Never would I have thought to find Chibi figures in a war game, but that is what Tiny Metal has brought to the table at PAX West this year. The self-proclaimed “Advance Wars Spiritual Successor” takes a huge amount of inspiration from the Game Boy Advance games, but innovates and brings new updates to the field of battle. Do you have what it takes to lead the Artemis army against the invading Zipang? Get Excited! At PAX West, I was fortunate to speak with the Producer and Director of Tiny Metal, Hiroaki Yura. One thing was very clear from my interview, he is very passionate about the game! Hiro highlighted some very interesting details about AREA35, their studio which was founded specifically for this game. Their core team is only 6 people, but with contractors, it comes to about 20. Even with such a small team, they were able to go from a prototype in 2015 all the way to a feature complete game at PAX West in September of 2017. Their launch is planned for December of this year on PC, Switch, and PS4. Yet another astounding feat of AREA35 is that they are planning to simultaneously launch in all regions of the world, and be available in both Japanese and English. New Features Spring Forth While Tiny Metal obviously takes a lot of inspiration from Advance Wars, Hiro made sure to note that it is “not a clone of Advance Wars”. The team all love the original but have added several features to make Tiny Metal its own game. Just a few of the new features are Facing, Focus Fire, Veterancy, Hero Units, and the new ability to Assault. Each feature is highlighted below. Facing is all about the angle of attack. If you can sneak up behind an enemy, your attack will do the most damage. From either side will do a little more than the base, but base damage is applied when attacking head on. With Focus Fire, two units can team up to do even more damage to a single unit. The defending unit, instead of returning fire to the unit that attacked it each time, can only return fire once. This means it would take two unit’s turns to hurt the enemy, but could potentially save the lives of the unit if the pair can destroy the single enemy. Veteracy is a brand new system to rank up the damage dealt. For example, if a basic Infantry unit does 70 damage, after it’s killed an enemy, or captured a building, it will rank up. Now, it might do 75 damage. Each rank up buffs attack, but not defense. Pretty soon you’ve got an entire field of extra powerful units! Hero units are specialized units only available once a Com Link is captured. There are “only one or two com links per map if at all,” Hiro informed me. Sadly my plan of a mass army of just Hero Units was destroyed. One very positive feature of the Hero Units is that they too get Veteracy ranks, and keep them even after the match is complete. I was also informed that each regular unit has a Hero Unit equivalency. Should you chose to tactically Assualt, you can push enemy units out of a tile. However, the drawback is that the enemy gets to attack you first. While this could be a good option, players must be careful not to be too aggressive or they risk hurting themselves more than the enemy. Extended Encounters There won’t be any shortage of gameplay in Tiny Metal. Hiro has stated that there will be 20 hours of campaign mission time, plus skirmish missions. In the end, he said, “it will be possible to spend 100’s of hours playing this game”. In addition to the single player story, there will be multiplayer as well, in 1 v 1 online combat. In most missions, and multiplayer, the Victory Condition is killing all enemies or capturing the enemy headquarters. Hiro indicated that should Tiny Metal 2 come out, they would be “looking to do naval units next time”, but that will all be contingent on if the game gets a positive reception. This condition also applies to any free content and potentially full expansions. It all depends on how successful the release is. Expect Tiny Metal to be in your hands by the end of 2017, and get those tactical mind muscles warmed up and ready!