Wars (series)

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Genre(s)Turn-based tactics
Real-time strategy (Battalion Wars)
Developer(s)Intelligent Systems, Kuju Entertainment
Platform(s)Famicom, Virtual Console, Game Boy, Super Famicom, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, GameCube, Wii
First releaseFamicom Wars
August 12, 1988
Latest releaseDays of Ruin
January 21, 2008

The Wars series, technically known as Famicom Wars[a] and Advance Wars[b], is a series of military turn-based tactics video games, usually developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. The series debuted in Japan on August 12, 1988. Like another Intelligent Systems series, Fire Emblem, earlier installments of the series were released only in Japan; Advance Wars (2001) was the first to reach the North American and European markets. Advance Wars was released in the United States on September 10, 2001, but put on hold in Japan and Europe due to the following day's events.[1] Although released in Europe in January 2002, neither GBA game was released in Japan until the Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2 compilation which released for the Game Boy Advance on November 25, 2004 and for the Wii U Virtual Console on April 3, 2014.

In 2005, Advance Wars: Dual Strike was released on the Nintendo DS platform, which follows the basic form of its predecessors. That same year Battalion Wars, developed by Kuju Entertainment, was released for the Nintendo GameCube in Japan under the title "Totsugeki!! Famicom Wars", where it is considered a spin-off from the main series. Battalion Wars is a 3D action real-time strategy game, as opposed to the turn-based strategy of the main series.


The player takes the role of a Commanding Officer (CO) in an army, usually of a country called Red Star (changed to Orange Star following international releases). In the most recent title, Days of Ruin (Dark Conflict), it is replaced by a nation called Rubinelle (Laurentia in the European release). In the single-player campaign of the Advance Wars games, each level consists of a new map and opposing CO to defeat. Victory is achieved when all the opponent's units have been destroyed, their HQ is captured, or another victory condition has been met. COs take turns recruiting and commanding units on grid-based maps. Units available include infantry, tanks, artillery, bombers, and many other military units. Each turn, a unit may move around and/or perform an action, such as attacking or capturing a property. Certain actions, such as capturing, diving, or loading may only be performed at certain instances throughout the game.[2]

The original Famicom Wars game consists of two armies, Red Star (which became Orange Star in later international versions, possibly to avoid associations with Communism) and Blue Moon fighting over square grid-based maps. The two armies could either be controlled by human players, or a human player could play against an AI opponent.[3] The original Game Boy Wars games featured a system similar to Famicom Wars, except the grid was changed so that the grid squares acted more like hexagons; each square is adjacent to six other squares, instead of four. Game Boy Wars also features a different opposing army called White Moon. Otherwise, the rules remains identical, and only in Game Boy Wars 3 were unit levels and a new resource introduced.[4] Super Famicom Wars, the sequel to Famicom Wars, introduced Yellow Comet and Green Earth, bringing the number of armies playable at once to four. It returned to the basic square grid-based map style of the original game.[5]

The Advance Wars games introduced several new elements. The most notable is that COs now have special abilities called CO Powers that can affect the battle in different ways, giving the CO a temporary advantage over the other COs, such as providing allied units with increased firepower or causing damage to opposing units. Black Hole Rising introduced Super CO Powers, and Dual Strike introduced Tag CO Powers.[2][6] Conditions such as fog of war, rain, and snow affect the abilities of units to reveal the map and move around.[7] Days of Ruin removed many of the features added to previous Advance Wars games, greatly weakening CO Powers and reintroducing a unit level system.[8]


Multiplayer mode is an important part of the Nintendo Wars series. This allows players to compete against friends, each choosing a Commanding Officer to play and country to represent. The Advance Wars series of games, along with the far lesser known Game Boy Wars 3, include map editors, giving them increased replayability. In the original Famicom Wars, two players were allowed to play; in Game Boy Wars, players could play hotseat multiplayer games.[4] Currently the only release to lack hotseat multiplayer is Game Boy Wars Turbo. The Advance Wars series on the Game Boy Advance allowed link-play using link cables. Online multiplayer was originally planned for Dual Strike, but was only later implemented in Days of Ruin.[9][10] Battalion Wars 2 introduced online multiplayer over the Wii's Wi-Fi connection. The game had 3 modes and 16 maps to play on. The multiplayer section was well received but was criticized for not supporting voice chat.[11]


Game Title Developer Publisher System Release Notes
Famicom Wars Intelligent Systems, Nintendo R&D1 Nintendo Family Computer 1988 First game in the series.
Only released in Japan.
Game Boy Wars Intelligent Systems, Nintendo R&D1 Nintendo Game Boy 1991 Only released in Japan.
Game Boy Wars Turbo Hudson Soft Hudson Soft Game Boy 1997 Enhanced version of Game Boy Wars with better AI, more maps, and Super Game Boy support.
Only released in Japan.
Super Famicom Wars Intelligent Systems Nintendo Super Famicom Satellaview 1998 Only released in Japan.
Game Boy Wars 2 Hudson Soft Hudson Soft Game Boy Color 1998 Playable with Game Boy or Game Boy Color.
Only released in Japan.
Game Boy Wars 3 Hudson Soft Hudson Soft Game Boy Color 2001 Exclusively for Game Boy Color.
Only released in Japan.
Advance Wars Intelligent Systems Nintendo Game Boy Advance 2001 Originally only released in North America and PAL region.
In 2004, released in Japan as Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2, along with Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising.
Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising Intelligent Systems Nintendo Game Boy Advance 2003 Released individually in North America and PAL region.
Released in Japan only as the compilation Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2, along with Advance Wars.
Advance Wars: Dual Strike Intelligent Systems Nintendo Nintendo DS 2005
Battalion Wars Kuju Entertainment Nintendo Nintendo GameCube 2005 Originally titled Advance Wars: Under Fire, but the name was changed for Western audiences as the game was considered a spin-off of the Advance Wars series rather than a direct sequel.
Labeled under the Famicom Wars brand in Japan.
Battalion Wars 2 Kuju Entertainment Nintendo Wii 2007
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Intelligent Systems Nintendo Nintendo DS 2008 Originally only released in North America and PAL region. A Japan release date was planned but later cancelled.
In 2013, available in Japan through download on the Nintendo 3DS for any players with a platinum status reward through Club Nintendo.


  1. ^ Japanese: ファミコンウォーズ Hepburn: Famikon Wōzu?
  2. ^ Japanese: ゲームボーイウォーズ Hepburn: Gēmu Bōi Wōzu?, lit. "Game Boy Wars"


  1. ^ "Advance Wars Review - Page 1 // GBA /// Eurogamer - Games Reviews, News and More". www.eurogamer.net. Retrieved August 8, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising Review for Game Boy Advance". GameSpot. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  3. ^ "Famicom Wars| NinDB". NinDB. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Game Boy Wars| NinDB". NinDB. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  5. ^ "Super Famicom Wars| NinDB". NinDB. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  6. ^ "Gamespot — Advance Wars: Dual Strike Review Page 2". GameSpot. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  7. ^ "IGN: Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising Review". IGN. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  8. ^ "Advance Wars: Days of Ruin First Look - DS News at GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  9. ^ "GameSpot — Advance Wars DS First Look". GameSpot. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  10. ^ "Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Preview Feature #3: Battling Around the World". GameSpot. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  11. ^ "Battalion Wars 2 Review - IGN". IGN. October 31, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2015.