Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble Plays Like A Big Expansion Rather Than A Major Sequel
Ready for another tactical Japanese arcade-style rumble as adorable armies clash on the battle grid? There's plenty more of that in-store with Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble, which manages to keep nearly all the same pros and cons of the previous 2017 title.
It isn't often that a game's biggest strength is also its main weakness, but that's the case here, as this is more of a big expansion than a true sequel in any sense of the word.
That being said, obviously if you liked Tiny Metal then it will be welcome addition anyway, but be aware you are getting a lot more of the same here, with a few added bugs inherent to any new release.
What's New And What's The Same With Full Metal Rumble
First things first: the graphics are essentially identical with Full Metal Rumble. The map terrain is the same, the unit models are the same, and even most of the unit voice work and sound effects are the same (the metal tank units still proclaim "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!" when firing).
We've also got mostly the same cast of protagonists this time, with a few new additions as the stories for Wolfram and Nathan continue.
In terms of overall gameplay, this is essentially just 39 extra campaign missions that play out the same way as in the previous Tiny Metal entry.
There are some upgrades, however, which straddle the line between "beefy DLC" and "actual full sequel."
You get to manually move across the world map on different land or air vehicles to start new levels this time around, although this is really a cosmetic enhancement and not a game-changer by any means, as there's nothing else to do on that map but choose your level.
Full Metal Rumble also adds in some differing superpowers and abilities between heroes that nerf or buff various unit types, so you can change up your play style a bit on each level depending on what type of unit you prefer to use.
Easily the biggest change is the addition of ammo and fuel to manage for all of the units, and the lack of that element was a frequent complaint from Steam players for the previous game.
This is where the strategy changes from base Tiny Metal, although to be honest in the single-player campaign it rarely comes up in the first half of the game because units won't last long enough (and the maps aren't big enough) for those two new resources to matter much.
In skirmish mode where you can choose the map size however, resource management comes into play far more often. I would have to assume it will play a key role in multiplayer as well but wasn't able to confirm with my pre-release copy.
Unlike the first game, multiplayer is apparently going to be available immediately (it appears on the main menu anyway), but we'll have to wait and see if its fully up and running at launch; returning players will sadly recall it took nearly a year for multiplayer to actually become available in the original Tiny Metal. Things appear to be different here.
Finally, some of the AI has been tweaked. Units (thankfully) aren't nearly as suicidal as they used to be, but anyone who breezed through the first game will still find the campaign to be too easy in many places.
There's only one major area where that difficulty spikes out of nowhere. Mission 33 is simply insane, even on easy mode, but the developers have already stated a patch will arrive shortly after launch to fix that issue.
For the Tiny Metal veterans, the real difficulty will be in completing the secondary challenges in missions, like never losing a unit to retaliation or completing each mission under a certain number of turns.
Working Out Some Bugs
As with the first game, there have been some bugs in the pre-launch version that need to be worked out shortly after launch.
For instance, commander super abilities currently stay active forever instead of lasting one round, which is supposed to be fixed on Day 1.
I also came across a handful of small annoyances, like stuttering when opening up the build menu or constantly getting throwback into the menu when you try to exit on one early level.
Those aren't too bad, but there's one that is particularly annoying: the game shows the Delete key as the way to move back in menus, but it's actually bound to the Backspace key.
Since there's currently no ability to change key bindings, that is extremely annoying until you figure out the key is just listed wrong. Until I figured that out I was having to ALT+F4 out of the game in some menus to start all over.
The Bottom Line
- Tactical battle that's easy to get into but hard to master
- Unique and adorable art style
- If you loved the first one, this is more of the same
- The new resources and world map aren't as big of changes as you'd expect
- Bugs, bugs, bugs to be squashed after launch
- If you hated the first one, this is more of the same
Right now there aren't a ton of games in this genre to choose from, which makes Tiny Metal worth your time even despite the problems.
If Wargroove didn't scratch the tactical itch for you and you've played your GBA ROM of Advance Wars into the ground, Full Metal Rumble is really the only way to go right now.
There's also one big plus here: it's coming to the Switch as well as Steam. If you want an all-ages friendly strategy game for your console, do yourself a favor and pick this one up, while keeping your fingers crossed that big patches arrive shortly and multiplayer is actually available on day 1.
[Note: A copy of Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble was provided by Area 35 for the purpose of this review.]