Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble Review
Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble
Will this be the new Advance Wars?
Advance Wars is one of my favourite games on the Gameboy Advanced. While similar to Fire Emblem in terms of combat, it stands out by taking a different approach. Losing units don’t really matter, as they’re mostly faceless peons. I adore the original series, but over time, Fire Emblem has only continued to flourish while Advanced Wars has been long forgotten about. Thankfully not by everyone it seems, as the developers at Area 35 have created an unrelated spiritual successor with Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble. It certainly fills the hole left in my heart, but the game has its drawbacks. I found the campaign lacking in terms of story and direction, and overall the game feels quite slow compared to most modern strategy games. That said, there are ways to speed things up and enjoy what makes the game so great, the skirmishes.
At times, there’s a lot going on and it’s somewhat difficult to see what unit still has an action.
Being not the biggest fan of shooters in general, I often miss out on games revolving around the not so distant future. With Tiny Metal: FMR being a strategy game, I finally can once again enjoy something without swords and shields. My favourite aspect of the game so far has to be the sheer number of units available to use. With 24 regular units and 16 “heroes”, there are a ton of different strategies to use depending on how your opponent plays. Everything from basic infantry to mecha suits exists and every unit has their own strengths and weaknesses. Tanks do well against other vehicles but are useless against helicopters that stay in the sky. With all this said, I rarely found a use for heroes and never built them.
Tiny Metal brings a few unique mechanics to the table. Each unit has a set number of attacks in the form of ammo and vehicles also require gas to keep moving. Buildings can be used to heal units and resupply them, or supply ships can be built and utilized. I really liked this as it added some tension to longer fights. Another mechanic I particularly enjoy was the “lock-on” option when attacking. It allowed the use of multiple units to combine their attacks on a single enemy without much retaliation. Optimizing each turn and combining unit attacks became my main strategy for most of the game.
Every commander has a story
Commanders have “commander abilities” which can buff your units!
Each campaign battle has a set number of varying objectives, but the most common one is “destroy all enemies”. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s fun. But the way the fog of war is handled makes this somewhat frustrating. Unlike most games using fog of war, enemy turns are still shown, only behind the fog. Whatever the idea was behind doing this, I’m not a fan of it. Most of the game feels quite slow in comparison to Fire Emblem or Wargroove. This slows each turn rotation down slightly, but it also takes away all of the surprises in finding out where the enemy is. Only when playing against another human are you completely in the dark.
Most of the missions in the game aren’t difficult. Depending on the scenario, sometimes conquering buildings feels like a tug of war with the enemy. Other times, it feels as if the AI is just handing them to you. The tug of war drags on too long and being handed something for free isn’t fun. The actual challenges are displayed at the beginning of each mission in the campaign or in the menu. These challenges include objectives like “only build infantry”, or “don’t lose a single unit.” These proved impossible for me to do but at the same time added a ton of replayability for me because I’m stubborn.
It’s not all sunshine and roses
Skippable cutscenes are always appreciated!
Even though Tiny Metal: FMR does a lot right, it also gets a lot wrong. My biggest gripe with the game has to be the campaign’s story and how it’s performed. There’s a minor semblance of narrative that gives little explanation from the prior game and the characters have poorly written dialogue. The voice acting isn’t great, but the dialogue certainly doesn’t help. Part of the problem lies with how the tutorial for new units or abilities in spliced in with the actual dialogue. It sounds extremely unnatural and sometimes takes a while to get through in the beginning parts of the game. If these weren’t voice acted, they would have felt separated from the story, which would have flowed a lot better.
In addition to my concerns about the campaign, the game just takes too long to do anything. The initial loading screen is noticeably longer than average, nearing almost 30 seconds to get to the main menu. In-game, loading is only a bit better and is noticeably longer than most games. The battle animations are also extremely repetitive, even for a game like this. These can be turned off to make things a bit quicker, but I generally dislike turning off features unless I have to. It did my experience way more enjoyable as I didn’t have to watch the same generic soldiers shoot the other generic soldiers a dozen times over.
While it definitely is not a revolutionary indie title, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble does a great job at being the Advance Wars of 2019. If you’re looking for what I can only describe as a spiritual successor to the fantastic Gameboy Advance games, then look no further. Play the campaign for the skirmishes, not for the story and characters. I actually have become a bigger Fire Emblem fan over the years and as such, Tiny Metal isn’t for me. I would have liked to be able to play online but I could never find an open game to join. If you do end up trying Tiny Metal out, know you’ll most likely be playing by yourself.
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Reviewed by Taylor Ivings on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Area 35.