advance wars 1+2 reboot camp review

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review — Tanks for the Memories

A successful mission for WayForward and Nintendo.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp on Switch

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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a package deal remake of the first two games in the Advance Wars franchise, which were originally released in the early 2000s. This new title will finally be hitting the shelves after a 15-year series hiatus and multiple delays, and potential buyers may be wondering if it’s worth picking up with so many other tactical strategy games already available on the Nintendo Switch.

One of the most significant strengths of Advance Wars is its polished gameplay. The game is played on a grid-based map where players take turns to move their units and attack their opponents. The objective of the game is to defeat the enemy army by either capturing their headquarters or eliminating all of their units.

The mechanics are well-designed and intuitive, making it easy for players to pick up the game and start playing even if they are unfamiliar with the series. There’s a handy guidebook available in-game at all times in case players forget what types of units tanks are good at or if they aren’t sure what an airport is.

advance wars andy airport
Image Source: Nintendo via Twinfinite

Advance Wars’ accessible approach does not mean that the gameplay is shallow. In fact, Advance Wars has a learning curve that challenges players to develop their strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. This “easy to learn, difficult to master” approach is one of the game’s major strengths as it will satisfy both newcomers and veterans.

I was very impressed with the amount of content that comes in the Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp package. Beyond the main campaigns of the first two Advance Wars games, which combined can take 50 hours or more to beat, there are post-game missions, online matches, a custom map editor, a war room with special maps, and a collectible gallery. Nearly all of this content is available from the moment you boot up the game for the first time.

I played through the main campaigns on “casual” difficulty instead of “classic”. Because I’m a beginner when it comes to strategy games, I found a few of the end-game missions to be quite difficult, some taking me a few hours on a single attempt. For experienced tactics game players, a “challenge” difficulty can be unlocked after beating the first game’s campaign on either casual or classic.

The missions in the Advance Wars campaigns have strong replay value. Players are awarded with a score based on how quickly and efficiently they are victorious, so the most ambitious might replay missions to get all S scores. Many levels allow players the opportunity to choose their Commanding Officer (CO); each has their own special ability that can change the best strategy and approach to victory.

advance wars tanks
Image Source: Nintendo via Twinfinite

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp does a nice job of feeling like a modern release despite being a remake of games from 2001 and 2003. The enemy’s turn can be sped up by holding down ZR, which saves a lot of time. If a mission is taking a very long time and players want to turn off their Switch to return to it later, the game lets players pause and save in the middle of their turn.

The graphics and art style are visually pleasing. The gameplay resembles little toys or tokens on a game board, while the cutscenes are a vibrant, cartoony, anime art style. Everything runs well and looks nice in both docked mode and handheld mode on the Switch.

Most of the characters, while charming, are a bit stereotypical and over-the-top goofy. Players will either absolutely adore or totally hate the characters’ dialogue throughout the game. They are silly and often unserious, joking in the face of warfare and invasion. They have no concern for the dozens of troops they lose each mission, and the beef between countries sometimes deals with rivalries from high school or old love interests. It’s hard to believe that Andy, one of the three main protagonists, is a Commanding Officer with how exaggeratedly brainless he is.

The story isn’t as engaging or in-depth as other popular strategy games on the Switch, such as Fire Emblem, are. In fact, I’d call the story boring and shallow. Thankfully, the gameplay is strong enough that this did not matter to me, but I found myself rolling my eyes more than once at the parts that were meant to drive the plot forward. This definitely isn’t Nintendo’s gritty, mature war game; I think if players go into it knowing it’s a wacky and frivolous story, they won’t mind.

advance wars andy max sami
Image Source: Nintendo via Twinfinite

I’d like to touch on a few other drawbacks to Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. Speaking of touch, I was disappointed to find that there is no touchscreen support anywhere in the game. Not enough Switch games use this feature, and I feel as though it’s a missed opportunity here since the Advance Wars games on the Nintendo DS benefitted from it. I found myself wanting to drag my tanks and infantries across the map with my finger but wasn’t able to.

The other major disappointment I had is in regards to the custom map editor. On the surface, it’s excellent. It’s so easy to use that it just throws players into it without the need for a mandatory tutorial. There are options that cover everything from the main campaigns. I created an awesome map in a matter of minutes.

The big problem with it is that once I was done making my very own map, the options for sharing it were limited. Instead of being able to present my map for the world to see, I have to manually share it with those on my friends list (they can’t just boot up their own game and see any maps I have created, and I can’t see theirs).

I was imagining it would be more like Super Mario Maker in which I could share a unique code and let anyone around the world play my map. If you don’t have friends who also have Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, this mode is unfortunately pretty useless.

My online experience playing with a friend over Wi-Fi was good, but the game lacks asynchronous multiplayer battles. Since matches can get really long at higher skill levels, I don’t foresee many players appreciating real-time battles. Other turn-based tactics games like Wargroove have an asynchronous multiplayer feature, so I’m unsure why they didn’t include it here.

Since Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp was delayed for over a year in light of world events despite being completed, I find it puzzling that this extra time wasn’t used to add features like touch screen controls, more custom map sharing options, or asynchronous multiplayer.

Despite these drawbacks, there is no doubt that Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a high quality release from WayForward and Nintendo this year. I don’t believe that my complaints take away too much from the clear strengths of the game.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is packed to the brim with content and has that addictive “just one more mission” feel. Though some may find the story to be unserious and shallow, it’s completely accessible and enjoyable to newcomers of the genre like myself while also providing depth and challenge for veterans. Enthusiasts will get hundreds of hours of entertainment out of the game.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is packed to the brim with content and has that addictive "just one more mission" feel. Though some may find the story to be unserious and shallow, it's completely accessible and enjoyable to newcomers of the genre like myself while also providing depth and challenge for veterans. Enthusiasts will get hundreds of hours of entertainment out of the game.
  • Polished, addictive gameplay.
  • Lots of content in one package.
  • Easy to learn, difficult to master approach.
  • Missions have strong replay value.
  • Disappointing online experience.
  • Shallow storylines.
  • No touch screen support.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

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Rebecca Stone
Rebecca is a Staff Writer at Twinfinite. She has been with the site and in the games media industry for 4 years, and she has a college degree in psychology and writing. Rebecca typically covers Nintendo for the site, and she especially loves the Legend of Zelda series. Outside of gaming, Rebecca is an avid Swiftie and enjoys playing with her cat Frisk.