If you’ve ever played and loved the old Cannon Fodder computer games from the early ’90s, then Finnish company Kukouri and Chillingo have made something special for you. Their new game Tiny Troopers takes the idea of a squad based war game, updates it with some gorgeous graphics, fantastic sound-effects, odd looking bobble-head characters, and a somewhat disturbing sense of humor, to make one of the more enjoyable action games on iOS.
The gameplay in Tiny Troopers is pretty simple. You command your munchkin militia through a series of 30 missions in an attempt to stop the enemy army and thwart their evil plans. You move your troops through a variety of environments by touching on the screen where you want them to go, tapping on enemies you want to shoot, and dragging crosshairs onto whatever you want to target with grenades, airstrikes, or rockets. Simple and effective.
Pew pew pew.
Throughout the game you’ll get command points to buy weapon upgrades or specialists (people like grenadiers, medics or delta-force troops) for the next mission, and if you’re lucky enough to find the medals hidden in levels, you can upgrade your troops to permanently increase their skills in areas like targeting or better health. You’ve got to keep your troops alive though, because if they die they’re gone forever and you have to start over with fresh recruits and fewer command points as well… once you spend those, they’re gone for good too.
The levels are well designed and nonlinear, which is a great idea. Sometimes you’ll encounter a situation that you’re just not prepared for (like coming up on a heavily fortified bunker protected by a tank and sniper-tower) and you can go do something else (some missions have multiple objectives) until you’re ready, or even approach the area from a different direction. If you have the command points available you can also call in for air-drops which can send you health packs, rockets, or grenades to help you out of sticky situations. Missions can range from the mundane, like simply killing every enemy infantry you see, to trickier ones, like escorting embedded journalists safely to extraction points or finding and destroying the enemy’s WMDs.
The graphics are great, with highly detailed, cartoonish looking levels. Explosions are massive and dangerously beautiful, and enemy vehicles are suitably menacing looking. There are also some lavish lighting effects, especially at night, which we found pleasant to look at. We got a bit of a Lego Harry Potter vibe from this game’s visuals, which isn’t a bad thing. Sound effects are equally awesome and do a lot to make you feel like you’re in the thick of things.
The game isn’t perfect, though. Navigation isn’t as precise as it needs to be, and sometimes your troops will wander off where you don’t want them to. Death is permanent, so this is a big problem when they decide to go and hug a landmine. There also is the slight whiff of the game forcing in-app purchases on the player. Since death is forever, command points disappear if you fail a mission (or even if you opt to restart it on your own) and the game is tough, it can feel like you have no choice but to spend your own money in order to get through. When your mission is to destroy all enemy vehicles and buildings and you’re forced to start with absolutely nothing because in your previous attempt one of your troops went and stepped on a landmine… well, let’s just say that your options are limited. It can be beat without spending the extra dough, but it ain’t easy.
Tiny Troopers is a spunky little game, with a dark sense of humor that can be a lot of fun. There’s a lot of variety in the missions, the level design is great, the graphics and sound effects are wonderful, and there’s plenty of strategy involved. We wish the controls were a little tighter and the game’s difficulty didn’t seem artificially hard at times, but overall Tiny Troopers has a lot to offer and is a really great game.