Originally starting life on mobile platforms (iOS and Android) and porting over to the PC and Mac via Steam, Tiny Troopers and it’s sequel have been merged to create Tiny Troopers Joint Ops, released this week on PS Vita and PS3 with a PS4 version to follow.
The game style maybe rather familiar to old Amiga, or even Megadrive players. You take command of a small squad of soldiers which can literally be just the one soldier up to two, three or more (especially when rescuing prisoners).
You guide the soldiers around the game map, shooting the bad guys (you also in some cases, have the option of using grenades, bazooka/rocket launcher type weapons and even air strikes.) The game is presented in an isometric fashion, even though it is rendered in 3D, and gives the diminutive feel to the soldiers that the title suggests.
You are rewarded with command points for kills and the destruction of enemy buildings and vehicles, all depending on the mission parameters, with extra pickups available to boost your command point totals along with medals which have a different function.
As with the game you are probably already thinking of, your soldiers get better with experience, but if they die in the mission they are replaced with raw recruits. Fortunately you do have the option of regenerating fallen soldiers with the aforementioned medals you have picked up adding a game dynamic that certainly can help you out a little.
Having said all that – I learned most of this after starting playing the game proper as the tutorial is awful. Worse still with the tutorial is that it teaches you to move your soldiers, fight and even “take cover” (throw yourself to the ground) using the touch screen. It wasn’t until I was the playing the game proper that I discovered that the twin joysticks could be used! It’s clear the tutorial is a carry over form the mobile touchscreen version of the game and hasn’t been updated to include the PlayStation controls.
The left stick moves your players and the right stick allows you to shoot your rifles in the direction of your choosing. Secondary weapons such as grenades, bazooka rockets and air strikes are aimed by touching the on- screen icon and dragging an aiming reticule to where you want the weapon to go. The triangle button brings up a support menu (which can be exited with the circle button), which can also be selected by touching the C icon in the top left of the screen. From the support menu you can use command points to purchase secondary weaponry or other upgrades such as medipacks and even a reinforcement if you have lost troopers on the mission in question (how careless!) Fortunately you can also use the square button to “take cover”, in game instead of the time-squandering touch screen swipe you are taught in the tutorial. The cross button, in the meantime, brings up a map of the battlefield which the collection (or purchase) of intel packs fills in with enemy locations for you.
With 30 missions across 3 maps in the “soldier campaigns” and 28 missions across 4 maps on the “spec ops” campaign, there is plenty to get your teeth into, but there are a further 5 zombie survival missions to take on as well (four of which are in the 4 maps in the spec ops missions.) It may be worth you doing the first few missions of one campaign and then the first few of the other as in both cases the difficulty level starts quite low.
The Zombie missions are essentially bonus rounds where you take out shuffling zombies, in a never ending set of waves… except as the waves go on, the zombies don’t just increase in numbers, they get more dangerous as they start screaming and running at you, or breathing fire and trying to slag you… or happen to be giants that can take you out with one swipe (grenades are rather useful at that point!)
There are, however, also zombie chickens, which makes up for everything.
The high score on your zombie missions is held on your Vita and ranked alongside an online leaderboard too, so in my case I can currently see how badly I am doing against other journos with the review code. Oh dear, and I know it’ll only get worse with the game being released to the public in the next day or so! (At time of writing.)
Now I have to say I have tried playing this with touch screen only… which makes the game a sluggish hollow echo of what it should be. It’s a title that literally grabs you by the throat and screams at you “PORTABLE GAMING NEEDS PROPER CONTROLS!” The moment you switch from following the touch screen control methods that tutorial tell you to use, the game becomes a swifter, easier and far more damn fun, and you’ll never be touching that screen to move your characters again. I actually feel sorry for those who have put up with touch screen controls on the lesser gaming platforms (that’s mobile phones running iOS or Android, by the way.)
When using the dual stick and “proper” button controls, what you get is a fluid and fun charming shooter, which offers quite a lot for not a great deal of money.
Of course being as it’s me, and you’ll be looking at the screenshots thinking things look familiar. Yes it is basically Cannon Fodder with 3D graphics. No it doesn’t quite (and this is a very marginal difference) play as well as the Amiga version did with mouse and keyboard in combination, but it does play better than Sensible Software’s excellent release did on joypads, regardless of whether they were Megadrive, Amiga CD32, SNES, Jaguar or even 3DO ones. The dual analogue joysticks make all the difference, and a mouse is only a tad quicker on the draw than the Vita’s left stick.
It must be noted that Tiny Troopers is no relation to the latter day Amiga title, Tiny Troops released by Vulcan Software that is far more Command & Conquer than Cannon Fodder.
If this game was being released at £9.99 I would give it a cautious recommendation as there is quite a bit to do. However with a launch price of £5.49 and it’s on PS3/PS Vita cross-buy (no confirmation as to whether this will stretch to the PS4 when the game releases on that later on), it really is very much worthwhile and worth a punt (especially with cross save allowing you to jump between the two formats!)
At A Glance
- Title: Tiny Troopers
- Publisher: Wired Productions
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: Yes (PS3 / PS4)
- Cross Play: No
- Cross Save: Yes (PS3)
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 1084MB