Wars (series)

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Genres Turn-based tactics
Real-time strategy (Battalion Wars)
Developers Intelligent Systems, Kuju Entertainment
Publishers Nintendo

The Wars series, also known as Famicom Wars (ファミコンウォーズ, Famikon Wōzu) in Japan, Advance Wars in the West, and occasionally Nintendo Wars as a whole, 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 terrorist attacks in the U.S.[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 Game Boy Wars series featured a game 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]


Timeline of release years
1988 Famicom Wars
1991 Game Boy Wars
1997 Game Boy Wars Turbo
1998 Super Famicom Wars
Game Boy Wars 2
2001 Game Boy Wars 3
Advance Wars
2003 Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
2005 Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Battalion Wars
2007 Battalion Wars 2
2008 Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
Year Released Game Title System
1988 Famicom Wars Family Computer
1991 Game Boy Wars Game Boy
1997 Game Boy Wars Turbo Game Boy
1998 Super Famicom Wars Super Famicom
1998 Game Boy Wars 2 Game Boy/Game Boy Color
2001 Game Boy Wars 3 Game Boy Color
2001 Advance Wars Game Boy Advance
2003 Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising Game Boy Advance
2005 Advance Wars: Dual Strike Nintendo DS
2005 Battalion Wars Nintendo GameCube
2007 Battalion Wars 2 Wii
2008 Advance Wars: Days of Ruin Nintendo DS


  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.