Mimimi Productions won an award for The Last Tinker: City of Color–then called Tink–at Game Connection Europe in 2011 and has been toiling away at the puzzle/platformer ever since. The game borrows elements from many popular platformers but doesn’t do anything spectacular with them. The end result is a subpar platformer without a compelling story to keep gamers engaged.
Players control Koru, a monkey who also happens to be the last Tinker in the City of Colors. The game’s introduction is slow; new movesets are doled out during the course of play. Early on, players are introduced to the game’s platforming mechanics. Unlike typical platformers, The Last Tinker does away with the ability to jump, at least in the usual sense. There is no dedicated jump button. Instead, there is a button that when held down allows Koru to hop automatically between obstacles. This makes moving across obstacles seamless and looks cool but also leaves the platforming aspects of the game feeling automatic. The only threat of danger is during a timed event, such as an octopus retracting his tentacle thereby causing the player to fall in the water. For a platformer, this is an odd choice.
At some points in the game, Koru grinds along on hanging rails in a fashion very similar to a certain blue hedgehog. These portions require the player to jump between rails and over obstacles. Timing requires a little too much precision, though it wouldn’t be so punishing if playersvdidn’t have to start at the beginning of the rail with each failure. The camera has a hard time keeping up in some of these sections, leaving players with only a split second to time a life-saving jump.
The combat in Last Tinker is smooth, but leaves much to be desired. Players can string together attacks against nearby enemies and switch seamlessly between targets. However, there is little variation between attack animations. Over the course of the game, new attacks are unlocked, though they all consist of punching enemies. One punch fears enemies, one immobilizes and the third simply damages. Players can also attack at range and apply the same debuffs.
At its heart, The Last Tinker is a puzzle game. One of the earliest moments in the game involves an interaction with a mushroom character who has a variety of uses that expand as the game goes on. The mushroom can be led around by whistling–a mechanic that is problematic. The range at which he will respond to the whistle is short, meaning players will need to stay close. The whistling sound can be a little grating, especially since it must be pressed frequently.
Puzzles surrounding the mushroom involve blowing up obstacles, navigating him through pipes, and even riding on his back. The puzzles are where this game shines, though they can sometimes be frustrating to solve.
The Last Tinker is a pretty game full of vibrant colors and cartoon-like visuals. All of the inhabitants of the City of Colors look like they could have been ripped from a Saturday morning cartoon. The world is inhabited by lizards, bears, turtles, and for some reason, a single monkey.
The city is divided into three sections: green, red and blue. Each section has slight differences but the only true discernable difference is the color. While the various environments are pretty to look at, there is nothing to distinguish any level apart from the next. It all starts to blur together, making it difficult to navigate. Thankfully, there is a guide system built into the game.
The Last Tinker attempts a papercraft visual style similar to games like Little Big Planet or Tearaway. There are cute touches such as the smiling face of the sun who–spoiler alert–you high five at one point. The visual style feels derivative and does little to stand on its own two feet. A game like The Last Tinker would have felt more at home a generation or two ago.
The soundtrack is appealing and doesn’t get in the way of the action. Background music does a good job setting the tone for the game. In fact, the music is where the game differentiates between levels. There is a distinctly French sound in the blue district that helps set it apart tonally.
There is no dialogue in the game apart from an initial narration to set up the story. Characters all speak in silly sounds as a speech bubble pops up to fill in the context. Sound effects for attacks and environmental interactivity is all very satisfying. Sound design is very well done and one of the few areas that stands out.
The Last Tinker is the story of a city that is divided by prejudice and must unite to fight a common foe. While that may sound like an engaging plot, it is far less exciting in practice. The tone is meant to be lighthearted throughout and it sticks to that. Koru is a monkey and he also happens to be the last tinker in the city of colors. What is a tinker, you may ask? That’s a question I’m still asking myself.
We are led to believe that a tinker has the power to build and fix things, though this aspect rarely comes up in gameplay. Instead, the tinker is much more involved with using the powers imbued to him by the color spirits.
Early on, Koru, assists the purple color spirit in a simple mission that turns out to be the city’s downfall. The purple spirit turns out to be evil and unleashes a white bleakness upon the world. Koru’s main quest after this is to unite the color spirits and the people of The City of Colors to defeat this bleakness. The story is divided into bite-sized chunks in between relatively innocuous side quests.
The story feels disjointed and the elements that make up this world are relatively nonsensical. As far as a game for children goes, I’m sure The Last Tinker could keep kids interested. But it does nothing to keep an older audience engaged.
The Last Tinker is a passable game for its target audience. It doesn’t take any risks with its genre and ends up feeling like a hodge-podge of elements from other puzzle/platformers. It stands out as a visually appealing game with an enjoyable soundtrack but in terms of gameplay, it is severely lacking.