Warbits Plus review
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Warbits Plus review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on May 24th, 2024
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: MORE WAR
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This remade tactics game has a lot to offer, but its charm can wear thin before you’re done with it.

Developer: Risky Lab Inc

Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

They say war never changes, but that hasn't stopped Risky Lab from reworking their nifty little tactics game into an updated "plus" version. For better or for worse, the changes that are present in Warbits Plus are slight and mostly feel like a way to update the look and feel of an aged mobile game that can still offer some fun, tactical action.

Modern warfare

It is clearly intentional that Warbits Plus is named the way that it is. This is no sequel. At it's core it is essentially the same game as the 2016 original. This is not to say there is no new content or updated features, however.

Warbits Plus has been fully rebuilt from the ground up, which allows for the game to display in full screen on newer devices, switch seamlessly between portrait and landscape views, undo boneheaded moves with an undo button, and play cross-platform multiplayer against people on PC or Android. In addition to this, it seems that some levels have also been reworked even though that isn't specifically noted in any of the press materials.

Almost advance

The lineage Warbits Plus is playing off of is still clear as day in this release. Military skirmishes here echo those of Advance Wars, including the same kinds of mechanics for capturing buildings, using special powers, terrain advantages, and more. To be clear: there's nothing inherently wrong with this, especially since Risky Lab comes at this with a level of care that demonstrates their respect for those games while giving a unique identity to their own creation.

That said, this approach feels a little less novel than it did when Warbits first released eight years ago, and it still suffers from a lot of the same issues I bump into when playing games like this. Everything is all fun and dandy until there's some level in the campaign that challenges you to be a tactical wizard or otherwise grind out a war of attrition, and--whether I happen to figure out the swift way to win or not--neither approach ends up feeling all that rewarding.

Kinks in the war machine

Up until I got to some of the late stages inWarbits Plus that put me off a bit, I also seemed to encounter some strange game behavior that I can't tell was purposeful or just a bug. For example, the touted "undo" button in this upgraded version of the game doesn't always seem to appear. I also found that I was unable to use any command powers if there was a unit (even if it was friendly) on my headquarters.

These might sound like small issues, but there were multiple times where I'd run into them and they would effectively kill any chance I had at winning. Maybe these are just design choices, but if they are they feel bad because they are unintuitive, underexplained, and inconsistent. So, as much of this ill will could be coming from my own negative experiences where I'd do something wrong and mess up a mission, it almost always ended up feeling worse because tools that are seemingly available to help bail players out or correct issues seem to just vanish under certain circumstances.

The bottom line

Warbits Plus is a charming little tactics game, and it's worth celebrating as a quality revamp of a beloved mobile title. I don't love the way its difficulty spikes or how some of its systems don't behave how I expect them to, but I can imagine tactics nuts or anyone pining for another Advance Wars seeing a lot to like here. Heck, even I like a lot of it. That just ends at a certain point, though, and it was before I had completed the game.

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