Fans of Nintendo handhelds might be familiar with the Advance Wars series. It started all the way back on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance and continued until the Nintendo DS. It featured strategic turn-based military battles on a map with a unique twist. The games were highly addictive and looked great thanks to their gorgeous pixel art. Tiny Metal appears to be the a game that has basically taken inspiration from the Advance Wars series at first glance, however the developers have attempted to add their own twist to the gameplay here, and this is something that might be divisive depending on how much you have enjoyed Advance Wars.
If you are like me, and have played all of the Advance Wars game, you might find that Tiny Metal lacks the charm and fun of the series, but it is not necessarily a bad game. The game falls short due to a lackluster campaign and an ugly art style, that doesn’t do it any favor. Gameplay wise, it is actually pretty decent strategy game that offers a solid amount of content depending on if you are up to some of the more challenging optional missions.
First, and lets get this out of the way, the art style is something that I didn’t like right from the start. The 3D look for the game along with the chibi models makes it look rather low quality. While the character portraits and other artwork seems fine for the most part, the 3D look is dominated for the majority of the gameplay and it made the battles look rather terrible for me. This is just my opinion though and your mileage might vary.
Think of the map as a chess board while you will have your various type of chess pieces that you move across the map. The main units by default are the standard soldiers that are limited by their attacking power but can capture building quickly. As you make your way through the campaign, you will begin to unlock more types of soldiers like the Lancers, or even vehicles like a Tank. The battle system is essentially turn-based so you and the opponent will be taking turns one after another, positioning and placing your army on the map and making sure that no one is left behind alive.
Tiny Metal actually uses a currency system in game to let you produce any required unit in battle. This can be done by first locating and capturing a factory on the map. This will be the source of your military power during battles. You can earn money after the end of each turn depending on how much of the territory and building is under your control. To get the most out of a map, the best strategy is usually to capture as many buildings as you can. Of course, you will also have to keep an eye on the enemy movement making sure that they are not ganging up on your units.
If you have played Advanced War series, you might be familiar with the weakness and strengths of the terrain and your military force. The standard soldiers are weak in combat with a military vehicle due to their rifles but you can use lancers with rocket launchers to overcome this issue. Similarly, the position on terrain for some of the soldiers plays a role in the damage that they might take; for example, placing one of them on a hill will give them an advantage in combat while also increasing your visibility on map.
The traditional combat is made a little interesting in Tiny Metal with the inclusion of two different type of attacks. Aside from the normal attack, you can try to gamble with a focus fire option that requires you to have two of your units next to the enemy that you are planning to deal a large amount of damage. You can keep one unit locked at the enemy while using the other to start a focus fire resulting in a huge amount of damage. There is also an assault command available that lets you push the enemy back but at the risk of getting attacked first. Your units can also gain experience points and have their ranks increased which boosts their attack power. There is also super version of a unit that can be used once in battle and can help you get through some of the more difficult situations.
The gameplay is fun but is there anything worthwhile to do with it? Sure, you have a campaign mode with a story that just seems to be needlessly complicated just for the sake of offering missions, but once you are done with the rather short campaign with its multiple missions, you are stuck with just the skirmish mode that lets you play through 50 challenging battles which require a good amount of skills along with trial and error just to get through them. The developers have also promised a multiplayer mode in a future update but it remains to be seen how it will be actually implemented in the game.
Tiny Metal Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: A turn-based strategy game of intrigue with a distinct Japanese flavor that takes place in the aftermath of your king's assassination. Roll out the tanks, create more troops, expand your squad, and struggle for territory with war-room levels of control!
This might not be the Advance Wars that most fans want, but it is a solid strategy game offering a decent amount of options and depth in combat.