Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops combines the best features and missions from its mobile counterparts, packaging the popular smartphone series’ first two titles together for PlayStation platforms. Does this port march onto Sony’s systems with success, though – or is it an overpriced clone doing the console rounds?
The game definitely makes a strong first impression; its cute cartoon aesthetic is reminiscent of Team 17’s charming Worms titles. The gameplay is decidedly throwback, too, as it plays a little like an old favourite: Cannon Fodder. Unfortunately, while the release appears fun at first, you’ll quickly realise that despite bursting with content, the title is very samey and repetitive.
You’ll start out picking a soldier from a list of four, and then you’ll be introduced to a mission screen across multiple locations. Each objective grants you a set amount of troops to follow your chosen soldier, and it’s up to you and your small band of fighters to kill all of the enemies, destroy a specific target, or rescue a group of hostages. Depending on the difficulty, the score that you achieve, and the swiftness of your completion, you’ll be granted medals and Command Points (CP) as a reward.
Much like the aforementioned Amiga classic, if a soldier dies in a mission, you’ll lose them from your squad for good, and will have to replace them with a fresh recruit. Combatants will gain experience and improved abilities as you complete missions, so there is an incentive to keeping them alive, which promotes a more cautious playstyle – it really hits home when you lose a veteran.
Unfortunately, dodgy path finding and poor artificial intelligence can make for some truly frustrating scenarios; having a squad member get stuck in the terrain is irritating beyond belief. Meanwhile, watching in horror as your team walk into a minefield rather than following your safe path is hugely demoralising. You can revive these silly soldiers with medals at the end of a level, but this becomes too expensive in the long run. At least the same lack of common sense applies to the enemies as well, who will stand in place rather than trying to dodge, fire, or flank you.
Couple this lack of forethought with the fact that you can invest in grenades, rocket launchers, airstrikes, and specialist soldiers and you can really stack the odds in your favour. Furthermore, the accuracy enabled by the PlayStation port’s twin-stick setup generally makes it a breeze to blast through your foes compared to the originally intended touch screen solution – the whole game’s a bit easy.
If all of the above wasn’t bad enough, the main campaign’s story is told through fully-voiced, partially animated sequences with some truly cringe-worthy attempts at humour. At least the zombie missions – one for each location – are a nice distraction, and the Special Ops objectives that are separate to the core campaign show some variety and creativity in their structure – even throwing in some on-rails vehicle sections.
It’s the repetitiveness that really hurts Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops – there’s just not a lot else to see beyond the first few missions. There are some good ideas here – the squad system being the real highlight – but relatively easy gameplay and flawed AI let it down. Worse still, at the time of writing, this series is free on mobile platforms, meaning that even with cross-buy, it’s a purchase that’s somewhat hard to justify.