Re-Boot Camp Brings Charming Strategy to the Switch (Hands-On Preview)

Advance Wars is finally back after a 15 year break from the series and I had the opportunity to jump into the remake of the first two games: Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. I admit I’m a beginner when it comes to strategy games and I’ve never played the original versions. Despite that, Advance Wars has been easy for me to understand and learn, and I’m enjoying my experience with it so far.

In the game, you take control of an army called the Orange Star and must use strategic and tactical maneuvers to defeat your opponents. You must manage resources, build units, and carefully plan your attacks to gain the upper hand. The game is played on a grid-based map, and each side takes turns moving their units and attacking their opponents.

Each turn, you can move your units and attack your opponent’s units or buildings. Units include infantry, tanks, aircraft, and ships, and each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, infantry units are cheap and can capture buildings, but they are weak against most other unit types. Tanks are strong against infantry and other ground units, but vulnerable to air attacks.

Pre-war armored helicopter
Image source: Nintendo

The game does a pretty good job of teaching you how to properly use each type of unit. There are plenty of them to remember, but luckily you can access an in-game manual to help you remember what each unit does. I used this a lot during the first few missions while learning.

To win a battle, there are two victory conditions: you can either defeat all of your opponent’s units or capture his headquarters. I am thankful that there is more than one way to win; When one of my strategies fails, I tend to have more success trying the other goal the next time.

In addition to strategy with the different types of units, Advance Wars offers some other challenges to spice up the gameplay. One of these is the use of terrain that alters the movement or behavior of units. One of the trickiest terrain conditions is called Fog of War, a fog on some maps that hides opponents at a distance but can also be used to your advantage to hide in it.

Another challenge for you to master is each army’s Commanding Officer (CO), who has a unique power that can be used during a battle. During the campaign you can choose from a few different COs that you’ve unlocked, and each one has its own strength.

I like using Andy, the default CO, because his power allows him to repair and heal units every few turns, which is very helpful. But I also unlocked Max, another CO whose power grants extra movement range and unit power. Some enemy COs can use very deadly powers, such as B. The ability to move units twice in one turn.

Advance Wars Hyperrepair
Image source: Nintendo

Advance Wars is easy to learn and play, especially for those new to tactical games. The game’s tutorial does a great job of introducing new players to the mechanics and gameplay elements, while the campaign mode gradually increases the difficulty as players progress through the story. At the end of each mission, you get a score based on how quickly and efficiently you won the battle.

I absolutely adore the art style of this remake. It reminds me of little toys on a game board and nothing is ever overdone despite the fact that it is a game about warfare. The graphics are bright and colorful with lively, cartoon-like animations that make each character and unit feel unique and distinctive.

There is voice acting, but not every line is read aloud. It doesn’t bother me too much, but there is so little dialogue that I wonder why they didn’t just let the actors record everything.

The main characters in Advance Wars are very funny and full of quirky personalities. The enemies seem pretty easy though, so I’m very excited to see where the story goes in terms of the major villains and their motivations. At least in the beginning missions, the emphasis is more on the gameplay than the story.

One quality of life feature I’m grateful for is a “speed up” button that you can hold down to fast-forward through enemy attacks. It doesn’t skip them entirely, so you can still watch what your opponent is doing, but it goes so much faster than the default speed to save some time.

Something I really wish was in this remake was touchscreen support. I play handheld a lot and often want to tap my units to move them. Unfortunately, there is no touchscreen support at all.

Advance Wars Tank Ops Victory Screen
Image source: Nintendo

Overall I’m enjoying my time with Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp so far. I’ve been 10 missions into the main campaign of the first game, so I still have a bit of experience ahead of me, but I’m pleasantly surprised with what I’ve played. A few missions were a bit difficult, but I’m not very experienced with this gameplay genre, so veterans probably wouldn’t find it that difficult.

There are a few parts of the game that I haven’t gotten to dive into yet, such as the custom map designer, the collectibles shop, or the local/online multiplayer battles. I was honestly just too engrossed in the campaign missions; The game has that “I’ll only do one more fight before I quit” vibe.

I look forward to playing more of Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp over the next few weeks. The game will release later this month on April 21st, so keep an eye out for our full review before it releases. Re-Boot Camp Brings Charming Strategy to the Switch (Hands-On Preview)

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