The AppStore is a great place to find casual variations of more hardcore genres. In this case, Kukouri Mobile Entertainment’s Tiny Troopers, published by Chillingo, takes Real Time Strategy and makes it more approachable to the casual gaming community. Easy to use controls, simple resource management, and automatic leveling up of your characters takes a lot of the depth out of the game, but still leaves in the action filled strategy guided core of the gameplay, and these days, there’s times when that’s exactly what gamers are looking for.
Tiny Troopers gameplay can be compared to another Chillingo publication, Extraction: Project Outbreak. You’re given 30 separate missions spread across 3 chapters, each having their own objectives. To move your army men, you just need to tap where you want them to move to, and to start firing, you tap on the enemy you want to engage. Unfortunately, there’s no way to scroll out and the camera is pretty close in, making it hard to see what’s around your characters. You’re also not able to direct your characters individually, so what one does, so do the others.
As you make your way through the levels, you’ll be able to pick up grenades and RPGs which have icons in the top right corner of the screen. To use them, you need to drag the icon to the area you want to fire them. You’re not able to carry these over from mission to mission, meaning only what’s givin to you in the level is what you have to use. This does add to the strategic value later on in the game, and on harder difficulties.
You’re able to choose your difficulty Easy, Normal or Hard, before each Mission, which has a direct influence on your final score and star ranking. Like most games, Tiny Troopers levels each have 3 available stars which are dependent on your score. How many extra items you pick up within the level, intel, dog tags, and how many enemies, enemy buildings and enemy vehicles you destroy all adds to your score. There are also civilians scattered throughout the levels, and killing them subtracts from your score.
With the score that you earn, you’ll be able to use those points to purchase one time use items from the store, which you’ll be taken to before each mission. Here, you can increase your stats, or purchase specialists to help you make it through the missions. These can get pretty pricy if you decide to use them often, with the specialists cost being between 15,000 and 40,000 points, and if you don’t make it through the mission with their help, you’ll have to purchase them again when re-trying the level.
Fortunately, the stat upgrades that last one mission are not as expensive, with increases like increased range of fire, light and heavy armor, increased rate of fire and increased damage all priced between 3,000 and 6,000 points. In each mission, you can earn anywhere between 5,000 and 20,000 points or more, depending on the difficulty, and how much exploration and looking around for extra items you do. You’re also able to replay missions in the Missions Mode, keep the points that you earn there and carry them over to the Campaign Mode, which makes it a lot easier to use these upgrades.
Along with all of the one time upgrades you can pick up in the store, you’re given permanent upgrades which you can purchase with Medals. Medals can only be found one time, so you’re not able to go back into Mission Mode and collect them again. The Medals are used for training of your characters, which increases their Hit Points, Rate of Fire, Shooting Range, Item Drop Rate and Shooting Damage depending on the type of training you spend your Medals on. There are IAPs within the game, but with the Missions Mode, they’re really there if you don’t want to play through Missions more than once to gain points which you can spend, or don’t want to take the time to go through the levels looking for medals to train your characters, so the game is in no way pushing players to throw down more money after the original purchase of the game.
The graphics and animations in Tiny Troopers are very well done, even though they’re kind of cartoony, the death animations for solders is great to watch, and the explosions look fantastic. There isn’t any in game music, but there is background ambience, with wind and bugs, and the effects sound nice. The music that’s for the menus fit’s the game fairly well, and adds to the military feeling of it all.
With Tiny Troopers being Universal, and having a launching sale for $2.99, it’s a great buy. Considering it’s published by Chillingo, I have no doubts that any issues that arise will be taken care of, and hopefully, the camera will be made so that it can zoom out (which is really, the only issue I’m having with the game, and it’s not that big of an issue…). With the 3 difficulties, Mission Mode, and GameCenter Support with a leader board for your total points, and 20 achievements, there’s loads of replay value, meaning Tiny Troopers has the potential to stay on your device for quite some time. It’s definitely a game you should pick up if you’re into the genre, or are looking for something along the lines of a casual RTS title.