Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-based tactics game
Developer: WayForward, Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp – Review

Site Score
Good: Engaging and addictive tactical gameplay
Bad: 3D visuals don't fit the franchise aesthetic
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

If you’ve been keeping up with the chaos surrounding Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp’s release, then it can be difficult to fathom that the game is finally out. Originally announced back during the 2021 E3 Nintendo Direct, it was supposed to launch in December of that same year, before being delayed a couple of months because it wasn’t quite ready yet. It was then scheduled to debut in April of last year, but real-world events put a stop to that. Nintendo understandably felt that the time wasn’t right to release a game where you wage war against an enemy based on Russian stereotypes, no matter how cartoony. Another year has passed since, and it seems like the big N felt like real-world events wouldn’t overshadow Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp this time around. Was the game worth the wait and the commotion?


Although both games included here are character-driven affairs, they’re not exactly heavy on story. Advance Wars 1’s plot can be boiled down to the four nations of Cosmo Land being tricked into invading each other by the sinister and secretive Black Hole Army. Once the affected nations find out, they team up to take on their true enemy, Black Hole CO Sturm. In Advance Wars 2, that very same Sturm has licked his wounds and returns from seeming defeat, wanting total domination this time around. With the four nations of Cosmo Land still recovering from the previous war, Sturm sends his commanders to capture each nation, and the good guys must team up once again to deal with the Black Hole Army once and for all. The real narrative fun comes from seeing the varied cast of characters interact with one another, even though their conversations don’t really affect the overarching story too much. Still, you’ll find plenty of likable personalities here, on both sides of the conflict. It’s interesting to see how the cartoonish villains are sympathetic, even if they are in fact ruthless warlords that send soldiers to their doom without remorse.


The charming yet clunky GBA visuals of the original have been replaced with up-to-date 3D graphics. Character designs stay true to the original art, although mixed with WayForward’s signature visual style. The bright, saturated colors and crisp line art are reminiscent of Shantae and Mighty Switch Force. The short animations when COs use their abilities and during cutscenes in particular look absolutely gorgeous. Elsewhere, the visual upgrades fare less well, unfortunately. WayForward opted for a cartoonish tabletop wargame aesthetic and this doesn’t work as well as we would have hoped, with 3D models looking a bit too much like they were lifted from a free-to-play mobile title. Some of the tank designs also look too similar, making it difficult to differentiate between various types at a glance.


The biggest change to Re-Boot Camp’s soundscape is the addition of voice acting, and what a change it is. The game’s voice cast features alumni of previous games from both WayForward and Intelligent Systems, including Shantae’s voice actor Christina Vee as Nell and Fire Emblem’s Claude, Joe Zieja, as Sensei. YouTuber Arin Hanson, best known under his handle Egoraptor, is perhaps the most surprising addition to the cast, and voices Max. The voice actors all deliver fantastic performances and really add new dimensions to these familiar characters. Of course, Re-Boot Camp also takes advantage of the capabilities of modern hardware, and so the classic GBA music has been replaced by orchestral versions of those same tracks, making the game a complete delight for your ears. Taishi Senda’s tunes remain as catchy as ever and hearing them rendered in this updated way is delightful.


Originally developed by Intelligent Systems, the Advance Wars series shares some of its gameplay DNA with its more famous sibling Fire Emblem. Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp bundles two remakes of highly beloved Game Boy Advance titles from 2001 and 2003 respectively, hence the Advance in their title. Development duties for the remakes went to WayForward, best known for the Shantae series, as Intelligent Systems was working on WarioWare: Get It Together and Fire Emblem: Engage around the time Re-Boot Camp was in production. Given how beloved Advance Wars remains even two decades after their original release, WayForward certainly had their work cut out for them, but thankfully, they delivered a fantastic reimagining of these classic turn-based tactical games.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Advance Wars, let’s bring you up to speed quickly. As a Commanding Officer, or CO for short, you take control of an army and wage war across a grid-based map. You typically win a mission either by getting rid of all enemy units or by capturing the enemy’s base. Naturally, you’ll also need to keep an eye on your own base as well. There is a rock-paper-scissors mechanic in play, with specific units being strong against others. Each unit has a specific battlefield role, and they are all useful, so having a balanced force is often the key to victory. Basic infantry, for example, is your weakest option but unlike vehicles, they are able to capture buildings, which generate resources and allow you to buy new units. You have aerial and nautical units and a plethora of land-based vehicles and infantry at your disposal to claim victory. Non-combat transport vehicles allow you to load and move infantry around, but they are weak and often require tanks and the like to protect them. Ranged units can dish out massive damage, but they need to be positioned correctly, and so on. There is plenty of tactical depth here but thanks to a lengthy campaign, which gradually introduces the game’s mechanics, you’ll never feel overwhelmed. The biggest hurdle to overcome is figuring out which unit does what, and while that takes some trial and error, it quickly becomes second nature.

Resource management is an important factor, as you’ll need to decide whether you’d want a mass of cheaper, weaker units or if you’d rather want to invest in a powerful but expensive unit that requires multiple turns of income generation. Units do not carry over between missions, and there is no leveling-up system or permadeath system in place. Then there are the COs themselves, each of whom offers their own specific special ability. Franchise poster boy Andy, for example, is able to repair units, whereas the notorious Olaf is able to call on the winds of winter to freeze the battlefield. These abilities take some time to charge and their effects last for a single turn until they can be used again, but they can really make the difference between victory and defeat when timed correctly.

WayForward didn’t just apply a new coat of paint to the classic GBA titles and call it a day either. The game’s tutorial section has been reworked completely so that newcomers will be brought up to speed and veterans can freshen their memories without things feeling forced or obtrusive. Re-Boot Camp really begins to shine once you’re past those initial few missions and the training wheels come off. Initially, your options are limited but as you earn currency, you’ll be able to buy new COs from Hachi’s shop, among other things, and these let you tackle each mission in different ways. The role of COs is greatly expanded in Advance Wars 2 compared to the first game, with both a wider selection and their abilities having much more of an impact. In fact, both games have been brought in line with one another, so the differences mostly boil down to having a wider range of units and COs to choose from.

With two difficulty modes, a scoring system, and branching mission paths, there is a lot of replayability to be found here as well, as you gradually try and reach that coveted S-rank in every mission. A single playthrough of Re-Boot Camp should keep you occupied for around 40 hours, although that does include both titles, but you can easily double or even triple that time if you factor in the replayability of the missions as you try out different strategies. That’s without even getting into the multiplayer gameplay, which lets you team up with up to three other friends (or foes) online or locally. Local multiplayer can be done with a single Switch console, so there is no need to pick up multiple copies of the game either. Then there’s the possibility to create your own maps, which can be shared online with other players. Other changes to the classic gameplay are more subtle, such as a fast-forward feature and the ability to replay your last turn should things go awry. The result is a remarkably comprehensive package that is worth every penny and should delight fans of turn-based tactical games, whether they are rookies or experienced generals.


Two decades in, the Advance Wars games prove that they undoubtedly stood the test of time. Beneath WayForward’s super glossy coat of polish, you’ll find a balanced and reliable gameplay engine that you’ll want to take for a spin over and over again. If there is one gripe we have with Re-Boot Camp, it’s that the 3D visuals don’t really do the original pixel art justice. If you can look past that, what you’ve got here is a fantastic set of remakes that do justice to a pair of timeless classics.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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