Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review
A faithful remaster of the Game Boy Advance classic
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a faithful adaptation of the Game Boy Advance classic, with charming 3D visuals giving it a welcome facelift. With the gameplay mechanics largely untouched 22 years after the release of the original however, Advance Wars feels rusty and basic compared to more modern strategy games on the Nintendo Switch.
- Refreshed visuals with 3D models
- Bundled with Advance Wars and sequel
- Rewarding strategic combat
- Includes multiplayer mode and map creator
- High difficulty spikes
- Basic compared to modern strategy games
- Large-scale matches can drag on for hours
- UKRRP: £49.99
- USARRP: $59.99
- Genre:Turn-bases strategy
- Release date:21 April, 2023
- Platforms:Nintendo Switch
Advance Wars is widely considered to be one of the best games on the Game Boy Advance, so it’s no surprise to see Nintendo release a remastered edition for the Nintendo Switch.
The 2001 classic is a brutally difficult turn-based strategy, adopting a similar blueprint to Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series, but swapping swords and dragons for tanks and helicopters.
This new Switch edition bundles both the original Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising together in one package, but with Advance Wars first launching a whopping 22-years ago, has this strategy game withstood the test of time? Here are my thoughts.
Graphic and performance
- Remastered visuals with 3D models
- Cartoony aesthetic looks a little childish
- Fantastic re-recorded soundtracks
Advance Wars has been given a major facelift for the Switch remake, with Nintendo and developer WayForward adopting new 3D models.
Those who played the originals on the Game Boy Advance may be sad to see Advance Wars lose the nostalgic 2D sprites, but the more detailed visuals are certainly a welcome upgrade in my book.
The 3D models are well detailed, making it immediately obvious which vehicle you’re operating, whether it’s artillery or an anti-air tank. Animations look delightfully smooth too, especially when a plane glides over the map with its jet roaring menacingly.
The vehicles in Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp do look a little childish, with the rounded edges and plastic-like sheen making them look like toys that you may find on a Playmobil set. Nintendo has leaned heavily into the cartoonish aesthetic, with bright primary colours.
Considering this is a game about tank warfare, and is in danger of being compared to tragic real life events, Nintendo has made sure to distance itself from realism as much as possible. This allows Nintendo to market Advance Wars to a younger audience, with the PEGI rating suggesting that the game is suitable for ages 7 and over.
Menus are presented fantastically well, with a tap of the ZR button showing you a detailed breakdown of each vehicle. Opening the main menu also gives you oodles of useful information including a guide book which explains every mechanic from basic movement to more complex systems such as fuel and weather.
I’m a big fan of the re-recorded music here too, which shifts depending on the commanding office you’re using. The lead character Andy has a peppy, energetic soundtrack while Grit sees more laid-back western music play in the background. It helps to give an idea of each commander’s personality, pairing nicely with their pre-match quips.
Performance has been flawless, with my Switch OLED running smoothly even with dozens and dozens of units spawning on the map, but that’s hardly a surprise considering the original games were playable on the Game Boy Advance.
- Faithful adaptation of original games
- Engaging strategic gameplay
- Feels outdated and overly simply in 2023
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is made up of two campaigns: Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. Both are faithful adaptations of the source material, with little to no deviations on the turn-based strategy mechanics that made the originals so beloved.
Each level features a unique map, with the most common objectives tasking you with destroying every enemy unit or capturing the opposing base. In order to do this, you’re given a small army made up of units such as infantry, tanks, artillery and more.
Every unit has its own strengths and weaknesses, with artillery excelling at destroying faraway targets, but proving pretty much useless in close quarters, and while infantry are weak against the vast majority of vehicles, they prove useful in capturing enemy buildings that can be used to replenish health, ammunition and fuel.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp does a great job at gradually introducing you to the wide range of units the game has to offer, with the likes of helicopters, battleships and submarines added to the mix without overwhelming the gameplay.
I was disappointed to see no new unit types added for Advance Wars 2 though, making the combat start to feel a little repetitive during back-to-back playthroughs. Other modern turn-based games have managed to address such issues, with Fire Emblem and Into the Breach allowing you to upgrade units and acquire new abilities, making Advance War’s flaws feel even more potent in 2023.
I noticed several other outdated mechanics that made Advance Wars feel a little barebones compared to other modern strategy games. For example, missions that have no time limit can drag on for hours – it can feel akin to a never-ending game of Monopoly or Risk.
While Advance Wars can be punishingly difficult, it struggles to keep you on the edge of the seat throughout the entirety of a match. When you are on the verge of victory, silly mistakes won’t really have many consequences other than a low scorecard. Alternative games such as Into the Breach and Fire Emblem do a far better job of maintaining high stakes throughout the entirety of a match, no matter how well you’re dominating.
I’m not a fan of the Fog of War matches either, which are commonplace in the first entry of Advance Wars. In such levels, the map is submerged in a fog, limiting the visibility of enemy units. These levels require caution and the use of recon tanks to scout the battlefield, but it’s frustratingly easy for the enemy to hide artillery and rocket units to simply blitz you to ashes.
Advance Wars 2 does at least offer an improved variety of mission objectives, as well as a larger roster of commanding officers, each of which have their own perks. While Advance Wars does feel a little basic compared to more modern offerings, it’s still an engaging title that can feel remarkably rewarding when pulling off a strategic coup.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp offers many other modes of play outside the campaign. Multiplayer is available – both for online and local play – and you can also challenge the CPU via War Room to try and achieve the highest possible score on a range of maps.
The Design Room is my favourite mode outside of the campaign, allowing you to build your very own maps and share them online. I’m excited to see the variations of maps that will be created after launch, especially if this mode sees the same level of creativity and imagination as the user base of Super Mario Maker.
Should you buy it?
You want a faithful adaptation of the Game Boy Advance classic:
If you simply want to replay Advance Wars after playing it on the Game Boy Advance, this faithful adaptation offers the absolute best way to experience the strategy classic.
You want an inventive strategy game:
Advance Wars is as classic as they come in the realm of turn-based strategy games. You’ll find more inventive ideas with modern alternatives such as XCOM 2, Into the Breach and Fire Emblem.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp offers great bang for your buck, with a gluttony of content including two campaigns, local and online multiplayer and a custom map creator. The new 3D models look great too, even if they can be accused of looking too cutesy compared to the source material on Game Boy Advance.
The faithful adaptation of the gameplay may well please those who played the originals and are seeking a hit of nostalgia, but the series’ flaws are also more obvious in 2023.
High difficulty spikes, lengthy matches and the lack of any sort of upgrades system ensure that Advance Wars struggle to outgun the very best turn-based strategy games on the Nintendo Switch, with the likes of Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Into the Breach proving to be more inventive alternatives. Check out our best Nintendo Switch games round-up for more options.
How we test
When reviewing a game, we will make sure to test all of the available modes, including story campaign, multiplayer and more. We will take multiple elements into consideration including gameplay, story, graphics and performance.
Tested on Nintendo Switch
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The main difference can be found with the visuals, with Reboot Camp adopting 3D models. There are also re-recorded soundtracks as well as online multiplayer functionality.
Yes, Advance Wars 2 is very similar to the original but it offers a greater variety of mission objectives, commanding offices and maps.