Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp review

by on April 19, 2023
Reviewed On
Release Date

April 20, 2023.


The old adage that war never changes couldn’t be less true when it comes to Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp. A new art style, packed to bursting with bonus content, for two beloved games all remade by developer WayForward should be a recipe for success, and while Re-boot Camp is a tremendous package, it feels very much aimed at those older fans, for a number of reasons.

For starters, this is the daddy of the genre to many. While Fire Emblem may have come along and stolen Advance Wars’ lunch, before there were RPG elements, Advance Wars was the tactical strategy game. Tanks are strong against Infantry, Missiles take down Planes, and so on. It’s all very sensible and grounded: this is warfare as you have seen it in films and television, only there is a cast of characters involved that keeps it from feeling like the grim reality of war, and with a newly realised art-style, it could be argued that WayForward has actually delivered on the original “Sunday morning cartoon” style the narrative and characters actually presented.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp

Which is perhaps a long way of saying I really enjoy the new look. While it isn’t fully voiced, there are enough RPG-style grunts and one-shot sayings, combined with the odd full sentence that helps bring Orange Star’s Andy, Sami, Max, and Nell to life, along with Green Earth, Yellow Comet, Blue Moon and, frankly, everyone. They will react when taking or dealing damage; and the animation style along with the still images provide character and, dare I say it, a whole heap of sugary charm.

But look, whether you care for how the new version looks or sounds (and the soundtrack is absolutely killer, for what it’s worth), what makes or breaks a tactics game is how it plays out. For the most part, a lot of the missions are how you remember them. Advance Wars 1, however, has never been more tough. Even with the added ability to select casual difficulty (which tends to give you an extra unit per mission) doesn’t take away from some of the more, shall we say, unfair tendencies that older games might use.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp

For example, a modern game will still make use of the Fog of War mechanic. Here, the tabletop style map you are battling on will be greyed out, and thus you can’t see the enemy units within it. The idea is that you need to use a recon unit to reveal the map and then, perhaps, smash the enemy with your long range units. But a modern game wouldn’t then re-fog the area should you move away, or lose your unit. Most titles will say “fair play, you’ve uncovered this bit of map now” and move on. Is it unfair on a remake to be angry about this? Maybe not. But is it fair on the player to never know what is coming for them? Also maybe not.

Each Commanding Officer (or CO, for short) has a unique power in Advance Wars. Take enough damage, or deal it out, and you can unleash your special at the right time. Andy can buff his units and repair to regain health; Sami is infantry based; Max is a tank, so buffs his tanks, and so on. Enemy COs will also have their specials, and they build their meter at an alarming rate throughout the 15-20 hour campaign. The first game starts out well enough, but I’ve always found it meanders a bit through the middle section, relying too heavily on Fog of War battles. The gradual addition of air and sea units, and indeed the bases that build or refuel and repair them doesn’t quite do enough to allay the frustration of so many fogged up maps, especially when the second campaign offers most of those units from the get go.

Missions are scored based on power, speed, and technical aspects, and you’re awarded points that can be spent at the shop unlocking music, maps for multiplayer and skirmish modes, and COs from non-Orange Star factions, again, for multiplayer and skirmish modes. Upon completion you can unlock a hard mode, and frankly, good luck to you if you fancy taking that on.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp

In truth, in the cold light of day the first game can feel a bit of a grind. The additions to the second game just make it a better game in almost every regard. Fans will bemoan the easier difficulty I suspect, but the second game feels immediately and entirely more balanced throughout. New objectives offer new ways to win, options on some battlefields can swing the balance your way, and the variety alone makes it feel like a more thought out experience.

Advance Wars 2 brings new COs, a more instant chance to experiment, new units, new objectives, and even a super CO power which means even more tactical thought is required. Now you can save your CO power and gain more of your meter to unleash a super powered version. This is a genuine game changer, as the likes of Sami can now use her Super CO Power to capture any building instantly, meaning if you can get her infantry near a base, unleash that power, and capture, then it’s over for your opponent. On the other hand, take too long to use it, and your enemy will be able to use theirs to gain the upper hand.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp

As a package, there’s plenty to unlock, but also plenty of options to tailor how battles play out, too. If you want to skip animations for the enemy but see yours, that’s a thing you can do. Want to not have the “capture” animation play? Fine, choose that option too. It’s worth noting that the multiplayer could see this game live for a long time, too. A creation suite for making your own maps, along with the sheer variety of COs and maps on offer means that Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp could gain a hardcore audience that never lets go.

But this is also an old fashioned experience, in some ways. There will be moments you curse the stars because you feel cheated that a CO has somehow got their power in such a timely fashion again. There will be moments when a medium tank roars out of the Fog of War and decimates a unit you just built and lined up to swing things in your favour. But that’s all part of war, isn’t it? The unpredictability is either something you’re on board with, or not. There are some missions that feel they need to be done a certain way, but this remains a thinking person’s tactics experience, and while I have some concerns about the AI and difficulty of the first campaign, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a superb package, overall, and truly one for the fans.


Lovely animations
Hardcore tactics goodness
Loads of content


AI and difficulty sometimes feels off
You will feel cheated at times

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp feels like it’s for the fans who loved the games back on Game Boy Advance, and despite some issues, it’s a superb package overall.