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      Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

      Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp has its highlights but seems to be a bit of a mixed bag

      We've been playing Nintendo's upcoming strategy remake, and while we can appreciate certain aspects of the game, we're not sold on it yet.

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      Boy, this one has been a long time coming. After previously being expected to launch in early 2022, and then receiving a delay because it was admittedly not a great time to release a game called Advance Wars, Nintendo has decided that it is now the perfect opportunity to get the frankly frustratingly over-punctuated-named Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp into the hands of fans later this April. While you'll have to wait until April 21 to start your strategic military campaign, I've already been ploughing through the story and while it is undeniably charming, there's also no denying that Father Time has not been the kindest to this series.

      And I say this because Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp feels like a game that is 20 years old. Granted, this is a remake of a game that is 20 years old, but when you compare what EA Motive and Capcom has done with Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 as of late (two games that are 15-20 years old themselves), the difference in remake quality is night and day here.


      The concept of the story asks you to complete different levels across a campaign map, where you will have to overcome different scenarios, beat different commanding officers, use different unit types, and battle on a variety of terrain types, but all of this in practice feels very dated. The gameplay mechanics are extremely rudimentary, and don't have much depth, and it feels like Advance Wars' solution to this is to just throw more enemy units at you. There's no real skill curve, it's just how do you best cauterise the loss of your own troops before the enemy AI figures out how to do the same, of which admittedly, it never usually does because the AI is incredibly daft and seems to have one strategic mindset: blow everything up - with this being that they will do whatever it takes to reduce your troops to ashes and never at all think about capturing your base.

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      Despite the fact that the AI and combat suite hasn't really gripped me after 16 levels (which seems to be about half of the first game's campaign), I will commend the different unit types and how they interact with one another. Advance Wars is at its best when you have ground, airborne, and naval units on the field at once, as here you can really start to play them off each other to set up some serious tactical manoeuvres. Get the recon unit to clear the fog of war, while the medium tank holds a bridge, as the destroyer rains fire from the seas, whilst the attack helicopter brings down enemy artillery, and the submarine destroys the enemy troop landing craft thus protecting your flank. It can flow well when it works at its best. The enemy will attempt to do something of the same calibre of this, but as you always move first, they are always playing on the back foot and therefore struggle to rope you in with smart strategic decisions.

      Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot CampAdvance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
      Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot CampAdvance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

      The problem however isn't the troop variety, but rather that the level design works in such a way that you either get stuck in incredibly long duration, chokepoint stalemate battles where there doesn't seem to be an end in sight (due to the AI refusing to win in any other way bar destroying your entire army, which is often not possibly because of barracks, docks, and airports where you can spawn new troop units), or that the best way to win is to lose, remember enemy formations and locations, and then just batter the AI mercilessly when you restart the level. It's far from compelling gameplay, but considering the really steady pacing, you have to find ways to get ahead of the curve, else you could find yourself locked in one level for half an hour at a time.

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      There are marginal ways to increase the pacing of the game, including a horribly integrated fast-forward button, but this doesn't change the fact that you have to sit through dialogue, cutscenes, the animations when commanding officers use their special abilities, attacks, and so forth, meaning a large part of the Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp experience doesn't see you doing anything. Plus, the fact that there is no back button to reset an action if you accidentally put a unit in the wrong place is an absolute travesty. The best the game offers is the option to reset the entire turn, which is just not the solution anyone would've asked for.

      While I couldn't really tell you much about the plot because Advance Wars barely exists outside of the individual levels, I will say that the characters seem to be lovingly created and crammed with personality. Their light-hearted and cutesy approach to war is probably not the best look these days, but you do recognise the cast after coming into contact with them as each stands out and feels unique.

      Similarly, the graphics and art style is a highlight, with the mixture of 3D battle unit models and level design, matched up with 2D character models and animations. It's a pleasant combination that works effortlessly.


      But none of this changes the fact that so far, Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp hasn't exactly blown me away. It's not the most compelling or engaging strategy experience I have played and unless there is a serious leap in quality through the rest of the first title's campaign or in the second title, I think that this will be a game that struggles to really draw in and entertain many, other than die-hard fans of the original early 2000s games.

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