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Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising

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Title Screen

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising

Also known as: Game Boy Wars Advance 2 (JP)
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Released in JP: November 25, 2004
Released in US: June 23, 2003
Released in EU: October 3, 2003

AreasIcon.png This game has unused areas.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
Sgf2-unusedicon1.png This game has unused abilities.
TextIcon.png This game has unused text.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.

To do:
There was a demo playable / video shown at ECTS in London in August 2003

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising is the sequel to the surprise success, Advance Wars. The game was released a mere two years after it and there are notable amounts of carried over data and features between the two games.

Dummy Text Strings

There are numerous text strings lying about in the US version of the game. Most appear to be leftovers from translating COs names and game functions. These start at approximately 0x90F20 in the (U) Version.

Function Names Comment
FLASHCLEAR These entries appear to reference the save file delete function.
FLASH >> DUMMY (A BUTTON) Indicates there was a save dumper?
BACKUP UTL Backing up saves was possible with the dev builds, possibly.
CO Names Comment
YAMA Yamamoto, AKA Sensei.
HANA Hannah, AKA Jess.
EWAN AKA, Colin.
SNAK Snake, AKA Adder.
HELL Hell Bouze, AKA Sturm.
MOP AKA, Drake.
ASKA Asuka, AKA Sonja.
KIKU Kikutiyo, AKA Kanbei.
CATH Catherine, AKA Nell.
Misc Comment
BREAK Japanese name for CO Powers.
SYOGUN Japanese name for Commanding Officers.
SAKU Fog of War.

Unused Commanding Officer Abilities

Variable Defence Function

Like Colin's Super CO Power and Kindle's Super CO Power in the sequel, which give a variable firepower bonus, an equivalent function exists for application of variable defence bonuses. It is unused with no in-game COs that have variable defence boosts, but it is fully functional.

Snowbringer Ability

Similar to Drake's ability that increases the likelihood of rain in random weather conditions, a table entry exists for each CO that allows for an increased chance of snow to occur in random weather, which is completely functional.

Double Time (CO Power)

In Advance Wars, Sami's Double Time CO Power gave Infantry and Mech units the ability to ignore movement penalties on all unfavorable terrain. The table for this ability remains (for clear weather, snow and rain respectively) but has been overwritten by a duplicate of the standard movement charts for other COs.

Meteor Strike (CO Power)

Existing in the code is a complete version of Vs Sturm's Advance Wars CO Power - A meteor strike that does 4HP of damage. Not normally usable and completely unreferenced in terms of pointers, it is fully functional. It works the same as the Super CO Power version in terms of targeting and merely does 4HP damage. As the power is unreferenced, he gains just the standard defence boost of 10% with no stat boosts unlike the variants in both games.

Unused Unit Data

Extra Unit Slots

There are five unused unit slots used in the game - several of which show slight resemblance to units that would be included in future versions of the game. All of these units have dummied-out statistics for movement, graphics, and damage, however retain some information for what was planned.

Unused Cruiser Battle Animation

The Cruiser can normally only use its deck gun to fire at airborne targets. If set to fire at ground-level targets, it will tilt its gun in a fashion similar to the Anti-Air unit. The animation is unfinished, the muzzle flash does not align correctly.

Unused Terrain

H.Q. (Neutral)

Info Panel Cursor-Free
Headquarters of Nobody. City-states perhaps?

The game supports neutral HQ tiles. Capturing a Neutral HQ will give that player an additional HQ of their own. A player will still lose if any of their HQs are captured, however.


Info Panel Detailed Terrain Info
Grass Oceans. Seas of green~

An unused terrain which the detailed information panel claims is sea. It is terrain ID 9. The minimap sprites indicate it may have been intended to be placed under Black Hole inventions. It may also have placeholder information as an alternate naval tile. "湖" in the Info Panel indicates lake in Kanji character.

Wide Rivers

Lost River Wide River Tiles
Perhaps the naming of this map was more of a joke than we thought. Now you can have your own amazon river!

