Is it racist that I find myself only able to call this game Tiny Metaru? Technically that is what it’s called, it’s a Japanese game and the announcer says it like that. It’s like how you have to say Resident Evil in the voice whenever you start up a Resident Evil game. You know, the voice you just did in your head. Have I made it clear enough that I don’t have a whole lot to say about Tiny Metal?
What Tiny Metal is, is a turn-based military strategy game where you take territory and send your units into battle. What it does is very little to advance the state of strategy gaming. That’s not to say this is a bad game, far from it. It’s perfectly enjoyable, the kind of game that definitely appeals to a demographic who I imagine have the utmost love for this little darling. I quite enjoyed my time with Tiny Metal, much as you might with a mobile game you play for five or ten minutes at a time. What I liked was the battle system and the flow therein.
In each mission you are given a starting group of troops, and the order of the day. This is almost always to dominate the map and take out all enemy units, maybe also take the enemy base if they have one nearby. You don’t build structures, in fact you have no impact on the map layout at all. Rather than a base, you must send your troops in to take over cities and factories. Cities give you resources, factories are where you build troops. This expands to things like air pads and communication towers where you call in hero units, but never gets too complicated. Same with the units, you have varying degrees of infantry, armour and air. Each unit type has strengths and weaknesses, and they’re all pretty by the book. This is where the game falls off a bit, not once did I feel like anything new was being added to the genre. Everything in Tiny Metal has been done before. Again, this isn’t a bad thing. The wheel has not been reinvented, but if you really like wheels then this one rolls like the rest of them. If gameplay isn’t where this game stands out, what has it got? An interesting plot, a subtext on the futility of war, great art design?
No, not really. The plot is a made up country shot down a plane with the leader of another country in it, so that country declares war on the first country. Also the leader of the first country is a samurai. Also it was all the doings of a weapons dealer who is also a clown. I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure if that’s all correct. The game has Japanese-only voice over, which is totally fine. Plenty of Japanese games are subtitled and still tell their stories well. It might be somewhat down to translation, but Tiny Metal doesn’t tell it’s story very well. Even from a mechanical standpoint, the subtitles tend to come and go so fast you need to speed read to keep up. You can set them to stay up until you hit a button, but for some reason that option kept resetting itself every time I turned the game off. Every time I came back to the game I’d end up playing through a chapter with the words flying past me at a million miles an hour. I’m pretty sure I missed major chunks of the plot as a result.
The story and the art of Tiny Metal are very anime. Early on, you’re introduced to Wolfram. She is the leader of the White Fang mercenary outfit who join you in your conquest along the way. Naturally, she is depicted as what appears to be a child in full military gear including a sniper rifle that’s almost as big as her. Another character, Dante is an old friend of our hero leader Nathan. No real comment on the art for these two, but Dante sure does get all hot and bothered when he meets Wolfram. A woman? On the battlefield? She should be protected, something so delicate and beautiful must be mamoru’ed for all time. The gameplay of Tiny Metal may not be moving us forward, but the plot and the writing are definitely moving us backward.
Tiny Metal is not a great game, but it isn’t offensively bad either. The gameplay is engaging enough, the little battles are nice to watch. Aside from some dodgy dialogue, the plot is largely okay. It’s very run-of-the-mill stuff, it does it’s job and that’s about it. The price point of €24.99 is a bit much in my opinion. At time of writing the Steam version is €9.99, which I would argue is a more suitable price for this game. The game is also available on Switch and PS4, but my recommendation would be to wait for a sale on either of those platforms before picking this one up. I recommend this game at a tenner, not at twenty five.