Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp is a faithful recreation of one of the all-time classic SRPGs from Nintendo and Intelligent Systems. Those who have played the original GameBoy Advance releases might not be familiar with the history of the series, which dates back to the Nintendo Entertainment System. The series debuted on the NES Famicom in Japan, and while it was never localized until the GameBoy Advance release, it carried the core spirit of the series alive and well.
Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp is essentially a full remake of the two original GameBoy Advance games. It starts with a beautifully animated intro that sets up our expectations for the game well. This remake was developed by Nintendo in collaboration with WayForward, and it appears to have worked out well. The visuals are a nice mix of animated character portraits and 3D anime troops and vehicles. Initially, I was not fond of these 3D models and missed the old-school sprites from the original release, but with time, they grew on me. The main focus, however, is the gameplay, and it retains most of its original charm.
This remake brings not just one, but two different campaigns. It won’t be possible to jump into them from the beginning, but it is not hard to unlock the second campaign. Together, they offer a good balance of new maps, mechanics, and replay value that complements the overall package. Those who want to spend some extra time with the game’s world and mechanics can do so with a map creator. While I didn’t give it much time, it does offer a robust toolset for generating custom maps that should improve the overall value.
Another new addition in this mode is the ability to play the game through multiplayer; however, it is sadly half-baked and can feel underwhelming. As exciting as it might sound, there is no matchmaking in this mode, and the battles are limited to 1v1 matches. This means the potential to team up and battle with multiple players is not utilized here. That would have been fine if there was some matchmaking, but that is also missing here.
Some of the die-hard fans might also find the visuals underwhelming. The 3D visuals are a mixed bag, in my opinion. They look great when we pit our forces against the enemies and see them thrashing each other in a close-up view, but when zoomed out on the world map, they don’t look as good. However, one of the perks of this zoomed-out 3D map is that we can adjust the zoom level, providing us with a better look at it.
Nintendo has tried to attract a new audience to the series with this entry, as evidenced by the mandatory training missions that must be completed before heading into the main story. They have also made some changes to the gameplay, simplifying it by giving us the option to redo a turn in case we are not satisfied with the outcome. This helps to ease the difficulty curve in some of the battles, but don’t think of it as an easy mode. Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp still offers a lot of challenging maps that require players to utilize the gameplay mechanics to their full potential to win them.
If you find the game challenging, it is possible to toggle a casual difficulty option, which makes the battles easier for newcomers. However, if you have already played the games, I wouldn’t recommend it, since the main charm of Advance Wars is always figuring out how to tackle the design of the maps versus the strength of the enemies and their vehicles.
The sound has been retouched for this remake, offering remixed tracks and new voice-overs. These are generally enjoyable to listen to, and the soundtrack is pretty decent overall. Other than that, there are no notable extras in the game.
Advance Wars utilizes a rock-paper-scissors-style system that is not hard to master. While it can be compared to the Fire Emblem series, which is also developed by Nintendo and Intelligent Systems, the narrative offers a modern touch to the traditional RPG elements featured in the Fire Emblem series. It sadly lacks an engaging narrative, but the main characters tend to be quite memorable. Since these characters act as commanders instead of leading their way into battles, there is no emotional attachment to the troops that we send into combat.
Even though the game might suffer from some slow-paced gameplay, it is possible to speed up the battles by allowing it to skip animations. The fast-forward ability allows you to speed up through some of the battle animations, which helps to improve the pacing. The unforgiving nature of the difficulty can be frustrating at times because a single mistake can end up costing us the whole map, but it is part of the charm of Advance Wars. Die-hard fans won’t mind it, while newcomers might have to learn to improve their gameplay.