Advance Wars

Advance Wars
Advance Wars Coverart.jpg
North American boxart
Developer(s)Intelligent Systems
Director(s)Toru Narihiro
Producer(s)Takehiro Izushi
Composer(s)Taishi Senda
Platform(s)Game Boy Advance
  • NA: September 10, 2001[1]
  • AU: 2001
  • EU: January 11, 2002
  • JP: November 25, 2004 (as part of compilation Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2)
Genre(s)Turn-based tactics
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Advance Wars, released in Japan as Game Boy Wars Advance (ゲームボーイウォーズアドバンス, Gēmu Bōi Wōzu Adobansu) is a turn-based tactics video game developed for the Game Boy Advance by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. It was released in North America on September 10, 2001[1] with a later release date on Japan and Europe, but the game release was put on hold in both Japan and Europe region due to the following day's September 11 attacks in the United States. Although the game was released in Europe in January 2002, neither GBA game was released in Japan until the Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2 compilation on November 25, 2004. Advance Wars has been released for the Wii U Virtual Console simultaneously in Europe and North America on April 3, 2014.

Advance Wars is the first game in the Advance Wars series of video games, followed by Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising (also for the Game Boy Advance), and then by Advance Wars: Dual Strike and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin for the Nintendo DS. These games form a sub-series of the Wars series set of games.

The game was originally intended to remain exclusive to Japan, like the previous entries in the series, which were kept in Japan due to Nintendo feeling that consumers would not be interested in turn-based games, or in such complicated games. In order to alleviate this, the developers made the mechanics easy to understand, adding in an in depth tutorial that didn't require players to read the manual. Designer Kentaro Nishimura commented that "Advance Wars' success shifted Nintendo’s attitude over western tastes."

The story involves Orange Star Army's efforts in battling the other countries' armies, where Orange Star commanding officer Andy is accused of attacking the other countries' troops for no reason. The game was released to critical acclaim, and has been listed among the greatest video games of all time.


The objective is to defeat the enemy army. There are two ways to defeat an opponent: destroy every one of the opponent's units on the map or capture the opponent's headquarters.[1] However, some maps have specific objectives, such as capturing a certain number of cities to claim victory.[1] The available modes of play include "Field Training" which is a tutorial mode,[1] a campaign mode[1] which carries the game's storyline, the "War Room" which is a collection of maps on which the player strives for high scores, as well as multiplayer modes and a map design mode. The "Campaign" and "War Room" modes both help to rank the player up (from Rank #100 to Rank #1) and to earn coins to unlock COs and maps in the "Battle Maps" shop.[1] The modes also gives the player a rank for effort after winning a battle on that map, which assesses by the speed, power and technique in that battle, speed being the number of days spent trying to win the battle, power being how many enemy units you defeated, and technique is the number of your units that survived (in percentage).

Battle system

The battles of Advance Wars are turn-based in nature. Two to four armies, each headed by a commanding officer, take turns building and commanding units on grid-based maps, while attacking enemy units, moving positions, holding ground, or capturing enemy/neutral properties (cities, ports, airports, bases, or HQ).[1]

Screenshot of Advance Wars

All units are limited in the types of units they can attack.[1] What dictates a unit’s ability to attack different targets are its primary and secondary weapons. For example, the Mech unit has a bazooka that can only be fired at land vehicles, but are more powerful for that purpose than their secondary weapons, machine guns, which Mechs can use against other Mechs, Infantry, and helicopters.

Units that can attack, do so either directly (can attack adjacent to another unit where standing or moved, but be counter-attacked by the enemy unit), or in-directly (must remain still to attack, and have an enemy in firing range). The amount of damage done by a unit to an enemy unit in combat, comes down to a number of factors: the number of hit points the attacker has, whether they can use their main weapon (if not, they either cannot, or will use their secondary weapon instead), the type of unit the attacker and the defender are, and the terrain the enemy unit is on; by contrast, if the enemy unit is directly attacked, the same factors determine the damage done when they counter-attack the attacking unit. The majority of units have main weapons with a limited supply of ammunition, with the amount of ammo depending on the type of unit. Units with secondary weapons will resort to these when their primary weapon's ammunition runs out, until they are resupplied.


The terrain on a map affects unit movement, vision, and the defense attribute of units stationed in the terrain.[1] The different types of terrain include: roads, plains, woods, bases, HQs (Headquarters), ports, cities, airports, the sea, reefs, shoals, rivers and mountains. All units are affected by terrain, except air units, which gain neither an advantage or disadvantage as a result. Weather conditions, when active, can affect the vision and movement of ground units, while Fog of war, when active, can reduce a player's vision, making them depend on individual units' lines of sight, which varies from unit to unit; infantry can expand the vision when in mountains, while woods and reefs can't be seen into unless a unit is adjacent to it.


There are 18 different types of military units in Advance Wars. Each unit has a set amount of attack power, vision range in Fog of war, movement range and type, and fuel supply, and some units have two weapons which can be used against different types of enemy units. There are both direct and indirect attack units, as well as transport units. All the units are either infantry, vehicles, ships or air units. Units have specific strengths and weaknesses. One rule of thumb that units have to adhere to, is their fuel supply; ground units who run out, cannot move, while air and naval units who run out, are destroyed as a result, as they consume fuel, even when stationary, with submarines consuming more when they dive.[1]


In Multiplayer mode, players can compete against the AI or against other human players. Multiplayer matches feature a variety of settings that can be changed pre-battle. Multiplayer comes in two forms: Versus mode and Link mode. In Versus mode, only one GBA system is used, which every participant in the game uses. One person will take their turn, then pass the system to the next person. Link mode is the same game as Versus mode gameplay-wise, but multiple consoles are used, one for each person.[1] It can be played with just one game pak or with one game pak per player.

Commanding officers

Armies are led by Commanding Officers who control units. All COs except Andy provide units with special advantages and disadvantages, such as extra firepower, greater strength, or a shorter firing range, with some COs being better with some units than others (i.e. being better with air units, than naval units). COs also have a Power Meter which fills up by defeating enemy units or when on the receiving end of a brutal offensive attack. When the meter is full, a CO can unleash their CO Power, which gives a temporary positive effect to friendly units and/or a negative effect to enemy units.[1] For example, Nell gives a Critical Strike bonus and Olaf makes it snow, disadvantaging his opponent.

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español: Advance Wars
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中文: 高级战争