Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp Honest Review

I finally managed to complete the Advance Wars Reboot game that got released last April and now I’m going to share what I think about this reboot done by Wayforward Games. Now there won’t be exactly any spoilers here I guess, I mean it’s not one of those games where people really play it for a story or the general plot.

Now if it wasn’t clear enough this reboot includes two of the old games from Gameboy Advance including Advance Wars (2001) and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, which both to my understanding are the most popular entries on the Famicom Wars franchise that began all the way in 1988 for NES. You get to play both campaigns from each title which can take anywhere from 45 – 55h depending on difficulty and settings.

Turn Based Strategy game akin to the Fire Emblem series

Advance Wars plays out quite similar to Fire Emblem, you have different styles of units from Naval, Air, Tanks, Artillery, and Foot soldiers. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses and works out quite like a rock, paper & scissors format. Also just like in the Fire emblem certain squares have different bonuses on defense or give more vision over the map – then there are capturable buildings that either generate money or allow you to produce units.

On top of this, there is also a fuel and ammo system that can be replenished by an APC unit or by staying at your own captured buildings. The core gameplay is what makes advance wars fun it’s quite easy to understand after a map or two. It doesn’t play like chess though where everything is equal, you have to pick out a CO which have certain buffs/debuffs for certain units plus a superpower that gives all your units different types of boosts in damage and defense for a turn. There are also other abilities that deal damage to enemy units directly or change the terrain to snow for instance.

There are some clear balance issues in the game where certain COs are totally different tiers than others and it can be quite difficult to complete the campaign with lower-tier COs in my opinion unless your master class at this game to begin with.

The Issues with the Reboot

While there is plenty of bang for the buck so to speak when it comes to advance wars re-boot camp there are some issues that I have with this game. Most of them have to do with design choices – the most important one being that the game is freakin slow… There is a 2x speed when you keep pressing ZR buttons on your joy cons, but the fundamental issue is that you want to have a toggle feature and not numb your fingers to the stage of amputation.

One thing that Fire Emblem Engage did really well was that you could skip enemy turns and this was a very good quality of life change that comes out extremely handy especially when you are replaying maps after losing. You don’t want to see enemy movements each time at least not at normal speed. Yes, there is a function to turn off the animations which will save you time, but the enemy still has to make his turn which is annoying.

Another rant I have to give is the actual OST, listen to how good it was before with Gameboy Advance with those slick Bass lines. This newly remastered soundtrack isn’t like mega bad, but when you have CO theme songs that last 2 minutes and they loop over in a 2h map… yeah you are gonna get triggered to the point you are gonna switch out music altogether that’s what i had to do later on because I couldn’t take it anymore.

  • Custom Maps – One of the great features of the game is that you can do your own maps and play them offline or online, with some small limits.
  • Hotseat/Local matches – What I liked about the original advance wars is that we could just swap the Gameboy Advance console between our friends and we didn’t all need to own the game or a console in order to play, that same dynamic exists on this reboot which is great.

Some people weren’t too happy with the art direction that this game took, but honestly, if it did go with some neo-retro style I don’t think there would’ve been as many new players getting drawn into this game. I have no problem with it, but sometimes I felt like loading times to the actual fights took more than they should have, but SWITCH isn’t exactly a powerhouse console in the first place.

The last major issue I faced was the crashes in a matter of fact my game crashed 4 times alone in the final map. In total perhaps I saw the game crash 8-10 times during my ~45h playthrough and i don’t see they have fixed anything so far with this game, hopefully, they will do that.

Difficulty Curve in Reboot Camp

The game is hard and I don’t say that lightly – you are given two options at the start Casual or Classic and both are actually quite the same when Enemy AI is considered in my opinion, the only difference is that in Casual you might start with 1-2 extra units and one building. The casual mode doesn’t really help the beginners at all, because what they fundamentally need is a way to take less damage and deal more damage to enemies which is a much better way to combat difficulty in this game, because even if you get a head start if you aren’t a pro you are going to throw that minuscule lead that you may have ultimately.

Secondly, there is a wild difficulty curve in Advance Wars Reboot Camp which varies per mission, some earlier missions in 2nd campaign I felt were harder than the last mission, while Mission #33 (Which is 2nd last mission) was a map you couldn’t even lose so the ideas on level designs were kinda messy at times. I also want to add that COs played too much into victory conditions and I felt not all COs were very viable options on certain maps.

Overall I would say Re-boot Camp is a good remake, but some QoL features are simply missing which I thought were obvious things you should have added in a modern port of the game. Whether you’re playing alone the campaign or online with friends, I think both playstyles warrant the price for the game.