My review of Tinykin would be pretty boring if I just made comparisons to Pikmin, which I won’t do for a lot of reasons but this being my first time with a game like Nintendo’s little-guy-puzzle game is probably the biggest. But if Pikmin is like Tinykin, I really want to play it.
I’m really glad my first ‘small-time-lots-of-guys’ game was Tinykin though. I have so many special first memories with Nintendo because well, they’re Nintendo. But developer Splash Team has managed to craft something truly special in Tinykin. It’s not often that a developer is able to put together something that feels like it could have come straight out of Nintendo.
Tinykin begins with Milo rediscovering Earth, along with some intriguing mysteries that are waiting to be uncovered, like why there are only talking bugs and no humans? Or why is it the ‘90s?
The colorful and vibrant world of Tinykin is a constant sight to take in, which is something that always makes a game more special to me: a game I almost can’t focus on because of how unique it looks.
Except the part of what makes the graphics so pretty is that they’re also helpful and can highlight who you can talk to and where you can go. And if you get really tiny like a Tinykin and follow me, like I’m Milo, then I’ll explain how (or you can just keep reading).
The characters of Tinykin have a sleek, smooth vibe and are done in a 2D style. Each character is detailed but there’s a minimal nature to them too; you could almost mistake them for icons, except that they’re also animated and move around. Paper Mario comes to mind but you can also see from the pretty pictures in this review.
A big and little planet
Environments are the exact opposite. Locations are in full 3D and possess rather detailed textures, especially by comparison. Carpets, bubbles, water, door knobs, and everything in between are all ready for you to see them from every angle, which is what you’ll be doing as you explore the vertical heights and tiny but big journey of Tinykin.
We’re going light on details relating to characters and story because part of the wonder of Tinykin is exploring and uncovering the discoveries on your own but let’s talk about the location in general.
Tinykin takes place in various rooms of a house but the player character, Milo, is small. Thankfully you’ve got some pretty cool abilities in your arsenal for the mission ahead. Milo has a cool, sudsy, soapbar skateboard, which can not only be used whenever for speed and style, but the game also features plenty of spaces designed around the tool.
Milo also has a nifty bubble ability, which can be used to hover in place for short distances. It reminded me of gliding in the original Spyro the Dragon, especially in how it was used for vertical exploration and progression.
The bubble is activated by hitting the Jump button again and is a joy to use, especially after completing optional upgrades, which give you the ability to bubble-time it across longer distances with the aid of extra bubbles.
In short, you’re tiny, so environments are massive, even though they’re just cute rooms in a house, (with lots of love and detail) and no matter how you choose to move around in Tinykin, it’s fun.
Some games get this and some games don’t but there’s just nothing more cool and video game-y than games where it’s a blast to move around. Destiny 2 and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 always came to mind before and now Tinykin will for me, too.
Each room in Tinykin has different bugs (not the Tinykin, we’ll get to them in a second) that need your help. And you need theirs, too. The bugs of Tinykin have problems you’ll assist with and in return they’ll provide you with upgrades to your abilities, optional items for the game’s extras, and items needed for story progression. After all, you have mysteries to solve and a spaceship to repair.
Along for the ride are the Tinykin, which are little creatures that all possess unique abilities that can help you on your journey. They usually just kind of hang out and do their own thing but they like Milo and start following him around almost as soon as the game starts. There’s a reason why but that’s for you to find out on your own. But the Tinykin are really cute and are a big part of how the game works and plays.
Designated by their different colors, each Tinykin’s unique power gives Milo the ability to complete fantastic feats, like moving massive and heavy objects huge distances, destroying items with explosions, or climbing high heights, thanks to a stack of cute, green Tinykin.
As you move through areas, you’ll find different Tinykin and, after touching the colored bubble, they’ll always jump up out of the ground and follow you wherever you go.
Each area contains a string of 3D environmental puzzles, where you’ll need to either move through or move things to get to where you’re going, and even when things get tricky, it’s a joy the entire way.
You can die if you fall from a high enough height but you’ll immediately respawn near where you were last standing before your death. There really aren’t any major consequences or friction working against you in Tinykin. This isn’t to say the game doesn’t have challenges or make you think. It certainly does.
But Tinykin’s difficulty comes more in finding an item, searching for a necessary collectible, or locating the last few pink Tinykin, so you can use them to move something heavy. And you know what? I miss those games.
Best of the ‘00s
Tinykin didn’t just make me want to check out the Pikmin series; helping the characters and learning cute, mysterious lore also really makes me want to go back and replay Spyro the Dragon, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, Ratchet & Clank, and other old platformers.
The story was actually a lot more than I expected it to be. It could have just been a lighthearted, whatever kind of thing, especially with the clean, bubbly, bouncy gameplay. Perhaps a less capable or just less ambitious developer would have. However, Splash Team lovingly wrapped a rather emotional and gripping story around the tiny but big world of Tinykin. And I’m glad they did.
Tinykin is a meaningful experience that reminds me of why I fell in love with video games. I hope a lot of people play it so we get more colorful and wonderful titles like Tinykin because games like this are what it’s all about.
This review is based on an Xbox Series X|S version of Tinykin. Tinykin is available now for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC (Steam) for $24.99 USD. The game is rated E.
- Beautiful, colorful graphics
- Smart blend of 2D characters and 3D environments
- Exciting, adventurous gameplay
- Tinykin are cute and fun to explore with
- A few moments where it wasn't super clear where to go but it was rare
Juno Stump posted a new article, Tinykin Review: Take the tiny trip