It has been more than 20 years now since the original Advance Wars was released on the Game Boy Advance, and Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp gives the classic turn-based strategy series new life. After initially being delayed for a year due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is finally out for players to experience.
In one modernized package, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp combines Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. The two were initially released on the Game Boy Advance in 2001 and 2003, respectively, and the series itself has been dormant since Advance Wars: Days of Ruin was released on the Nintendo DS in 2008. Players are thrust into the role of tactical advisor for the Orange Star Army as they defend their nation.
The story for Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is pretty straightforward. The Orange Star Army serves as your typical good guys facing attacks from Blue Moon, their enemies. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a young Orange Star officer named Andy is accused of pointlessly attacking two other nations, Yellow Comet, and Green Earth, which sparks a worldwide conflict. It was soon discovered that the Black Hole Army was behind the attack, so the world united to defeat them. It is not a life-altering story by any means, but it serves its function well of setting up the conflict and explaining why players should care about what is going on.
One new addition to Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp that improves on the original games is newly added voice lines that help give more character to the different Commanding Officers. While it wasn’t necessarily a needed addition, I appreciated how it helped bring those non-playable characters to life. Hearing Andy speak, for example, helps sell the idea that he could possibly have been dumb enough to accidentally start a world war. The newly added animated cutscenes are the bigger addition for me, and they fit so well that I honestly forgot they were not in the original game, and they further enhanced the story and setting.
Gameplay in Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is second to none for turn-based strategy games. There are unit types for land, air, and sea combat, as well as neutral locations that can be captured to help improve unit production and restoration. The first few levels ease players in and explain how each unit moves and their strengths and weaknesses. Battles are won by completing objectives like capturing the enemy headquarters or destroying all enemy units. Each battle is then graded based on how quickly and efficiently it was completed.
As someone who has always loved the original games, it was nice to get a bit of a refresher course before jumping into the deep end. Nothing has changed in this new package either, and the gameplay is the same as it was before. Considering how perfect the implementation of turn-based war combat already was, I’m glad they left that portion untouched. There are new options for fast-forwarding through battle scenes or restarting turns. Those two minor tweaks greatly enhance the game without fundamentally changing anything. The way it slowly introduces new units and mechanics is excellent for new players to learn the ropes and for older players to reintegrate without feeling overwhelmed. The difficulty increases as players progress but never feels too difficult to complete.
After completing the first campaign, players unlock the Black Hole Rising missions. Technically you can skip straight to that if you choose, but I would not recommend it since it is a direct continuation of the original’s story. Black Hole Rising also introduces eight new commanding officers, a new tank unit, two new terrain types, and the Super CO Power. The Super CO Power is an enhanced version of each commanding officer’s unique ability earned by filling up a meter in battle. Filling the smaller meter allows players to use the normal CO Power, but waiting and increasing the larger meter unlocks the Super CO Power, which can often turn the tide of battle. It adds to the level of strategic thinking, and I often debated whether to use the smaller version more frequently or wait and use the Super CO Power.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp also features a War Room mode that lets players try challenging maps to achieve a high score. There are pre-made maps that are incredibly fun to play, but a new map editor mode allows players to create their challenges too. There is the option to play as any of the unlocked commanding officers and adjust different battle parameters to make the experience challenging and unique. Replaying the same map can feel like a new experience with different commanding officers changing the victory conditions. This is where I spent most of my time playing and will be for quite some time, especially with the map editor mode.
While Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp stayed faithful to the original games in almost every aspect, the art design was the biggest and most noticeable change. The original series had a distinct design that fit with the Game Boy Advance it released, but Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp gave the games a 3D animation makeover. It was hard not to be disappointed that the unique design lost some of what made it special, but it did grow on me the longer I played. It will be jarring at first for anyone who spent a significant amount of time with the originals, but it was significantly less of a detractor than I expected.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp combines two of the greatest turn-based strategy games of all time in one beautiful package. Quality of life enhancements like voice acting and the map editor help take the games to new heights for players old and new. It’s all wrapped in a nice 3D bow that made me fall in love with the series all over again.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is out now on Nintendo Switch.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp combines two of the greatest turn-based strategy games of all time in one beautiful package.