Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is true to the original, but did I want this?

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Sami from Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp salutes at the camera.

I haven't played the Advance Wars series in a while, but games like Wargroove and the newer instalments in the Fire Emblem series had me missing the stuff. Advance Wars 2 and Dual Strike were two of my go-to games growing up, and I've always been enamoured by the game's light-hearted approach to strategy.

Okay, to be fair, the Advance Wars series is literally set in 'Wars World', and the main objective of the game is to utterly wipe out your enemy's forces to the man. The tone of the game feels more like it's a bunch of kids sitting around a tabletop strategy game more than anything else, and that's where the silliness shines through.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp seems to be trying to stick to its roots. Remember those old games you liked as a kid? Here they are again! Now with a nicely-animated intro sequence and brand new transitions when you use your special abilities. Hope that's what you were after!

Max from Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp hits a punching bag.
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The Story

The preview of Re-Boot Camp allowed me to play a portion of the first of the two games' campaigns. The start of the campaign is pretty tutorial-heavy, but the option is often there to skip the bulk of the explanations if you've played before. I found it handy to get a quick recap on the mechanics anyway - the last game I played in the series came out in 2005, after all.

For fans of the series, not a lot has changed. The story is basically the same, as is the dialogue as far as I can remember. You're still learning new bits and pieces up until the end of the preview, so I look forward to being able to go all-out with the full arsenal of tools at my disposal.

The campaign is basically an excuse to put you in various different scenarios and test you against the special abilities of all the other Commanding Officers. It works nicely, as you're often placed in a situation in which your opponent has a strong advantage and you have to work against them. You might be pitted against Sonja, who has extremely strong abilities within Fog of War, allowing her to see and fire at a huge number of enemies.

The actual story is pretty basic so far. There's more telling rather than showing. Dialogue is done in text boxes before, after, and sometimes during battles. There isn't a lot of interpersonal conflict or deep issues explored within the story - it's pretty mechanics-driven. Keeping it simple and relying on the gameplay can work out if the gameplay is worth leaning on.

Andy from Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp asks what an airport is.
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Mechanically, things are pretty much the same. I haven't noticed any major balance changes from the original, but we'll see how the metagame shakes out when the game launches. Multiplayer is the same as usual - the best way to play is with one console passing it back and forth. I'm looking forward to bringing it out on a long car journey and starting arguments with everyone involved.

There's a handy map designer and editor that's pretty easy to use, too. This should hopefully make the online scene a bit more exciting, with the community able to get involved with the building of their own experience. Maybe we'll see gimmick maps, where one player must survive an enormous defensive showing with clever movement and stealth, or great battles between four powerful armies on a vast playing field.

The AI battles in the campaign are an odd experience. I played on classic difficulty, and found some missions weirdly challenging towards the end of the preview. In particular, Fog of War makes trial-and-error a more viable strategy than I'd like it to be. You'll try again and again until you know just how defensively and passively you have to play to beat Sonja in a specific battle. There are a few exploits still present from the originals, too. APCs, units which carry infantry units around at a faster speed, are somehow prime targets for attack by enemies. It's odd - numerous times a seemingly poor move from me went unpunished because my enemy was just desperate to destroy my little van rather than my cannon-toting tank when the latter was clearly a bigger threat.

In some ways, though, learning how the AI opponents play is a satisfying challenge. Some COs hide in forests and bombard you from above. Some come at you all guns blazing with tanks and bombers. Others utilise the sea to their advantage. If anything the battles, and the systems interplaying in the campaign, offer more to the characters than their dialogue.

Kanbei from Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp uses his CO power.
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The Vibe

Things are pretty similar to the original games here. The music is the same mix of upbeat and intense, with each CO's theme delivering an insight into their personality and battle style. Grit's is a laid-back blues to illustrate his more passive, counter-attacking style, while Andy's features driving guitars in a major key, showing his enthusiasm and naivety in battle.

The lack of Game Boy Advance bleeps and bloops somewhat detracts from the nostalgia factor, but for the most part, the music is a well-executed update that doesn't overcomplicate things.


Basically, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp seems to be a faithful update to the classic games that introduced so many fans to the strategy genre. Whether or not this is enough to justify the price tag of a Switch game remains to be seen, and I'd love to see some end-game content to convince me to keep playing, as well as post-launch balancing patches so the game remains competitive for those who want to test their skills against others.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Advance Wars , Reviews , and Features pages.