Much like Fred Durst once said, “Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on”, Tin and Kuna live by that mantra. And just like Fred and his Limp Bizkits, you may find yourself uttering some explicit lyrics of your own when playing this delightful yet devilish puzzle platformer.
Tin & Kuna opens with details of The Primal Orb – a mysterious artefact that keeps chaos and order in perfect balance. Kuna touches this Primal Orb and releases a spirit that infects Tin. It is then up to Kuna to restore balance in the world by replacing the spherical power crystals that have been pushed off their plinths.
As well as plenty of rolling, Kuna needs to do lots of bouncing. Every level takes place high in the sky on platforms that are rarely connected to each other. The separation between platforms regularly requires precision to reach, as they are well spaced out. And sometimes it isn’t just you that needs to travel between platforms; those spherical power crystals can sometimes be miles away from where they should be.
The worlds you explore are bright and colourful, in the way you would expect for a platformer. They are based on typical platformer themes, but seemingly mashed together. For example, the ice world has electric-themed obstacles, and the underwater world – despite still being set on cliffs and podiums high up in the clouds – features fire traps. These fusions of genres and themes gives Tin & Kuna a unique look and feel to it.
In the beginning, Tin & Kuna forces you into a false sense of security; the opening world has one or two tricky moments but is largely a pleasant introduction. Things quickly ratchet up in the second world onwards. Instead of a gradual increase however, we get huge spikes of difficulty in random levels. This could be from difficult platforming sections, or the level itself having a confusing layout. They are still enjoyable, but the sequential order they appear in could have been tweaked to give more of a difficulty curve.
You have three attempts to complete a level, with hearts and checkpoints dotted liberally throughout each stage. Death is likely an inevitability, but the punishment is small, set at a penalty of restarting the level from the beginning and payment of 25 sparks.
Sparks are the main currency to be found whilst rolling around, but other than being related to an achievement, offer no other use. But what happens should you be reduced to zero sparks? Well, this roving reporter found out and… nothing. If you are reduced to no sparks and die again, then you stay at zero.
Another, more important collectible are the energy crystals. Every level – except boss levels – have three to collect and are required to move on to the next world. Thankfully the thresholds are quite low, so you don’t need all that many in order to progress. However, this isn’t made explicitly obvious that they are required. It could have been better communicated that these collectibles have a use.
Each world has nine orthodox levels, with a tenth being a boss stage where Kuna tries to free Tin from the evil spirit. When I heard there were boss stages in Tin & Kuna, I was intrigued to see how they would work with these mechanics. Disappointingly, they aren’t a standard boss level. Instead, it is a race against a sinking level to get to the end before it disappears completely. There is no actual boss ‘fight’.
In fact, Kuna is unable to defeat any enemies whatsoever. Those that appear in the levels will pester and chase you down, but you can only stun them at best by bouncing on their head. Some are best avoided all together.
Does this make Tin & Kuna more family-friendly? Perhaps, though little ones will struggle with the difficulty.
As well as the three hidden energy crystals, Tin & Kuna includes other objectives that encourage replayability. Firstly, completing levels without losing any health is a target, but there is also a speedrun objective to aim for. And these are tough to achieve – the target times leave absolutely no room for error.
You could be on to a good time, looking at every possibility to shave precious milliseconds off your personal best by cutting a corner fine, but you hit an invisible wall. Calamitous. Tin & Kuna is a very good platformer, but a few issues suggest the limitations of using the Unity engine.
Another issue is the camera getting stuck. You have complete control over it using the right thumbstick, but whenever Kuna needs to descend into a cavern or a tight corner, the camera will get stuck on the walls. This leaves you with no option but to view the action at an awkward angle until moving into a larger area.
With 27 achievements in total split across four worlds, Tin & Kuna might sound like a short completion. However, considering four of those are for earning all speedrun medals in each of the different worlds, you may have to spend a bit of time committing the levels to muscle memory.
Tin & Kuna on the Xbox One is cute enough that the little ones will love the colours on screen, but devilish enough that you probably shouldn’t play it when they are within earshot. It is also deceptive in its length; there is plenty to still go for after completing the levels the first time. And whilst it might be lacking a bit of polish in some areas, it won’t take away from your overall enjoyment for more than a couple of seconds.