Monday, December 31, 2018

Review: Tiny Metal [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Advance Wars is a series that Nintendo fans have been clamoring to see on Switch pretty well since it launched and with no official mention of any projects in progress turn-based tactical strategy fans have been somewhat in a lurch. Enter Tiny Metal, a game that has a great deal in common with that series but with some flavor and enhancements of its own. While it took a hit on initial release for being a little light on content and including only a “Coming Soon” tease for online play now that it has received the online multiplayer patch a game that had a solid foundation now has added longer-term playability.


Most of the mechanics of the game, and even elements of its visual presentation, will immediately bring to mind the classic Nintendo strategy series. You’ll be working from a top-down perspective, trying to position your troops for tactical advantage, taking buildings, and trying to keep the upper hand against your enemy. New tactical choices like Assault, which force you to take a hit initially but shove the enemy unit back a space, are nice though and open the door to interesting setups. The campaign works as an extended tutorial, walking you through the essentials of the game from the uses of various units to some elements of strategy, and you can also get in some practice with specific scenarios and rules you set against the somewhat iffy computer AI as well.


The game changer is the inclusion of the multiplayer patch that will allow you to play against someone online, though as always how major an impact this will have for you is highly dependent on whether the community comes back to the game to support it. The lobby system is highly bare bones, with you either finding a game someone has opened to play with or creating your own lobby and waiting for someone to show up. While I had success in finding matches two out of the four times I tried the patch is fresh so whether it improves or gets worse will remain to be seen. While the rules can be reconfigured a bit the pressure of having to execute your turn in 30 seconds keeps the match rolling and forces you to prioritize your time and focus. Just whether or not playing random people (there are no provisions I see for ranking or matchmaking) will result in finished matches or people bailing when it is clear they’ll lose no doubt will also be an issue.


It seems like with the release of the Multiplayer patch Tiny Metal is finally meeting its potential, though to be clear the support isn’t terribly robust by any means. The core gameplay is certainly there, and should please strategy fans, but the Campaign’s story isn’t terribly interesting and the computer AI won’t likely impress strategy veterans. Assuming you’re able to coordinate with someone online to set up a lobby and match up the multiplayer patch should make for a great additional feature, but if you’re just looking for a random match-up keep in mind your enjoyment will be subject to some luck both in terms of finding a match and it being satisfying.


Score: 8

Pros:
  • In terms of the strategic gameplay it provides a nice Advance Wars fix
  • A few additional tactical options help it differentiate itself
  • The Multiplayer patch will now allow you to play against others online

Cons:
  • Aside from acting as a tutorial the Campaign is lacking in personality and depth with regards to the story
  • For more experienced players the AI will likely fail to be much competition
  • While online support is nice if you’re not coordinating to play with someone you know your experience is likely to vary wildly, either not being able to find someone to play with or being frustrated by the lack of matchmaking support