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Cart #picowars-19 | 2020-06-21 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

Play the full game with story mode HERE

What's that!

Picowars is an 8bit homage to one of the greatest Nintendo games of all time. Advance Wars. That may just me by opinion but it's the right one.

Picowars is a turn-based strategy game where the objective is to build up an army from your bases in order to capture more properties on the map and eventually capture the opposing player's headquarters.

New to the franchise?


Move your cursor with the arrow keys, select with Z and deselect with X

Enemy's HQ

This is your target. You want to move your infantry and mechs onto this property and capture it. You do that, and you win.

Your HQ

And this is your HQ. Keep the opposing player away from it. If they capture it, it's game over.


This is one of your bases. This is where you build your army, and it's the first thing you want to select when the game begins. Move your cursor over it and click Z to open up the build menu. There you can build any unit that you can afford with your current gold.

Neutral properties

This is a neutral city. Right now it's not doing anything for anyone, but if you move an infantry or mech onto this tile and capture it, it'll change to your team's colors and provide 1 gold for you per turn. Every property you own, including bases and your HQ generate 1 gold per turn, so the more you have the better.

A property has 20 capture points. Each turn you can capture once, and the amount of capture points that is deducted is equal to the amount of hp the capturing unit has. Each unit starts out with 10hp, so optimally it'll take 2 turns to capture a property. If a unit has 1hp, it'll take 20 turns. Yeesh.

Cities also heal any unit standing on them for 2hp per turn. In fact, all properties heal by 2hp, so keep that in mind when a unit is damaged and needs to retreat.

Infantry and Mechs

And these guys? These are the most basic units of your army. Infantry and Mechs. They don't always do as much damage as the bigger boys, but they have the special ability of being the only units that can capture properties.

The Info Bar

This is where you can see information about the selected tile. Each tile has a defense rating that you can see by the number of stars next to the tile. This base has 3 stars next to it so it's a pretty beefy defensive posture. If your unit is attacked from this tile, they'll take less damage.

Terrain Mobility

Of note, only infantry and mechs can traverse rivers and mountains, and they're slowed quite a bit from it! All terrain types affect units differently. It's up to you to figure out which units are affected by terrain and by how much.

Ranged Units

These units are special. Rockets and Artillery. They can't attack up close, as they're ranged units. They attack from multiple tiles away from their target. They also cannot move and attack in the same turn, so place them strategically where you expect the enemy to walk into their range.

You can check their range by holding down X while your cursor is over them.

P#77032 2020-05-22 20:03 ( Edited 2020-06-21 03:09)


I had fun, but I hate how easy it is to end your turn on accident

P#77037 2020-05-22 22:41

OMG this is awesome!

P#77064 2020-05-23 10:45

I never played the original games, and now I can see I missed out! This was a lot of fun!

It took me a while to understand how the capture rules worked. I kept moving my units away from the cities before they were properly captured. Maybe some kind of additional feedback would help there?

I'm impressed you managed to include a decent AI in the game!

I was looking at your memory management for unit data, but I don't really understand what the reload(loader.p8) part does?

P#77085 2020-05-23 19:42

Hey @jeb! thanks a lot!

About the memory management. This is actually a not-fully-baked concoction put together exclusively for Splore, so the full game isn't all here yet. The full version will have multiple carts talking to each other, which is not allowed in Splore/bbs as far as I know.

In the full yet-to-be-released version there's a second cart called "loader.p8". For the splore version I ripped out most references in the code to loader.p8 but lazily missed one. In the full non-splore version loader.p8 loads first and passes in all unit data, commander data, dialogue, and some map data to picowars.p8. However in this version the map, commander, and unit data is instead loaded from a section of the spritesheet's memory starting at 0x1000

The line of code you saw was a leftover where the loader will let picowars.p8 know if it should load map data from an external source(from the loader.p8 file).

I hope that makes sense!

P#77086 2020-05-23 20:02 ( Edited 2020-05-24 18:13)

yoo this is epic

are there going to be sky units

P#77136 2020-05-24 15:16

@pixlboi We'll see! I'm running low on tokens at the moment but I'd love to fit them in, even if it means they're built from the base like the ground units.

P#77141 2020-05-24 18:00 ( Edited 2020-05-25 17:39)

Can you explain that range thing when you hold "X." How does that work?

P#77608 2020-06-03 19:24


Heya! Yeah. It shows what spaces that unit can attack. It's a tiny bit buggy for close-ranged(melee) at the moment, and I'll fix that soon.

It's main purpose though is to show where ranged units can attack.

Artillery and Rockets are ranged and can only attack from a distance. They also can't move and attack in the same turn. If you press X on an artillery or rocket(yours or the enemy's) you will see the spots that unit can attack from a distance.

