Intelligent Systems have made many great games over the years, with their notable series being Fire Emblem, Paper Mario, WarioWare and the Wars series of games. Since the launch of the 3DS, Intelligent Systems have perhaps provided us with their masterpiece, Fire Emblem Awakening and have naturally turned their attentions to that series. However, I feel like Intelligent Systems and Nintendo are neglecting Advance Wars in favour of other titles.
If one looks at the list of games Intelligent Systems have made, the Wars series crops up on every Nintendo console except N64, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS and Wii U. With the Gamecube and Wii, however, we had Battalion Wars its sequel, although these were both made by Kuju Entertainment they are both a part of the larger Wars series. Whilst the older games in the Wars series never made it out of Japan (the same can be said of Fire Emblem), Nintendo decided to release the Game Boy Advance editions. Advance Wars in the west was received well, with the four games released over the Game Boy Advance and DS averaging a mightily impressive 89 out of 100 on review aggregate site, Metacritic.
Why then, did they stop with 2008’s Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (Days of Ruin for those of the American persuasion). There was clearly an audience when these games came out for there to be four of the things, and Nintendo still acknowledges the series through eShop Virtual Console releases of the first and second Advance Wars on the Wii U. Indeed, Advance Wars made it into both Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. For Wii U and 3DS in the form of an assist trophy. For Nintendo to be aware of a game series’ popularity and not release a new game for ages is annoying to say the least, but it isn’t only Advance Wars feeling the full force of their neglect, with F-Zero, Metroid and Star Fox acting as other notable absentees.
Before you call me out, both Metroid and Star Fox have new releases in the works due for release in 2016, and surely that means there’s hope for other series of Nintendo’s that have been missing out in recent years. I think it’s high-time Nintendo made a new Advance Wars game, be that for 3DS or Wii U, as both could give the series something new. Nintendo seem somewhat stuck over the fact that when they can’t think of anything new for a series, meaning they will not release a new game for said series. This is their excuse for not making a new F-Zero anyway, not realising that all people want is a blisteringly quick HD version with great online for their Wii U. You get the feeling with Advance Wars also that they may have ran out of ideas after releasing four of them in a relatively short amount of time over the Game Boy Advance and DS.
Advance Wars: Dark Conflict changed the series, probably for the worse, by altering the art-style and theme. In Dark Conflict, the tone shifted from bright and breezy to a dark, more serious and foreboding atmosphere, with the graphics to back it up. Perhaps user response wasn’t as good as they’d have liked with Dark Conflict, but it definitely shouldn’t have killed the series. Sales for Dark Conflict were decent, with sales in-line with the rest of the series in the west and actually over those of the superior Dual Strike. I do feel that the shift in tone and style for Dark Conflict suggested Nintendo and Intelligent Systems trying to freshen up an old series, which they felt had perhaps grown stale over the years (of course, the game could also have been a hamfisted attempt at westernising the series).
Dark Conflict is a great game however, just a different one. The gameplay seen in Dark Conflict made a few small improvements as well, and it left me interested in seeing where they would take the series next… and I’m still interested, seven years later. The 3DS could’ve had a great Advance Wars game, all presented in 3D (still sprites, mind you) with improved online capabilities. The Wii U would allow for brilliant pass-around multiplayer in Advance Wars, making it so only you can see what’s happening on the gamepad when buying units and during fog of war, with the battle scenes taking place on the TV for all to see. A 3DS or Wii U Advance Wars game could have great map creation tools, with Miiverse integration for sharing. And they could utilise amiibo, adding an extra spice to the game, or release a line of Advance Wars amiibo, which I’d definitely buy into.
Intelligent Systems are a busy subsidiary of Nintendo’s with their Fire Emblem, Paper Mario, Pullblox (or Pushmo) series and recent release of a brand new IP in Codename: S.T.E.A.M, and all of that is great. I just want them to be a little busier by still making and releasing Advance Wars, and there is always next year. For all I know, they are developing a new Advance Wars game, as they are currently working on only one known title, in cahoots with Atlus in the oddly titled Genei Ibun Roku ♯FE (the Fire Emblem, Shin Megami Tensei crossover), which is due for release in Japan by the end of the year. I can always hope they are making a new Advance Wars, it’s been too long since the last one.
Toby Saunders is sometimes opinionated, and you’ll find him posting garbage about games, films and his beloved Spurs and Bath City FC on Twitter.