Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp was delayed several times, but still found a release date. That delay has ensured that the game is extremely polished and almost every detail is correct.
An eventful past
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp was announced during the 2021 virtual E3. Nintendo, like many publishers these days, is known for announcing games mostly fairly close to release. This was initially the case with Advance Wars, which was supposed to come out as early as December 2021. Then the game was delayed to April 2022, only to be delayed again due to “world events. So now we are a year later and now the game is actually coming out. All that delay has provided enough time to put every possible dot on the proverbial “i” for developer WayForward.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp has therefore become a wonderful package due to the time taken for development. Overall, the gameplay still manages to hold up very well, especially considering that Advance Wars was originally released in Europe in 2002, over twenty years ago. Back then, coincidentally, the game was also delayed, then due to the attacks in the U.S. in September 2001. Despite the game being so old, the remake holds up immeasurably well. The game managed to approach near perfection when it first came out. The games had extensive campaigns, multiple characters to play, looked beautiful in terms of graphic style and, most of all, went very deep. It didn’t take much to give Advance Wars a polish that made it feel modern again.
Largely the same, but still rock solid
Should you have played the first two Advance Wars volumes in the past, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp will feel like coming home. For newcomers, it also has plenty to offer. Advance Wars is a fusion between turn-based strategy and puzzling. Gameplay revolves around putting troops in the right place to defeat enemy units and achieve certain objectives. As a player, you have access to infantry, tanks, planes and ships. As in the classic “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” certain vehicles or men are powerful against one opponent but weak against another. For example, you have the Bomber, which initially seems to destroy everything in its path, but is gigantically easy to take out with an Anti-Air Tank or a Fighter plane. A wonderfully simple concept, which later in the game with the numerous units there are does have the depth needed to keep the game fun for dozens of hours.
Besides figuring out the right position for a unit or determining which unit to build, COs (Commanding Officers) also play a defining role in Advance Wars. They offer special powers, which can offer advantages in certain battles. Especially in the more difficult maps you will really need this. The Officers simultaneously tell the story of the game and have even been given voice lines this time, something that was not present in the original of the games in the collection. This gives the game a bit more personality and it is also a lot more interesting to follow the story, especially if you are not familiar with it yet.
Other changes made to the Advance Wars collection and sequel Black Hole Rising include a completely revamped soundtrack, the use of 3D graphics and the addition of online functionality. About the 3D graphics, I’m not entirely thrilled. On the one hand, I understand trying to keep up with the times, but the graphic style of Advance Wars was actually one of the biggest pluses to the original games. The pixel art looked brilliant, so it’s hard to see another franchise saying goodbye to this iconic style.
Endless gaming fun
On the one hand, it is a pity that it was not chosen to make a completely new game in the Advance Wars franchise. After all, it has been a while since we got to enjoy a new game within this franchise. Until then, however, we can enjoy dozens of hours of gameplay. At first glance this may seem like a simple package consisting of two games, but just completing the two campaigns will take you about fifty hours. After that, there is plenty more unlockable content, including new COs and an additional difficulty level.
Developer WayForward has tried to implement some Quality of Life improvements with the remake of the two games, although it could have been just a bit better. For example, there is a very fine tutorial in the game, which explains how parts of the game work without taking extra time. While playing the regular missions, you can choose to be given certain hints, or skip them if you think you have it all figured out. That way you’re not endlessly practicing and you can just continue with the storyline, while learning something new every now and then in the meantime.
After performing your own moves in Advance Wars, you have to wait for the opponent’s moves. This already took a long time in the original, especially on the somewhat larger maps you encounter towards the end of the campaign, but in the new version there is an option to fast-forward the opposition’s turn, although it still takes an unnecessarily long time. It thus lengthens the play time of the campaign in an unpleasant way. I would have preferred the option to skip the enemy army’s turn in its entirety, because now it often gets on the nerves a lot.
That we have to fall over little things like this, by the way, says enough about Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. After all, the game is just incredibly nicely polished and has also managed to stand the test of time. This makes two cult games from the Zeroes even better made than they already were at the time.
Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp stays true to the original. In some ways, it even stays a little too faithful to the original. For example, there is little additional content, but it ensures that little changes to the foundation of Advance Wars. Even more than 20 years after its initial release, it remains an excellent game that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Finally, there are some interesting QoL improvements: The mediocre soundtrack from the original has been completely redone, characters now have voice lines and an opponent’s turn is flushable.