Are you tired of waiting for a new Pikmin game? Did Hey! Pikmin completely erode your faith in Miyamoto, and the future direction of the franchise? If that’s the case, I can’t help you. Instead, could I interest you in Tinykin? It has nothing to do with Pikmin, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a spiritual successor thanks to a number of surface level similarities. Trust me when I tell you that I was thinking the same thing. However, Tinykin is a collectathon platformer, instead of a real-time strategy game. It’s also pretty fun, so allow me to make my case for why you should give it a looksie.
As previously mentioned, Tinykin is a platformer in the vein of Mario 64, or Banjo Kazooie. Players roam around a variety of levels doing light platforming, while collecting a variety of different goodies. However, very little emphasis has actually been put on the platforming as Milo, the game’s protagonist, can only do a singular jump. This has the drawback of making the platforming quite simplistic, but also allows it to be far more approachable.
In place of strong platforming, Tinykin puts a much greater emphasis on collection. You’ll be gathering all manner of things as you explore each of the game’s levels – chief among them the eponymous Tinykin. Every level requires players to assemble a fresh horde of the critters to make use of their unique abilities. For example, pinkies are swol chads, so they’re able to lift and move heavy objects. By contrast, the volatile red Tinykin explodes when thrown, so they can clear debris from your path.
As you may have surmised, the different types of Tinykin are where the game derives the bulk of its complexity. Each level introduces a new mechanic, by way of your army of adorable gremlins, before the final one tests the player’s aptitude with the full suite of abilities. This allows each stage to explore fresh ideas to the fullest, moving on just before they become boring. That provides the whole of Tinykin with an excellent sense of pacing, which kept me glued to the game from start to finish.
There’s far more to collect beyond just Tinykin though. You’ll also be collecting pollen, which is the primary source of upgrades. Pollen is scattered throughout the level, and after players collect 85% of it, they’re able to trade it to an NPC for an upgrade to their hovering ability. This allows for longer stints of airborne travel, which makes traversal far easier. In some instances, having your hover upgraded can allow you to outright bypass obstacles. It’s also required for gathering relics, special collectible rewards from completing side quests, so completionists will want to keep their pockets loaded with pollen.
Speaking of quests, each level features a handful of them, along with an overarching goal that players must complete before moving onto the next stage. This takes the form of a multi-part quest that will see players exploring the majority of a level to gather a handful of objects themed around some kind of goal. As an example, in the first proper level you’re asked by the religious leaders to share a divine song of the Gods with everyone. To that end, you’ll need to repair their house of worship, fix the stereo that looks over the living room, and insert the CD with the song so that it can be played for all to hear. It…makes more sense in context. Trust me.
By contrast, side quests are far more direct than the main quest. They are usually isolated to a single area within the level, and ask players to use their Tinykin to offer assistance to someone in need. In one of my favourite side quests, you help to exchange gifts between a couple whose parents don’t approve of their relationship. The conclusion was quite sweet, but I’ll leave you to figure out what happens when you play the game for yourself.
The quirkiness of the main and side quests folds into a point I wanted to make about the whole of Tinykin: it’s very charming. The character designs, the little noises that Tinykin make as you whip them around, and the environment all have a certain je ne sais quoi. Because you’re exploring a human house from the perspective of an ant, there’s a lot of fun ways that the level designers play with everyday objects. One of my favourites was how the farms in the kitchen level were built on top of scrubbing sponges that used the green side to look like grass. That’s just one example of the kind of goofy details that you can find littered throughout the game. It’s all very imaginative, and helped maintain a dumb grin on my face as I was playing.
So that’s Tinykin. Despite the relatively simplicity of the platforming, I still found it to be an absolutely delightful game to play through. Tinykin is calibrated perfectly, giving players new mechanics just as old one start to wear thin, while also keeping objectives varied enough. There’s also an indescribable charm to the whole thing. If I’ve managed to pique your interest, even a little, then I’d encourage you to check out Tinykin on your platform of choice. It’s presently available on all major platforms and Game Pass.