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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review

A complicated strategy

War can be a tricky subject no matter the time frame. It’s so easy to forget the hardships taken on by those involved, the burdens they carry, throughout and beyond, when you’re looking back from afar. We like to think we can shine some colour or positivity where we can upon the heroes, the days of valour, but that can be easier said than done. The advent of social media, above all else, has allowed us to be connected with the reality of every situation in seconds, leaving the opportunity to cover or gloss over the details from a media perspective well behind. We see it all, every minutiae and violent perspective, and our reactions tell the story.

Such has it been in the war in Ukraine, a country ravaged in fear by a regime we cannot begin to truly understand. We have our heroes and villains, the moral compass spinning as each country surrounding the region show their support how they see fit. Though news of the war has slowed in recent times, its impact and disturbance on the world remains, and just as a certain virus turned our world and the humble video game industry inside and out, so too did the crimes against the Ukrainian people play a part against our little pocket of entertainment.

Stuck in the middle sat a video game, one that has been living dormant for years and was on the verge of making a comeback before the real world had other ideas. That initial release was postponed but now, more than a year later and ready to fill an empty slot in the release schedule ahead of Link’s (possible) final Switch adventure next month, Nintendo have finally seen it safe to make the move. I’m of course talking about Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, the modern remastered compilation of turn-based strategy titles Advance Wars and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. These two titles were the first in the series to make an appearance out West, having originally debuted in 1988 as Famicom Wars in Japan years prior. The series doesn’t need too much of an explanation, simply take a dose of Fire Emblem but substitute magic and dragons with tanks and soldiers.

Tanks, soldiers, no kitchen sinks

Advance Wars has the advantage of being very easy to play, simply select your unit and make your choice accordingly. There’s no tearing your hair out scenarios, each map tailored to point you in the desired direction but leaving how you get there entirely up to you. The best players will sweep through each campaign map of both titles on offer with as few moves as possible, others will brute force their way through to the end no matter how they achieve it. Though it will politely grade you on your performance, there’s no pushing you into another attempt or deploring your D+ because you took too long. With every new mission there’s a new unit or commanding officer to get the hang of, or a different enemy tactic to defeat, but it all remains as straightforward as can be.

The team at Wayforward have done an admirable job updating both titles of the package for modern audiences, but the new animated visuals don’t spark the same creative flair as their pixelated originals, despite its best attempts at feeling like a Saturday morning cartoon. I’ll always gravitate towards pixelated character designs than cleaner animations, I have fond memories of playing the originals on my shiny purple Game Boy Advance, but others might gloss over these newer animations and focus on the task at hand. That’s a fair assessment, given a solid collection of campaign missions, online multiplayer and the ability to create your own maps. There’s also the War Room, another element from the original release that remains its best mode, allowing you to test your abilities outside of the campaign in more intriguing scenarios, unlocking new commanding officers and extra challenges as you go.

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Fans of the franchise will welcome the return of Advance Wars after what feels like a lifetime of Fire Emblem titles, though a glossy coat of paint might not necessarily attract newcomers who have since enjoyed the likes of Into the Breach and Wargroove, two titles inspired by Intelligent Systems’ games that have since taken the concept in more interesting directions. It’s easy to see why Nintendo held back on releasing the Switch-bound title, though thankfully not from a technical perspective. It would hardly have been in good taste to launch a colourful take on warfare given what was transpiring elsewhere. As much as that might have annoyed fans who might have had no stake in the matter, it was the right decision to make. Even now it could be considered a little risky, but given the lighter, unrealistic tone, it’s a safer bet on the current market and a title that deserves its return.

Never tell him the odds

Final Thoughts

The extra year in the can didn’t deter my interest in Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, though my enjoyment of strategically dismantling enemy foes with each turn has been soured a tad knowing the story built up around it. You don’t have to connect the dots if you don’t want to, in fact many find comfort in completely ignoring reality, and that’s okay too. But the thought did cross my mind that if I had played this a year ago and nothing had happened as it did, then maybe I would have enjoyed it more. That’s not a reflection of the quality of the release, it holds up well, it’s just something to ponder on if you’re so inclined.

Reviewed on Switch // Review code supplied by publisher

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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review
Advanced Heritage
The recipe wasn’t played with too much, resulting in a solid compilation of two titles that remain infinitely enjoyable, if a touch complicated by reality.
The Good
Though largely the same games, everything holds up solidly
Plenty of content as part of the package
Pleasing audio score updates the classic tunes
The Bad
New visuals don’t quite have the same magic
More recent titles have improved upon Advance Wars’ legacy
8.5
Get Around It
  • WayForward
  • Nintendo
  • Switch
  • April 21, 2023

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Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review
Advanced Heritage
The recipe wasn’t played with too much, resulting in a solid compilation of two titles that remain infinitely enjoyable, if a touch complicated by reality.
The Good
Though largely the same games, everything holds up solidly
Plenty of content as part of the package
Pleasing audio score updates the classic tunes
The Bad
New visuals don’t quite have the same magic
More recent titles have improved upon Advance Wars’ legacy
8.5
Get Around It
Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.

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