Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, first announced during E3 as Advance Wars DS 2 and recently given a January 21, 2008 release date for North America, exhibits a considerably more mature visual interpretation than its predecessors. The borderline-insufferable cartoon-styled teenage commanding officers of the Game Boy Advance and DS series entries seem to have been dropped in favor of grittier, hand-colored artwork, as several Japanese-language screenshots demonstrate. The game opens with 90% of humanity having been destroyed by a brutal string of natural disasters.
Days of Ruin also forgoes the "DS" subtitle convention in which its predecessor, Dual Strike, partook. Best of all, reports indicate it includes online multiplayer, a feature sadly lacking from the otherwise content-packed previous game.
Fire Emblem, Intelligent Systems' strategy RPG mainstay, is also confirmed for DS, though no North American release has yet been announced. Let's hope that comes, because the game would better serve Western audiences than Japanese ones--it's an enhanced remake of 1990's original Fire Emblem: The Dark Dragon and Sword of Light on NES, never before released outside of Japan.
The series was first introduced to English speakers with 2003's Fire Emblem on GBA, the seventh Fire Emblem game, localized largely due to interest generated by the presence of characters Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN). Marth is the protagonist of the original game as well as its DS remake.
More Japanese screenshots reveal a hand-drawn look to the screenshots not dissimilar to those seen in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, with more detailed in-game environments than those in the GBA games. The game is known to include online features of some kind, likely versus battle modes.
Fire Emblem: The Dark Dragon and Sword of Light is expected in Japan in 2008, with no North American release yet announced. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin will ship in North America on January 21, 2008.