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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Advance Wars 10th Anniversary - Xenesis


While I probably need no introduction to those from the community, I certainly feel like I have just been around for many years. There's a lot of Advance Wars' ten year history that I feel is important to me but I really don't think it all needs to be said. We are here just for fun after all.


My introduction to Advance Wars started here

I got introduced to Advance Wars back in the heady days of 2001. A bored youth with too much free time and it looked like something quirky to fit the bill. I promptly got addicted to the game playing the tutorial and bored my friends to death quoting Kanbei and Andy ad nauseum. I'd certainly filled more than enough lunch time playing 2v2 Rival Islands and the like, just having a blast stomping the AI. It was Nintendo magic to me at the time. I've always been a fan of games that are simple enough to pick up and enjoy. Advance Wars had pick up and enjoy in spades. I didn't really get that feeling again until Days of Ruin appeared in the last few years...I liked AW2 and AWDS but I just felt they were trying to stack more things on a very competent base game.

Still, never has a game series so thoroughly consumed my interest and free time before or since Advance Wars. I got sucked into the world of debating about whether Nell was really Sturm, attempting to design silly CO ideas that would fit into the world and arguing about how broken Max was. Somehow that resulted in GameFAQs getting mad and there was an exodus that I somehow ended up running. And that is how WWN was founded. I give credit to the WWN community. Regardless of how little we seemed to care for Advance Wars at the end of the day the AW community has always been a relatively fun and civil bunch. Even during the site wars and custom wars eras of raised tension and high tempers. Oh well, I think we all grew up and got older.


Figuring out which of these two crazy buggers was Grimm and which was Javier was a huge thing during the AWDS pre-release madness.

I seem to have been involved with the series all the way along...from completely disassembling the mysterious mechanics underlying all the games to playing host to the "mysterous translator guest" that kept providing us all with excellent translations and information for the Dual Strike pre-release.


This guy was one of the reasons I learnt how to hack AW. Jerk.

A while after playing Advance Wars 2 exhaustively with friends, I found myself frustrated with the game's balance. Sturm was too good, Flak sucked, etc. etc. This was the same time I was experimenting curiously with the world of Lunar Magic of Super Mario World fame, having a bit of fun attempting to make 'my own Super Mario'. It then dawned on me that I could fix Advance Wars. From that point it became a personal challenge to transform Advance Wars 2 from poorly balanced, footsie combat into a tactical masterpiece where all COs are viable and you'd never feel bad about building a missile unit. Of course I was still young and stupid. It has been a good six years since I started but the Balance Hack project is still best regarded as 'okay' and at worst some kind of playing god with the series. It gave me something to do and lots of people out there certainly helped me improve my talents.


One of the very first Advance Wars 2 hacks. A mere text modification complete with silly AW1 memes by request of Wuffy. Boy, we've come a long way.

On the other hand, it started me on the path to one of my most enjoyed hobbies. I never really thought much of modding before but Advance Wars sort of ignited the desire to make things. I'm definitely not the most creative person, I just enjoy puzzling through things and finding solutions to problems. I've also become sort of invested into knowing far, far too much about how the games work.


Some of my hacks. New Intel Screen mods and transparent CO Powers in AW2. Doesn't look like much but this took hours of effort.

I've certainly attempted modding other games but I keep always coming back to Advance Wars. I always felt that Advance Wars was MY game when it came to modding. No other game keeps bringing me back with my desire to tweak it, make it better and improve it. I credit IS to their solid base game design and simple frame. Hey, it got me into more complicated TBS strategy games like Civilisation and Heroes of Might and Magic.

One of my most popular hack videos, that I produced. The idea of Eagle combining Lightning Strike and Black Wave seems to attract people like mad.


To me Advance Wars is like that life-long best friend in videogame form. You don't always talk to each other or agree. You don't even like the same food all the time. It's been an entertaining ride, I've wasted way too much time, learnt some delightfully useless skills, met some interesting like-minded people and can discuss larger than life animated characters with cute tanks in a silly war game.

It certainly made me realise that I'm not a competitive gamer, merely someone who likes to poke and oversee it. Days of Ruin was a healthy competitive game for such a niche one and even Dual Strike got a run at the end of the day. Still, I took my time to celebrate Advance Wars' 10th birthday by hacking through the Dual Strike Campaign. Credit to Intelligent Systems, they learnt after Advance Wars 2 - only a handful of levels break instead of the whole campaign. But that's enough of my rambling. I just hope we'll get to see Advance Wars 5. Maybe on the 3DS....


Still working on new and exciting things. I do enjoy this game.

-Xenesis
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