The Insight: The New Advance Wars Fuels Our West Coast Intern’s Love of Strategy Games

By Jatin Gundara

Strategy games have always held a special place in my heart. Ever since my introduction to the genre with Sid Meier’s Civilization (in my opinion the greatest of all time), I’ve sunk countless hours into similar adventures. At certain times, I even deny my love of the genre for fear of admitting all the time I’ve spent contemplating where to move the next unit, or what building to construct, or where to found a city. To me, the difference between a thought provoking, engaging offering and a frustrating mess relies entirely on the balance of complexity found within the gameplay. When balanced correctly, variety within the intricacies devs sweat over provides a truly addictive quality. In this instance, Advance Wars: 1 + 2 Re-Boot Camp does this incredibly effectively, bringing me back time and time again. 

Advance Wars: 1 + 2 Re-Boot Camp manages complexity by limiting the number of aspects the player has to worry about. To put it simply, there aren’t an overwhelming amount of facets to the game. However, this is what makes up most of the game’s appeal. While I generally enjoy games with a little more substance (like Civilization), I found that Advance Wars was easy to pick up and play without too much investment. The accessibility factor on the Switch truly allowed me to enjoy it wherever and whenever I wanted. 

What the game lacks, it more than makes up for in content because it features two full campaigns (Advance Wars 1 and 2), each with an overarching story and dozens of missions to complete. Each mission presents a unique challenge combined with some story elements to create a refreshing experience at every turn. The plot follows commanding officer Andy as he travels through a war-torn world, encountering other officers and unraveling the source of the extensive global conflict. In the second installment, the plot is continued from the previous campaign, furthering the narrative and addressing a renewed threat to the four nations, while introducing new, futuristic technology to the setting. The game also includes online and local play, a shop where collectibles can be bought, a sandbox to create original maps for use in various other modes, and a mode where special challenge stages can be played outside the campaign. Local play in particular can be incredibly engaging, with up to four players waging war against each other.

When fighting against other players, gameplay can drag on due to each player having to take their own turn. Even so, this isn’t an issue in the single player campaign or in any situation where you face AI, as it will make moves incredibly fast. In gameplay, the player can control whatever units are granted to them at the start of the match. The player may have the opportunity to build their own units if they have access to buildings which have that capability. But otherwise they’re stuck with what the map provides them.

The game twists and turns like an average war game: the player builds up forces, ventures toward the opposing side, and attempts to either capture the enemies’ HQ or seeks to destroy all their units. Tanks, infantry, rockets, jet fighters, battleships, submarines, and helicopters comprise a small portion of the wide array of units available to the player in any given conflict. The use of terrain is also very intuitive, with different environment types serving as aids to some units and hindrances to others. Combat is incredibly satisfying, rewarding careful placement and creation of units, and punishing your misunderstanding of enemy capabilities. Combat also has a noticeable impact on the map, as the units of one side are forced closer and closer to their end, while enemy territories are all converted under one banner.  At one glance, it’s easy to tell the stage of the conflict along with which side is controlling the flow of combat. Bearing all this in mind, this becomes a truly fun experience, especially when your fully understands the rules.

It’s also worth mentioning that Advance Wars: 1 + 2 Re-Boot Camp is a remake of the first two Advance Wars games, and does a good job of staying true to the series’ roots. The art style is incredibly vibrant (popping out even more on the OLED screen), and stays true to the heavy stylized, chibi look of the original games. The combat animations and sound design also both serve their purposes well, even if they can get a little worn out through repetition after a long period of combat.

In short, Advance Wars: 1 + 2 Re-Boot Camp is a valuable buy for any fan of the strategy genre. Its easy-to-pick up excitement coupled with its multiplayer compatibility makes it, in my opinion, one of the best valued offerings in the entire Switch catalog. While it’s unfortunate that it took so long (over 2 years) to be released due to delays, now that Advance Wars: 1 + 2 Re-Boot Camp has arrived, it’s most certainly here to stay.

Jatin Gundara, who’s based outside Los Angeles, was our Fair Game Writing Challenge winner and is NYVGCC’s West Coast intern.

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