Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Review

April 30, 2023

One of the big early titles for the Game Boy Advance, and one that unfortunately passed me by back in the day, was Advance Wars. However, it’s fondly remembered by many who fell in love with the Wars series thanks to this game, especially since it was the first released outside of Japan and built with Western audiences in mind. Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp thankfully allows me to experience the original on the Nintendo Switch, along with its sequel, with an impressive coat of new paint over the entire experience to update it for modern players.

Advance Wars at its core is just a very good, straightforward, tactics game. The main campaigns of each game will take you through various map set-ups and challenges, but you can choose to create your own maps as well. You’ve got infantry foot-soldiers, with limited attack power but vital as they’re the only ones who can capture enemy or neutral buildings. There’s tanks for powerful ground combat, helicopters and jets for airborne combat, and even battleships and submarines for naval warfare, along with sub-types of each, as well as artillery, which are effective against other types.

Learning what can beat what is the first step in getting a handle on the tactics Advance Wars lets you pull off, and it’s actually surprising how much there is to think about, even if only playing on casual difficulty. While the action takes place on a simple square grid, there’s different types of terrain that can affect your defence and even visibility. You often have to weigh up pressing on forward for an attack, or gaining footholds bit by bit, by capturing cities that can allow your units to heal up and re-stock before moving ahead. While there are structures you can use to build new units and create small armies, often you’re playing with a limited number of forces and you have to think how to use every last unit effectively. It’s genuinely really quality tactical gameplay, especially if you already love games like Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics or XCOM. 

While the actual setting and theming of the units is a little generic, staying with recognisable tanks/choppers/boats, the anime styling actually lends a great deal of character, especially in the range of the game’s CO’s. Each mission, you’ll either be assigned or can choose a Commanding Officer (CO) to lead your troops. This can affect the nature of the mission and give you alternate paths, but more often than not it’ll affect bonuses and powers you have access to. For instance, the game’s main hero Andy is able to repair all units on-field in a useful special power that occurs every few turns. However, Sami’s much more useful if taking over territory is your jam, as she gets a permanent bonus to infantry capturing cities, as well as a special power to increase their movement range. The range of abilities each CO have actually make various playthroughs feel different, but their simple charming characters also make the game’s campaigns really enjoyable, especially among the rotating cast of enemy CO’s you face.

Advance Wars 2 is much the same as its predecessor with some additions in the CO’s available, and some minor gameplay improvements. For instance, a missile silo allows you to fire with area of effect damage, and a new tier of CO power, known as ‘Super CO Power’ is accessible with different effects for each CO. The only real niggle I have about both games is that the campaign is a little short – you can breeze through a campaign run on either game in about 15 hours, although there are incentives added for replayability with minor options in mission paths. Both games are still very addictive, so it’s nice that the included map maker adds some extra value in the package, as does the inclusion of local and online multiplayer.

The visual refresh given to both games is also pretty wonderful – while I haven’t played the originals on Game Boy Advance, I am aware of how they looked after seeing many videos of them over the years, and Re-Boot Camp really seems to capture their character and vibe with their 3D visuals. There’s also really nice and clean updated art of each of the CO’s, with even some anime cutscenes that trigger whenever a CO power is used.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a great collection of two memorable GBA games, and an especially convenient way to experience them for people like myself who never had the opportunity. The art is clean, the gameplay is addictive and the characters are charming, and while the subject matter clashes somewhat with the cutesy presentation, Advance Wars proves it’s still a great fit for both portable gaming or chilling at home on the big screen.



– Addictive and engaging tactics gameplay, with two classic games – Excellent visual refresh of both games, bringing their character to 3D visuals and anime-styled cutscenes


– Campaigns are pocket-sized, and can be sped through fairly quickly if you know what you're doing

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