2022’s Charming Pikmin Clone Is Now on PS Plus
Small but mighty.
Just this year, Nintendo released Pikmin 4, possibly the best entry in the series for old and new fans alike. But there is one problem. It is, of course, exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. And while there are plenty of platformers to satisfy that Mario itch, metroidvanias that rival Metroid itself, and Zelda-likes galore on non-Nintendo platforms, there are regrettably few Pikmin-likes to go around outside of Nintendo. Enter Tinykin.
The delightful indie wears its Pikmin inspirations on its sleeve and was a welcome surprise in 2022. Now, Tinykin joins the roster of PlayStation Plus games, making one of the best Pikmin games (outside of the actual Pikmin games) more accessible than ever.
It is slightly reductive to call Tinykin just a Pikmin clone, but it helps capture the game’s basic premise. Like Pikmin, Tinykin follows an alien explorer who crash lands on Earth (or an Earth-like planet in Pikmin’s case) only to discover they are super small — said explorer then discovers the titular little guys who can be controlled to accomplish the game’s goals.
All of that is true of both Pikmin and Tinykin. Cleverly, that isn’t all there is to Tinykin. In addition to being a game about controlling little guys, it’s also a puzzle platformer. Tinykin retains the exploration that comes from Pikmin’s central mechanic of ordering followers to complete tasks but those tasks are more about platforming through the environment in interesting ways.
This succeeds due to the simplistic but fun Tinykin who have abilities such as exploding or stacking on top of each other. It’s also helped by the game’s incredible setting. The house of Tinykin is a wonderful iteration of the Honey I Shrunk the Kids theme. The 3D world and cartoonish 2D characters pop with color. It makes exploring every nook and cranny of Tinykin a delight.
There is a specific sense of fun going on in Tinykin that is somewhat lacking in the Pikmin series. Pikmin is about exploration and collecting knick-knacks, but the story itself isn’t ever of any particular interest, nor are any characters. Yet, in Tinykin, the tiny world is overflowing with life. Protagonist Milodane doesn’t just encounter the Tinykin, he crosses paths with charismatic insects who have built a society of their own. Completing tasks for locals and exploring locations like the game’s nightclub are standout experiences.
A focus on puzzle platforming and interactions with NPCs additionally helps get around one of the most annoying things about Pikmin. Tinykin has no enemies. You don’t have to worry about losing progress from an opponent, not finishing tasks before a time limit runs out, or losing Tinykin. It’s a far less stressful game and one that prioritizes the excitement that comes from finally surmounting a well-designed puzzle.
This approach to its gameplay and world solves one of the biggest issues that I have with Pikmin — it can be too stressful. To me, the best parts of the Nintendo series are the moments of joyous exploration of a massive world as a tiny being with your little companions. It is about solving puzzles and collecting items. Combat and time limits only put stress on what could be a great laid-back experience. Tinykin is exactly that, so now you can choose what flavor of game you want between the two. If you are a Pikmin fan without a Switch or just in need of a cozy puzzle platformer, Tinykin should be your next adventure.