Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a reminder that war never changes

It has a new coat of paint, but Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp plays like the classic that everyone remembers.


A few months ago, Nintendo brought Game Boy Advance titles to Nintendo Switch Online for the first time. While the library isn't big, that era of gaming is fondly remembered, partly because of a little known first-party series called Advance Wars. This was Nintendo's foray into turn-based real-time strategy, one with a far more colorful coat of paint than one would expect given that it's about tactical military warfare. After years of delays, the original Advance Wars games are headed to Nintendo Switch with a remake called Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. Shacknews recently had a chance to try out the game's early stages and while a lot has changed since the series' heyday, war stays the same.

Tanks clash in Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

Source: Nintendo

That certainly isn't to suggest that Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a 1:1 port. In terms of presentation, there's a lot that's new to find, evident as early as the game's tutorial. The game's story and commanding officers are introduced with a vibrant hand-drawn animation style (along with all-new voice acting), which should look familiar to anybody who has followed the previous work of developer WayForward. Characters are given a new level of personality and help set the stage for the battles ahead. Speaking of those battles, these are illustrated with a more tabletop aesthetic. Units and vehicles are presented as chess-like pieces making their way across a rectangular grid.

As for the moment-to-moment gameplay, Advance Wars feels like the originals in many ways. The game plays out like a tactical board game. Each side gets various sets of military units and can engage in battle with the opponents by moving towards them. Units' effectiveness will vary depending on what types of units they are, what they try to attack, and what level of cover both sides are using. As noted, the difference is in presentation. Once units do battle, short split-screen animations will show the conflict play out. Of course, being a family-friendly effort, there's no excessive violence or bloodshed, but eliminated units simply bounce off the screen with a cartoonish sound effect.

Nell delivers dialogue in Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

Source: Nintendo

There's a lot to soak in about how Advance Wars works and how units operate. As one might imagine, learning to manage infantry, tanks, larger tanks, aircraft, and transport units becomes critical. It can be hard to keep track of what does what and, more importantly, what is vulnerable to what. However, there is one major key to victory to keep in mind and that's the enemy headquarters is the main victory condition. In fact, one of the campaign's early missions establishes that it's possible to unleash a full army, but it means nothing if the headquarters is left totally abandoned for a transport vehicle and a single infantry unit to run in and capture.

Advance Wars veterans will be happy to hear that the campaign is as brutally difficult as ever. Missions can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes, depending on the strategy employed. It's possible to rewind to the start of a turn, but make a single tactical error and it will prove costly. Nintendo and WayForward have hoped to rectify the difficulty situation slightly with a new Casual level. However, even Casual difficulty can be a tough journey for those who aren't seasoned with this genre.

There's a lot more to check out with Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp in the weeks ahead. Even after completing the campaigns, there's still a lot to enjoy with multiplayer, as up to four players can take part in Versus Mode while two friends can go head-to-head with online play. Though Nintendo delayed this game's initial release due to real-life warfare, the wait for Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is almost over. Look for it to arrive exclusively on Nintendo Switch on April 21.

This preview is based on a Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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