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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Tinykin and Recontextualizing the Familiar

Towards the end of 2022, I was trying to think of any games that I had wanted to write about, but just hadn’t gotten around to. It felt like things got a little backed up in my games writing last year, between some personal life delays, writers block on the Neon White article, and my non-games writing (like baseball and playlists) just taking up more time than anticipated. I might still end up writing a little more about games that I played last year (especially if playing them bled into this year), but at the start of 2023, when I thought about everything I played over the last twelve months and any lingering thoughts I had on them, there was one game that I kept returning to.

For a while, though, I wasn’t actually sure exactly what I wanted to say about Tinykin. I really enjoyed it, but there are only so many ways that you can say variations of “it’s good” and “I like it” before a review becomes boring, and I was a little busy sorting through other thoughts to pull together more than that. But over time I kept thinking about it, and I eventually realized that I did have a little bit more to say than just basic praise!

So, let’s start at the top: Tinykin is a 2022 3D platformer from developers Splashteam. It comes with a pretty simple pitch: what if Pikmin was a collect-a-thon platformer instead of a real-time strategy game? As far as basic crossover pitches go for a game idea, that one feels like it has a lot of promise; and it turns out, that’s pretty much dead-on! Of course, like any good cross-pollination of ideas, there are a lot of things that can’t be carried over one-to-one, and I think that Tinykin nails those elements in a way that gives it a lot of its own character and makes it even better than its simplistic idea sounds.


It starts at the beginning, really; protagonist Milo is a small person who finds himself stuck on an Earth that’s much too big for him. Unlike the protagonists of Pikmin, though, Milo is a scientist, searching for the origins of his people and planet. And his search strands him not outdoors, but in a house that looks stuck sometime in the 1990s, with VHS tapes and dated appliances everywhere. And inside, he finds these small creatures, the titular Tinykin, who are drawn to him; as you might have guessed from the Pikmin comparison, each variation has special abilities that he can make use of.