Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is out now on Steam and Nintendo Switch. It’s a sequel to 2017’s Tiny Metal, and it plays a lot like that predecessor. So Full Metal Rumble is another “Japanese arcade war game” in the style of Nintendo’s Advance Wars, but it’s also more than just an expansion for the original Tiny Metal. Developer Area 35 has added a number of key features that flesh out the play experience.

I enjoyed Tiny Metal, but I didn’t stick with it. And upon reflection, I think it’s because itedidn’t feel fully baked and the AI didn’t provide a challenge. Since its release, I’ve also spent a lot of time with the excellent Advance Wars-like Wargroove. I expected all of that to work against Full Metal Rumble, but so far, it has exceeded my expectations. And I think I may end up liking it more than Wargroove.

Tiny Metal 2 is a deeper, better game

Tiny Metal 2 is different from the first game in a number of key ways. It launched with online multiplayer. The original didn’t get that feature until months later. The sequel also has significant features that make battles feel more complex and demanding. That includes transport units, an ammo and fuel mechanic, and commander powers.

Transporting riflemen and lancers around the field is now a crucial part of Tiny Metal’s strategy. You want to get them into new parts of the map to overtake cities and factories, and the transport enables you to do that quickly and in coordination with other armored-vehicle units.

The ammo/fuel mechanic means that you now also have to worry about a unit running out of resources. This means your plane can’t just hover endlessly to block a path for opponents. I’ve already found myself rotating units to ensure that everyone has enough ammunition and gasoline to take on the next major encounter.

If you’ve played Advance Wars before, both the transport and the ammo/fuel system will sound familiar. Both of those features come from Nintendo’s arcade-war series, but they are welcome here. They make every fight more interesting since they should keep you on your toes.

The same goes for commander powers. At certain points in the battle, you’ll earn enough power to execute a special move. This might give your units a stat boost or some other kind of magical, temporary upgrade. While having those bonuses are nice, it’s almost better to just have something to work toward within each battle. A lot of times, I get my units in place and wait until we get the hero ability before we actually strike.

Smarter enemies

By far the best improvement in Full Metal Rumble, however, is the improved AI. I’ve only played a handful of the campaign missions in Tiny Metal 2 so far, but I’ve already noticed how much smarter the computer-controlled units are.

The computer knows how to prioritize objectives. If it sees you trying to capture a factory or its HQ, it will drop everything to prevent that from happening.

This led to an extremely prolonged battle for me on one of the early maps. I went into the mission with a lackadaisical temperament because I figured I was still in the tutorial and Tiny Metal’s AI is pretty dopey anyhow. That was a mistake.

It took me more than 30 turns to fight back the AI and protect my units long enough to overtake their HQ. Throughout that battle, it pushed my riflemen units off of its HQ twice right before I was about to win.

Unlike the original game, this has me raring to get back into the game to take on the next mission. I can’t wait to see what the computer is going to do next. And then since it already has multiplayer, I’m going to see if some of my friends want to get in on that action as well.

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