You'll love it if:
- You love strategy games
- You like military themed games
- You have some time to spend on learning the game's mechanics
Not for you if:
- You are looking for a more serious story
- You don't like Anime characters
Advance Wars definitely belongs to a “niche” category of games. In general, even Nintendo considered strategy games with some light RPG elements as an unprofitable category for the Western market in the early 2000s. Intelligent systems however managed and convinced Nintendo to export such a title to the international market as an experiment to see if their above claim was valid.
Thus throughout 2001-2002, Advance Wars made its international debut in a rather chaotic and difficult period, due to the attacks on the Twin Towers. Despite its militaristic nature, it managed to get positive reviews and satisfactory sales figures, convincing Nintendo that strategy games could succeed outside of Japan!
I wanted to highlight this story because, without Advance Wars, Nintendo would never have released titles like Fire Emblem! So with the new remaster of the first two titles on Nintendo Switch, I considered it a perfect opportunity to review the game that brought us Fire Emblem in the West!
Welcome to the War!
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp is a military strategy game, in which the player takes the role of one of the commanders through a large roster of unique characters, who each belong to one of the 5 nations that exist in the universe of the game. In particular, the player has under their control a huge variety of military units, which they will bring into conflict with their opponents, to achieve some particular mission. This mission can either be to conquer the opponent’s headquarters or to conquer a certain number of buildings before his opponents.
At the same time, you must develop your economy by conquering special buildings on the map you will be playing on, to produce new units for your army or win strategic spots to strengthen your already existing units!
At first, the battle system may seem a bit complicated for young players, but given the right amount of time, I consider this to be the perfect introduction title to strategy games!
The graphics of Advance Wars 1+2: Reboot Camp took me by surprise. The lighthearted environment fits perfectly with the characters of the game and for sure gives a cute and funny atmosphere to the players. Moreover, the graphics help to obscure the whole issue of violence that comes with a real war and put more focus on the commander class to bring out the smartest and strongest.
Now the graphics between the Game Boy and the reboot camp titles are like night and day! WayForward (responsible for the remaster) did a really good job in upgrading the graphics. One can comfortably say that Advance Wars 1+2: Reboot Camp belongs to the new generation of video games on Switch.
On the other hand, the few cut-scenes in the game’s two stories contain the classic character dialogue bubbles, which I wouldn’t mind if it weren’t for the game’s anime-filmed ending scenes! It’s a shame that WayForward didn’t manage to create more scenes like these because it would have given a more beautiful perspective to the game’s story…
For some reason, a war broke out!
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot camp contains both stories of the two original titles, which, initially, will certainly pique the interest of the player. This offer surely sounds like a good package and hours of fun, but unfortunately the game will disappoint many in this regard…
The first story
Picking up the first story, our main character is Andy. He is one of the newly recruited commanders of the nation of Orange Star, and has been called to protect his country from a series of unannounced attacks from the other nations of the game’s universe. With the help of the other commanders he will try to discover the cause of this unjustified war.
In general, the commanders involved have their own distinct and wild characters, which makes for some pretty funny scenarios in the dialogue between them, but I’m sure it might bore the older audience to the point where they might find it childish.
On the other hand, Advance Wars uses most of the missions in the Campaign as tutorials for the proper usage of the various units that the player will have at their disposal, which on the one hand is welcome, but on the other hand, reduces the quality of said story.
Personally, I found the story of the first title almost boring and I felt like the game took me from scenario to scenario just to teach me how to fight normally. Of course, I have to admit that each mission brought something new to the table and always convinced me to continue the story, just to see what new scenario the game could offer me.
And the second story
As for the second story, the game follows almost the same logic. The commanders of the 4 central nations of the game will have to protect their lands again from the hostilities of Black Hole and regain their stolen economic resources so that their nations can continue to prosper normally.
The gameplay part of Advance Wars 2 offers a series of missions with puzzle vibes. The player will have to use their units correctly to achieve the objective in some new missions, such as conquering a laboratory or destroying special cannons.
This time the tracks were much more interesting, but the story behind them was again boring. Unfortunately, it’s easy to see that the existence of the two stories is just an excuse for a rudimentary connection between the different scenarios that the game just hands out to you every time.
Now let’s focus on the main point of Advance Wars, which is of course the battles that the player will take part in!
Your Units are awaiting orders!
Each commander will have at their disposal a huge variety of land, sea, and air units! In particular, through the special factories, it will be possible to produce:
1) Ordinary soldiers:
This unit may be one of the weakest and slowest moving, but they are one out of the two-unit classes that can conquer the special buildings, which can be found on the map, so their existence is essential to the player’s success.
Similarly to regular soldiers, heavies can take over buildings. Though they have the power to deal massive damage to enemy vehicles if they attack first, but have the lowest mobility in the entire game.
Recons are light vehicle units that can run long distances and can deal quite a bit of damage to the regular army.
Apcs are the silent MVP of the land forces! Thanks to these, infantry can travel huge distances safely and are the key to quickly conquering buildings on the map! With the disadvantage, of course, of not being able to attack or defend themselves against opposing units…
Tanks can cover huge distances and destroy any ground unit if they manage to attack first!
6) Artillery/ Rocket Launchers:
These two units belong to the so-called non-direct attack units. They can attack from huge distances without moving close to the enemy. However, they must settle down somewhere and stay still there!
