Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is a port of two Kukouri mobile games, Tiny Troopers and Tiny Troopers 2, reworked for PlayStation by UK publishers Wired Productions.
I imagine many of you have already made up your mind about this game when I mentioned it was a port of a mobile title, but let me tell you why Tiny Troopers fits perfectly on PS Vita: Twin sticks. No fiddling about with touch controls, no misfires or mistakenly sending your troops into a minefield, you can now play the game with a degree of accuracy that was unachievable on a touch screen.
If you are a sadist, you can still play the game purely by touch and the even when using the sticks the front touch screen is still used for navigating menus and launching grenades, rockets and air strikes. It’s a little fiddly to master using both the Vita sticks and the screen to tap in an air strike but when you get the hang of it, it works perfectly.
The game itself is simple, get your Tiny Troopers from the start to the extraction zone, taking out targets on the way. To spice things up, there are also on-the-rails missions in which you fire from an armoured vehicle, escort missions and other variations on standard gaming tropes, such as protecting a helicopter from waves of enemy troops. The last mission in each campaign, of which there are eight, usually has a timer meaning you have to race across the map all guns blazing, a contrast to the other missions in which you can slowly advance and plan ahead. These missions can get quite frantic with enemies and dynamite flying around the screen and there is an occasional drop in frame rate and accompanying judder.
Scattered across the battlefield are dog tags, intel drops and medals, all of which help improve your troops. The intel can be used to unlock weapon and armour upgrades while medals can revive one of your troopers if they die in battle and also unlock special forces who are essential in later missions. These include extra gunners, medics and air strikes and you will need to put some thought into how to accesorise your team before the mission begins.
The first couple of levels on each game will take you mere seconds to complete but as you progress the maps get steadily larger with more objectives and enemies and these can take more than twenty minutes to explore. With 58 levels to beat, each with three difficulty levels, you get plenty of game for your money. However, I can see the game becoming a little repetitive if you played non stop but I am willing to forgive this as the title was designed for on-the-go gaming and if you are anything like me you will probably only be playing Tiny Troopers in twenty minute bursts on the bus to work.
Each campaign also includes a zombie mode in which your troopers are placed in an enclosed area and must survive waves of zombified soldiers. There is some pleasing variation in the types of zombies including runners, flamers and chickens. Yes, you read that correctly: zombie chickens. While the game does not have a multiplayer mode, there are online leaderboards so you can compare your scores against your pals’.
Graphically, the game is perfectly acceptable with cartoon troopers and a complete lack of blood. It’s not going to win any awards for design but the maps vary with jungle, desert, snow and town landscapes, as well as rivers to wade through and thick forests. Some of the missions also occur at night, which to be honest simply means changing the colour palette of the game, and it would have been nice if the Vita version was tweaked with some extra lighting effects. The sound design is quite meaty with occasional comical touches and some Lemmings-like death screams and cheers from your troopers.
Tiny Troopers is free on mobile platforms but costs £5.49/€6.99 on PS Vita with cross buy for the PS3, but unlike the mobile games has no further in-app purchases.
As a tried and tested mobile game with over 11 million downloads Tiny Troopers: Joint Ops is perfectly suited to short bursts of military action on the PS Vita. With nearly eight hours of content for such a small price it will keep you entertained for many a bus journey to work.