Tiny Troopers Review

A flimsy PC port showcases why this goofy top-down shooter is best left to mobile devices.

by

Slapping a thick coat of cutesy paint on modern warfare doesn't always make for the most entertaining casual combat experience. Tiny Troopers straddles the line between the serious and the silly rather awkwardly. One minute your diminutive posse is comically spraying gunfire while shouting "booyah!" and "get some!" in high-pitched voices; the next you're watching foes gasping in pain and slowly bleeding out on the red-stained ground before they finally collapse and die seconds later. Suddenly war isn't so bubbly anymore. Uncomfortable death throes aside, there's not much about this top-down shooter ported from iOS that feels fancied up for the PC. The oversimplified roam-and-shoot action yields brief moments of amusement that gradually diminish under the millstone of repetition.

Protect the journalists at all costs!

With a plot setup that's little more than "dive in and start blowing things up," you're thrown into a series of 30 bite-size missions that range from mowing down grunts and assassinating dictators to protecting war journalists and performing search-and-destroy demolition runs. Most operations boil down to blasting away at everything that comes running your way. You control a small group of infantrymen that can be bolstered by unlockable specialists for one-off stints. Rather than fiddle with soldiers individually like you would in a traditional real-time strategy game, you control the whole group simultaneously, directing fire, moving, and lobbing explosives en masse. While this is helpful for concentrating fire and navigating, it makes your squad an easy target for the frequent ambushes sprung upon you. This would be way less aggravating if Tiny Troopers handled unit death differently.

Soldiers gradually rank up after successful missions, increasing their killing prowess, but anytime one of them takes a dirt nap, he's gone for good. Even on the easiest difficulty, high-ranking squadmates can perish in a split second when you're taking fire from multiple directions or get hit with explosive mortar rounds. The limited camera angle inhibits your line of sight too, making anticipating and recovering from surprise attacks a challenge. Cheap shots from snipers, surprise tank encounters, and dynamite flingers can all spell insta-doom for your group, forcing you to slot in weaker green recruits when squad members get smoked. Thus, Tiny Troopers throws a wet blanket on the fun anytime teammates perish, because giving up means you sacrifice any ranked troops you have remaining, but pressing onward with only one or two soldiers left is tough on bigger maps.

That's it! Make the snow run red with the blood of your adorable little enemies!

Unintuitive controls further compound the problem. Your squad treks along at a sluggish pace, and mouse-clicking the ground to move while also using the mouse to aim and fire bullets in all directions isn't as smooth as it needs to be. It's tough to change directions when you're under fire and frantically trying to mow down foes before they get too close. Lobbing grenades or rockets also feels awkward, since it requires you to hold the Ctrl key to temporarily toggle your special weapon while aiming, which isn't easy when you're already moving and firing. When you have the time to think things through, these separate actions are manageable, but their clunkiness really gets in the way when combat heats up. Hyper-streamlined controls make sense on touch-oriented iOS platforms, yet the PC has a lot more room to work with--room that's completely ignored here. At its more intense moments, Tiny Troopers feels like a dual-stick shooter, and not having a control option that fits that style of play is a real misstep.

One thing Tiny Troopers does a little differently and manages to get right is the way power-ups tie directly in to the scoring mechanic. Racking up kills and collecting loot earns you command points that you can spend to temporarily boost your fighting capabilities and call in reinforcements. Before each stage, purchasing cheaper one-off perks that boost your damage, increase your armor, and bolster your health is a great way to prep for tougher encounters ahead. You can also hire specialists, such as machine gunners, medics, and other stronger units, to accompany you into the fray for a single run. Even if you spend all your points before you hit the battlefield, you amass more as you go, which can be used during missions to call in airstrikes, drop supplies, and summon other help. Using these resources carefully can make the difference between losing your entire squad and nabbing an easy victory.

Things that make you go BOOM!

Unfortunately, power-ups can also be used to exploit weaknesses in the dim enemy AI. Taking potshots to lure in enemy infantry will spur them to run in your direction. Hide around a corner with a squad that's jacked up on perks, and you can mow down a dozen foes in a split second. They'll charge headlong into your blazing guns. Other times, a simple range boost is all you need. Armored vehicles will rip you to shreds if you get too close, but spending a little cash to extend your firing distance makes it possible to stand just outside their reaction zone while slowly whittling away at their health with small-arms fire. The fact that the game practically encourages you to use these cheap tactics rather than concoct deeper strategies is disappointing.

