Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble continues the classic turn-based strategy gameplay that developer Area 35 brought to life with the original Tiny Metal. In that title, the objective was to create a spiritual successor to Nintendo’s long-dormant Advanced Wars series. This time, Area 35, along with publisher Delight Works, is upping the ante with more units, more tactics, and even more Tiny Metal at player’s fingertips to drive their enemies off the map.
Over the course of the 39 mission-single player campaign, players control three different factions, each with its own motives and goals. Whether they are aiding Commander Wolfram’s hunt for her missing brother, helping Captain Gries search for alien artifacts, or aid Lord General Tsukomo confront a mysterious new enemy, Area 35 is hoping to give players reasons to spend time in this world. Along with the campaign, Full Metal Rumble also boasts a robust skirmish mode, for when a player just wants a one and done battle.
While they are aiming to give players a story filled with character, Area 35 is also looking to add several new tactical features to the battles of Full Metal Rumble, greatly increasing the depth of the strategic experience. Units will now have tracked facing, this allows attacking units bonuses for engaging enemies from the sides or rear. The new focus fire options rewards skillful commanders who coordinate their units attacks and assaults give the player the ability to drive enemies from squares preventing city captures and breaking up enemy formations.
The campaign also takes place in an open world that will include optional side missions, which become available as the player progresses through the campaign. I liked the look of the big and open map, Travel between missions takes direct control from the player style, as opposed to the usual little figure walking along a predetermined path used in most turn-based mission games. That being said, side missions won’t be the only unlockables in the game. There are also special “hero units” that unlock as you play through the game. While I wasn’t able to learn too much about them, these unique units will add some extra punch to any commander’s army.
While the game I saw was impressive, I was equally impressed by the passion, and perspective of the development team. There was a strong sense of pride in the fact that they were a multicultural team, explaining that they were aiming to bring the best parts of both western and Japanese gaming to their project.
At the request of many of their fans, Area 35 increase the presence of female characters. In the original Tiny Metal, only one of the characters in the game was female. Upon hearing their fans’ disappointment, they have greatly increased the role of women in their narrative. And they left me looking forward to seeing how these characters’ stories play out.
The last thing I feel that I must talk about is the music. The team was kind enough to gift me a CD with several tracks from the score, composed by Tomoki Miyoshi, known for his work on I am Setsuna, Lost Sphear, and Steins; Gate. And so far, they are a pleasure to listen to. Filled with a classical style and compositions that lend an epic punch, the soundtrack lends weight and scale to the cartoonish visuals.
With all these elements coming together I am greatly looking forward to the spring release of this Nintendo Switch exclusive. Turn-based strategy games have always held a special place in my heart as some of the most challenging experiences I’ve genuinely enjoyed having in video games. And between introducing new mechanics, and the feeling of love and passion for the genre as a whole, I look forward to getting to test my tactical metal again with this promising game.