Not long ago I downloaded Tiny Troopers to my phone; I knew it would only be a matter of time before a mobile app would transition onto a home console. After all, it’s already happened with the handheld console market. Just look at Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and even Hitman GO.
Tiny Troopers Joint Ops is a game about war, with a bit of comedic relief sprinkled in for good measure. Movement is simple, with a twinstick setup, moving on one stick and firing with the other. Most of the other buttons are used for navigating the menus as well as using equipment, such as grenades, rockets and other power-ups you can collect in game.
One of my favourite games when I was growing up was a game called Cannon Fodder; Tiny Troopers, in many ways reminds me of this. Only this time the soldiers are a little bigger, with big feet and big heads and rather simplistic character design. At it’s heart this is a fine arcade shooter.
The main issue I found with the game is the hole that has been left where the original pay-wall was. As it was initially a mobile game Tiny Troopers used to have In App Purchases; this is one of the main contributing factors to me deleting the app – but for the console release this has been removed. It does however, leave behind a bit of a balancing problem though. As a result the difficulty spike is erratic.
This was mainly noticeable around the 4th level or so. The missions begin to get a little harder in comparison to the first 3. To progress through it you need to have some upgrades for your troopers. These upgrades come at a cost and unless you are highly skilled at dodging enemies you will have some trouble making it past this next level, so you need to grind the first 3 missions for some armour and weapon upgrades.
The paywall would have been placed in front of you to make progression that little bit quicker, to tempt players to part with their hard earned cash to progress quicker. It stops the flow of gameplay and can make the game a little tedious. This is something that needed to be addressed for the console release. I’m disappointed that it wasn’t.
With that being said, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Tiny Troopers is not a fun game. It’s a competent shooter with enjoyable elements on every level. Each mission is different and provides a varying number of missions, from keeping journalists alive to destroying enemy fortifications.
Your troops will follow each other in single-file, and they will all fire in the direction that you choose. However, You only directly control one trooper, and the rest will follow suit. I found this to be an issue, as the remaining troops copy the leader. When you try to avoid enemy fire your main character with usually avoid it, but the trailing squad members, more-often-than-not, just walk into harms way.
The game also utilises a medal system. When a squad member is defeated you’re able to revive him at the end of a mission with medals. Whilst this is relatively inexpensive to begin with, troopers retain their ranks and get promoted as they progress through the game and it becomes a costly affair. Losing a team member that you have become attached to can be a heart-wrenching choice between spending a number of medals or letting him rest in peace.
An aspect I enjoyed about Cannon Fodder was the ability to split my team into two or more and move them individually. Seeing as the D-Pad is not used at all in Tiny Troopers it would have been nice to see this same tactic utilised. Avoiding the whole “caterpillar” style attack formation and adding in a little more choice in the way you wished ambush your enemies. Direct assault or pick them off one at a time?
Each Trooper can have a different skill. Heavy machine gunner, sniper, airborne, medics etc. All can be unlocked so they can join your team. Customisation is covered with plenty of different and sometimes garish camos.
There are three large campaigns for the main story and four campaigns for the Spec Ops team and the Xbox version has some very good Zombie style maps, which every modern shooter seems to have now. I found this to be one of the more enjoyable modes; the further you progress the more powerful you become. Its a nice addition to an already filled up game.
Overall I found that if the game had better balancing it would easily become a game that I would recommend to friends. As it stands it needs some work on the core mechanics to smooth over the hole that was left behind by the removal of the paywall. Although it can be enjoyable, there are moments when gameplay can become tedious and repetitive. It needs some work to make it more balance, as it is at the moment, Tiny Troopers feels more of an average entry mobile-port.
Screenshot source: Gamegrin.com