For people who enjoyed the Advance Wars-like strategy of the 2017 release Tiny Metal, developer AREA 35 is making a sequel. Named Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble, the sequel was featured at GDC 2019 alongside various Unreal games. Epic Games hosted it as one of the recipients of their Unreal Dev Grants.

Characters in the game, from left to right: Captain Nathan Gries, Commander Wolfram, Lord General Isoroku Tsukumo.

Dedicated to Modernizing a Classic

Hiroaki Yura, chief executive officer and producer at AREA 35, said the goal has always been to make a modern version of Advance Wars. Yura discussed the various things they did to make a modern version of the classic strategy title. This included rendering it mostly in 3D graphics.

He said gameplay in Tiny Metal was more streamlined and simplified. New gameplay actions include “Focus Fire” and “Assault.”

The name Tiny Metal comes from the resemblance of characters on the battlefield to gaming miniatures.

In the demo at GDC, these two techniques felt like neat twists to turn-based combat. Focus Fire ended up being somewhat self-explanatory. It plays out like a combo attack with one character locking onto an opponent. This allows another character to join them in a team attack. Assault sounded more vague, but its function became clear—it pushed enemies out of defensive areas like mountains and forests. It could also expel them from cities they were trying to claim.

“[It’s] easy and fast to play, doesn’t get bogged down,” Yura said.

Returning Commander Takes the Spotlight

Yura explained that themes and characters were also modernized for Tiny Metal. He shared that when the sequel was in development, refugee problems had started in the real world, and this ended up inspiring the main character, Commander Wolfram, who appeared in the first Tiny Metal. Yura explained that Wolfram starts the game in a flotilla of refugees. She finds work as a mercenary for other countries to buy food for herself and the other refugees.

DualShockers reported that during the time leading up to the 2017 release of the first Tiny Metal, AREA 35 teamed up with LongShorts to create a story about Wolfram told through Twitter posts. This tale covered various things about Wolfram’s character. While her brother believed that they had to fight for their families, Wolfram observed that they don’t even have a home to return to.

According to the game’s website, the sequel features Wolfram looking for her missing brother, Ragnar, in a veritable war zone. Meanwhile, Zipanese Lord General Isoroku Tsukumo tracks a new foe, and Artemisian Captain Nathan Gries searches for lost technology.

Putting a Squad Together

AREA 35 talked about some of the team behind Tiny Metal. Larry Oji, public relations and marketing senior manager at AREA 35, said pixel art in the game was created by an artist from Octopath Traveler. Yura said the artist was Nishimura, known only by his last name.  

Oji also shared that the game’s character art was created by an artist that had worked on Dragon Quest XI. Yura identified him as Go Takahashi, someone he’s worked with for about 6 years now. According to Yura, an art director from another game project first introduced him to Takahashi.

Although the majority of the team are Japanese, Yura still described them as an international group. Besides Oji working to promote AREA 35, Yura mentioned their programmer Daniel Dressler, who is from Canada.

According to Yura, he and Dressler even worked together on the base concept that would become Tiny Metal.

The demo proved rather addicting to play, something I wanted to continue, but ran out of time for it. The art style makes for some intriguing-looking characters, and the promise of a female protagonist is welcome news. According to Nintendo Life, Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble will be available on Nintendo Switch this spring.

About the Author

Alyssa Wejebe

Alyssa Wejebe writes about games, reads about games, and plays them too. RPG, hack-and-slash, and fighting games are some of her favorite genres. She loves nonhuman characters. One of her earliest gaming memories center around battling her grandmother and younger brothers in “Super Bomberman 2” on the SNES.

View All Articles