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Game Review #161: Tiny Metal (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Area 35

Publisher: Unties

Category: Simulation, Strategy

Release Date: 12.21.2017

Price (at time of review): $24.99

Buy Tiny Metal from the Nintendo eShop here.

Tiny Metal Is Still Advance Metal

In the land of turn-based strategy games, one of my all-time favorites is Advance Wars, and it’s loved by many, as there hasn’t been a recent installment in years. So, as that space sits vacant, there will undoubtedly be spiritual successors and homages, and that’s exactly what the gentlemen at Area 53 have pulled off in a lot of ways with Tiny Metal. Area 53 was founded in August 2016 by Hiroaki Yura, who directed Tiny Metal. A smaller indie studio with only 6 developers on staff, they worked hard to create a solid game. They site key influences being as Advance Wars (obviously) and Warhammer 40,000. The game was brought to Nintendo Switch back in 2017 by Unties.

Your Turn Or Mine, Time To Die

If I had to define the feel I got in a nutshell, it would be an anime version of Modern Warfare in a TBS game. Tiny Metal is a military-themed turn-based tactics/strategy game about two warring nations, the Artemisia and the Zipang. The war breaks out in the aftermath of your king’s assassination. In Tiny Metal, you play as Artemisian Lieutenant Nathan Gries, where you must command your units to victory against the villainous nation of Zipang. Along your way, you will encounter and make several friends and enemies from varied factions, units, and abilities. The storyline is very wordy, and takes place between each match—and they sometimes go on for quite a while. The characters you encounter range from strong confident allies like Commander Wolfram, the leader of the White Fangs, to foes like the evil villain, Lord Isoroku Tsukumo, the leader of the Zipang Shogunate, and even kooky and weird characters like The Arms Dealer Orizo, who is a war profiteer, not being on one side or the other as he stokes the fires of war, fattening his pockets.

Forces Are Growing, Prepare For War

The gameplay was interesting, as it doesn’t only do things we have seen before, so retreads are here, but also new gameplay elements. For things we’ve seen before, you have the normal flanking models, and you can use your radar to use long-range attacks like artillery when attacking outside your visuals range. Something new I like was the focus fire, where you use a target lock-on with two or more units to unleash a powerful focus fire attack. You can also call upon Hero units, who are like the Spec-Ops units compared to the normal grunt soldiers. They are stronger and more durable, they grow stronger over the course of the campaign, and can be brought over mission-to-mission.

There are 15 different units to call upon when you’re in the full swing of the campaign. The terrain carries with it buildings scattered over the map. You can capture a building, which allow you to heal units and capture factories. Factories allow you to train more troops for battle. Each map did feel like the same, as every scenario was “kill all units” or “capture the base”.

I was hoping for it to be a little more inventive, as it made each map feel the same, even if it was a new mission. I had heard earlier on that the AI wasn’t great and could be easily outsmarted. I’m playing the latest version with updates, and I’m not seeing it as bad as others have said. Yes, there are times I try to lure them away and it works, but sometimes the AI does things I didn’t see coming.

The controls were great. I jumped right in and had no problem picking it up immediately. As with most TBS games, you pick your available tile to move to, and choose to wait, attack, force off, or try to lure. I enjoyed my play through from the start, with a small gripe being that the map view can’t be moved or rotated, you can only zoom in and out. It would’ve been nice to move the angle to see incoming units before they got the jump on me.

Fun Factor - Audio & Visuals

I may have been late to the party, because a lot of the issues I had read a year ago before playing aren’t here in my time with Tiny Metal. I had a lot of fun the whole time while playing through the campaign, and there is a New Game+ mode you unlock once you finish that adds replay value.

There is a skirmish mode that allows you to battle 3 other AI factions, but since you can’t change the difficulty to make them focus more on you, they can get caught battling each other, making the mode very easy at times. The online multiplayer is new, and a much needed mode, as I had so much fun here battling people online that this game was hard to put down!

The soundtrack is done fairly well, as it wasn’t particularly impressive but still fit well. The sound effects were perfect, with even little remarks made by troops when attacking. I wish they could’ve pushed to have some decent voice over actors, as instead you’re stuck reading what feels like a small novel between each battle, and it would have made it flow better if you could’ve heard good solid actors chew through the dialogue instead.

The visuals have also been updated from the patches and updates, as this ran perfectly in docked and handheld mode. I enjoyed the anime character designs in the cut scenes, and the Advance Wars-looking tanks and cartoony-looking units, as it was nicely done, though again, the levels seemed to be the same thing over and over. A change of scenery would’ve added a little flair, but it didn’t take away from the experience.

It’s A Wrap!!!

My time with Tiny Metal was a lot of fun, and I’m admittedly happy I got my hands on it after the updates and patches, as it plays great and has enough with added campaign levels and new online multiplayer to keep me engaged and coming back for a long time to come. I recommend jumping on this. Even at full price, this is a damn fun game that has potential, and I’d love to see what this team could do with a sequel, knowing what they learned on the installment. So, jump in the tank and meet me on the battlefield!

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Tiny Metal from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Stride PR

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