It’s all about the characters.
There’s an interesting dichotomy with Nintendo, in that it is simultaneously criticized for focusing too much on releasing franchise sequels and spin-offs but also for often taking too long to, well, release franchise sequels. Enter Advance Wars, a much-loved but secondary — debatably even tertiary — Nintendo franchise that last saw a new release with 2008’s Advance Wars: Days of Ruin.
The reason Nintendo has gone nearly a decade without even announcing a new Advance Wars game let alone releasing one is, apparently, the characters. “Personally, I’d love to do Advance Wars, but since it’s harder to create relationships between its characters compared to Fire Emblem, I don’t have a clear idea of what kind of setting it could have,” Nintendo Producer Hitoshi Yamagami, who previously worked on Days of Ruin, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, and Advance Wars: Dual Strike, told Eurogamer in a new interview.
The Fire Emblem and Advance Wars series have both lived primarily on handheld platforms. But when the Nintendo Switch was announced with its dual handheld/home console functionality, many Nintendo fans assumed it would be a great excuse for Nintendo to make new games in those series that were playable at home in addition to on the go. Sure enough, Nintendo has since announced a pair of new Fire Emblem games, both of which are coming to the Switch.
But the company still hasn’t announced a new Advance Wars game for any platform. This, however, doesn’t mean there’s no desire to make one. At least one individual at series creator Intelligent Systems, which is closely affiliated with but not owned by Nintendo, wants to return to the franchise, and he says he’s not alone in that.
“The Advance Wars series is one that I personally have a lot of interest in,” Intelligent Systems Producer Masahiro Higuchi, who worked on Advance Wars and Days of Ruin, told Eurogamer. “I hear some of the staff here saying that they want to make one too, so if we have a chance it’s something I’d like to do!”
Advance Wars is just one of several franchises that Nintendo has de-prioritized in recent years. For instance, F-Zero has not seen a North American release since 2003, Mother/Earthbound hasn’t gotten a new entry since 2006, and Metroid fans have been waiting for a proper new game since 2010 (not counting last year’s Federation Force spin-off).
While it’s unlikely Advance Wars fans will ever catch up to F-Zero fans’ elongated wait, nine years is still an eternity for a franchise to go without a sequel in an industry where many of the biggest IPs are on an annual or nearly annual release schedule.