[Review] Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble – Nintendo Switch

Written by Lloyd Coombes
  • Developer: Area 35
    Publisher: Area 35
    Release Date: 11/07/2019
    Price: $14.99/ £12.59
    Review code provided by Area 35

Tiny Metal Jacket

Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is the sequel to 2017’s Tiny Metal, a game that drew obvious comparisons to Advance Wars. In 2019, what lessons have been learned from the first game’s first skirmish and does the sequel show enough to suggest it’s a grizzled veteran?

Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble tells the story of the Kingdom of Artemisia, a nation at war with the Dinoldans. There are twists galore, and no small amount of melodrama, but it’s fairly forgettable and is told through skippable cutscenes that can be fast-forwarded too – it’s almost as if the game is aware of how generic its story is, and fully embraces the territory of being a handheld title to be played in bite-sized chunks.

Beginning your career as a commander with a humble trio of riflemen, Full Metal Rumble offers a vastly more diverse cast of units than its predecessor. While there are the usual foot soldier units, tanks, helicopters, and more, there are even various mechs and walking tanks to choose from. With that in mind, it’s the closest we seem likely to get to a new Front Mission title, and levelling up your lowly rifleman to see their confidence and abilities grow is rewarding from your first turn down to the last. Commanders themselves also offer passive and active bonuses, such as a boost to defence or movement options. 

Mech My Day, Punk

Separating Tiny Metal from its much more straight-laced and brown and grey contemporaries is its toyetic visual style which stands it apart from almost every other strategy title, except maybe Advance Wars. Units are cheerfully out of proportion, from soldiers with oversized heads to the least aerodynamic helicopters you can imagine – all bulbous chassis and oversized weaponry. Maps are similarly full of small details and vibrant colours, helping each diorama look cheerfully chaotic in both docked and handheld mode.

Considering this cutesy look, it can be jarring to experience how aggressive enemy units can be. Expect flanking manoeuvres galore, and a surprising amount of bait and switches. The fog of war (curiously represented here as a sky full of boxes) helps hide enemy activity until your units are in visual range, and while it often feels as though the enemy can predict your moves before you can make them, it never feels unfair but remains a challenge throughout.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to turn the tide of battle in your favour. Placing units on a hilltop offers defensive advantages, while foot soldiers can filter through trees to break the line of sight and enact your favourite guerrilla warfare moments. You’ll want to use every option in your tactical toolbox, too – Full Metal Rumble rewards you for completing optional objectives, like finishing a mission in a set number of turns or keeping a certain number of units from falling in combat.

Small, But Mighty

Early missions are bite-sized, teaching players the basics, but once you’ve progressed through the 40 or so campaign missions you’ll likely still want to scratch that tactical itch. Thankfully, there’s a full skirmish suite of dozens of maps, and a full multiplayer mode to take on other commanders around the globe. You can even shorten battle sequences to allow turns to take considerably less time. 

There are some shortcomings, however. Full Metal Rumble has the occasional long loading time, particularly when booting up from the Switch’s dashboard, while the control layout feels muddled at the best of times. Thankfully, these are small nitpicks in an otherwise fun strategy title with plenty of content and a unique sense of style. 

Conclusion

With Wargroove, Into The Breach, and Fire Emblem on the horizon, the Switch is hardly struggling for excellent turn-based strategy games. Thankfully, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is an excellent way to compensate for Advance Wars’ continued absence and stands alongside the aforementioned. A weak plot and some control issues aside, Full Metal Rumble is ideal for battles on the bus, or tussles on the train.

Pros

  • Unique art style
  • Fun combat
  • Varied units

Cons

  • Poor control scheme
  • Disappointingly generic storyline

Verdict

An excellent strategy title with a wealth of content, it’s time to (Full Metal) Rumble.

4/5

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