In this case, it's not a good thing that Tiny Troopers' mobile roots show from the get-go. The minimalistic graphics aren't much to look at, and while the equally streamlined pick-up-and-play focus is perfect for killing time on a car ride or in the waiting room, it doesn't scale well during extended play sessions on the PC. Rather than being used as an opportunity to improve on the original, the transition to a non-mobile platform simply showcases how flimsy the game is compared to other PC offerings--casual or otherwise. There's nothing that makes this version feel special or particularly well matched with the PC, and the fun is fleeting at best.

The Good
Power-ups tie in nicely to scoring
Unlocking special units offers incentive to replay
The Bad
Missions grow repetitive quickly
Losing troops lead to major frustrations
Controls make gameplay awkward in combat
5
Mediocre
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20 comments
Galifron
Galifron

Bought this today not realizing it was ported from iOS. Enjoyable game, but I'm wondering if there's a problem with the graphics. The first missions are at night (I'm assuming) but the ground is black and featureless (except for the tufts of grass, plants and rocks/boulders here and there) - is this just the way it is on the PC - the "minimalistic graphics" mentioned in the review?

 

I'm (behind the times) running XP with 2.8Ghz, 2GB RAM and Radeon 9550 / X1050 graphics card. I spent a couple of hours this morning searching for a game that didn't require Steam (ugh - never works) activation or Shader model 3.0

 

Thanks!

vackillers
vackillers

I thought this was a great little game actually, dont really care what anyone else thinks at this point, this was a game that you can definitely tell has a lot of influences from probably one of the best games that ever came out for the amiga/atari which was cannon fodder!! anyone from back in the day will tell you just how god dman amazing that game was and we've had to wait nearly 2 decades after to see any other game that has even come REMOTELY close to those games.

 

Cannon Fodder in itself was an EXTREMELY fruastraiting be very rewarding game in itself with some absolutely amazing gameplay, that game kept me and many of my friends occupied for absolutely DAYS!! at a time next to sensible soccer and sensible golf (developers of the original cannon fodder). This game is DEFINITELY no where NEAR as demanding as CF ever was, its lot easier to get into and just play, and as comented below, if you loose soldiers you get more recruits that start at higher ranks the more you progress, i really dont understand what the hell this review was talking about when "loosing troops leads to major fraustrations"?? REALLY??? REALLY?? are you seriously going to say that? thats part of the game ass hole... if you didn't loose troops what the hell would be the point in that? thats part of the fun trying to get trhough the harder missions and really getting hurt when you loose ya troops!! thats the POINT!! Your Sir, obviously NEVER played anything of the like of cannon fodder..

 

Going by your other reviews, stick to your console gaming, thats obviously your background before completely trashing a game you have absolutely no idea what its about.... WASD for controls? WHAT THE F***... errrrr... this is NOT a shooter guys!!! some people have COMPLETELY missed the point of this game.....

itchyflop
itchyflop

again probably mediocre on the pc, but perfect for iphones, tablets and more importantly ps vita, DO YOU DEVELOPERS LISTEN !!!!??? :)

 

kukouri
kukouri

The "uncomfortable death throes" are exactly what we were after. As iFanzine put it: "one of the most artfully disturbing representations of war I’ve seen in my years as a gamer".

 

Our inspiration was the Amiga classic Cannon Fodder. From that also came the perma death. It shouldn't be too harsh though, as the default rank of your new recruits increases with every training package you unlock.

 

The community has voiced out they would like to have WASD controls too and that's going to be in an update next week. We also improved the balance on some of the missions that were proving to be too hard for majority of the players. And decreased damage from mines so now most of the time they don't kill your troopers outright and increased the movement speed which really was a bit too sluggish.

Granpire
Granpire

I think all this proves is that mobile games are cheap, simplistic, and fall flat under any kind of scrutiny.

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @Granpire it does not prove anything. Its already known that mobile games are simplistic and are targeted for the really casual markets.

