Re-master your miniature military turn-based tactics in our Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review!
Since the dawn of gaming, warfare has been a resounding inspiration for many videogames. From Atari’s iconic Combat through to strategic series like Total War and the frantic FPS of Call of Duty, conflict in gaming has raged on for decades. But few series have approached the topic with quite the same charm of Intelligent System’s turn-based strategy, Advance Wars.
War has never looked so pixel perfect.
Initially released in 1988 with the Japan-exclusive Famicom Wars, the series landed upon Western shores in 2001 with GBA fan-favourite, Advance Wars. Rocketing to success for its stylish spritework and addictive gameplay, this was soon followed by the 2003 sequel, Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising. Now revitalising the beloved series for a brand new audience, WayForward (the team behind Shantae) bring Advance Wars marching proudly onto the Nintendo Switch with Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp.
Combining the classic gameplay of two GBA titles in one polished package alongside revamped visuals and audio, is Re-Boot Camp the series revival fans have been waiting for? Well listen well and stand at attention, private! Because you’re about to find out in our Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review – Story
The conflict of Advance Wars begins with a struggle between two fictional nations: Orange Star and Blue Moon. The game’s protagonist, Andy, is a commanding officer of Orange Star’s army seeking to defend his home land against invading territories. As tensions escalate, Andy and his allies must use their strategic skills to outsmart Blue Moon’s forces. Though an evil looms in the shadows, orchestrating a plan to initiate worldwide war through the use of a forbidden weapon.
Meet the original CO trio: Sami, Max, and Andy!
Throughout the game’s campaign, players guide Andy and his army through a series of battles, each with their own objectives and challenges. Along the way, players will encounter other commanders, including the charismatic and steadfast Sami and the gruff, yet loyal Max. As players progress through the campaign, the stakes become higher and the battles become more intense as other countries and COs become involved in the war.
He said the meme!
Flash forward to Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, which takes place some time after the events of the first game. This time, the story centres around a new threat: the Black Hole Army. The Black Hole Army has launched an invasion of Macro Land and is using their advanced technology to cause chaos and destruction. The game follows the efforts of several commanding officers from each country as they unite forces to take down Black Hole.
If someone could just get one well-placed sniper bullet…
The sequel offers far more depth, with a complex web of alliances and betrayals as the Black Hole Army attempts to manipulate the various nations for their own gain. Along the way, players will encounter a cast of memorable characters, including the mysterious and enigmatic leader, Sturm and his scheming underlings: Lash, Hawke, Flak, and Adder.
Two games in one for double the fun!
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp features two separate yet intertwined storylines, each with a strong emphasis on character development. This is greatly enhanced from the originals, as WayForward brings each character to life through vibrant animations and charismatic voice acting. Every single character, even the antagonists, are loveable and charming, and offer a fascinating dynamic as they banter with one another.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review – Gameplay
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And that’s exactly the case with the gameplay of Re-Boot Camp, which is mostly untouched compared to the originals. If you’ve played any prior Advance Wars game, you’ll immediately recognise the simple and polished turn-based strategy. You’ll take command of a CO who has control over various military units, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, in order to achieve their objectives and annihilate their opponents.
Each mission takes place on a large grid, with players at opposite ends. At the start of each turn, each player receives a certain number of resources, which can be used to produce new units or repair damaged ones. Players must then strategically manoeuvre their units across the map, capturing cities and other strategic locations to gain control of resources and outmanoeuvre your opponent. Winning requires you to eliminate the foe entirely or capture their HQ for a swift victory.
Combat in the game is resolved through a rock-paper-scissors style system, similar to Fire Emblem. Each unit type is strong against some units and weak against others. For example, infantry units are weak against tanks, but are useful in capturing strategic positions. Tanks are powerful in gaining ground, but will crumble and explode when going head-to-head against aircraft.
Many maps feature Fog of War, allowing enemy units to hide outside your vision.
The aim of the game is to use your units wisely and carefully plan attacks in order to minimise losses and achieve maximum efficiency. This relies heavily on map control. You’ll need to capture and hold cities, bases, and airports in order to gain resources and produce new units. Cities also provide healing for damaged units, so controlling them is crucial for maintaining a healthy army. Terrain can also be used to advance, with tiles like mountains of woods providing protective cover.
Blocking off enemies with excessive infantry is a cheap but valid tactic.
To add an additional layer of complexity, you’ll also be given access to a variety of commanding officers, each with their own unique abilities and strengths. These abilities can range from increased movement range to stronger attacks or even an addition turn, and can greatly influence the outcome of a battle. You’ll need to know how exactly to harness a commanding officer’s abilities effectively in order to gain the upper hand in combat.
Choose your CO wisely!
The game is divided into two halves: the original Advance Wars, and its sequel, Black Hole Rising. You’ll need to finish off the first game before being given access to the second, as they’re intended to be played in order.
While the first campaign is certainly simpler and takes approximately 15 – 20 hours, it’s a worthwhile introduction to the game’s turn-based combat. The sequel is far more in-depth and features numerous additional win conditions and challenging environmental hazards like laser cannons and even volcanoes.
With hazards like these, who needs enemies?
In total, both campaigns feature approximately 60 missions, some of which can be completed in as little as 10 – 20 minutes and others upwards of 2 hours. The game becomes increasingly complex as you progress and offers a steady difficulty curve to help players become accustomed to the game’s mechanics. It’s simple to learn, yet truly difficult to master. And if tactics aren’t your forte, you can choose to play either Classic (the original GBA difficulty), or Casual (designed for newcomers).
