Hands-On With Tiny Troopers

Kukouri Mobile’s upcoming Tiny Troopers isn’t likely to change your perception that war is hell, but what we’ve played so far leaves little doubt in our minds that the Finnish developer and iOS are a match made in heaven. Kukouri debuted last year with the physics puzzler Mecha World. Now, with Chillingo’s backing, they’re returning with a fully 3D, squad-based shoot ’em up that’s a real indie tour de force!

Mission briefing in hand, the Tiny Troopers begin each level by hopping out of a helicopter and into a war zone teeming with tot-sized enemies who won’t hesitate to shoot them on sight. A no-nonsense tap interface handles movement and targeting alike: just tap anywhere you want your squad to run off to, and tap on enemies to lock on. The Tiny Troopers proceed to pelt their target with a few shots of their own accord but that doesn’t mean the player’s taken out of the action; it’s extremely important to keep your squad in motion once a shootout begins.

Losing a team member means losing a gunner and suffering from decreased firepower, but on the other hand, it’s easier for a smaller squad to slip through enemy bullets. Rounded out by a pinch-zoom for some line of sight reconnaissance and a drag-and-drop mechanic for launching heavy weaponry, Tiny Troopers‘ silky smooth interface will come as a breath of fresh air if you haven’t warmed up to virtual joysticks and D-pads in action games.

Equally promising is the mission variety we’ve seen in the levels we’ve played so far. The Tiny Troopers prove themselves Jacks of all trades by escorting combat journalists, dismantling fortified positions and holding out against waves of enemies surrounding their downed chopper, all in quick succession. Explosive barrels are usually on hand if grenade and rocket pickups happen to be scarce in the current level, and there’s always the option to call in air support if all else fails.

What’s got us most excited about Tiny Troopers is its upgrade and class system. Surviving soldiers gain rank over time, allowing them to access specialties that the player assigns in exchange for dog tags collected during the campaign. Tiny Troopers’ mission structure has specialized soldiers  accompanying the player’s squad automatically on occasion, and credits earned for completed missions can be traded in for an immediate boost to the team. So if a certain mission just seems impossible, returning with a medic or heavy machine gunner at the ready might be prudent!

No gameplay footage quite yet, but we’ll bring it to you once a trailer pops up. In the meantime, check out Kukouri’s website, Twitter account and Facebook page, where you can get the latest Tiny Troopers news and peruse more in-game screenshots. We’ll be back with a developer interview soon!