The A.A.s are one of the most versatile units because they can run long distances and can destroy any air unit, but also any infantry unit! Of course, they will find it hard to stack up against tanks…
Moving on to the sea units each commander who will have ports in his possession will be able to create:
Battleships are the third and final non-direct attack unit. It can bombard opposing land and sea units with the longest firing range! But it must remain still to attack.
Landers will play a rudimentary role in transporting vehicles by sea if the enemy base is isolated on an island…
Submarines can sink battleships and Landers safely due to their unique ability to attack from the bottom of the sea!
The destroyers can protect the first two sea units mentioned previously, from the submarines. Reason being, that they are the only unit that can hunt them down easily! It is the only ship that can cause serious damage to Air units as well!
Finally, if the commander has an airport at his disposal, he will be able to create:
1) Transport helicopters:
As with Apcs, these units can carry infantry over huge distances with the aim again of quickly capturing buildings, in exchange for their inability to defend themselves against any enemy unit attack.
2) Attack helicopters:
Attack helicopters are the “cheap” option for an offensive air unit, which can cover the longest distances on the map and deal damage to all units except Anti-Air!
Fighters are an elite air unit that can defeat every other air unit single-handedly!
Bombers are indeed the most dangerous unit in the game. They can destroy or inflict severe damage to ALL land and sea units if they manage to attack first!
In general, the mechanics behind these units give me the feeling that Intelligent Systems was aiming to create a system reminiscent of rock-paper-scissors. Meaning, that each unit having its advantages and disadvantages creates a cycle of balance where each one is not much stronger than the other. So each unit is unique and can be made useful if the circumstances call for it!
Common features of the military units
Each unit has some common characteristics that play an important role in each battle.
Initially, each of them has a certain amount of ammo that they can use to attack. If that stat goes to zero the unit will no longer be able to fight and will be helpless against attacks from others.
Then each unit has a certain amount of fuel it consumes every time it moves on the map. Each unit consumes its amount of fuel in the same movement. However, if this number reaches 0 then in that case the land units will remain stationary or sink/crash if they are of any other field.
The solution to avoid the previous two problems is to supply the units. This can happen by parking them in occupied buildings, which in the next round will offer fuel and ammo. Alternatively, Apcs can do the same job if they are next to the unit that needs their resources, which again makes the Apcs one of the most valuable units in the game.
Of course, the most important statistic of a unit is its life. Each time it engages in combat, its health gradually decreases from 10 and can go as low as 0 causing it to be destroyed. However, as a unit’s health decreases, so does its firepower! As a result, there are cases where weak A.A. lose battles to attack helicopters or ordinary soldiers.
Of course, if a commander wants to replenish the life of a unit, they will need to park it again in an occupied building, where every round it will get back 2 life points.
If the depth of the game didn’t already captivate you, Advance Wars adds another layer of “complexity”. Each commander has their own special power, which can help the player in various areas. Andy, for example, can repair all of his damaged units. Max along with many others can give extra firepower or mobility to certain units they control.
On the other hand, characters like Olaf can influence the weather conditions to hinder the mobility of their opponents or cause micro-damage to all their units. And as if that weren’t enough, each commander also has a passive power, which gives power or defense advantages to units of their choice.
You will notice how the commanders encourage the player to use the right units that suit them and try to win using their special powers. This way the game creates a lot of strategies, i.e. different “playstyles”, which made me realize how different each battle can be.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp comes with 2 extra game modes, that add even more additional content to the game.
The war room consists of a series of special battles/puzzles, in which the player will sharpen their skill against the computer, which of course will start with a greater advantage, either in the number of its army or in the number of buildings it will own. Here the player will have to analyze the map and resources and use the right commander that the situation calls for. Otherwise, the computer will have the upper hand and defeat is almost certain!
For me, the War Room is my favorite part of Advance Wars. The difficulty of the last puzzles tested my patience, without making me feel like the game was treating me unfairly. My good choices were rewarded, while my bad choices were punished almost instantly!
Finally, if the player feels ready, they can start playing against real players! Through the Versus game mode, you and 3 other friends can face each other in every possible scenario you can imagine! The variety of maps and the countless settings that can be changed will provide endless hours of customized fun.
Of course, another option is the Online game mode, where the player will be able to play against other real people around the world, which I see as the ultimate test of the game. Something I, unfortunately, haven’t tried myself…yet!
The icing on the cake I would say, is definitely the Map editor. There every player will be able to let their imagination and creativity run wild by making their own maps. With its very friendly interface even the youngest players will easily be able to make their own creations. With the online feature of the game you can also post them, so other players will have the opportunity to download and play your maps and vice versa!
With this sole tool, Advance Wars gives the player complete control over how they want to play their game. Something that is rarely found nowadays!
Is Advance Wars 1+2 really worth it?
Coming to the end of this review, I would like to say how much I was surprised by the content that this title offered to me. I expected to play a simple strategy game for kids, but it’s anything but that! At first, the whole battle system is easy enough to understand, but very hard to master. It manages to offer the player infinite different ways to conduct their battles depending on what they like. Nothing stands out in the viability department and each commander is useful in their field.
The aesthetics of the game could be described as cute and childish since the game is aimed at all ages, but this fact certainly does not detract any value from the tremendously enjoyable experience that is learning the game through the campaign story, which is unfortunately pretty barebones.
Overall, I highly recommend it to those who are looking for a fairly “in-depth” strategy game on the Nintendo Switch console, or for someone who would like to start this genre. I’m sure it will provide you with many hours of fun!
If you want to enhance the audio quality of Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, be sure to check out our Logitech G Pro X 2 Lightspeed review by clicking here!