There are a complete collection of multi-tile rivers in the tileset, but only the North/South ones in Lost River are used in the game. In the second screenshot, it shows both the north to south, south to north, east to west and west to east variants. There are also 'center' tiles used if one wanted a river width of greater than 2 tiles.


The Lab has an undocumented behavior. While acting similarly to an HQ in every regard, it only ever appears in 2 player maps. If a player captures a Lab in a 3 or 4 player map and they don't instantly win, instead of obtaining all the lab owner's properties as they would by capturing an HQ, they merely fall dark.

Unused Wallpapers

Eagle's Motorcycle

Even grounded, he is a flyboy.

An unused wallpaper image that can be found in the game. It appears to be related to the bonus images you unlock in the Sound Room by completion of the Campaign, but it cannot be seen in-game. It is located at 0x1D6458 in Advance Wars 2 (U).

Unused Campaign and Vs Features

Event Initialisation Code

Campaign Sub-Section Initialiser

Each sub-section of the Campaign (one for each of the countries) has an introductory event that sets the scene for the next series of maps. Because the Orange Star section is used as a tutorial in standard difficulty and is a normal series of maps in hard difficulty, the maps are treated as separate entries in the game data. The method of initializing the campaign appears to have changed at one point; because there are two subroutines that run the introductory event, however, the second one is never used and has no way to execute. The first instance is used for both normal and hard modes in the final product (0x76BC4). The unused block (0x76C64) has a specific check for whether the Hard Campaign bit has been set and will only execute if it's true, compared to the one used in-game where it doesn't discriminate. The only other difference appears to be some subroutine initialization variables.

The bolded information in the second code block is the hard-campaign specific check and the changed initialisation variables.

Location Code Block
76BC4 (U)
push   {r14}
add    sp,-0x4
ldr    r3,=0x084BA6D0
str    r0,[sp]
mov    r0,0x0
mov    r1,0x78
mov    r2,0x0
bl     0x080785CC
add    sp,0x4
pop    {r0}
bx     r0
76C64 (U)
push   {r4,r14}
add    sp,-0x4
mov    r4,r0
bl     0x0803866C
cmp    r0,0x0
beq    0x08076C80
ldr    r3,=0x084BA6D0
str    r4,[sp]
mov    r0,0x50
mov    r1,0x70
mov    r2,0x0
bl     0x080785CC
add    sp,0x4
pop    {r4}
pop    {r0}
bx     r0

Post-Map Event Code Launcher

The game also includes an unused post-map event launcher (every single instance in the game's data tables is set to a null pointer). The behavior of this event launcher is to run once when a campaign map had been completed with either a victory or a loss. The campaign events on the world map screen in the final game are run using a different instance that is only run after a map is completed in victory. Each map's entry for this function is at offset +0x18 in the Campaign Table (Table at 0x615194 in the U version) and is a 32-bit pointer to Event code.

Victory Wallpaper Randomiser

Normally each map in the game is assigned one of 17 images as a background wallpaper on the victory screen. If a value of 0 is assigned, the game will randomly pick a background wallpaper from all 17 in the selection. This behavior is unused because every map is assigned one of the 17 images normally, even special maps like the Design Room player generated maps.

Money Spent Data

The game records how much money each player spends during the course of a battle. This includes both purchasing units and repairing them. In later games this is used for scoring, history data and challenges but it currently serves no purpose in game.

Player Memory Location
Player 1 0x02032C4
Player 2 0x0202330
Player 3 0x020333C
Player 4 0x0203378

VS Map Speed Time Limits

Similar to the Campaign, Hard Campaign, and War room maps, each map outside of these categories has an assigned 100-Point Speed Limit. This is indicative that at some point it was possible to play for score on every map in the game.

