Also available on Android, iOS, OSX, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/10/2019 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
When I first heard about Tiny Troopers coming to Switch, my immediate reaction was “Oh, another mobile game getting ported to Switch. Whatever.” I totally slept on it. I then heard from Joshua French on Twitter that the North American physical Switch release was only going to be sold at Walmart and was limited to about 5000 copies. What’s more, it was retailing for $20. A Switch game for myself for $20 and a rare one to boot? Sure, I’ll bite. So I went to a couple of different Walmarts until I found one with a few in stock and picked up one. I figured it was going to be a stupid, crappy mobile game and that I’d probably try it once before putting it down and never picking it up again. I was quite mistaken.
If you’ve ever played Team17’s Alien Breed, it plays a lot like that. You control between one and three soldiers in an overhead twin stick shooter. Each mission has a primary objective that much be completed, and most have a secondary objective that you can complete for some extra credits to upgrade your troopers between missions. The troopers on your team are randomly generated in both name and appearance, but there is some advantage to keeping them alive; they rank up and gain more hit points as they survive through mission after mission. The story is nonsensical; you’re part of some country fighting some other country, and you’re sent to kill bad guys and blow stuff up. Don’t kill civilians, but if you do, it’s okay because the only penalty is a very mild credit loss. That’s pretty much it. There are three campaigns – the original Tiny Troopers campaign, the Spec Ops campaign from Tiny Troopers 2, and a very short zombie campaign. It’s not fancy, the story is barebones as hell, and it’s not complex, but it’s a fun game.
Despite being a fairly good console conversion, the game’s roots as a mobile game are still very apparent. Every mission feels very similar even with objectives that can range from kill everything to destroy everything to save prisoners. You walk around, you shoot bad guys, you blow up buildings and vehicles, you search for dog tags and medals, and then you go to the extraction point. There are variations from mission to mission, and it never gets so stale that it begins to bore, but every mission more or less follows that basic format. The visuals also show its mobile phone roots – they look fine, but they don’t look great. This isn’t a beautiful game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or a technical marvel of a game like Wolfenstein II. Then again, it’s a budget game you could buy three times over for the price of either one of those two. The character models are what really show the game’s roots – it’s pretty clear that no major changes to models were made to accommodate console play on a large television. That’s okay, though; the game may not look especially pretty, but it’s fun, and that’s really all that matters.
There’s really not a whole lot to say about Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops XL. It’s a simple game, but it’s fun. It doesn’t look especially great, but it runs well. It’s good entertainment for 10 or 12 hours, and it’s cheap, so I’m content with it. No one will remember it ten years down the line, but if you can find a copy at Walmart or see it on the eShop (especially if it’s on sale), then I definitely recommend giving it a go. It’s a fun little game, and it would probably be a really good choice for kids old enough to need some a little more than Babby’s Furst Gaem but too young for something like Doom or Wolfenstein.