Advance Wars Re-Boot Camp Is a Triumphant Return for the Series

Inverse Score: 9/10


Seeing my little tanks and soldiers do battle with an enemy army took me back to when I was a child, smashing plastic soldiers together in epic battles with nonsensical storylines.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp leans into the toybox aesthetic of the series, giving the first two games a gorgeous new coat of paint, along with several welcome gameplay updates. It results in two of the most important strategy games of all time looking and feeling better than ever. If you’re a fan of strategic, turn-based gameplay, don’t sleep on this one.

If It Ain’t Broke

Alongside the Fire Emblem series, the first two Advance Wars games helped redefine the genre when they released on Game Boy Advance, in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Battles play out on a top-down grid battlefield, with you and an enemy team alternating turns. The key difference with Advance Wars, however, is that you don’t have pre-determined units. Instead, at any time during your turn you can manufacture them from factories, airports, and docks by using funds that accrue each day.

This core gameplay remains mostly unchanged for Re-Boot Camp, without overhauling the mechanics or introducing wild new elements. That’s just fine, since both games hold up impeccably well.

Re-Boot Camp comes with a wealth of different modes, including campaigns, local and online Versus modes, a War Room “challenge” mode, and a Design Room to make and share your own maps. There’s a staggering amount of content on offer, but the two campaigns are still the main focal points.

The toy-like aesthetic works wonders for Advance Wars, especially when juxtaposed against the lavishly detailed backgrounds.


Here you see the story of Wars World play out, a realm split into four different countries; Orange Star, Blue Moon, Yellow Comet, and Green Earth. Each is led by a few Commanding Officers, each of whom has their own strengths and a special ability that you can use in battle.

Playing into your CO’s strength is just as important as picking the right units. For example, Max’s tanks and vehicles are stronger than usual, but his long-distance attacks have less range than normal. On the flip side, Eagle specializes in attack copters and air units, but his ground units aren’t as strong. The intricacies of the COs are the beating heart of Advance Wars, especially in later missions when you control more than one.

Advance Wars' story was always simplistic, and that’s still true here. But a smattering of thoughtful touches make the experience shine. Each campaign now has a gorgeous animated cutscene at the beginning and end, and those lavish animations then translate over to the COs during dialogue and special moves.

Each character also has voice acting now, but its implementation is a bit spotty. Roughly half the lines are voiced, and oftentimes the voice only plays for the first few words of a line. It does add more personality, but the strange implementation can be distracting.

The UI of the two games has also been updated, making it much more approachable and readable.


The visual upgrade also applies to the map and battles, and Re-Boot Camp really leans into a playroom aesthetic, with each unit looking like a shiny plastic action figure. It’s a big departure from the original pixel art that takes some getting used to, but ultimately works in the game’s favor. Each country now feels visually distinct, and littered with lavish little details that make everything pop. If your tanks roll through a city during a battle you might see a newspaper blow across the desolate streets, and the grassy green hills have windmills and wildlife dotting the background.

The only real complaint I have with Re-Boot Camp is that the campaign for Advance Wars 2 is locked, by default, until you beat the first game. Considering this is a collection many fans of the franchise are likely jumping into, the second campaign should be unlocked from the start. Playing the games back-to-back only underscores how much more satisfying Advance Wars 2 actually is.

Tactical Brilliance

The second campaign is a lot more inventive with its map design, providing unique challenges and massive battles that require you to use multiple COs. The challenge is much more balanced compared to the difficulty spikes of the first Advance Wars.

CO Powers are a vital part of the experience, and the new gorgeous animations make them feel bigger than ever.


Re-Boot Camp includes two difficulty options, Casual and Classic. The former makes the experience more approachable for newcomers, while the latter plays exactly like the originals. A couple other changes make battles more pleasant, like the ability to fast-forward through battles and the enemy’s turn, and the option to reset your turn if you make a mistake.

As you play through the battles in Re-Boot Camp’s various modes you’ll get a grade that translates into currency — the better you do, the more you get. This currency can then be spent on the menu at“Hachi’s Shop, which lets you unlock a variety of bonuses including concept art, music, new maps for the War Room, and new COs for the modes outside of the campaign. Because you’re earning currency for every battle there’s a constant sense of reward, with an already staggering amount of content only growing larger.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp doesn’t redefine the original games, but merely adds some modern touches that make the games feel fresh and vibrant. WayForward has done a phenomenal job giving Advance Wars a new visual identity that manages to feel both nostalgic and fresh. I hope the studio is given the chance to continue with the series, as I’d love to see what they could do with greater freedom in terms of characters and story.

No matter how you slice it, however, two of the best strategy games ever made just got even better.


Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp launches on April 21 for Nintendo Switch.

INVERSE VIDEO GAME REVIEW ETHOS: Every Inverse video game review answers two questions: Is this game worth your time? Are you getting what you pay for? We have no tolerance for endless fetch quests, clunky mechanics, or bugs that dilute the experience. We care deeply about a game’s design, world-building, character arcs, and storytelling come together. Inverse will never punch down, but we aren’t afraid to punch up. We love magic and science-fiction in equal measure, and as much as we love experiencing rich stories and worlds through games, we won’t ignore the real-world context in which those games are made.
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