Turn-based tactical games are nothing new, with games like Fire Emblem and Advance Wars dominating the market. Then last year (2018), Japanese studio Area 35 produced Tiny Metal, a turn-based game that had stylistically designed anime characters waging war with one another. Now, the studio is back with Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble which improves on what its predecessor lacked, while still managing to stand on its own.
The premise of the game is simple – you control a team of characters, led by a commander, and usually have to complete one of two tasks to finish the level, typically either having to take over the enemies’ HQ or completely annihilate the enemy team. Along the way, you can conquer buildings to earn more income, which in turn lets you expand your army. Once you have an enemy in your line of sight, you can choose to launch various attacks on it, each dealing different amounts of damage, or you can choose to not attack and wait for the next turn.
Prior to the start of every round, you will get a cut scene explaining bits of the lore but if you’re like us and not one to sit around for every cutscene, you can just skip straight to the main battle. The game will remind you beforehand the goal of every level, as well as additional challenges you can undertake to get a better score, such as not “focus firing” on your enemies, a move that lets you use more troops deal out higher damage against the enemies.
If you are new to the game, or the genre as a whole, it might take you a while to familiarise yourself with the terms used, as well as the advantages and disadvantages a unit will have against a different one. The game starts out simple enough, with easy to understand units such as the infantry before scaling up to include others such as the tanks, aircrafts, artilleries and more.
On its part, the game does try its best to guide you along, with a voice teaching you the uses of any new unit you come across. If you find yourself in a pinch, the game also has moves to help you such as “Assault” which helps to push the enemy unit back.
Aside from just deciding where to move your units, this time they can also run out of fuel and ammo, which adds a level of tactical difficulty to the game, as you will have to consider when and how you will get to run a supply line with both fuel and ammo to the empty unit. The matches were overall rather fun to play once you got into the swing of things, with the opponent AI putting up quite a fight, unlike the first iteration of Tiny Metal where campaigns posed little challenge to players.
Another interesting addition to the game is Commander Powers, where midway during the game, players who have earned enough points will be able to activate a special skill. Each commander comes with their own unique skill, which can range from boosting your troops attack power or having some sort of magical upgrade.
Being a relatively new game, there are bound to be bugs found in the game. Though we are not sure if it is a fault of ours or the game, we found that we were unable to progress any round without having to build a new unit at our base, such as a Rifleman or a Scout. Sure, there is the option of choosing ‘Skip and Build Nothing’ but we found that it does not work, so we just ended up building many tiny Rifleman to help us in our battle. Hopefully, this bug will be fixed in future updates.
As a fan of anime, we also appreciated the unique character design and cute visuals of the game, watching the chibi-fied infantrymen run around the map was soothing in its own little way. Though on the other hand, we found the voice acting both grating and irritating, with inflections and intonations made at weird parts of a sentence that just had us scratching our heads. It was one part the developers of the game could definitely improve on.
All in all, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is a definite step up from its predecessor Tiny Metal, with its improved AI that leads to more challenging and fun to play matches, adorable aesthetics, and better user interface. Now if only it could have a more compelling storyline that would make players less inclined to skip through, and better voice acting.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
While it does suffer from certain flaws and bugs, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is still a definite step up from its predecessor, with its improved enemy AI as well as new gaming mechanics and one that fans of turn-based strategy games should check out.
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 5/10
Presentation - 7/10
Value - 6.5/10