Game of the Month – Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: WayForward
Platforms: Switch
Release Date: 04.21.2023

If we were to ask you to name some genres that Nintendo excels at, you’d no doubt offer up examples such as platformers, party games, action adventures, kart racers, or maybe even fighting games. One genre that might not instantly come to mind, though, is strategy games. And yet, over the years, the publisher has worked closely with developer Intelligent Systems to produce a long line of titles that favor smart tactics and strategic map movements over sword swings or well-timed jumps.

In Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, Nintendo revives two of Intelligent Systems’ earlier strategy games with the help of outside studio WayForward. We haven’t had a new release in the franchise since 2008’s Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, so Re-Boot Camp is a welcome addition to the Switch’s library. We’re definitely fans of the Fire Emblem series, but with how complex and story-heavy those games have become, it’s nice to return to the simpler, more combat-focused experiences of the first two Advance Wars releases.

Don’t take that to mean that you won’t find a lot of gameplay depth and fun characters here, however. Although Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising is the more fleshed-out and story-rich part of the package, both games offer a huge amount of combat scenarios where you’ll need to balance well-planned attack formations, the strengths and weaknesses of your units, the special abilities of your (and your enemies’) commanding officer, and a bit of good old-fashioned luck.

The gameplay of each of the original Advance Wars games holds up incredibly well here, but now comes bolstered by a graphical overhaul that really enhances the experience. Between the rich animations of each story’s casts, and the overall visual style that resembles toys traversing a tabletop game board, the franchise’s trademark wars have never looked better.

When not working to take down the dual campaigns, players can unlock additional battle maps, COs, or music, take on the CPU in specific War Room challenges, design and share their own custom maps, or face off against friends in either local or online play.

That last part brings about one of our few notable complaints about Re-Boot Camp. While local multiplayer offers up to four players the ability to compete either via one shared Switch or multi-system play, online battles are limited to 1-vs.-1 fights—and only with people already on your friends list. As well, along with the various quality of life improvements brought to both games, we’d really love to see the ability to undo a move should players make a simple mistake, rather than having to use the option to reset that entire turn.

Still, despite a few questionable design choices and missed opportunities, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a top-notch revival of two equally enjoyable games that deserve to be played by a whole new generation of fans—or replayed by those of us who went into battle the first time around.

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