While most people were waiting for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom or Street Fighter 6, I was glued to my Nintendo Switch playing Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp till the early hours of the morning for weeks on end. Why? As a fan of the series from the Game Boy Advance days, the simple yet heady mix of turn-based tactical gameplay, consistently good music, and a clean visual style in the remake made it one of the Nintendo Switch’s best games.
As the name suggests, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a remake of the first two Advance Wars games from the Game Boy Advance, Advance Wars and Advance War 2: Black Hole Rising. In this release you’ll command a host of land, sea, and air units across a variety of terrain with the intent of beating the opposing commander.
The units themselves have their own unique advantages and disadvantages such as tanks doing great damage at medium and close range but unable to traverse mountains, or submarines being undetected underwater (unless enemy units are right next to them) but costing a tremendous amount of fuel to keep submerged. This forced me to be more decisive with my nautical skirmishes.
When I got re-introduced to each unit (I’ve been fortunate to play the original Advance Wars on the Game Boy Advance), I found myself looking for an adequate counter as much as possible. This included artillery to defeat infantry, or anti-air units to lay waste to planes. There’s no singular solution to each of the game’s many battles, and new units and mechanics arrive at a steady clip ensuring things stay fresh throughout.
You’re also quickly taught that there are a slew of important locations on each map. Leveraging this mechanic effectively can lead to some interesting encounters. These include creating chokepoints to whittle down the opposition, buildings which can be captured for resupplying bonuses, and your enemy’s HQ which if captured, can end a battle quickly. Throw in different win states such as finishing a battle in a set duration or capturing the enemy’s base of operations, and I found myself resorting to tactics and playstyles I wouldn’t normally consider, making each battle play out as if it were a pleasant, unexpected surprise.
Furthermore, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp adds another wrinkle to the proceedings with CO Powers. Be it Andy’s ability to repair all units on the field or Colin whose troops have a higher attack stat based on the amount of funds at his disposal, this mechanic adds another dimension to combat. After familiarizing myself with rival COs I found myself keeping an eye on their CO Power gauge, in part hoping I had enough in terms of troops, funds, and supplies to weather their impending assault or to ensure I used my CO Power to wipe them out before they could.
While all these elements aren’t really special on their own, they are well-balanced and come together in a way that results in fresh, varied, and most importantly — fun gameplay that has me salivating for what comes next.
What’s interesting is neither title in Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp deviates from their originals in any major way. It’s a testament to how good the source material is in the first place and how nicely it has aged.
Although the gameplay has been retained, there’s a fresh coat of paint, superb music, and great designs. A clean, sharp art direction dominates Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. Gone are the sprites of the original and while I miss the charm of the original releases, the new look grew on me. More so when I fired it up on a big screen, allowing me to appreciate its crisp visuals. The Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp soundtrack is great. From its CO themes to the sound effects of its various units, it’s an aurally-pleasing release that had me humming its tunes, particularly Nell’s and Max’s themes.
The one aspect which is a bit of a downer is Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp’s story. Much like its gameplay, it follows the originals. While era appropriate for the early 2000s and still serviceable, Nintendo missed an opportunity to modernize these aspects or at the very least, add some depth to the proceedings.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch’s library, and another win for the platform in 2023. It might not have the scope or scale of some of the console’s heavy hitters, but its superb core gameplay and presentation make it one of the best games on the platform.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is available on Nintendo Switch here.