Classic Maps Speed Limit
Bean Island 14
Crater Isle 14
Triangles 14
Ball Islands 14
Coral Lagoon 16
Puzzle Trio 24
Fist Peninsula 18
Deer Harbor 18
Alara Range 22
Lost River 22
Volcano Isle 12
Turtle Atoll 30
Squash Island 30
Cube Keys 22
Mirror Islands 14
Shark Strait 14
Royal Channel 14

Vs Maps Speed Limit
Little Island 12
Sun Canal 30
Beaker River 15
Star Islands 13
Eon Springs 13
Portal Bridge 13
Sabre Range 13
Asphalt Maze 13
Cog Isle 13
Zero Wood 13
Switchback 22
Ruby Keys 18
Rainy Haven 13
Rail Straight 13
Tribe Islands 13
Vision Bridge 13
Piston Dam 13
Hat Harbor 13
Swan Cove 13
Go Islands 13
Hourglass Isle 22

Pre-Deployed Maps Speed Limit
Brace Range 11
River Range 6
Moon Isle 7
Mint Plateau 7
Jewel Canal 6
Wrench Island 22
Rapid Ferry 22
Bundle City 22
Scarab Road 22
Pointing River 22
Liaison Wood 22
Delta Heights 18
Poem Cape 22
Blue Lake 22
Coil Range 22
Leaf Haven 22
Battle Cube 22
Big Daddy 22
Grid Assault 22
Crossroad 22

3P Maps Speed Limit
Pyramid Cape 30
Bead Islands 30
Clover Keys 30
Keyhole Cove 30
Fork River 30
Mantis River 30
Channel City 30
Ink Canal 30
Shield Hills 30
Peril Maze 30
Gem Creek 30
Glass Heights 30
Devil's Inlet 30
Shear Port 30
Liar's Cove 30
Nail Canal 30
Atlas River 30
Eel Channels 30
Jab Peninsula 30
Thorn Islands 30
Portsmouth 22
Archipelagos 22
Wyrm's Eye 22
Knotted Keys 22
4P Maps Speed Limit
Four Corners 15
Rocket Cape 22
Crop River 22
Tween Isle 22
Rival Islands 22
Loop Road 22
Plus Canal 22
Islas Five 22
Patriot Cove 22
Web River 22
Cap Narrows 22
Jay Islands 22
Chain Canal 22
Spring Lakes 22
Tatter River 22
Island X 22
Alakule 22
Traitor River 22
Fable Hills 22
South Cape 22
Glory Islands 22
Pipe Maze 22
Lock Ridge 22
Heartland 22
Badlands 22

Hidden Features

While not technically cut, each of these features were not discovered until many years after the release of the game, remain incredibly obscure and can only be performed under highly specific circumstances.

Hidden "Nintendo" Design Map

A slightly more mature use of the editor instead of four-letter words.

This is a relatively obscure feature. Holding the L and R buttons while opening the "Design Maps" function will automatically load a map which spells Nintendo in Japanese. It is identical to the version in Advance Wars.

Nell's Scolding Map Editor Dialogue

If you attempt to place a unit in the map editor approximately fifty times in a row without success (by placing the unit on illegal terrain placements), a message from Nell appears:

Nell: You must really like doing 
that over and over again.

Nell: Keep it up.

Secret Loss Dialogue in Campaign

In the very first campaign mission in the game, if you manage to somehow run out of fuel from all the units on your side, Nell scolds you and you lose the map. This feat requires a significant amount of AI abuse and forward planning to perform legitimately.

Nell: Andy! What in the world?
Your units are out of fuel!!!

Andy: I, um...I though I saw
something, and...

Nell: Don't lie to me, young man! You were
playing around, wasting time and fuel!

Nell: I am VERY disappointed!

Nell: Open up the Map menu and select
Options, please!

Nell: Now choose Yield, and we can
try this over from the beginning.

Andy: OK... I won't mess up again.

The typo in Andy's first line is present in the actual game.

