Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review for Nintendo Switch

If you’ve never played the original game or Black Hole Rising, then you should absolutely join the Advance Wars army on Nintendo Switch

Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp

£49.99 £44.99 View Deal

With new visuals and quality of life improvements, Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp is a Nintendo Switch remake of Advance Wars and Black Hole Rising from the GBA.

What we love

  • Cutscenes and artwork benefit from visual makeover
  • Quality of life improvements like fast-forward button
  • Surprisingly deep and challenging gameplay
  • Lots of great multiplayer options
  • Plenty to unlock

What we don’t

  • Experts might not want to replay campaigns
  • Too much hand-holding
  • Limited map sharing options

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Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review

I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since Nintendo released a new Advance Wars game. The fact that we didn’t get to experience 3D battlefields on the Nintendo 3DS, or send infantry into battle using the Wii U GamePad is rather baffling, and feels like a missed opportunity. Still, after making fans wait for an incredibly long time, Nintendo has finally come to its senses and released a new Advance Wars game for the Switch… well, sort of. Re-Boot Camp is actually a remake of retro gaming classic Advance Wars on Game Boy Advance, as well as sequel Black Hole Rising.

The game kicks off with the Orange Star officers battling the invading forces of the Blue Moon Army. Under the tutelage of Nell, you play as a new Orange Star recruit named Andy, although new commanding officers with different strengths, weaknesses and special abilities are introduced at regular intervals.

There’s nowhere near as much waffle as turn-based tactical games like Fire Emblem, although the flipside is that you’ll form less of an emotional connection with the characters, and not really pay too much attention to the story.

There are a few twists and turns along the way, and the somewhat basic plot is enhanced by cartoonish new visuals and occasional voice acting. Ultimately, however, Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp is more about the action on the battlefield, and that’s perfectly fine with me.

Once you’ve been introduced to a few of the characters and concepts, you’ll quickly discover that Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp is a surprisingly deep game.

It’s not enough to think about how units will match up against the enemy, but also where you’ll finish each turn in relation to opposition forces. For example, you could easily wipe out enemy ground units using a fleet of powerful tanks, but not if it leaves you open to a long-range missile attack with no means of countering.

Then there are the various benefits and drawbacks of fighting in different terrain, like the defensive boost from having soldiers fire on enemy infantry from the top of a mountain.

And just when you think you’ve got it all sussed out, your opposing commanding officer will completely ruin your plans by using their special ability in order to restrict your movement, for example. Fortunately, these abilities aren’t limited to enemy commanding officers, giving you additional strategies to earn a victory. Maybe you play one turn defensively, knowing your units will benefit from a major increase in attack power on the next go.

With a few exceptions, you win by either capturing your opponent’s headquarters, or by wiping out their entire army. I’ve won some battles by moving all of my powerful units together and swarming enemies as they enter my line of fire, while other victories have been achieved by drawing the opposition out, and sneaking infantry into the enemy HQ.

That said, it does sometimes feel like there’s only one correct way to win, particularly in the first campaign which is a little samey compared to its superior sequel.

Like most Nintendo games, Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp also has a tendency to hold your hand a little too tightly during the early stages, with constant pointers and reminders about things you’ve potentially already figured out.

Still, said tutorials are better implemented compared to the original game, and it doesn’t take too long for the challenge to reach a level where you’ll have to seriously think about and plan each move.

The hand-holding is more frustrating if you’ve already conquered the original games, especially as the missions are largely the same as before.

The biggest changes can be found outside of the campaign, starting with the way Re-Boot Camp is presented.

Colourful and crisp, the game is pleasing enough on the eye – cartoon cutscenes and character artwork looks particularly impressive on the Switch OLED – but we’re not exactly talking Resident Evil 4 to Resident Evil 4 Remake levels of change. 

Some battlefields feel a little sparse and lacking in detail, which is perhaps unsurprising given this was originally designed for the smaller display of the Game Boy Advance. Perhaps this would be less of an issue if it was an all-new game purposely made for the Switch.

Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp also contains one or two quality of life improvements that benefit new and returning players.

A dedicated fast-forward button lets you zip through enemy turns, while the ability to turn off battle animations altogether makes the whole process even speedier. This is particularly handy when you’re forced to start a mission from scratch.

If you do make a mistake during battle, there’s also an option to reset your current turn, which is a nice way to correct an obvious error, without making things too easy.

Arguably best of all, however, are the wealth of multiplayer options, which – coupled with the ability to create your own maps – provide unlimited replay potential.

You can play against friends and family on one Nintendo Switch console (just pass it to the next player after your turn), or pair up locally with three other consoles. Then, of course, there’s the ability to play online, which is always a fun time (if you’re winning).

The map editor is incredibly intuitive and easy to use, plus there’s a shop where you can buy pre-made maps with that are set up for specific scenarios – like 3-player, 4-player, or with troops already deployed.

The only drawback is that you can’t share your maps with the wider community, and download and play other creations – like in Mario Maker. Instead it’s limited to sharing with friends.

As a standalone game, Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp is a fantastic experience. Beneath the colourful visuals and cartoonish presentation is an addictive game with a surprising amount of depth and a healthy challenge. 

It’s the classic ‘easy to learn but hard to master’, making it a great entry point for anybody interested in tactical, turn-based strategy games.

As a remake, however, Re-Boot Camp is a tad underwhelming, especially if you own and still play the original releases. The quality of life improvements are welcome but minor, and the new visual style is pleasing on the eye but hardly jaw-dropping.

If you’ve never played the original game or Black Hole Rising, then you should absolutely sign up to the Advance Wars army on Nintendo Switch.

If you’re a veteran of both campaigns, on the other hand, then it’s much a tougher sell. However, the generous multiplayer offerings and wealth of unlockables provide just about enough to make it worth revisiting.


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