Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble — Death by a thousand papercuts

There's a lot of going on in here
Tactics games that allow you to produce new units are seemingly making a comeback. This summer, eleven years after the last Advance Wars game we get Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble — but can it grab the players like Wargroove did?

Basics

Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble calls itself Arcade Wargaming and there is something to that claim. It is, like Wargroove; a turn-based tactical strategy. The players control an army, take over cities, factories and airports to gain funds and recruit units to destroy enemy armies, unless the mission calls for a different victory condition.

It takes a while to get through a mission.

Each player takes the role of a Commander, which gives their armies bonuses and different powers they can use once they build up their Power Meter. They can vary from tanks (called Metals in this game) getting a boost to healing all of the units and can greatly change the tide of the battle.

Visuals

Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is a nice looking game — the main part of the game, skirmishes, have nicely detailed units that look even better during fights. The maps themselves are varied with nice models for cities, forests and mountains, all consistent in polish. I did find the fog of war jarring in comparison and it blocked a bit of the view as well.

The cutscenes are visually great too. All of the Commanders are distinctive and can be quickly identified as to which army they’re from. The backgrounds for those are well made too, just like the overworld. It allows for flying around the whole planet and shows attention to worldbuilding.

TINY METAL: FULL METAL RUMBLE - Two characters talking
I like the character designs

On the audio side, it’s nice as well. Every Commander has their own track that plays somehow to their character and they’re somewhat consistent in their army. Sound design is on par with all the shooting, explosions and tracks rolling sounding great. And so does the Japanese voice acting — in my opinion it is better than the English one, which makes some sense as the game is from a Japanese developer.

Feel

Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble has great game mechanics. The units can combine their firepower to attack together and the counterattack only happens to the last unit attacking. There is experience, and the troops can level up, making them stronger. There are special units that keep those levels between missions.

You will find a lot of variety in the units. The focus is mainly on ground troops, with a couple that are built in airports. In addition to standard troops, tanks and recon units, the player can also recruit mechs, called Mechanimas — they have their place and you can get different types of them for battle. There is a few more different infantry type units, such as snipers and spec ops. All of the infantry units can take over buildings, however some of them are better at it than others of course.

Choice paralysis is real

But this is where the title of this article comes to play. The game has issues — ones that by themselves wouldn’t matter that much, but stacked up, there’s a lot of them. To count a few, the game feels like it was created with a controller in mind, but all of the prompts are for keyboard. And even then, some of those prompts weren’t correct (it told me to press Backspace, but I had to press Delete). There’s no way to switch key binding and I had problems where my inputs were either doubled or not read at all, a mistake like that can cost you a mission.

And another big fat issue is the UI. It is way too big and overbearing for a game of this type. I’m not too keen on comparing games, but both Wargroove and the Advance Wars series kept their AI to minimum, with small menus next to units for choosing what to do after moving. Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble puts a bigger menu right in the middle of the screen.

The game feels slower than other games from the same genre. The fight animations are slow and can’t be skipped — they can be turned off from the menu, but then it can be confusing which unit is getting damaged as effects can be lacking in places. And the amount of units that can be recruited can be overwhelming — I’m not sure if having four different long range troops is necessary.

TINY METAL: FULL METAL RUMBLE - A mech unit shooting another unit
They pew those pews quite hard

Conclusions

Tiny Metal: Full Meal Rumble is not a bad game. I think it’s a good game hindered by clunkiness surrounding the great main mechanic. If it is something that you can get through, and if you enjoy tactic games, I would recommend it. But if you do not enjoy this genre, there are better games to start that journey.

Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is available on Steam, as well as Nintendo Switch.

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