Review by Gauller
Reviewed: 08/15/13 | Updated: 08/26/13
An unusual game with unusual pacing.
You may want to do some research before jumping into this one. Because once you enter a level, you're gonna be there for a LONG time.
You control a robot named Tinhead whose main ability is to fire ball-like metal projectiles from under his head's lid. You use a button to switch his aiming direction; forward, diagonally down or diagonally up. This can be frustrating in sudden encounters. Only one projectile is allowed on screen at a time unless you collect multiplier power ups that let you fire up to five consecutive projectiles at a time. You can hold down the attack button for auto fire. These appear as metallic balls hidden in egg capsules like other items. Taking damage also reduces your multiplier level, which isn't a particular problem aside from boss areas, which have no power ups.
Tinhead has a secondary ability to accept modifications that help him travel. A springing cat-like ball that allows him to bounce from platform to platform more efficiently than his standard jump. A jet pack that lets him fly to virtually anywhere in the level by holding down jump. A helicopter attachment similar to the jet pack, but has automatic hovering. However, this attachment replaces his projectile attack with the ability to ram into enemies from below. Lastly, the dirt bike attachment that allows for extremely fast traveling on surfaces and improved jumping. I don't find the ball or dirt bike options particularly useful, since they're harder to control. Thankfully, they also act as a shield, and are cancelled after a hit.
Tinhead can jump, but not as well as other characters of his era. Maybe it's because of his metal body, but he seems to stop in mid air and fall straight down, so jumps should be planned. However, he can automatically jump again after hitting a surface if you hold the jump button while falling.
He can also take several hits, but needs to collect batteries to recover. A heart gives him an extra try. These are precious, as there are no continues. A lightning bolt fully recharges him. Question marks reveal hidden bonus stages. Throughout the levels are star capsules that give you a small amount of points to increase your score.
A fiend called Grim Squidge is taking all the stars in the galaxy, which threatens to create a void in the cosmos. Tinhead is summoned, the guardian of the galaxy, to stop Squidge and restore balance! Unfortunately, variety is NOT this game's strong point. This technically falls into gameplay, but it also affects the story's pacing. I feel a trip through the galaxy should have several locations, but these levels drag for so long that there was only room for four worlds, three sections each, which are divided by two parts. That's six parts per level!
I feel six shorter levels would have been better.
Being a later Genesis title, this shows off some of the console's potential. Large, detailed sprites with little slowdown. Unfortunately, it also suffers from the 64 on screen colors limit of the Genesis. Every world is saturated with one main color, and several enemies share similar colors. Some impressive parallax scrolling, though, and the bosses are huge. The intro & ending have large illustrations that take up the screen.
Each of the worlds have their own theme song, though alternate versions would have made these long levels less monotonous. Not all the songs stick out as much as I would have liked them to, but none of them are particularly bad.
There two difficulty settings; Normal & Practice. Practice plays almost the same, but cuts the levels in half. The game takes a while to beat and passwords mean you don't have to backtrack far after game over, but the lack of checkpoints means you'll have to repeat the sub-sections when you lose a try. It's actually a pretty long game, but the structure makes it feel shorter. There are a lot of items to collect and the levels have several branching paths.
I think they had some good concepts here, but I feel they needed to think some things over.
Product Release: Tinhead (US, 12/31/93)
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