Advance Wars has been around quite a long time, but it wasn’t known in the States until the first Game Boy Advance incarnation reached our shores. More generally referred to as “the Wars series,” it all started with Famicom Wars in Japan. But in the States, the cool and cartoony graphics of Advance Wars were a delight to see play out on the handheld’s screen. Strategic turn-based gameplay brought a breath of fresh air, as it wasn’t a JRPG like Final Fantasty Tactics. The ability to build units and capture cities, factories, airports, and docks on the go was something that the audience hadn’t experienced before, as most games in the genre were character-based and focused on developing a set cast into powerful combatants.
The series garnered four titles, two each on the GBA and Nintendo DS. These games have been absent on the 3DS since its launch, and many fans are ready for a return to form. The last game in the DS series, Days of Ruin, received a mixed reception from fans. This game took place in a completely new world with different characters and a darker graphical style. Fans of the series were already familiar with Orange Star, Blue Moon, and everything in between, so it’s understandable why some of them didn’t enjoy the title and its changes. The gameplay was still fantastic, but it was missing some of the Advance Wars charm the series had been known for.
The first title being brought to the USA via GBA was a renaissance not only for turn-based strategy games. Advance Wars and certain characters in Super Smash Bros. paved the way for the other franchise Intelligent Systems was known for. Thus, Fire Emblem was introduced in the GBA era in the States as well. Both of these series found hardcore fans and support. It was decided, however, to pursue the Fire Emblem series more strongly as the DS era came to an end. Intelligent Systems produced three of these games on the 3DS, overlooking the fans of Advance Wars.
Fans and games media personalities have been clamoring for a new Wars game for years now. Fire Emblem has had its time in the spotlight. Hopefully, after the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses on Switch next year, a new Wars title will be the next project. In the meantime, here are a mix of some titles that may scratch that Wars itch. These games are an amalgamation of platforms and release dates, so there’s bound to be something for you to play now or in the near future!
Platform: Switch, PS4, PC
This derivative game received major attention leading up to its release late last year. Turn-based warfare is on fine display here, and the attacks and counters are animated in a similar way to Advance Wars. The graphics are polygonal though, so be aware of that difference. The cast of characters are more realistic in a Days of Ruin type of way, but they are enjoyable. Tiny Metal boasts a meaty campaign, War Room-style single maps, and online multiplayer.
Taking direct inspiration from the Advance Wars series, Warbits is a mobile game worth your time. It is not free to play, so the quality is already well and above those types of games. Factions take their namesakes from animals instead of galaxy objects. The units you can utilize in the title look a lot like the Wars series units we’ve come to know and love. The characters are quirky and talk smack back and forth as well, which is amusing. The graphics are cartoonish and the campaign encompasses 20 missions. There is also a challenge mode similar to the War Room, and there is online multiplayer available. This is a great game to plug some time into anywhere as it’s very affordable and plays the closest to Advance Wars I’ve experienced.
Platform: iOS, PC, Mac, PlayStation Minis
Mecho Wars is a game not yet released on the Switch, but I don’t think that’ll last for too long. Since the side-scrolling spinoff Mecho Tales has been available on the Switch eShop for some time now, it’s only natural that it will be ported over as well in due time. This game harnesses a lot of content for such a cheap and accessible game. The graphical style is reminiscent of hand-drawn pictures brought to life, and the goofy units and characters make it all the more charming.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
Platform: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
If you are craving a deep strategic adventure in a more three-dimensional way, then be ready for September when Valkyria Chronicles 4 hits storefronts worldwide. This series has been all over the place in terms of the platform it releases on, but thankfully this one will be available virtually everywhere very soon! The franchise tells an intriguing story with a great cast of characters. The deep and enjoyable gameplay is similar to Advance Wars, but it is something completely of its own at the same time due to the differences in graphical style, direct character control, and three-dimensional plane.
Platform: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
This is by far my most anticipated game in a similar style to Advance Wars. The units and commanding officers look unique and very expressive like in the original Advance Wars. Unlike the series of inspiration, Wargroove utilizes units of a fantasy world instead of tanks and firearms. Dragons breathe fire down onto the battlefield instead of huge bomber planes, and spear-wielding warriors clash in battle instead of infantry taking pot shots at each other from the side of a mountain. Since its unveiling at the Nintendo Switch reveal event in January 2017, I’ve been following its progress closely. The Twitter account of the game has provided updates on the units, environments, the map editor, and much more. This looks like it could very well be the best and most content-rich Advance Wars-like game we’ve ever seen. The only information on a release date we have currently is “late 2018,” so I’m hoping for a full reveal in a Nintendo Direct in a couple of months.