Granpire
Granpire

 @y3ivan My point was that the review almost seems to excuse the game's simple nature when it's done on mobile devices, but not when it's done on PC.I think the game should be evaluated fairly, since it has an 88 on Metacritic for the iOS version, and it doesn't deserve it if this review is anything to go by.

starduke
starduke

 @kukouri Cool. Nice to see an actual dev commenting on reviews.

vackillers
vackillers

 @Granpire  @y3ivan this reviewer has done a great injustice on this game... trust me... just go watch some youtube videos of it or something and make YOUR OWN mind up.. its not going to be for everyone, but to score this game with that dreadfull score, im sorry but this reviewer didn't understand this game at all...

Granpire
Granpire

 @Lhomity We can agree on one thing: The Vita is one nice piece of kit. :D

Lhomity
Lhomity

 @Granpire You're probably better off avoiding mobile gaming altogether then and just stick with dedicated gaming handhelds like the DSi/3DS or the Vita, because gaming on your phone is not for you. Nothing wrong with that though, if you've got a Vita or DSi/3DS, then you're good to go. Its a matter of taste.

 

I prefer dedicated gaming devices, but most of the time, when I'm out or at work, I can only carry around one device - usually its my phone, and usually for more important reasons than gaming.(Technically I don't own a Vita yet - waiting for the Assassin's Creed III: Liberation bundle. Which isn't far off now!).

Granpire
Granpire

 @Lhomity That's all well and good for some people, but the one thing I look for in games is depth, not necessarily "mind-blowing features," and that's something no mobile (smartphone) game can provide for me.

 

And yes, to me, it does feel the same for me when I'm getting a quick gaming fix. A game that reveals the entirety of its core gameplay within the first few minutes is pretty boring to me.

 

The only "mobile games" I like are Vita titles like Sound Shapes or Wipeout 2048. Both great titles that work fine for pick-up-and-play gameplay, but possess great gameplay systems with a lot of subtlety. That's what I'd look for in a mobile game, but the touch-only interface doesn't usually lend itself to that, so I'm always left disappointed.

Lhomity
Lhomity

 @kukouri You're welcome. I hope you guys can get this to Vita or 3ds sometime in the future, keeping the touch controls. Best of luck.

Lhomity
Lhomity

 @Granpire  Would you review a 30 minute television program with commercials the same way you might review a blockbuster big-screen film? A typical episode of The Big Bang Theory may be funny and entertaining in its intended format, but if you stretched that same episode out to 90 minutes and put it in theaters alongside The Hobbit and 007 Skyfall, would it retain its value?

 

Tiny Troopers was meant for a small screen, with touch controls, that you might play on the go (i.e. while riding a train, or waiting at a bus-stop). What feels shallow and repetitive when you're sitting at your PC for hours at a time doesn't feel the same when you're getting a quick gaming fix on your iphone during a lunch break.

 

Mobile gaming is about cheap, quick, easy to pick-up-and-play games, but that shouldn't automatically imply they are crappy if there isn't a lot of mind-blowing features. If you're judging a game, you should be judging it in its proper context, on its intended platform. Tiny Troopers may be pretty solid on a phone, but just feels crappy on PC.

 

Apples and oranges. Its like comparing Pokemon Black/White to Gears of War 3 - doesn't make sense. Both are well suited and very well executed for their intended platforms. Both are excellent, but neither would work well if you could swap their platforms.

Granpire
Granpire

 @Lhomity But that' s exactly what I'm saying. They shouldn't be reviewed in a different light!

 

By all means, casual games can be good, but if this were at its core, a good game, it wouldn't be criticized for the repetitive and shallow gameplay!

Lhomity
Lhomity

 @Granpire  The ratings for the iOS version really have very little to do with the PC port.

 

Mobile games in general are not reviewed in the same light as PC and console games - its an entirely different niche, with touch controls, a different price range, and a totally different audience with their own standards and expectations.

 

Its not hard to see how a game that might possibly be well-executed on mobile devices can be poorly done on a PC or a console.

Tiny Troopers

  • PC
  • Macintosh
  • iPhone/iPod
  • Android
Tiny Troopers is a full 3D, squad-based action-game in a comic style.
Check out even more info at the Tiny Troopers Wiki on Giantbomb.com
Average Score See all 22 Player Reviews
7.4
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