Advance Wars is another turn-based strategy game series created by Intelligent Systems, the creators of Fire Emblem. The original title in the series, Famicom Wars, released in 1988, predates the release of the original Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light by nearly two years.
The series is considered to be the modern/futuristic equivalent to Fire Emblem, using tanks, ships and aircraft as opposed to swords and sorcery. Unlike Fire Emblem, Advance Wars is more of a straight-forward strategy game instead of a strategy RPG. Combat is focused on generic units that are mass-produced, with the non-combatant commanding officers (COs) of each faction serving as the narrative focus.
In Japan, each entry in the franchise is named for the platform it released on, including the original Famicom Wars, Game Boy Wars, and Game Boy Wars Advance. Game Boy Wars Advance became the first title in the series to be localized and distributed outside of Japan, and in the west was given the name Advance Wars; the name remained in place for future localizations after the series left the Game Boy Advance behind.
The franchise has also seen core titles and spin-offs that were not developed by Intelligent Systems. Though Game Boy Wars, released in 1991, was developed by Intelligent Systems, an enhanced version entitled Game Boy Wars Turbo released in 1997 was developed by Hudson Soft. Hudson Soft also developed two sequels, Game Boy Wars 2 and Game Boy Wars 3, released in 1998 and 2001 respectively.
An action-focused spin-off, Battalion Wars, released in 2005 for the GameCube, was originally titled Advance Wars: Under Fire during development. The game received a sequel on the Wii in Battalion Wars 2 in 2007. Both titles were developed by Kuju Entertainment.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, a remake of Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, announced at E3 2021, is being developed by WayForward with supervision from Intelligent Systems.
Fire Emblem series creator Shouzou Kaga is credited as having worked on one entry in the series, Super Famicom Wars, which released in 1998.
Notable differences from Fire Emblem
The core gameplay of Advance Wars features numerous differences that distinguish it from Fire Emblem. Some of these differences include:
- Characters featured in the main story hardly ever appear on the field.
- Earlier entries in the franchise have no narrative at all and are entirely gameplay-focused.
- Combat units are nameless, generic soldiers and are more expendable.
- Units of the same class are indistinguishable. Any cross-faction differences are based on the CO.
- Units cannot gain experience, level up and promote.
- The amount of Hit Points of a unit affects its ability to attack and counterattack.
- Ranged units cannot move and attack in one turn.
- Units cannot usually heal each other or themselves, although they can be placed on buildings to recover. Two units of the same type can also be combined to form a single unit with more hit points.
- COs have special CO Powers that when triggered affect most, if not all allied or enemy units on the map. These powers range from buffing controlled units to damaging enemy units. The effect depends on the CO.
- Units cannot inflict or receive any status conditions.
- There are no houses or villages to visit, although properties must be captured to secure steady income.
- It is impossible for an attack to miss. Although attacks can do 0 damage.
- There are no critical hits. More powerful attacks, however, can occur due to the CO's strengths and weaknesses.
- There are no weapons or items. Instead, each unit has fixed usable weapons.
- The characters in Advance Wars are typically portrayed in a more lighthearted and cartoonish manner than in the Fire Emblem series. The lone exception to this is Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, which adopted a more self-serious and mature tone than its predecessors, making its characters and story more comparable to the tone of the Fire Emblem series.
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin was only released commercially in North America and Europe. The Japanese commercial release was cancelled, but in 2013 became available as a reward for Japanese Club Nintendo platinum members.