Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review: CO your own way

Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review: CO your own way
Images courtesy of Nintendo

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

27th Apr 2023 11:16

I spent a fair amount of time in the early 2000s playing Advance Wars, and in many ways, it served as my introduction to turn-based strategy games in a similar way to how Pokemon and Final Fantasy 7 got me started with JRPGs.

And, just as that scrappy Nintendo first-party handheld title taught me about movement range and fortifying buildings, the Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp seems likely to do the same for a whole new generation.

GGRecon Verdict

It's fitting that after six years of being a haven for turn-based strategy titles, the Nintendo Switch is finally getting an Advance Wars game with Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp.

The lack of online matchmaking is a shame, but there's so much else on offer here that it's tough to say the package isn't tremendous value regardless.

What's old is Orange and Blue again

Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review screenshot showing movement on a map
Click to enlarge

I was struck upon booting up Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp by just how much nostalgia surfaced for me. The game's visuals looked just as I remembered them. But, as the best remakes always seem to do, I was stunned by how stark the contrast is when placed side by side with the original.

Gone are the pixellated units on tiny squares, and so are the weird misshapen buildings dotted around the map. The scenery is much more vibrant now, with green plains, crisp roads, and clear water.

Units have gone from smudges on an LCD screen (albeit adorably stylised ones) to 3D models that bring the tabletop diorama fantasy much closer to reality, backed up by battle maps that look like board games.

Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp screenshot showing combat between infantry and vehicles
Click to enlarge

I feel like I've said this constantly since the revised system shipped, but it's another reason to opt for the OLED Switch console if you haven't already. The drastically brighter panel makes it really feel as though you're moving units around a space.

And then there's the sound, my goodness. Each Commanding Officer (CO) has their own theme, and the soundtrack is completely reimagined, mixing themes and genres to create a beautiful mishmash of genres that's full of toe-tappers.

Add in some fun, saccharine voice acting and as far as tactical combat goes, it's the most kid-friendly you'll find - but it'll still get its hooks into you.

Toon Tactics

Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review screenshot showing combat between tanks and aircraft
Click to enlarge

Advance Wars remains beloved to this day for its combat, and as well-tuned and enjoyable as the first game is, it's a little bit of a pushover - but that could be because my strategic acumen has only improved since I was twelve.

When it comes to the other half of the Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp package, Advance Wars 2, things start off similarly simple until late-game battles ramp up the difficulty with Super CO powers that can ruin the best-laid plans.

Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review screenshot showing a CO power
Click to enlarge

It's a spike, for sure, and while it's not insurmountable, it does mean there are some battles where you simply cannot make mistakes. Thankfully, there's a new turn-rewind feature borrowed from Fire Emblem's most recent offerings that mean you can roll things back for another chance.

That's not all that's new, either, with the option to fast-forward the combat sequences. I'll admit, the way they appear in split-screen was particularly novel in 2001, but it's nice to skip ahead when you're pushing to capture an HQ and things are getting tense.

Aside from that, though, it's the same tactical combat involving land, sea, and air vehicles and infantry. Capture buildings to diminish enemy supply lines, manage terrain and unit type, and try to fulfil one of the victory conditions.

Monkey Paw Multiplayer

Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review screenshot showing a building being captured
Click to enlarge

There are plenty of ways to play as well, with each of the two packaged games offering plenty to see, do, and destroy, especially with additional missions to be unlocked.

Then there's the unlockable maps that can be played against the AI, and the chance to build your own with a robust suite of options.

Online play is here, but it's a bit of a "monkey paw" - it's available and works well, but it can only be played against friends. There's no matchmaking, which feels like a huge omission in 2023.

That means your chances of playing Advance Wars with other human players will be limited by which of your friends buy the game.

Still, you can create your own missions with a load of variables and options, too, so as long as you're OK playing alone, there's a veritable smorgasbord of toon-flavoured tactics on offer.

The Verdict

It's fitting that after six years of being a haven for turn-based strategy titles, the Nintendo Switch is finally getting an Advance Wars game with Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp.

The lack of online matchmaking is a shame, but there's so much else on offer here that it's tough to say the package isn't tremendous value regardless.

4/5

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Code provided by the publisher.

Lloyd Coombes
About the author
Lloyd Coombes
Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.
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