REVIEW: TINY METAL: Full Metal Rumble

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

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Most missions in the game can be beaten one of two ways – either kill every enemy unit or take their HQ. I usually preferred to go for their HQ, since on many missions your opponent has factories and airports that can continually build new units. However, there are some missions where they mix things up. Some missions you have to survive for a set number of days, inflict X amount of damage to enemy finances, or kill a powerful VIP unit. Sometimes you won’t have any way to produce more units, and have to kill all your foes on the map. There are also some missions that have optional objectives, but they aren’t required to win. They just offer an alternate path to victory. Overall, the combat in the game is the highlight, but it’s not without its problems. One is that despite the variety I just mentioned and the combat being well-balanced, the flow of the game feels incredibly repetitive. I also wish selecting a unit for attack would give a preview of how much damage I might take, instead of just how much I will dish out and critical chance percentage. That said, I do like how the pause screen displays your Commander’s abilities and proficiency. It’s helpful knowing Wolfram’s infantry is more powerful, or that all of Tsukumo’s units deal more damage, but cost more money to build.

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On the aesthetic design portion of the game, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The music is very muted and unremarkable, but the art is top notch for the design. All the Commanders look great, and a new one in particular I was rather fond of, Nora, has crazy orange hair, hates talking with people and pilots the new Mecha units with ease. There’s some really cool cinematics that occur at various points throughout the story, and they look great, though for the life of me I don’t understand why they have no sound. Unfortunately, the level design is pretty lackluster, with the same colors and layout from mission to mission, with minor variations like desert and snow stages. Hell, there’s not even weather effects, which would have gone a long way to impressing me. There’s also some weird graphical glitches like overlap and layers not displaying all at once. Oh, and though the music isn’t great, the sound effects highlight the battles nicely. The boom and ratatat of cannon fire and machine guns are music to my ears, even if the random snippets units say whenever they’re selected gets old.

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I hate to return to the writing of the game, but I feel it’s necessary. The writing is, sadly, incredibly vanilla, and unfortunately it has plenty of grammar mistakes. The way the text displays at times is also odd. Sometimes it doesn’t fit well or even goes outside the text boxes. Worse is that I don’t care about most of the characters or the plot. It all just felt really formulaic and uninspired, at least to me. And even after playing the game for 27 hours to beat Full Metal Rumble, I honestly have no real idea about the motivation for the enemy forces at all. I kept expecting some sinister force to reveal itself as the mastermind, much like in the first game, but it never happens. In it’s place, we’re left with faceless, emotionless AI puppets, and that’s truly disappointing.

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Now let’s move onto the part of reviews I hate, which is talking about glitches and quirks. There are several I encountered in my time with TINY METAL: Full Metal Rumble. It’s possible they’re isolated to the Switch version I played, but on the off chance they aren’t, I figured I should mention them as a PSA. One of the less problematic ones occurred with the new autopilot feature. As you progress from mission to mission, you move a plane around the world map. You can select autopilot to automatically move to the next stage, and that’s great. What’s less great is once I tried it and instead chose not to enter the next level, and suddenly my plane started flying around in circles. Another quirk is that after you supply a unit with more fuel and ammo, if you hover your cursor over it, the unit shows as still empty. But if you move the cursor and come back, it instead shows as refilled. One time I attacked a unit, and instead of going to the regular battle animation, that unit just exploded on the map. Another time in Skirmish, I was moving around and got ambushed by a hidden enemy. Instead of just stopping my progress, like it should have, my unit was dealt damage without any accompanying combat animation. A more prevalent problem is the blurring visual effect that happens quite often, including whenever you instigate a battle. But easily the worst glitch I encountered is the following: on multiple occasions, easily more than a dozen, I selected an attack target and initiated my attack, and instead my unit ended their turn. In a game where every move is key to victory, that’s a giant problem. And believe it or not, those weren’t all the weird incidents I encountered, just the more noteworthy ones. I know TINY METAL: Full Metal Rumble has been updated a couple times since release, but these are all issues that need to be patched ASAP.

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In the end, It just didn’t feel like Area 35 tried anything that dramatic in this sequel, just more of the same with some minor upgrades, and taking ideas from games that did it better. TINY METAL was born in the shadow of Advance Wars, and sadly, Full Metal Rumble never steps out of that shadow. I know that sounds harsh, and much as it pains me to say, I don’t know how else the next game can improve without criticism. Because I honestly still like TINY METAL, I just expect much more from it. That said, for $14.99, you get a lot of game for your money. I spent almost 30 hours just on Story mode alone, and there’s a lot more to do, such as Skirmish, Multiplayer and many, many goodies you can unlock with in-game currency. There’s also labs you can find in Story mode to unlock optional side missions. And if you are a perfectionist, each mission has optional conditions you can achieve to get more points. If you’re a fan of strategy games, TINY METAL: Full Metal Rumble might still be worth a look. But if you’re a stickler and want a better adventure, there are far better options available right now.

Review Score

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About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.

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