Hold me closer, Tiny Trooper.
Since the birth of the App Store, developers have been trying to squash their PC games down into a form that would work on iOS devices, generally with disappointing results. However, just recently things seem to have taken a turn with games making the jump from the touch screen devices onto PC or even consoles. The latest developer to do this, with the help of publisher Iceberg Interactive, is Kukouri Mobile Entertainment, bringing their simple strategy game Tiny Troopers to Steam and other digital portals for PC and Mac.
Priced at an eye-watering £6.39, at least compared to the iOS version, players can now take their squads of little soldiers into various theatres of war with different objectives, without the need for a touch screen – playing RTS with a mouse. It’s how it should be.
Which is perhaps where most people would worry about a game that has come over from iOS devices – the controls. In Tiny Troopers, everything is kept very simple. Players left click the ground where they want their Troopers to move to, and right click at targets that they want to shoot. It doesn’t get much more difficult than that, with a ctrl-click to use a secondary weapon such as a grenade, which can be selected with a mouse click on the interface, and maybe a mouse click to bring up the support screen or map. Players control all of their squad at once, so no worries there either, keeping things very easy so that the player can concentrate on the fun.
Of course, at this point many armchair generals will be getting quite flustered. But this is not a serious game, which is kind of implied by the title, and has a “Worms” like humour to it, with fun little animations and constant chatter as the little soldiers talk. Even the death animations of the enemies have a fun side to them, with some especially hammy drawn-out death scenes by some of the soldiers.
But war is a serious business and beyond the humour, these tiny troopers are ready to get down to business. Each of the 30-odd missions gives the player a different objective, from defeating all enemy soldiers or destroying all enemy buildings, to rescuing hostages, blowing up communications towers or protecting journalists. Players complete those objectives and then move to the extraction point.
Things do not stop there though. Spread throughout the levels are things such as dog tags and medals which the player can collect. The dog tags, and completing objectives amongst other things, provide command points which can then be spent before a mission on weapon or armour upgrades, or specialists for your team, such as machine gunners or medics. The command points can also be spent in mission by clicking the support button to get an instant air drop of some much needed grenades, or a health pack and such. The medals, on the other hand, are far fewer and give the player access to extra training which generally improves the troopers overall.
Players have access to a near constant supply of new recruits to send off on missions, but Kukouri have built in a lovely hook in the form of trooper experience which allows individual troopers to actually rank up and continue to fight for their commander. Surprisingly, this actually creates a bizarre bond with certain troopers if they manage to survive more than a couple of fights. One trooper I had actually kept alive through several missions only to have him blown to pieces by a tank. It was a sad day in GGUK towers…
Considering how simple the game is, it has a surprisingly tactical edge to it. The game has three difficulty levels and whilst the easiest level can be played without too much thinking, the higher levels will require the player to make extensive use of cover and the environment in order to succeed. The player can also practice tactics by playing through any unlocked levels in the mission mode, which also allows them to earn extra command points, which do tend to get spent quickly. The missions mode uses standard troopers rather than any that the player has ranked up in the campaign, ensuring there are no unnecessary deaths.
Overall, Tiny Troopers plays really well on the PC. The controls have translated perfectly and even though the game is definitely arcadey, it has a hidden depth that will keep any strategic mind turning over. Although the iOS version is undoubtedly the better deal, thanks to the much lower price, if you don’t have access to an iOS device and fancy a bit of light-hearted strategy, Tiny Troopers should be top of your tiny shopping list.