Twin stick shooters are an overcrowded genre so it's great to see one that has an innovative concept. Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops allows players to control multiple soldiers at once in a simplistic and fun little package.
There is almost no story in Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops, but you don't really need one. Basically, there's a war that the troopers have to fight. A handful of silly cutscenes play between operations that act as fun rewards for all of your hard work. The art and voice acting are well done as they add quite a lot of enjoyment to these kooky scenes. The game is a compilation of two campaigns (Soldier and Spec Ops) and each one finishes with a cliffhanger ending.
The graphics and sound are pretty generic for the most part. The soldiers mostly look the same except for their faces which are unique and cartoony. Stages appear clean yet a bit blocky and don't offer much variety as there are only a handful of environments. You'll fight in places like jungles, deserts, and snowy tundra. Each environment does a decent job of portraying its uniqueness although they become tiresome after a while. The main menu's orchestral music would lead you to believe that the game has a good soundtrack, but there is absolutely no music throughout the entire first campaign. A fanfare occurs when you beat missions which adds to the reward, but the barren audio during missions leaves a lot to be desired. The second campaign features some orchestral pieces during the missions that make the game feel more cinematic. Sound effects from gunfire get annoying since it's loud and repetitive. Characters react with high pitched vocalizations as they get hurt and die which adds some variety to the audio but not enough to make it satisfying.
Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops features the innovative concept of having players control multiple troopers at once. This means that they all move and shoot synchronically to your controller commands. Controls are simple with one stick used for moving and the other for shooting. You can press a button to make your troopers take cover by lying on the ground although I didn't find any situations that make this clearly beneficial to do so. Three of the shoulder buttons are reserved for using explosive pick-ups that include grenades, rockets, and air strikes. These are a lot of fun to use as their destructive power can be immense. However, aiming them is counterintuitive as the cursor appears flush with the screen and not with the ground so it may be hard to tell where you're aiming in various topography. Another thing that I find annoying is that the start button doesn't pause the game. Instead, you can push X to bring up a map screen or triangle to bring up the support menu. At times, some troopers may get stuck behind obstacles although they will find their way back to the troop most of the time. However, sometimes they may not, and you will get frustrated as you watch them struggle in a part of the stage that you can't access easily. Overall, the controls are simple and serviceable but can be troublesome every now and again.
One area that Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops excels at is content. There are 58 missions and 5 zombie survival stages. The missions have various objectives such as destroying certain objects, escaping to a helicopter, protecting journalists, and simply surviving. Although these sound diverse, most missions devolve into simply shooting everything you can. There are a few vehicle stages where you shoot from the roof of an automatically moving truck, but these are quite boring and don't help much when it comes to mixing up the gameplay. The zombie survival stages follow the "see how long you can survive and get a high score" formula and each has its own leaderboard. They are quite fun and a decent challenge for gamers looking to climb leaderboards. Essentially, the amount of content is substantial but the mission variety is certainly lacking.
Missions contain a decent amount of collectables. You can beat missions on one of three difficulties and collectable bullets are unlocked for each one. You can also find medals (that aren't hidden very well) which you can exchange for either permanent unlockables or temporary benefits. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of them, so you have to make sure to spend wisely. An interesting dynamic is that troopers increase in rank as they survive. Higher ranked troopers will have better stats. When a trooper dies, they get replaced with a lower ranked trooper, but you can revive them by spending some medals. Therefore, you must make a decision whether this is worth the expense or not. You earn money by almost every action you take which can be exchanged for supplies in the middle of a mission, recruiting an additional trooper for the next mission, or permanent upgrades and costume unlockables for your troopers. Obtaining money and upgrading is a satisfying component since it contributes to the sense of progression as you advance.
Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is a fun game that will be best enjoyed by gamers looking for a simple twin stick shooter. If you're looking for something more flashy or intense, then this game probably isn't for you.
- + Controlling multiple troopers at once is a unique concept that works well
- + Contains two lengthy campaigns
- + Zombie survival missions are a fun distraction
- - Generic graphics and sound
- - Troopers may get stuck in certain areas
- - Missions don't offer enough variety