Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp review - It keeps getting better

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The main group of protagonists from Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp: Max, Andy, and Sami drive a tank.

As I said in my preview, the Advance Wars series holds a special place in my gaming upbringing. Moving my little pixellated soldiers around the gaff, putting mechs on mountains, and blasting enemies from afar with my strategically-placed indirect units - it just made me feel like a little devious mastermind, outwitting my enemy on the battlefield.

The game is somewhat timeless, but given the loss of most of my Game Boy Advance games, it's been a long ol' time.

The game features two campaigns, along with numerous other gameplay options. Most of it is unchanged, including game mechanics and the overall story of the two campaigns. However, with the updated graphics, quality-of-life changes, and the chance to relive the story, I found Re-Boot Camp well worth the replay. After all these years, the core gameplay really is timeless.

A close-up of Sonia from Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp with computer code reflected in her glasses.
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Quality of life

Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2 have a few gameplay differences. I'm actually surprised Re-Boot Camp stays so close to the original in this, as the second game is just better in so many ways than the first. Perhaps WayForward didn't want to mess with the nostalgia factor of the single-ability COs or completely delete the AW1 versions of certain characters.

It's cool, though. In the War Room, which consists of a series of battles in challenging scenarios against specific COs, you can choose whether to utilise the AW1 or AW2 gameplay styles. So, if you want to be able to use super CO powers and neotanks, you can. If you fancy keeping it stripped back, that's an option too. The same is true for Versus mode.

Something I know a lot of fans have been excited about coming into Re-Boot Camp is online play. There's an online mode, which sounds great! However, at present, you can only jump online with a single friend rather than enter matchmaking lobbies and competitive modes. This will be a huge letdown to the hardcore community desperate for an easy way to compete against enemies at will. They'll just have to figure it out themselves in Discord servers and online forums.

There are a few extra little tidbits, too. The new animations look fantastic, from the intro cutscene to the CO power activation abilities. Each character has to portray their personality through their animations as much as through their limited dialogue, and it's great to see this work well. For example, Olaf's smug smile as he brings forth a snowstorm onto the battlefield shows his conceited attitude, whilst Sonja's shows computer code reflected in her glasses to illustrate her analytical abilities. It's simple stuff, but in the context of the game, a lot of information is portrayed in a very short time period.

Another little extra I should mention is the 'reset turn' button. So many times, I've just clicked 'wait' when I meant to click 'capture', or attacked with my unit on the wrong tile. It isn't the game's fault - I just have clumsy fingers. Now, there's the option to reset turns when you fancy, which allays the feeling of needing to go back to the very start of a battle when you mess up an important move. Sure, you can exploit it, scouting in forests during Fog of War for enemy units and resetting with this new information, but that's not really something I care about. When used properly, I'm so glad WayForward added this little feature.

A close-up of Nell from Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp looking at the camera.
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Customisation and progression

You can create your own maps, too. In the Design Room you can create a map in either AW1 or AW2 style. Some extras will need to be purchased through Hachi's Shop in the menu, the currency for which you earn just by playing matches. There are some pretty cool bits available, including the volcano, which erupts every so often and rains lava down onto the map, creating the potential for some huge turnarounds in fortune.

You can create a map of any size between 10x10 and 30x20, as long as it meets the criteria for playing a proper game. However, for online play, map dimensions can only equal 300 or less. This means 30x10, 20x15, or any other configuration that takes the size down a bit, are the only sizes that can be used. This will be quite limiting for people wanting creative freedom and trying to make competitively-viable maps, but we'll see how the community uses these tools regardless.

PC Components Latest Computer Parts | CCL (

Aside from this, it's the same as the Design Room from previous titles. Predeploy or use bases, wham down as many COs as you think necessary, and try to create the weirdest battles possible.

Max, Andy, and Sami from Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp look angrily to the right.
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The story

I've already mentioned that I think Advance Wars 2 is a lot better than the original gameplay-wise, which had me somewhat pessimistic in my preview. This is driven home enormously by just how much better the campaign is in the sequel, too. I still recommend you play through them both in order, but the battles are more interesting, the addition of super CO powers and neotanks offer far more variety to your gameplay, and mission structure feels so much freer.

In Advance Wars 1, I got sick of using the same old Orange Star COs. Andy, Sami, and Max are great fun to use, but it sure gets tiresome after a few goes around. Also, you're locked out of certain missions for that campaign playthrough. If you choose a specific battle in some points of the campaign, you won't be able to do the rest of them for a while.

In Advance Wars 2, you get the chance to use so many more COs, taking advantage of their unique abilities. The mission structure is non-linear too, meaning you can use Grit, the indirect battle specialist, and sneak your artillery through the forests one day, before dominating your opponent as Kanbei, the super-powered commander whose units pack much more of a punch.


The story is more interesting, although still far from the main attraction. I find it more entertaining to see the story as an in-universe role-playing game. All the COs are the figments of a child's imagination, which is why there's no real dwelling on the costly realities of war. It's a game within a game!

The fun part has to be the cast. With so many unique abilities and things to do on the battlefield, a single special power from the enemy can completely turn the tide of battle and turn a victory into defeat or vice-versa. Advance Wars is timeless, and it has been a treat to return to spamming artillery and camping out in the woods where no one can see me.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a delight for existing fans to jump back into an old favourite, but the timeless gameplay makes it fantastic to pick up for those new to the series.
Nintendo Switch

Code for Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp was provided by the publisher.

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