[toggles behavior=”accordion”] [toggle title=”Minimum Specs”]OS : Windows 7 32-bit or newer Processor : Intel Core 2 Quad @ 2.80 GHz / AMD Athlon II X4 @ 3.10 GHz Memory : 3 GB RAM Graphics : ATI Radeon HD 5770 or NVIDIA GeForce GTS450 with 1GB VRAM Sound Card : DirectX Compatible Sound Card[/toggle] [toggle title=”Recommended Specs”]OS : Windows 7 32-bit or newer Processor : Intel i3-2100 @ 3.10 GHz / AMD Phenom II X4 @ 3.10 GHz Memory : 3 GB RAM Graphics : Radeon HD 6850 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 with 1GB VRAM Sound Card : DirectX Compatible Sound Card[/toggle] [toggle title=”Review Specs”]OS : Windows 10 64-bit Processor : Intel i7-8750H Memory : 16 GB RAM Graphics : NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 6 GB VRAM [/toggle] [/toggles] You’re waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You hope you know where the train will take you, but you can’t know for sure. Yet it doesn’t matter… because… you’ve got your Nintendo Switch in your backpack for the long journey ahead with its assortment of games that will spoil you for choice. Now imagine playing those titles on a PC at the comfort of your home. Sounds cool right? Or… is it?
Presenting, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble!
Story and Narrative
Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble follows the story of the leader of the White Fangs, Commander Wolfram, as she searches for her older brother Ragnar across the treacherous mountains of the wartorn land of Zipang while battling against a continuous onslaught of the AI-controlled Dinoldan forces. Assisting her are the Artemesian army led by their leader Nathan Gries, the Shogunate of Zipang led by Lord General Isoroku Tsukumo, a 16-year-old mechanic named Nora (anything Japanese HAS to involve children) of the Metaclyon Corporation and several other hand-drawn anime characters.
It’s basically a war on multiple fronts against two enemy factions – the Dinoldan and the Obsidor – with each character acting their part while having their own agenda. For example, Nathan’s goal is to prevent the Dinoldan from getting their hands on the Lost Tech artefacts and leads an assault against them to stop their excavation efforts, Tsukumo seeks revenge against the Dinoldan’s previous attempts to invade his country, Orzio the arms-dealer is just there to fill his pockets by supplying weapons to any army that pays higher and hence acts as a second antagonist as the leader of the Obsidior army.
And yet all these anime stuff do nothing but trick you into believing that there’s a decent lore behind, which is not entirely true. There is a history, but it’s way too simple in contrast to the anime tropes that Tiny Metal uses. What I mean to say is, Tiny Metal could have been better if the devs had spared a little more time to build up an ‘interesting’ backstory, you know because the Japanese are proficient at it. Location names are intriguing, kind of reminded me of JRPGs, but they don’t have any information attached to them. Character backgrounds are small like the answers you give during Viva Exams. The supposed in-game wiki, the Metalpedia, has information about different gameplay mechanics, but it’s redundant since they are as short as the text messages boys receive from girls. Dialogues are bland as if written to appeal to 13-year-olds. But to make up for all these, the voice acting is top-notch and in fact, it’s able enough to deliver the criticality of the situations Tiny Metal’s characters find themselves in during the course of the campaign.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is basically the spiritual successor of the tile-based, turn-based strategy game Advance Wars which was released in the early 21st century. You’ve got a territory to defend consisting of HQ tiles, City tiles, Factory Tiles, Airport tiles, etc, which allow you to roll out infantry and mechanical units as well as replenish their health and ammo. And your objective in every battle is to either destroy all the rival units or capture their HQ before they do. Now each unit or building occupies a single tile, and thus, the game is basically like a blocky-polygon graphics chess because not all units can traverse the same tiles. Foot soldiers, Snipers and Spec Ops can climb mountain tiles as well move through forest tiles with ease however mobile artillery units can’t climb and have reduced movement through forests. Tactical decision making plays a crucial role in this game and that’s what I liked about it – one wrong move and you’ll be regretting terribly as your units are surrounded by enemies on all sides and fired upon simultaneously (called Focus Fire which requires the assaulting units to Lock-In first). Similarly, there are other firing options like direct attack or assault (which allows you to push the opponent one tile back but at the cost of the enemy firing first). Only infantry units are able to capture buildings so it becomes a priority to protect them… and… for their protection, the devs lay bare an entire arsenal of mechanized units that would ideally suit an anime of the war genre!
There are tanks called Metals, personnel carriers called Archelons which can also supply fuel and ammunition to other mechanized units, bipedal mobile artillery platforms (Metal…Gear? It can’t be!) called Mechanima, airborne units, anti-air units, RADAR units, Striker Units, VIPER Units – every single one of them having a different damage range, level and resistance. Heck, you can even capture Comms Towers and call in HERO Units, which are basically superior infantry units! Truly Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble lives up to its name!
But alas, even if the looks and damage levels are different, all these units require only fuel and ammunition to barge on. At this point, I would like to state that Tiny Metal requires more, as in more resources to mine which might act as different raw materials for different units. But then again, such levels of resource collection and management exist in games like Warcraft and I don’t think it should be compared with a game like Tiny Metal, which is more like… say Fire Emblem.
Maps and Level Design
There are 39 campaign maps spread across the sprawling country of Zipang boasting a variety of geographical features including but not limited to mountains, deserts, canyons, plains, etc. So you have the option to actually travel over the map via land and air to arrive at your mission location which is usually spaced far apart from each other. This short open-world factor adds a certain flavor of exploration as there are many collectibles scattered across the map – collectibles which unlock credits and soundtracks. Using the credits you can not only buy more soundtracks from the shop, but also buy intel related to the narrative (which are few in number, to begin with) and also purchase more battle maps.
In addition to the campaign, there are 77 Skirmish maps – challenges where you can test your skills and try out your arsenal before they appear in the main story. The maps range from small to large and are of varying difficulties that would strain your tactical prowess. This goes without saying that the enemy AI is pretty advanced which makes the gameplay all the more fun. Ah, those sweet ‘S’ rank when you win! As for online matches, no one is playing it right now.
Visuals, Performance & Sound
Not a single fps drop was observed in Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble. Quick developer logo intro, short loading times, quick attack animations – everything is so short and crisp that you won’t get a chance to stare at any blank loading screen and ponder over your life. The graphics are spot-on, with colorful blocks coupled with anime-style art. And since this game’s Japanese, the name of the game HAS to be said aloud in the opening screen.
However, the same can’t be said about the soundtracks. You see, some of the tracks are memorable, not because they are good, but because they play so many times in the campaign that you’ll involuntarily find yourself humming even if you don’t want to. They are just so generic that I didn’t find any difference from one another.
Though Tiny Metal is a decent game at the surface level, it feels like it could’ve been better with a more matured storyline and some good music. The punishing AI also acts as a hindrance while progressing through the campaign, resulting in battles that would last from 20 minutes to more than an hour spanning across several in-game days. Maybe it’s deliberate on the developer’s part to simulate real-world war scenarios, but for a sequel based off a Switch game, it should have been a little more lenient.