Nothing crazy, a fun SRPG for fans of the genre.
Over a decade on from the success of Nintendo’s Advance Wars, there’s been a spate of SRPG war games from various developers. Wargroove, Into the Breach, and now Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble arrives for Nintendo Switch. A tactical strategy game featuring a cute art style and a surprisingly high level of complexity, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is a decent campaign-based game, even if it feels a little empty at times.
Let me preface this entire review by saying that I suck at SRPG tactical war games like these. I’m easily overwhelmed by too many options, customisations, and vehicles. Plus, I lose constantly. Maybe because I have the strategic patience of a five-year-old. I prefer playing a single character, rather than a chess-style game where I control all the pieces. That being said, I found a reasonable amount to enjoy about Tiny Metal: FMR.
Into the Deep End
If you’re like me and not hugely familiar with this genre, the first few campaigns can feel devoid of information. You get spoon-fed a few bits of information per tutorial campaign, which is clearly intended to prevent overwhelm. It also means that you don’t really know what the heck you’re doing for the first 2-3 campaigns. I got frustrated in a few early campaigns, because I kept losing due to not understanding a few of the mechanics.
Once you get the hang of things, gameplay becomes relatively routine, but there’s enough variability to keep engaged. As far as the available units go, I’m a fan of the Heavy Metal, a plasma tank that has the ability to trash a lot of the annoying baddies. It’s a lot of fun having control over both air and ground, and getting your strategy to run efficiently and effectively can be really satisfying. Because Tiny Metal: FMR offers so many different unit types, you’ve got a lot of options in how you want to win. Having that level of variability and control adds some replayability to the campaign mode.
I was told going in that this was supposed to be a strategy war game “with feelings”. Honestly though, the story felt very flat, and the characters had very little personality or depth. I really wanted to click through or skip all the dialogue sections, but since I was writing a review, I gave it a chance. The writing and voice acting felt stilted and awkward, especially when the voice lines paused mid-sentence until the text box swapped to the next bit of dialogue. There’s also a fair few spelling and grammar errors on information screens and in the dialogue.
The design of the game is actually really nice, both aesthetically and functionally. The art style of the characters and covers are really lovely, and feel like a good amount of care went into them. The maps and units are nice enough to look at and clearly defined. Meanwhile, good UI elements to give you more information on your units’ specialisations and stats. My only complaint here is that the selection menus utilise a layout that’s clearly style over function. It actually makes it pretty hard to see what menu item you’re selecting. This is especially annoying when you’re trying to give quick instructions to about 20 units before you end your turn.
I accidentally told my units to wait rather than load or attack more times than I’d like to admit.
The main bug I encountered (which I believe the developers are fully aware of and addressing) was being unable to skip the creation of units at your bases. Because of this, you have to go into the pause menu and click “End Turn” to move on. This quickly gets frustrating. It’s reassuring to know that you’ve cycled through all of your possible moves and covered all possibilities.
Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is a well-made little game that feels like the developers put their hearts into. As far as it being a strategy game “with feelings”? I think the attempted dialogue and character development feels very forced and ,honestly is something the game could do without. The gameplay itself is decent on its own. It did leave me feeling a bit underwhelmed, true. But it’s probably well worth the price for someone who enjoys SRPGs similar to Advance Wars.