Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops comes to the Vita after enjoying good success on mobiles and tablets, but don’t let that be a reason to dismiss it immediately. While it’s true that many mobile to console ports don’t go quite to plan, Tiny Troopers is a genuinely enjoyable twin-stick shooter which sits perfectly into the pick-up-and-play category, great for when you just want a few games to pass the time.
The idea is simple enough – you take control of a small number of soldiers (between 1 and 4 depending on the level) with various missions to carry out. Sometimes it’s just to clear out the enemies, others you might be fending off waves of bad guys or destroying communication towers. There’s enough variety on offer to prevent things from going stale over a half hour session, and with each level also having dog tags, medals, war quotes and other collectables to find there’s good reason to take your time and have a look around.
There’s a very cartoony feel to the game as you’ll figure out from the screenshots in this review, but it suits the game perfectly. There’s no blood splashing around when someone gets shot either, and mixed with the very kid-friendly language it’s not a game which will bring dirty looks from others in the room while you’re playing. The occasional cut-scenes are will written too, and brought about a couple of genuine laughs while they were played out. The simpler graphical style also means the game is super-smooth, and apart from one problem when my only soldier got stuck between two rocks the entire game ran without problems.
But what makes the Vita version so much nicer than those you may have played on your phone is the ability to use the two analogue sticks to play. As a twin-stick shooter, it entirely benefits from twin-sticks (hence the name) and coupling that with touch-screen controls which let you throw grenades, fire off missiles and order air strikes wherever on the screen you choose it’s an extremely slick and usable control scheme. You can also make your troop dive to the ground for cover, but I managed to totally forget that was even an option and still managed to survive, so I’m not sure quite how useful it is as a tactic.
Survival also comes into the zombie levels which are present in each section of the game, sending hordes of zombies into the level for you to take out and try to avoid. There’s a good range of different zombies, and animal lovers will be pleased to hear that even chickens have picked up this zombie virus, so you’ll get them attacking you too just for good measure. These levels aren’t compulsory, but they’re a fun distraction.
With levels which range from super-quick 2 minute missions up to more epic 15 minute explorations, the difficulty picks up at a good, suitable pace which added to the option to choose a difficulty for each level means that most gamers will be able to progress through the game and access the later levels, useful when the visual style is so suited to younger gamers. Bizarrely there’s no actual option to pause the game, but you can call in air-drops mid-level which freeze the action while you choose what you want, and you can always just put the Vita to sleep if you want to hold fire for a few minutes.
So as a mobile port, Tiny Troopers is a huge success. You won’t want to play it for hours at a time (such is often the way with a mobile game) but in shorter bursts it’s great fun. If you’re looking for something you can entertain yourself with while your dinner’s cooking, or while you’re on a 20 minute train journey, then this could be exactly what you’re after.
Reviewed on PS Vita