Tiny Metal is the Advance Wars clone you've been waiting for

Available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PC, it's the game fans of the genre have been missing for ages.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
2 min read
Area 35

If you like turn-based tactical battles, Tiny Metal delivers in spades.

Heavily inspired by the legendary Advance Wars games, Tiny Metal, from Japanese indie game studio Area 35, similarly has you controlling a whole bunch of units, from infantry to laser tanks.

If you've played Advance Wars at all, you'll know the deal: Move all your units during your turn (which is equivalent to a day), then the AI moves theirs. Attackers get an advantage as you get to hit first, and a feature called Focus Fire lets you combine attacks on a single unit. A move called assault lets you push units out, but at the cost of letting them attack first when you engage.


The battlefield is bright and cheery.

Area 35

You can capture bases, cities and factories to churn out more units, though there doesn't seem to be an option to combine injured units into one like in Advance Wars.

The rock-paper-scissors idea common in strategy games is present too: Launcher units do great against vehicles, but can be wiped out by units with machine guns easily. Helicopter gunships wipe the floor with most land units, but can easily be taken down by fighters, who can't attack ground units. Using the terrain to buff your defence is an important part of the game.

The battle scenes (in which your units duke it out) are pretty fun to watch for a while, but do get tedious and turning them off makes the game flow much faster.

I haven't really gone too far in the game just yet, but I've been loving every moment. The story is pretty much your typical Japanese RPG fare, and focuses on two factions who are at war, an East versus West type plot, stretched out over about 20 hours. There's a third mercenary faction with their own agenda thrown in for good measure. It's nothing new, but you're here for the strategy rather than the story, to be honest.


Battle scenes are fun to watch for a bit, but then I turned them off. 

Area 35

That said, the game is still slightly buggy, at least on my review copy on Steam, with the biggest being the mouse cursor disappearing in the overland map (you can still navigate with the arrow keys). There's also no multiplayer for now, though that's coming in the future, the developer promises.

While the game plays great on my PC, I'm thinking the real fun will be on the Nintendo Switch , because this is really a perfect game for playing on the go -- and the controls feel like they'd work better on console. I'll be grabbing a copy when it hits the Nintendo eShop, so check back for my full review.

Tiny Metal will hit Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4 and PC (via Steam) on Dec. 21 for $25 (which converts to about £19 and AU$32).