In the Game: ‘Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp’ is Finally Here and it’s a Punishing Blast!

After many delays we finally have our hands on the Advance Wars 1 and 2 remakes! These are not remasters or low effort remakes, these are newly built from the ground up. All of the Advance Wars staple characters and armies are back! To me, Advance Wars has always been a very approachable answer to tactics/strategy games that might be a little too cumbersome for casual gamers. Advance Wars is cute, colourful and overall very fun to look at. It always has been. Luckily, the talented people who remade these two classic Game Boy Advance games did so with passion and love. You can really feel how much love was put into this set of remakes. Both games SHINE and ooze personality. I just want to make it clear how nice it is to see these games back with a new coat of paint. Alright… let’s get into it.

I did not own either game growing up, but I had a couple of friends who did. That was a time in my life when I spent a lot of my time trading GBA games with friends and bringing them back to school on Monday to trade them back. I played Advance Wars on a few of those weekends, however, I was a dumb kid back then. I had no clue how to properly use my brain to commit to strategy games like Advance Wars or Fire Emblem. But I found the game to be so fun to look at and hard to put down. I remember getting my ass kicked over and over, and I’m not sure if I even beat the first few levels. What I did know is that there was something to Advance Wars that I was very interested in.

That feeling I had back then is still present today. I am interested in Advance Wars all over again! I’ve been playing it every free moment I’ve had during my day job. It is yet again EXTREMELY hard to put down. Another thing that hasn’t changed is how difficult I often find it. I got my ass handed to me on the final tutorial mission four different times. My girlfriend watched as I stumbled through and panted heavily as I noticed 15 or 16 turns in that there was no way in hell I was going to win. Advance Wars is the only other game in 2023 other than Resident Evil 4 (another incredible remake) SWEAT.

The combat is such a glowing example of what makes Advance Wars special. If you’ve played Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics then you’ve probably got a good idea how Advance Wars plays. You have a Commanding Officer who you use to control army units. With these units you are able to; capture cities, pilot air, land, and sea vehicles, and shoot other soldiers in the face. The main goal of each battle is to either defeat all of the enemy units or capture the enemy headquarters. Along the way, you can capture cities. Capturing cities is one way to keep your units healthy. Cities typically take two to four turns to capture depending on how much health your unit has. The more damaged the unit, the longer it takes to catch the cities. The nice thing is one you have a city under your control, any unit that is on top of that tile gains health each turn. Every time I would have one of the city tiles under my command I would feel a sense of elation that is hard to match.

What keeps the core gameplay loop so interesting is how often new things are being introduced. With a whopping total of 18 playable units in the first game alone! Advance Wars is able to maintain its freshness and rarely gets tiresome. Each unit has its own HP, attack power, movement and attack range. Some units have fuel or ammo and need to be reloaded by a transport vehicle. Other units have multiple weapons. Mech units, who you get introduced to right away, are stronger than your average unit, but they attack fewer times with their bazookas and can only move two spaces. There are many that get introduced as the game moves on and as you enter the second campaign.

Another layer to the combat is the Commanding Officers. Each one has a unique ability that can buff their units or debuff opposing units. Some of these abilities include; additional damage, additional health, the ability to move twice per turn, a global heal to all of your units, etc. The list goes on! Another aspect of combat is the terrain. Terrain can include; snow, water, mountains, forest, cliffs, etc. Each terrain impacts how the combat scenario will go. Being higher up means you’ll have a better time shooting enemies below you, while they will often miss. Tanks can’t travel very far through mountain terrain. There are lots of interactions like that throughout the experience.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp has a very nice new look. It’s not jaw-dropping or pushing the limits of what the Switch is capable of, but it’s a very nice art style that feels super at home for this series. However, I almost prefer the overall aesthetic of the original games. There’s nothing wrong with the art direction, but there also isn’t anything incredible about it. I can’t quite explain it, but while I like the new look I just never found myself LOVING it. I’ve seen many people online gushing about the way the game looks, so I believe I’m in the minority here.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a fantastic little release. There is a LOT of game in this package and with the inclusion of a map creator mode, there is truly an unending amount of content available here. There is also a multiplayer mode which I never tested, but I’m sure it’s a lot of fun! Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a terrific tip of the diving board for people who are looking to get into strategy games. Once you take a leap into the world of Advance Wars, you might find yourself itching to play some Fire Emblem or XCom games. You SHOULD play those, they’re fantastic. But you should also play Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp!

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