Review: The Last Tinker: City of Colors (PS4)

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Title: The Last Tinker: City of Colors
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.3 GB)
Release Date: August 20, 2014
Publisher: Unity Games
Developer: Mimimi Productions
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
The Last Tinker: City of Colors is also available on Xbox One, PC and OS X.
The PlayStation 4 version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Gameplay:
You play as an anthropomorphic monkey-boy named Koru which is Japanese for black. Koru, along with the help of his friend Tap, is initially just trying to enter the big race in the Outer Districts of the City of Colors. There are lots of obstacles in Koru’s way. A busted gate sends him detouring around the area until he discovers there’s been an entry fee of five hundred gems added to this year’s race!

You’ll have to raise the money by punching boxes and other breakables but there are two characters with tutorials to complete and when you’ve done so they’ll each contribute half of the fee. As always it’s good to collect as much loot as you can but don’t sweat the race fee.

Your overall goal is to reunite the Red, Green and Blue districts of the city in order to defeat The Bleakness, an enemy which is set upon wiping the slate clean by removing all color from the city. Where The Bleakness came from, who brought it, and why, are all mysteries resolved at different points throughout the game.

You’ll help the inhabitants of each district solve some of their own problems and then make your way to the Dome wherein lives the spirit of the district. Red, Green, and Blue each have their own personalities and issues holding them back.

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There are a variety of challenges to overcome. Sometimes you’ll be fighting The Bleakness in the form of small creatures and sometimes you’ll have to man a cannon for a big baddie, or even conduct a colorful orchestra! By the end of the game you’ll have solved everyone’s problems and learned a valuable lesson in diversity. Which is a great thing for a game with an easy setting called Kid’s Mode.

Gameplay consists of three basic elements; puzzles, platforming and pummeling very much in the tradition of Ocarina of Time. Puzzles present themselves environmentally. You may need to move characters, usually the ubiquitous exploding Biggs/Bomber, from place to place to stand on a switch or blow-up a wall. You will even need to ride Biggs around on occasion.

Pro Tip for Riding Biggs:
In the Green District you’ll need this info: be sure you’re standing directly behind Biggs when you hit the triangle button or you’ll only scare him and not jump on his back. The instructions in the game do not specify this.

Platforming is tougher than it seems. There is no jump button. There is holding R2 which allows you to run, jump on rocks and bobbing tentacles, and ride rails… and die over and over in timing the rail jumps and bobbing tentacles.

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Pummeling is varied and fun. You’ll be tutored in basic hand-to-hand combat early on. Be aware that some of the instructions in the game are vague. In particular the Dodge Punch instructions are wrong. They basically tell you to add the square button after the R1 + Left Analog Stick. If you do that you will be stuck in the tutorial.

Pro Tip for Dodge Punch:
Hit R1 and then Square Button immediately and DO NOT USE THE ANALOG STICKS.

Besides the plain mano a mano combat you’ll earn upgrades from each District’s spirit. The strength of Red, the fear of Green and the immobility of Blue all come in handy. They have a different quality when using their corresponding power which is a kind of area of effect power dependent upon first filling your meter by collecting blue orbs or just by hitting enemies.

If you keep trying to cross a body of water and can’t make it because the tentacles keep sinking too soon… use your green power to slow time!

While gameplay is fun and engaging and challenging even on Kid’s Mode, The Last Tinker does have one annoying hold-over from those N64 and GameCube days, saving.

There are plants called Tinker Seeds which spring to life when you enter each new area. Do not be mislead. They are not saving your game. They are only respawn points. The game only saves after each area. If you get frustrated or need to stop for dinner half-way through a large area you will have to start again from the beginning of that area. Some areas are large with different goals and repeating play you’ve done already. While typical of 1998, this is a bummer in the Summer of 2014.

The most odd thing about this issue is that while quitting the game mid-District won’t save your progress, it will save your gems and floaty brushes collected.

Strewn about the whole game are floaty brushes. Paintbrushes floating in unusual places. Collecting these items gives you access to artwork, no kidding, and also cool modes like God Mode and Tiny Head Mode and Black and White mode. Herein lies the reason for replaying the game. The main menu offers all levels for replay and even tells you how many brushes you have yet to find. Which is good because there’s a Silver Trophy for that.

Pro Tip for Replay:
Try the game in a different language while you go back for your missed brushes. Warum nicht auf Deutsch spielen?

Visuals:
The game is beautiful from beginning to end. Vibrant colors, muted hues, whimsical character designs, terrific environments.

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The frame rate is unfortunately far from locked. There are times I am certain I am seeing 60 frames per second but mostly it’s lower. Then sometimes it stutters and really falters. At one place it stops cold every time for about a half a second and at another it jitters like crazy.

While these visual incongruities are surprising they don’t ever break the game or affect any other elements.

Audio:
A wisely economical choice to make all the characters speak fluent gibberish while we read what they’re saying in English, French, Italian, German or Spanish hardly ever goes awry. It can be slightly irritating if you don’t hit pause to shut them up when you go potty during a dialogue section.

Overall the audio is appropriate. The score is almost as colorful as the city where it sits. However, one piece of music blew me away. It sounds like the music from an ABC After School Special starring Kristy McNichol… on a rainy, Autumn day in 1975. It’s lead by trumpet with piano accompaniment in a minor key. The piece occurs during the Blue District…you can’t miss it.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a fun and, with only minor complaints, beautifully executed game. The whole family can play at levels from Kid’s Mode to more challenging difficulties. The story is non-objectionable and moral which is something you don’t hear often. I really enjoyed its nostalgia.

This is a no-brainer buy at such a low price.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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