Game Review #423: Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Area 35
Publisher: Area 35
Category: Multiplayer, Simulation, Strategy
Release Date: 7.11.2019
Buy Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Area 51 for Aliens, Area 35 for Games
Last time we saw Area 35 it was with their debut game Tiny Metal, which I had the pleasure to play and review (Read it here. I gave it an 8.5/10). The game was then published by Unties, under the Sony umbrella, and now they have chosen to self-publish with their own company, Area 35.
Eleven years have come and gone since the fan favorite Advance Wars from Nintendo had its last outing with Dark Conflict, and as I’ve said before, when popular series are left vacant, other developers will pounce on the opportunity to take the mantle. In 2017, Tiny Metal hit the eShop and easily took that mantle, even though it was rough around the edges and missed a few things in the way of online multiplayer. They later tightened things up and added the long-awaited online multiplayer.
Chucklefish stepped in with Wargroove and took the mantle away, as they had improved on almost everything—and even had fans go as far as making Advance Wars maps. Now Area 35 is back with a new game that feels more like a huge expansion rather than a full-blown sequel. But, does it get it right out of the gate? Can it snatch the mantle back from Wargroove to become the essential Advance Wars experience? Let’s find out!
The Wolf Will Destroy All the Packs
The first time around, Tiny Metal’s story revolves around lead protagonist, Nathan Gries, over an epic story. This time around, the story is shorter and more streamlined, with the lead protagonist changing to a character we first saw in the last game, Commander Wolfram. She’s a warrior who leads the deadly White Fangs, a group of ragtag mercenaries who are usually uniformed in blue. The story is about Wolfram hunting for her brother, and the hell she goes through to find him.
She also has others she is protecting, as the story may be cartoony and lighthearted, but it’s also one that’s steeped in reality. Director, Hiroaki Yura, admitted the Syrian refugee crisis had a lot of influence on the main storyline, as the White Fangs are a people without a home after being run off from their homes, left to wander and fight for a new tomorrow. The writing talent of Hiro Inaba brings the characters, world, and action to vibrant life, and though it bounces around at times, I found it to be a rather good story.
When Tiny War Advances It’s Bold
If I had to walk out with a blanket statement—just throwing it out there—Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is everything the first game was, and so much more… so let’s talk about the gameplay and what’s new! The developers didn’t drop the ball, and only improved upon damn near every single aspect of the game. The first thing I noticed was the new UI, which is sleek, very responsive, very clean, and ascetically pleasing to the eye.
The top-down grid-based war game will have fans of Advance Wars feeling right at home. The turn-based strategy game isn’t just that simple; you’ll work to out-maneuver by flanking, using the map’s terrain to your advantage, like moving to the mountains seeking higher ground, or knowing when to push troops forward or pull them back. This is all tallied up and scored at the end of each match during the campaign. Alos, remember how I said the story is shorter and more streamlined? Well, Just because the story is shorter doesn’t mean the developers didn’t still give us a very hefty campaign that stretches across 39 campaign missions, and the addition of bonus challenge conditions on every map encourages commanders to fight for goals outside of the main objective to rank up.
On top of the already stellar campaign is the Skirmish mode that was debuted in the first game. This time there’s an offering of 77 skirmish maps, 21 of which are available for intense multiplayer showdowns, which wasn’t available out of the gate last time; but as I said, they made sure to have everything ready this time around, as the entire experience is here, and you don’t have to wait for any updates down the line to play online matches.
Though the online is a very nice addition, I can see how a lot of gamers can get lost right in the excellent campaign where you battle the Dinoldans, trying to keep them from acquiring an ancient technology; and let me just say, I noticed right away what the developers have done—they have stepped the AI way up from the original! I was surprised to see them working to flank and out-maneuver, but they also use the assault to push you from certain buildings or other terrain. Whether this is your first outing or you’re a war-tested vet, you can be tested or set at ease, since there are four new difficulty modes. I had a lot fun cranking up the difficulty and trying to accomplish the objective—whether it was eliminating all the enemies or capturing their headquarters.
Another one of the shining spotlights to this well-made game is that the first game had a decent number of units, and this time you have expanded army fields with 21 different unit types, with additional Hero and Commander units. Each unit has a handy menu and list that shows how to use them and what unit they will and won’t be able to critically attack. This time around we got mechs—which are incredibly badass—with multiple class types and power ups. I did encounter a bug which found me unable to skip the creation of new units at the factories, and instead, I had to hit pause and end my turn from the menu. I’m sure this will be patched out very soon, but it’s really a small issue that I never found to really bother me.
Audio & Visuals
Luckily the music is composed by genius Tomoki Miyoshi, which has made a powerful and striking soundtrack. I was a fan of the Japanese voiceovers of the first game with the English subtitles, but the devs heard enough that they have brought in an entire English voice-acting cast. Some are done superbly, like Wolfram, but then others fall flat, which seems to be the norm when doing an English dub.
The art style and graphics seem to have made the transition from the first game to this one, and it feels cartoony in the back-and-forth dialogue exchanges. In addition, the very well-done art of the units, from the riflemen to the tanks and mechs, is beautiful.
It’s a Wrap!
Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble has completely outdone itself, as it not only surpassed its predecessor, but also Wargroove. Poor Advance War fans can rejoice, as Area 35 has not only made a superior clone, but I’d go as far as to say they may have a new stake as the go-to strategy RPG war game. Though this is billed as a sequel, I see it more as full-blown expansion that’s bigger and better than the original. I hope to see a full sequel, as I heard the director is planning to make one if this game is successful—and it should be. Not only is the game better in every way than the original, it’s also cheaper—by quite a bit, actually! I’d highly recommend jumping on this one, as it’s a must-own game for the Nintendo Switch.
Buy Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Visit the official Tiny Metal website here.
Visit the official Tiny Metal YouTube here.
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*Review code provided for review purposes.