Lighthearted, cute characters, and a bloody, all out war? Sounds like a winning recipe to me.
Tiny Troopers is a weird game. Everything about it rings of taking two unrelated things and making them one. It is filled with cute characters shooting and killing each other in an all out war. It has a control scheme that seems based on a real-time strategy game, but it requires you to play it more like a shooter.
It’s these odd combinations that left me so interested in the game when I sampled it at E3. After the short time spent with the demo, I had a feeling that this game had some serious potential. The interesting combination make it unlike anything I have played before, and that is incredibly refreshing, especially when you consider the vast number of copycats and wannabes all over the App Store.
In Tiny Troopers you control a small squad of soldiers though a long series of missions (30 in all). The missions come with various tasks such as protecting a group of reporters, freeing hostages or killing all enemy infantry. There is a good variety, so it always feels fresh and entertaining when you enter a new mission.
The missions are part of the campaign mode, which is where you will spend the bulk of your time with the game. The coolest thing about the campaign mode is that your crew of soldiers is persistent. They level up as you play, and if they die, they stay dead. So if you have a guy that you’ve used for a long time, you will want to make sure to play well, or you will be starting with a new soldier.
This level of persistence is great, but there is one small problem with it. You control your team as a group, so there is no way of protecting a certain unit if his health is low. If he decides he wants to move to the front, there is nothing you can do about it. This seems to be by design, and it certainly adds to the challenge of the game. However, it just sucks when you lost a guy you’ve used for a while and it feels essentially out of your hands.
If you want to play a mission you already completed without risking the health and well-being of your long running soldiers, you can select the missions mode instead of the campaign. This allows you to play missions without using your persistent guys. If you want to practice your skills, this is the way to go.
There are plenty of unlocks available to help keep you alive. Before each mission you are presented with the unlock screen. From here you can buy things like armor, extra range, specialist characters and level upgrades for new recruits. These are purchased with in-game money, but you can use in-app purchases if you like.
Fear not, the in-app purchases are never in your face, and you have to actually seek them out if you want them. You earn plenty of money throughout the game, so I never found myself not being able to buy a specialist when I needed one.
You can also call in airdrops during the mission. If your guys are hurt, you can call in a health pack. If you need grenades or rockets, those are there too. That health pack saved me from losing some high level guys on several occasions, so do not be afraid to use them!
The game controls much like a strategy game. You tap a place on the screen and your crew moves there. When you meet an enemy, you tap them and your guys will shoot. You will need to tap an enemy and then tap a place next to or behind your guys to have them strafe while shooting. Just standing there and firing is a guaranteed recipe for your guys to get blown to bits.
I’ve heard people say they wish it controlled like a twin stick shooter, because at first glance, that is what the game looks like. I can certainly see an argument being made for that, but I think the quasi out-of-place control method is where much of the charm comes from. It will take a little getting used to, but once you get it down it is quite awesome.
Tiny Troopers looks and sounds fantastic. The characters and sounds are incredibly cute. It feels out-of-place in an intense war game, but not in a bad way. Hearing the little high-pitched voices spout common military catch phrases such as “stay frosty” break up the violence and give the game a really cool feel. The same goes for the cute visuals. There is just something awesome about seeing your cute little guy shooting another friendly looking soldier in the face that makes me laugh and puts a smile on my face.
I will fully admit that this game is not for everyone. It has a weird control scheme that might turn people looking for a more traditional shooter off. However, if you like strategy games and shooters, this combination just might be for you. Honestly, while it’s not perfect, Tiny Troopers is easily one of my favorite games I have ever played on iOS.
Tiny Troopers is available for $2.99. Get it on the App Store.