separate dynamic scenes but but take place on the map screen (which is the same as if you chose to turn off battle animations to make the Advance Wars match go quicker). I have very high standards for my war simulators you see. If it doesn't meet my standards I'll just have to go back to starting wars in other sections of the globe as a means of sating my thirst for bloodshed.

    • Michal Hochmajer

      Oh my, separate battle window. Most beautiful and unnecessary thing in the turn-based strategies. Brings back most pleasant memories. Battle Isle, Panzer General, Advance Wars and especially Fire Emblem (most beautiful animated pixels in my opinion).

      • Tallgeese

        ya, one of those icing on the cake things, really...

  • durp

    I'll second the complaint on unit over-similarity. How hard outs it be to

  • durp

    *darn premature post* ... Like the game. Units easy to confuse. Still haven't tried out multiplayer.

  • Noryta

    Yes, the range thing is very confusing. The load/unload mechanism is a bit clunky since ground units cannot be uploaded onto a carrier that this unit cannot have access to (ocean or mt. for mechs). I also have a hard time predicting how much dmg my units would do and how effective the defense bonuses are......

  • jabbasoft

    I like, I bought. I worry there may be a takedown / IP issue due to the gameplay and content being so similar to AW plus lots of us buying it and raising its profile when it might have just bubbled under the radar..

  • Sebastian Gomez

    I played an Advance Wars game on the NintendoDS but I never finished it. I might give this game a try later.

    Thanks for reviewing.

  • Gratang

    Preference shoot

  • Paul M

    "Advance Wars on your phone with online play". Nintendo, pretty please, take notice.

Warbits Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 4.5