Tinykin cleverly combines platforming and puzzle solving with minion management in Nintendo’s Pikmin series. The player controls a flea-sized astronaut traveling from his home planet to Earth to trace the true origins of humanity. The adventurer’s journey takes him to an ordinary house occupied by sentient insects who worship a mysterious god. To return home, astronauts must assemble a rocket by collecting common household objects with the help of adorable, tiny aliens named Tinykin. As a fan of “one small in a big world” experiences, Tinykin’s premise and world drew me in, and its gameplay kept me satisfied until the very end.
The best, though perhaps simplistic, way to describe Tinykin’s gameplay would be “Pikmin as a platformer”. Each room in the house offers large, cleverly laid out playgrounds where players overcome platform challenges and solve environmental puzzles using different types of Tinykin. These include pink varieties that carry objects, a red version that explodes on impact when thrown, and a green Tinykin that stacks vertically to form a life ladder, among others. I love how the game introduces Tinykin’s stages one at a time, allowing me to spend the entire level getting acquainted with their unique talents before introducing others.
Cleverly crafted puzzles get better (and more engaging) as you recruit more Tinykins to your ranks. Some obstacles can be as simple as carrying an oversized piece of equipment out of your way. Other missions become scavenger hunts, challenging you to find creative ways to travel the world to locate and retrieve scattered items. Solutions tend to be relatively simple, no matter what form a puzzle takes; Tinykin never forces you to wrap your brain, at least not for too long. I find this level of challenge relaxing but engaging enough to avoid being mundane or overly simplistic. Tinykin’s puzzle-solving abilities have a great workflow that keeps the experience moving, making it easy to get through.
Controlling Tinykin is simple and intuitive, just aim and throw them at the designated targets. I also like that Tinykin can do things independently, allowing me to multitask. It feels great to have dozens of helpers get things to their destination while I happily collect scattered pollen (used to upgrade hover abilities), find missing letters for letter errors, and complete side quests.
Tinykin is a collection of like old 3D performance discs. Collecting items and finding secrets is rewarding as every nook and cranny often hides a discovery. Sometimes it’s bunches of pollen; other times, it’s a missing piece needed to complete a side job, such as stitching a photo with its frame. The world is an oversized, colorful jungle gym and I’m impressed with how each room feels like a living home while still having clear, organized walkways. .
I had the most fun freely exploring and using my Tinykin army to tinker with whatever lay in front of me, such as pushing protruding books or pulling open the washing machine door. Jumping across the kitchen, hallway or bathroom is a delight from this small angle, and the platform feels particularly tight. Ride the soap bars through the zipline to get around even faster and better and locate shortcuts, such as rope climbing, back-exploring. I just wish there was a map because the busy environment makes the quest giver feel like a needle in a haystack whenever it’s time to get a job done.
Tinykin feels solace in a vintage feel. Its challenges never get complicated, nor does its design have to reinvent the wheel, and that’s okay. Tinykin executes some exceptionally brilliant ideas, making it a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing journey that requires only six to eight hours of your time. Don’t let this exciting adventure get in your way.