Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is a Tutorial Fumbled

August 10, 2019
Images courtesy of StridePR

I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m not super far into Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble. I’m on the 6th mission out of, according to Google, 36, and I have absolutely no friggin’ desire to keep playing. I’m putting that out here right now, so you can fully understand where I am with this game and there’s complete transparency here.

To be clear: I am not reviewing this game. I haven’t finished it, or put a whole lot of time into it, so I don’t feel like I can give a fair, honest, detailed review. Instead, I want to use this as a base to quickly talk about tutorials because this new Tiny Metal game has a long-winded tutorial at the beginning of each of the levels I’ve played so far and they are easily the worst part of this otherwise pretty decent game.

Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble has a number of more-advanced mechanics that it introduces later on, which is fine and good, and at the start it focuses on the extreme basics- health, unit management, movement, and fog of war. The most-simple things you need to know before you move forward. And that’s great! It gives new players the important bits they need, builds that baseline. 

An example of Tiny Metal FMR's tutorials

The problem with Tiny Metal’s tutorials isn’t the information itself, but how it’s being presented. A single strand of long-winded, uninterrupted, dialogue-style information dumps with zero interactivity to chase down the droning voice acting and textbook-style text. You sit there, controller in hand, listening to a lecture explaining the game’s systems and then are let loose into a mission to put your lessons to use.

I’d call it a dated method, but that seems inaccurate to me considering that 2005’s Gameboy Advance Fire Emblem was doing tutorials for similar systems in a more streamlined and entertaining way. It had plenty to read, yes, but it wasn’t just a single 5-minute read of homework materials, it was a back-and-forth between metatextual descriptions, characters speaking to the player, and the player performing the actions that are being explained.

I understand that I’m comparing a triple-A Nintendo game here, but it’s also a game from 2005, closer to the Wild West “How The Hell Do We Make Games Good” days, and it has a far and away superior tutorial to that of Tiny Metal. 

Simply put, it’s disappointing that a game so new with such interesting systems resorts to such a basic, boring method of tutorializing their game systems that I was bored by the end of the third chapter. I like the systems at play here- the ammo count for units, the ability to heal by combining infantry, limited gas for vehicles, and the slew of “rock, paper, scissors”-style advantages and disadvantages are super interesting.

It’s just presented in such a lame way that it’s taken all the energy from me to play more.

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