Seasoned Advance Wars veterans will know that multiplayer mode is one of the most exciting and engaging aspects of the game. In Re-Boot Camp, you’ll be able to test your strategic skills against other players from around the world, adding a new level of challenge and excitement to the game. You can even craft your own maps from scratch and share them in the Design Room, a staple of all Advance Wars games.
Start a war with your very own maps.
Local multiplayer returns, this time without even the need for a link cable! Compete against friends (or foes) in head-to-head battles, using their own armies and commanders. This mode can be played with up to four players, making it a great option for a party game for players wanting a bit more depth than Mario Party. The fan-favourite single-console mode also returns, allowing you to take turns simply by passing your Nintendo Switch.
Turn your friends into your enemies.
Online play also makes an appearance, albeit with limited functionality. You’ll be able to create or join matches only with other players on your friend list. This limitation means there is no sort of match-making and you’ll be unable to find an opponent without arranging a match in advance. This is sadly a huge missed opportunity, especially for a game so reliant on multiplayer as Advance Wars.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review – Visuals & Performance
From the small screen to the Switch screen, WayForward have stepped away from the gorgeous pixel art and stellar spritework of the original and instead offer their own distinct take on the Advance Wars aesthetic. Retaining the colourful characters and environments, the game now features a heavily-stylised clean cartoon aesthetic that almost borders on anime.
The new CO power animations bring a generous helping of visual flare.
Animations are as clean as ever and look absolutely brilliant both in and out of combat. Seasoned Advance Wars pros will appreciate the attention-to-detail, like the returning CO animations and unit combat, which are revitalised yet pay homage to the original. And newcomers will immediately be drawn into the game’s charming visuals, which bring the unique cast of characters to life. Even the UI looks more stylish than ever – navigating menus and moving about the map is sleek and refined.
Max is already equipped with two huge guns.
The game looks superb in both docked and handheld mode, and is particularly suited to the more vibrant screen of the OLED Switch. Performance for the most part has no issues at all, though some large maps when filled with units will result in noticeable slowdown due to the business of the screen. This unfortunately resulted in two individual situations where the game crashed entirely. Thankfully, every turn auto-saves and you won’t lose any progress at all if you encounter a crash.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review – Audio
How do you approach a game with already such a huge library of music? It’s a treading a fine line simply updating the original tracks or going all-out and creating something completely different. Thankfully, music director and composer, Maddie Lim, has flawlessly modernised the stellar sounds of Advance Wars.
Building upon Taishi Senda and Yoshito Hirano’s compositions for the originals, Re-Boot Camp elevates the intense military beats, shredding guitar, and catchy melodies to an all new level. This is thanks to a talented set of musicians from across the world, whose live performances bring the compressed GBA tunes to life with unmatched style and clarity. Take a listen to this side-by-side comparison of Andy’s theme and you’ll hear what I mean:
“Andy’s Anthem” from the original GBA games.
The updated “Andy’s Anthem” from Re-Boot Camp.
And some tracks have received a huge glow-up. Just check out these three different versions of “Sensei’s Theme” – the original is catchy and jazzy, yet held back by the hardware limitations of the GBA. The Re-Boot brings this track to life with a performance by The Consouls, who lend their signature jazz style. And taking it one step further, each CO now has an upgraded theme when their power is activated. The electro swing in Sensei’s track is wild, just like Copter Gramps himself!
Sensei’s original theme.
Sensei’s theme from Re-Boot Camp.
Sensei’s CO power theme.
But it’s more than just a banger of a soundtrack – WayForward have really gone all-out when it comes to Re-Boot Camp’s audio. Player’s will be treated to an incredible voice cast, with every character now featuring English voice acting. If you listen closely, you might even pick some familiar voices, such as Arin Hanson (Game Grumps) as Max, Veronica Taylor (who we only just interviewed here!) as Andy, and many, many more talented actors.
Once you roll out and roll credits, there’s still plenty more war in Re-Boot Camp. This game is a completionist’s dream and packs in a tonne of additional content! Throughout the campaign you’ll accrue credits which can be spent in “Hachi’s Shop”.
The better you perform in a mission, the more credits you’ll earn. These can unlock literally hundreds of items – from maps that can be played in both the “War Room” and multiplayer, new COs to use in combat, the game’s entire soundtrack, and a wide variety of concept art.
This old dude’s gonne be a millionaire by the end of the game.
Speaking of the “War Room“, every single map from the game can be replayed for a brand new challenge. You’ll be able to pick from your entire list of unlocked COs and face off against AI to achieve an S-rank on every mission. Doing so would likely take upwards of 100 hours, so there’s a significant amount of replay value in Re-Boot Camp to keep you coming back more even more war.
Replay each map with your favourite CO!
Advance Wars – what is it good for? Absolutely everything. While the GameBoy Advance classics are turn-based gems, WayForward have magnificently modernised these military masterpieces. More than just a gorgeous visual style to bring beloved characters to life; gameplay, music, and accessibility have been revitalised for a new audience. So if you’re a strategy game fan, then head to your nearest recruitment centre and enlist in Re-Boot Camp today!
So, why should you play Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp?
- Flawless update of two GameBoy Advance classics
- You’re a strategy game fan and haven’t tried Advance Wars
- Plenty of additional content to keep you coming back
- Fresh visual style that pays tribute to the original
- Brilliant soundtrack with addictive arrangements and performances
But why shouldn’t you play Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp?
- Strategy games not your forte? This might not be up your alley
- Lack of online match-making means multiplayer isn’t as accessible as it could be
A review code on Nintendo Switch was kindly provided by Nintendo Australia for the purpose of our Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review. If you enjoyed this review, then check out another brilliant turn-based strategy in our Fire Emblem Engage review and join us on the Qualbert Discord to chat all things Advance Wars!