Tiny Troopers Joint Ops Review — Teeny Ten-Hut (PS3)
You know the mobile gaming industry is a behemoth when games from there are being ported to consoles. While Tiny Troopers Joint Ops is hardly the first game to follow this path, it may be among the first to be ported to the PlayStation 3, PS4, and Vita. But $8 is a lot to ask for any mobile game, in a world where $4.99 is considered very expensive for a phone-centric game. Does the higher price justify the new console setting?
You play as one to four soldiers, depending on the mission. Using the left stick to move and the right to shoot, Tiny Troopers is essentially a twin-stick shooter. If you’re close enough to your enemies, your troops will hit their target, but start out pretty inaccurate until you level up their accuracy with CP, or command points, which are the game’s currency earned by killing the enemy or clearing objectives. The goals are usually pretty straightforward, and are highlighted by helpful indicators on the sides of the screen. While your rifle ammunition is unlimited, more advanced weapons such as grenades, rocket launchers and airstrikes are limited. If you run out, simply press triangle to bring up a resources menu, where you can order any supplies you need with CP, including a specialist if you have suffered at least one casualty.
Mobile Origin, Console Attitude
Tiny Troopers hides its mobile origins pretty well thanks to its artstyle. Just don’t look too closely at the landscape, or you’ll start to notice low-resolution textures and basic sprites for effects such as smoke. It’s a little disappointing to see even the PS3 under-utilized to such a degree — our unit’s fan was hardly turning as the game was going. It would have been a great touch to see better lighting or more on-screen particles. At the very least, the cartoon-like graphics are pleasantly colorful, and the frame-rate remains solid in all but the most frenetic missions. Also, because DualShock 3 controllers are so much more accurate than any touchscreen, it makes the game incredibly easy, even on the Hard setting.
Wired Productions seems to have taken some inspiration from Team 17 with Tiny Trooper‘s audio work. Most characters sound like they’ve been sucking up helium. They really wouldn’t sound too out of place of a Worms game. Occasionally, as you kill an enemy or lose a soldier, they run through a death throe animation and sound effect. The soldiers end up sounding like infants when they do this, which is as funny as it is disturbing. The game makes up for this by featuring fully-voiced cutscenes, which are good for a laugh or two between the game’s Operations, which are major chapters in the story.
As you play through Tiny Troopers, you will undoubtedly lose a few soldiers along the way. If you lose all your soldiers in a battle, you will fail the mission and must try again. Each character that you control has a unique name and rank. The further they rank up, the more effective they become, with more hit points, accuracy, and other attributes. When they die, they will be swapped out for another random character, unless you pay via earned medals to keep them. The player you lose will eventually be swapped back in to your rotation regardless. It’s a different take on player death, and is a pretty unique twist on the concept.
Rough Around the Edges
The transition to consoles could have used a bit more polish. One more than one occasion, a soldier in my group got stuck in the world, and I had to double back and push him out of whatever invisible wall he was stuck in. I also brought up the supplies menu, placed an order, then resumed the game…Only to find that everything in the game had stopped. I could still rotate and shoot my troops, but they could not move at all, and neither could the enemies. I also found it kind of hard to aim projectiles, with the game focusing on the exact cartesian coordinates that I targeted, rather than the object, such as a tower, that I was clearly trying to hit.
For $7.99, you get cross-play and cross-save on the Vita and PS4 (the latter’s release has been postponed for an indeterminate time). There’s over 50 levels to run through, and a lock of upgrades to unlock. Since it was originally a mobile game, the missions are each pretty short; this would be ideal on the Vita, but less so on the home consoles. There’s a decent amount of fun to be found for fans of twin-stick shooters, but considering the game is currently free on Android and iOS, I feel that Tiny Troopers should have been enhanced further for our HD consoles. If you enjoy humor and pint-sized heroes, grab this game.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.