Miscellaneous Oddities

Shark Straight & Royal Channel Pre-Deployed Units

For the maps Shark Straight and Royal Channel, the game uses special scripting commands to load unit lists. The scripting command (0xD) is used in the previous game Advance Wars to load units for maps with fixed unit lists. The pre-deployed unit list is in the Advance Wars format (0xB bytes per entry) instead of the newer format used in AW2 (0xC bytes per entry). It is unknown why the old format was retained and used, but support for the format is hard-coded to only allow the script command to run for maps classified as "Classic" or "Campaign".

Main Menu

The international main menu background has a translation oversight. It correctly changed "Red Star" to "Orange Star", but left in Nell's Japanese name Catherine.

Neil's Powers Descriptions

In both Neil's power descriptions it mentions that on top of increasing luck damage it will cause multiple foes to get damaged like some other COs like Hawk, Olaf, and Drake's Powers. Though it does not causes damage to foes suggesting it was either planned or it's a miss translation.

Improves her chance to strike with increased firepower, and damages multiple foes. Lucky!
Improves her chance to strike with increased firepower, and damages even more foes. Lucky!

AI Type 6

Every unit the enemy builds is randomly assigned one of the 7 different AI type, with each unit type being differently weighted towards particular patterns, and every enemy predeployed unit has one set by the map. While 1 (Target enemy HQ), 2 (escort infantry/lander), 3 (capture properties), 4 (Aggressive), 5 (Defensive), and 7 (Protect own HQ) are used and functional, type 6 has a 0% chance of being used for any unit and is only assigned (fairly randomly) to two Medium Tanks in the level Drake's Dilemma that won't interact with the player. Despite this, type 6 is both fully functional and stronger than average.

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRY2Ds8ANDY)

Regional Differences

Combination Cartridge

Two wars for the price of one! Pick me! Pick me!

The Japanese version of Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2 were distributed together as Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2 in a single cartridge. The game has a unique game selector screen not seen in the US or EU versions.

Name Changes

All the new COs had their names changed between the Japanese, US, and European versions. The returning COs had their names retained in the Japanese and international versions.

Japanese Literal Translation US version EU version
スネーク Snake Adder
イワン Ewan Colin
コング Kong Flak Helmut
ホーク Hawke Maverick
ハンナ Hannah Jess
キャット Cat Lash
ヤマモト Yamamoto Sensei

Adder's Super CO Power

North American European
While the sidewinder is a snake, it is a little obscure. The newer version seems more appropriate to his theme.

For the two English translations of the game, the name of Adder's Super CO Power was altered. The US Version has the name "Sidewinder", while the EU release of the game has the name "Snakebite". Oddly enough, this change is not retained in the sequel Advance Wars: Dual Strike despite some regional differences in the EU version as well.

Flak's Bomber Dialogue

In the North American version of the game, Flak incorrectly identifies Bombers as an "indirect combat unit". This gaffe is fixed in the European version of the game, although it takes a bit longer to begin processing the word "direct". Oddly, the mistake was not corrected in the North American Wii U Virtual Console release. In addition to this, the hyphen was repositioned two pixels downward to better-accommodate for the lowercase letters.

The Japanese line, この爆撃機だが・・・ こいつは直接攻撃ユニットだ。 , is also correct. The term 直接攻撃ユニット (chokusetsu kougeki yunitto) means "direct combat unit."

North American European
You can bomb 'em from anywhere on the map! At least you can still bomb 'em right after you move to it.


Compared to Advance Wars, this game's localization made noticeably fewer changes to the CO designs.


Since he lost the Santa hat in the Japanese version too, all that was left to do was to change the hair color.

Japanese International
Advance Wars 2 olaf japan.png Advance Wars 2 olaf usa.png


The same hat change as in the last game.

Japanese International
Advance Wars 2 grit japan.png Advance Wars 2 grit usa.png


The same color change and removal of the glasses as in the previous game.

Japanese International
Advance Wars 2 sonja japan.png Advance Wars 2 sonja usa.png