TINY METAL is a turn-based strategy game (similar to Advance Wars) with a deep, Japanese-inspired narrative. You’ll command an army with a collection genre-staple units like soldiers, helicopters, and tanks, but you’ll also encounter unique units and new mechanics that set TINY METAL apart from other titles in its genre.
You’ll take the role of Nathan Gries, Lieutenant of the Artemisian Army, commanding your forces across the lands against the rival Zipang army. TINY METAL is strung along with long sequences of dialogue between the missions. The story and characters are thought out fairly well, but during our playthrough, it never seemed to fully grab our attention; instead, the game seemed a bit overdone and overly complex. Of course, this is only our opinion, and we can see how the right audience would find themselves immersed in this game’s dramatic storylines. Yet overall, the story isn’t the focal point of the game, since you’ll mostly focus on giving orders and commanding your army.
Many players will likely recognize the game’s base mechanics, inspired by the Advance Wars series. As expected, TINY METAL focuses on moving units and capturing buildings across various different terrains, but offers some improvements and developments. For example, TINY METAL offers a “Focus Fire” attack, which lets two units lock onto an opposing unit and inflict heavy damage. There’s also the “Advance” command, which lets the opposing unit strike first but pushes them back a spot, allowing you to easily take control of poorly defended buildings. Another small but important tweak to the original formula gives an advantage depending on the direction from which a unit is attacked. For example, a unit attacked from the side or rear is more vulnerable to heavier damage than a unit attacked head-on.
TINY METAL expands upon basic units while adding new units that are completely unique to this title. There are 14 types of units to explore, from tanks (METALs) and infantry to gunships and radar. Control the familiar basic riflemen and anti-tank infantry, or choose to deploy soldiers and special-ops! The terrain in every mission features the “Fog of War” element, where you can only see so much of the map and enemy movement based on the position of your units. Having this mechanic baked into the entire experience of TINY METAL makes sense, but we think it would have worked better as a battle condition only.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
TINY METAL’s graphics come in two forms, the 3D battles and the 2D slide-show story sequences. The story and dialogue are delivered by comic-strip-style characters against beautiful backdrops. The art in these story sequences grabbed our attention, and we loved the style. We wish that the 3D gameplay lived up to this 2D experience, but we found that the 3D grid-based maps don’t offer much variety; they feature a bland mix of colors, and our units’ dull yellow color didn’t fit well with the surrounding environment. But aside from their dull color, the 3D graphics are well-polished and look pretty good!
If you’re looking for a game to scratch that itch for an Advance Wars-esque strategy formula, you’ll be glad to know that TINY METAL does just that, and it offers some cool additions to the traditional formula. But please note that TINY METAL is not a substitute for Advance Wars, so don’t expect it to fill its shoes. In any case, being able to take TINY METAL on-the-go and experience its battles at your own pace makes it the perfect strategy game for fans of the genre looking for a quick fix.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Unties
Developer – AREA 35
Price – $24.99
Genre – Simulation, Strategy
Size – 1.2GB
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.