P#77613 2020-06-03 20:44

phenomenal demake of a gba classic! i'm amazed with how well this plays and feels. great work!

P#77760 2020-06-07 11:33

The story mode is complete! It's WAY over the token limit and so is a multicart export available only on Itch. Play it here!

P#78354 2020-06-21 03:08 ( Edited 2020-06-21 17:06)

Impressive - classic game!
How well can the AI do if a mirrored map?

P#80972 2020-08-20 09:02


Thank you @andyz !

I can beat the AI even if I'm grossly outnumbered in the beginning, but I built it and can predict how it'll move.

Though on a fair, mirrored map the AI performs well enough to beat any nooby. It plays like someone who understands the game, and how to take advantage of terrain in a strategic manner, but it can be outperformed by a smart human that takes advantage of chokes.

If you'd like to play the full version, with a story, check it out on itch: https://lambdanaut.itch.io/picowars

It spans 3 carts so I couldn't put the full version on the bbs.

P#80974 2020-08-20 14:55 ( Edited 2020-08-20 14:56)

This is awesome!! Great work!

P#81228 2020-08-26 19:35

Thanks @mac

P#81229 2020-08-26 19:39

Coming from the Advance Wars games, I felt right at home. Would definitely be cool to see some more unit types, including the air and sea variety.

My only gripe is the cursor resetting on large maps. Otherwise, everything feels solid and well presented. Great art, music, and maps!

P#86609 2021-01-20 09:54

Lambdanaut: FYI BBS carts can use 'load' for chain-loading, with a param to send some info. Jam launcher carts work that way. I have been told that the lua memory is not cleared on load (the 2 MB of live objects, not the pico8 addressable memory space), and also that 'cstore' is allowed on the BSS. What is not possible is multi-cart meaning 'reload' to copy data from other carts into the current cart.

P#86613 2021-01-20 15:54


Thanks! That's so good to hear. Advance Wars is one of my favorite series and it's been a pleasure hearing review from other players.


Thanks for the info! I believe I'm making use of reload in the full version, as well as the pico8 addressable memory space.

P#86614 2021-01-20 16:01 ( Edited 2021-01-20 16:01)

i Couldn't make new allies. it was just me. is that supposed to happen

P#93322 2021-06-10 22:43

Holy shiz, this game is the c r e a m. I love the combat and strategy involved. I only have a couple of feedback notes-

-Long Island crashed for me halfway
-When the units attack each other, it would be cool to show a cutscene of them attacking and defending
-Im still a lil confused on how my units heal, maybe im just dum lol

Besides that, I love this game

P#96450 2021-08-25 18:59

This isn't a demake, its a full new game. Yes it may be just a smaller version of Advance Wars, but it's still good enough to be a sort of Gameboy precursor

P#99564 2021-11-03 19:01 ( Edited 2021-11-03 19:01)

this is lots of fun! I played this for way too long

P#99620 2021-11-05 03:16

you can crash the full game by selecting 'unload' on a APC when there is no space for the infantry/mech to go

posting it here as i don't have a itch.io account yet

P#100105 2021-11-14 06:41

Such a great version of Advance Wars, it's unreal how well this works on Pico-8. The sprite work is brilliant, perfectly captures the look and feel of the original. Even more impressive that you managed to squeeze some AI in there to allow for Human vs CPU battles.

P#100602 2021-11-22 01:08

Slydy's reaction when I

successfully stormed her HQ with nothing but APCs and infantry
was priceless.

P#120262 2022-11-07 16:52

what a awesome game

P#140407 2024-01-21 23:02

Just out of curiosity, is the big boss level possible?
If so, what was your strategy and how many turns did it take?

P#140408 2024-01-22 00:54


All levels are possible! I'm not sure what you mean by "big boss level" because there is a secret special one at the end against a mrow mrow.

In both levels, it's important to establish a frontal defense first and foremost. Capture cities/bases, and fortify them. Make use of chokes!

Really, the usual : )

Thank you for playing and good luck! <3

P#140446 2024-01-22 16:35

Heya, this looks amazing!
I'd love to play this on my handheld. It has a wrapper for the native Pico-8 app as well as splore. Do I understand correctly that there's no way to play the full game on such a system? I believe e.g. UnDUNE II can be downloaded (on itch.io) as the full game, using 12 single cart files. Wouldn't that be possible with this game?

P#140620 2024-01-25 20:39


Heyo! I'm not sure what handheld you're using, but you may be able to do this using the original carts which are on github here:


You'll want to run picowars.p8, as it's the entry to the program.

P#140820 2024-01-29 15:23

Thank you for the link !
It is the version 1.0 but on Itchio it is 1.1.
Do you think it is possible to update the github p8 files to the last version ?

P#140865 2024-01-30 08:20

I love it, it feels like I'm playing Advance Wars. good game

P#141052 2024-02-03 01:02

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