The Last Tinker: City of Colours for PS4 and PC
So, we can all agree that, no matter the quality, nostalgia will ensure we will have a fondness for the games of our adolescence. The 3D platformer is a dying genre, but once it was my bread and butter. Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie were my everything. I even loved the less well received ones like Donkey Kong 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. It’s a genre I really adore, and The Last Tinker promised itself to be a return. Sadly, it’s not quite there, but I had a very good time with it nonetheless.
The Last Tinker takes place in Colourtown, a city split into three districts based on colour; red, blue and green. Although the residents of each district once lived in unity, now they’ve grown suspicious of each other. The player controls Koru, a monkey, who accidently unleashed a force known as ‘The Bleakness’ which steals colour from the town, draining it to white and turning the residents into stone. Koru must unite the three colour spirits, and Colourtown in the process, to stop the Bleakness.
Ok, so it’s all nonsense, but it’s quite sweet and the writing is gently funny in a Banjo Kazooie esque way. The whole thing is a hilariously obvious message about racism, which would be cringworthy if it wasn’t so well meaning and oddly sweet. Not much else to say about the story; it’s as you expect in games like this.
The Last Tinker disappointed me almost immediately in one respect; the lack of manual jumping. The platforming is achieved just by holding the right trigger, which I got used to, but was a little disappointing. The platforming lacks weight or technique, and just involves holding a button and moving in the right direction. The combat is surprisingly decent, with a range of different attack types and enemies. Overall though, few of the gameplay systems work particularly well, although I did enjoy sections where you need to guide weird mushroom men around, which can be interacted with in a variety of ways to get through the environment. One of the worst offenders is a hideous grinding mechanic, which is a shame because I love grinding sections in platformers! It’s the only really successful mechanic in the game, but The Last Tinker is very much an experience greater than the sum of its parts.
The overall experience was, in the end however, very positive one. There’s a certain charm and exuberance to The Last Tinker which shines through, the feeling that the developers enjoyed making this game. The environments are varied, and there are some quite cool set peace boss fight moments. When taken apart, it’s quite clear that The Last Tinker doesn’t really work, but wrapped up all together in a package it ends up being a very enjoyable experience.
The game looks incredibly charming, with a handcrafted aesthetic which is highly appealing. The music is lovely too, and the little noises made by the characters as they talk reminded me fondly of the old Rareware games back in their prime. Without this level of visual polish, I doubt I would have enjoyed The Last Tinker nearly as much. There are occasional frame rate drops, which is a shame considering that this isn’t exactly a hugely demanding game visually.
The Last Tinker is difficult to recommend due to the huge number of things it doesn’t get right. The actual platforming is weak and the combat is bland, but something about it really appealed to me. If, like me, you’re an early twenty-something whose childhood bread and butter was games sort of like this, perhaps you’ll like it too.