Being a colorful 3D puzzle platformer, Tin & Kuna is a surprising title in the lineup for publisher Aksys games, a company we mostly associate with visual novels. Here’s our take on something quite different from them, as we take a look at the game on a PS4. The game, developed by Black River Studios, has also been released on the Switch, Xbox One and PC.
While in some screenshots Tin & Kuna looks like a platformer in the Yooka-Laylee mold, it’s actually a bland of classic 3D platforming and elements from games like Super Monkey Ball and Marble Madness. Thrown in puzzles and the need for some precision platforming, and it’s far more challenging that we initially thought it was going to be.
Rather than a little marble, you control an armadillo that can turn itself into one – making for one of the cutest takes on the marble roller subgenre yet when you also consider the colorful surroundings that the game takes place in. But while kids will certainly enjoy watching these characters and visuals, the actual gameplay is quite demanding and not too kid-friendly unless they have a fair share of experience with gamepad controls.
Tin & Kuna is level-based, and the objective of each level is to nudge a round power crystal into a small hole – reminding me of certain levels in Pac-Man and Ghostly Adventures. But while that game gave you direct control over the ball that needed to go into the target hole, here you’re a small armadillo hoping to knock the ball into the right direction. Physics come into play, and it can be quite challenging to get comfortable with.
Part of that is that the game regularly and quickly throws new gameplay mechanics at you, challenging you to overcome new obstacles or enemies that stand in your way. You also gain new abilities, like the option to pull a power crystal along with you rather than just nudge it. The game has 40 levels to play through, but I would have been happy to tackle twice that number just for a gentler learning curve. As it is, many levels can be quite punishing, requiring frequent restarts after falling off a cliff or taking damage. There are no mid-level autosaves either, so frustration can definitely creep in when you use up your life points quicker than you were hoping to.
With additional collectibles as well as optional objectives in each level, there’s plenty to enjoy and go back to in Tin & Kuna as well – though the prospect of going after these in some levels seems a little daunting as I had plenty of trouble just barely beating the level the first time I tried. A more forgiving difficulty level would certainly help in this regard, perhaps with checkpoints or unlimited (or more generously distributed) health to help you get through the game before tackling it again at higher difficulty levels.
For those who enjoy a challenge, Tin & Kuna is a fun puzzle platformer with lovely visuals. I’d love to see these characters return in other adventures as well, perhaps a straight up platformer – that way, it might also connect with a new audience of younger players who aren’t ready for a tough challenge like this one. If you are, then the diversity in mechanics and objectives should certainly entertain you for a good while!