Originally recognized as the Wars series or the Famicom Wars in Japan. In the West, it’s widely known as the Advance Wars series that started with the first installment back in September of 2001 for the Game Boy Advance. However, the 1st original installment that kicked off the entire series was 1988’s Famicom Wars for the Family Computer.
During the 1990’s Nintendo continue the Wars series with 91’s Game Boy Wars, 97’s Game Boy Wars Turbo and finishing the decade off with 98’s Super Famicom Wars & Game Boy Wars 2. The third installment of Game Boy Wars was released in 2001, a month prior to the release of Advance Wars, however, at the time Nintendo was only releasing the Wars series in Japan.
Come 2001, Advance Wars launches on September 10th of 2001 for the newly released GameBoy Advance handheld system. The Game was put on hold due to the attacks on 9/11, Nintendo then pushed EU launch until January of 2002. Japan’s version hit the market with the GameBoy Wars Advance 1+2 in 2004. Developers originally wanted the game to remain exclusive to Japan due to the series releasing in their country since the start in ’88. Nintendo executives felt the game deserved a wide-release, developers then made their concerns that perhaps consumers would not be interested in the game’s playstyle, or find the game too complicated. For this reason, developers tweaked the mechanics of the game and made it easy to understand, adding and in-depth tutorial that has been in every Advance Wars game since. Because of this change, Designer Kentaro Nishimura stated “Advance Wars’ success shifted Nintendo’s attitude over western states”
Developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. The game was originally given the title of—Game Boy Advance Wars. During the development of the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo found it difficult to developed both simultaneously and requested Intelligent Systems to assist in the project. Originally the game was given a four-player mode had been confirmed at E3 2001, however, later scrapped due to reasons unknown.
Director Shimojo also discussed how developers introduced elements from their favorite genre into the game. This creativity allowed them to developed much of the game’s control and its playstyle rhythm we’re familiar with—also something in which the previous titles sort of lacked. To ensure the game was balanced, the designers had to play through various maps several times, Mr. Shimojo went to great lengths in reassuring Nintendo that the game needed to be tested over and over with various departments—due to possible balancing issues. It wasn’t before long someone at Nintendo said: “Stop it, stop it, we really have to launch it now”.
Advance Wars then launched receiving “universal acclaim” with gaming critics throughout various gaming websites, magazines, and the overall public. Metacritic has the now 16-year-old game sitting with a score of 92 out of 100. The game is rated as the 26th best game made on a Nintendo System—according to Nintendo Power’s Top 200 Games list.
The game’s soundtrack is also a delight, the moment you drop on its main menu you’re blasted with the game’s music intro. A hard hitting chop of gun shots, machinery, and the feel of battle. Depending on which character you choose, you’re given that character’s specific track. Andy’s Theme was the one to remember when playing the characters almost constantly, give it a listen.
It’s been almost 10 years since the last Wars game, that being the 2008 Advance Wars: Days of Ruin for the Nintendo 3DS—another well-received title from Nintendo. It’s strange nothing has been said of the series coming to the newly released Nintendo Switch. Advance Wars would seem like a perfect fit for the new hardware, a good on-the-go game. The possibilities of features the game could attain would be incredible such as; massive no region-locked online mode, 4 player online or co-op match, and community or team tournaments. Leaving the Wars series behind just doesn’t seem right, it’s been a stepping stone for the company’s handheld consoles. Only time would tell.
Nintendo did announce one game, in particular, a while back the company highlighted many of its indie titles that’ll be launching on the Switch. One game that has caught everyone’s eye is “WarGroove” developed by Chucklefish, from the looks of the game, it appears as a clear spiritual successor to the Wars series. Instead of a modern military theme, we’re introduced to a medieval/knights of the round theme. Fill with very similar deep turn-based tactical combat, the game is on everyone’s lookout come its release sometime this year. Many other indie developers have developed their own version of the game, one game to mind is the popular PC game; 3D Advance Wars.
What has made Advance Wars so popular all these years is its impressive battle system and overall game style. For a 9 year kid at the time, playing this for the first time blew me away at how massive this little war game felt. I don’t ever recall considering the game to be difficult, except only challenging, a mix of strategizing your next move all while having a fun. From small to lengthy matches, the game never disappointed or felt repetitive, you’re given so many options to win the match that you’re planning your third move ahead before the enemy makes his. It’s a beloved series of mine—and of many across the globe—one that I hope returns soon for the now current Nintendo Console or perhaps on the iOS and Android.
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