Review – TINY METAL: FULL METAL RUMBLE

As Nintendo continues to ignore the Advance Wars franchise, it’s fallen to indies to keep its particular brand of turn-based strategy alive. TINY METAL: FULL METAL RUMBLE is a worthy spiritual successor and does everything Advance Wars did, but with more of it. While I feel it’s not quite as timeless as the fantastic Wargroove, it is more than worthy in its own right and does enough to set it apart. For any Switch-owning turn-based strategy fans, it’s a must buy.

TINY METAL BUNKERING DOWN

That poor, poor soldier standing right in the middle out of cover.

While Wargroove attempted to distance itself from Advance Wars by swapping modern warfare out for classic fantasy, TINY METAL embraces it. The basic premise of the meaty campaign mode is pure Advance Wars, even if it ends up taking itself a bit too seriously. You play as a variety of catchily named nations facing off against various unscrupulous paramilitary groups, insidious PMC’s, and rogue nations all with their own ambitions, units, and traits. The unit and character design are all exactly what you’d imagine a modern Advance Wars would look like as well, although the chosen simplistic art style doesn’t do the game any favors.

TINY METAL FUEL + COLOR

Fuel and ammo are as important here as ever, although easier to keep track of.

While gameplay is exactly what you would expect from any Advance Wars clone, TINY METAL adds a few new mechanics on top. They aren’t merely throwaway gimmicks either. Some of them tie so well into the core game that I would be disappointed if any future Advance Wars (as unlikely as that seems) games didn’t do something similar. Chief among them are the Focus Fire and Assault moves.

TINY METAL OPEN MAP

The campaign map allows you to freely roam terrain to travel from mission to mission. Or to try and drive an ATV up a mountain.

Focus fire allows you to chain up multiple attacks against a single foe, who can then retaliate against the last attacking unit only. Stray scouts can be taken out quickly with minimum damage to your own units and not even the strongest units are safe on their own. Assault allows you to make a dramatically weakened attack, but if it succeeds you push the enemy unit back one square and advance into it. This allows you to push (or be pushed) off capture points, into or out of artillery range, and anything else you can think of. There’s a few other additions as well as plenty of subtle utility changes to classic units, but these are by far the biggest.

TINY METAL HERO

There are a variety of “Hero” units that are slightly buffed up regular units with a bit of story attached. They’re interesting for flavor but aren’t game-breaking.

Where TINY METAL most disappoints is in mode variety. While the campaign is meaty with plenty of missions across all three factions and Skirmish mode features over seventy maps spanning multiple terrain types, that’s really it. There’s technically an online multiplayer mode, but I wouldn’t know how well that does or doesn’t work as I never once even saw another game to join. There are no local or pass and play modes which given that’s how most of us played Advance Wars multiplayer is a huge loss, though nothing that can’t be patched in later.

TINY METAL SKIRMISH TRAITS

Ultra Powers are TINY METAL’s version of CO Powers, however instead of being game breaking and annoying are just temporary buffs that can be a boost but never decide a game.

Bottom line: this is as close to Advance Wars 5 as we are ever likely to get. The story and characters aren’t nearly as charming or memorable, but hit all the same notes that get you in right mind frame. Gameplay is exactly the same with some rebalanced units and a few new mechanics that make gameplay even more tactical. There aren’t many modes available, but the only one conspicuously missing is Pass and Play multiplayer, and what it does come with features plenty of content. For those who aren’t a fan of Wargroove‘s fantasy setting or have already played it to death, TINY METAL: FULL METAL RUMBLE is almost exactly what we’ve been waiting over a decade for.

Graphics: 7.0

The art style is extremely simplistic and makes for a visually cleaner game at the price of aesthetic.

Gameplay: 10

This is Advance Wars, but with more options for everything. The game is both viable and balanced.

Sound: 5.0

Music is forgettable and voice acting extremely overexcited. Fortunately you can switch it out for classic AW blips.

Fun Factor: 8.0

While the story isn’t exactly riveting, the unit and map variety alongside fine-tuned strategy gameplay make up for it.

Final Verdict: 8.0

TINY METAL: FULL METAL RUMBLEĀ is available now on Nintendo Switch and Steam.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of TINY METAL: FULL METAL RUMBLE was provided by the publisher.

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