Originally intended as a GameCube version of the long running Advanced Wars series, developer Kuju, in an attempt to capture new audiences, have reworked Battalion Wars as an original stretgy game.
After a ceasefire deal between the Western Frontier and the Tundran Empire has been broken, war breaks out. You assume command of the American cliché Frontier Army and must take on missions, getting graded based on your performance after each one. As you progress and more units become available, tactical deployment of these units becomes necessary, as going into every battle with your full battalion is a waste of the units weakest to the enemy.
Battalion Wars retains the visual style of the Advance Wars series with ‘cartoonish’ style units. Although graphically child-friendly, there is an ‘M’ rating on the game, seemingly defeating the point of the visual style to an extent.
You control one unit, while commanding the others with the X and Y buttons. You have a variety of Tanks, Soldiers and Planes at your disposal. Controls are simplified for a console RTS - however, some units like the Recon tanks can be difficult to steer and are best left to your soldiers, unless necessary for the mission.
A couple of things separate this from the RTS norm. The first difference is that there is no base building - any extra units are gained through either saving hostages or reinforcements, or implementing efficient tactics to preserve your battalion. Secondly, there is no multiplayer mode, taking away a lot of longevity. The frustration factor sets in when you realize there is no mid-mission saving - an essential feature in a game where the smallest mistake can cost the mission.
Doing away with turn-based gameplay in favor of real-time action while retaining some aspects true to the original - such as cartoon visuals - was a risky move. However, they have pulled it off to a degree.