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Advance Wars is a 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.


Advance Wars is a modern warfare themed game featuring many modern weaponry from firearms to warfare vehicles like tanks, helicopters, and battleships. While the Fire Emblem series focuses on a cast of unique characters that the player directly controls on a battlefield and focuses on classical RPG elements such as equipment and character growth, Advance Wars focuses on a broader perspective approach to battle with the player taking the role of a unique Commanding Officer or CO with certain specializations and abilities while fielding hundreds of generic foot soldiers and vehicles and focusing more on resource management.

In Japan, the series is often referred to as the Wars series as each title is fronted by the system the game is on such as the original Famicom Wars named after the Famicom. Internationally, the franchise is simply referred to as the Advance Wars series as all four of the released titles carry this title including the two later released on the Nintendo DS.

Many consider specifically the successes of Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising internationally as contributing factors in Nintendo's decision to begin releasing the Fire Emblem series internationally as Intelligent Systems developed both series at the time.

The Advance Wars line of games has four total international releases with the original Advance Wars released in 2001, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising releasing in 2003, Advance Wars: Dual Strike in 2005, and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin in 2008. An enhanced remake of the first two games, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, was later released in 2023. It was not developed by Intelligent Systems, instead being developed by WayForward.

Comparison to Fire Emblem[]

Gameplay-wise, the Advance Wars franchise features the same turn-based grid gameplay framework as the Fire Emblem series. Other notable shared traits include emphasis on using terrain for advantages and certain functions like weather and attack ranges of certain units. However there are many notable differences in terms of story and gameplay.

  • Combat is focused on nameless, generic units battling similarly generic units of enemy forces.
    • Gameplay field units are more expendable with little to no gravity placed on unit lost as a result.
    • Gameplay is focused more on resource management with factors like war funds, ammunition, and fuel factoring into unit value rather than RPG-styled character growths and stats.
    • Stats are more straight forward in contributing to combat with very little factors of percentile RNG luck in outcomes aside from higher damage.
  • Named characters, the Commanding Officers or COs, play passive roles during gameplay, focusing more on giving advantages and special powers to said generic units.
  • Several earlier titles in the Wars franchise featured no narrative at all, though this is not applicable to all Wars games released internationally.
  • A more robust multiplayer mode, which allows up to a four-way battle royale battle in local multiplayer through multiple systems or even on the same device.
  • Internal customizable options allow players to create battle maps/scenarios to use for PvE gameplay or multiplayer externally from the game's main storyline.


  • 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.
  • Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp was developed specifically for western markets, with no planned Japanese release.
  • Advance Wars first released in North America on September 10, 2001, the day before the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center's twin towers. The Japanese release was subsequently delayed until 2004, when it was included as part of a compilation with Advance Wars 2.
  • Three titles in the series were developed by Hudson Soft. Game Boy Wars Turbo, an enhanced version of the Intelligent Systems-developed Game Boy Wars, followed by Game Boy Wars 2 and Game Boy Wars 3. Hudson Soft also worked on 64 Wars, a Nintendo 64 entry in the franchise, before the game was ultimately cancelled.


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