Tiny Troopers is a port of a relatively well-received mobile title. Unfortunately, it’s a perfect example of why some things don’t work in every environment. The first thing that struck me when I booted the game up was the control scheme. The game’s general concept is that you control a tiny trooper (hence, the name) or a squad of tiny troopers and send them around a map, shooting enemies and completing missions.
You control the entire group at once. When you tell them to move; the entire group moves. When you tell them to attack; the entire group attacks. Simple enough, and by itself, not a bad start for a game, but the actual control method is troublesome.
In order to move your troopers, you click a spot on the screen and they’ll start walking there…nothing wrong with that. To have your troopers attack, you right-click an enemy…nothing wrong with that either, but when you have these two methods of control in a game where you need to shoot at enemies and keep moving to dodge their fire, things get awkward, especially since this is supposed to be a casual title.
To top it off, you can’t hold down the left mouse button to keep moving to wherever the cursor is, which seems like a really curious omission. No harm would have been done to the game if they’d just let players move their troopers around with the keyboard and use the mouse to attack enemies, and it’s not like the game couldn’t use keyboard controls for technical reasons. To throw grenades and use other items you need to control-click. It feels like an artificial limitation that just makes the game harder by making it more awkward. This is especially annoying because of the game’s progression system.
As you complete the game’s missions, your troopers will rank up and grow more capable. However, if one dies, they’re dead forever and need to be replaced with a green recruit. This, by itself, isn’t a bad thing, but when you combine it with the awkward controls, it’s especially irritating. When you’re struggling to move your men out of the line of fire while delivering their own attacks, it’s annoyingly difficult to avoid enemy attacks. You’re going to lose troopers, and not because of tactical mistakes. You’re going to lose them because movement is awkward, and surprise attacks are alarmingly common.
Less permanent, but much better-implemented, is the game’s point system. You get points for shooting enemies, completing objectives, and other standard video game activities, but here, the points you earn can be spent on a variety of temporary power ups. You can hire specialist troops that can fight with you for a mission, buff your attacks, call in air strikes, and other nifty things. This system is probably the best thing in the game, but it’s not enough to save it.
While the graphics and environments look good, the game’s aesthetic is also a little weird. The troopers are, as the name implies, tiny. They have big heads and short bodies and their voices are high-pitched and funny. In short, they look cute. However, I wouldn’t consider it totally light-hearted, because when you shoot enemies, they fall down screaming in a pool of blood. While most games about soldiers tend to take place in any time other than contemporary times, the soldiers here wear what are recognizably modern-day uniforms and spend a lot of time fighting in desert environments, reminding me about the real-life conflicts going on in there. It wouldn’t bother me quite so much if the game decided it wanted to look silly or if the game wanted to be a parody of current events, but this mash-up of styles leaves it feeling more than a little uncomfortable.
There have been mobile games that have made good transitions to the PC, but the translation from mobile to PC has to be done competently. 99% of what you do in this game is either moving or shooting, and when the controls for moving and shooting just plain don’t work like they should, it’s hard to recommend this game to anyone. Regardless of however Tiny Troopers worked on mobile devices, I can’t stress enough that the PC version is something to avoid. Your $10 can be put toward much better applications.