Mimimi Productions may not be a name you instantly recognise, and no one could blame you if that was the case. Having only put out one title so far, the pleasant but simplistic but intent daWindci for iOS devices, the young studio is currently in the process of bringing new ideas to the world of digital entertainment rather than hard hitting blockbusters. But it’s this diminutive size and youthful enthusiasm that has allowed the team to devise their forthcoming home console production, Tink.
On the surface of it Tink is a 3D platform videogame in a world that has the genre has devolve to the point where there really is only one key player once again. The likes of Sonic, Tak, Crash and Spyro have all stepped aside, with growing costs and falling margins pricing them out of the market (either creatively or commercially) and as if Nintendo’s ‘blue ocean’ masterplan had predicted the turn of the tide ten years ago, it’s Mario that we all rely on for our platform antics. Tink is different however. It’s not just a straightforward homage to our heroes of yesteryear, this is a platform videogame that incorporates some of the best mechanics the industry has birthed over the past decade, and in doing so presents something that feels remarkably fresh.
The setting will be familiar to anyone who’s played de Blob: in a world drained of colour, it’s up to our hero – you – to brighten up the place. This is done in three ways: exploration, puzzle solving and combat. The exploration takes place in a set-up akin to Super Mario 64, with a hub world providing a landing pad for you’re your journeys to additional lands but also hiding many secrets of its own. Players navigate around this hub (and additional lands, though these have not yet been seen) with a movement system more akin to Assassin’s Creed than any traditional platform title; there’s an automatic connection between avatar and surface that has been established within second of pressing the jump button, commanding a lock that prevents over-reaching and allows the player to concentrating on lining-up their next leap. It’s a simple design that provides the player with a sense of adhesion to the world that is often absent from platform videogames, and yet in Tink you wouldn’t want to play without it.
The puzzle solving design borrows liberally from the rules established in the 8- and 16-bit eras of videogaming. Tried-and-tested actions such as using bombs to open new routes, helping flowers to grow and performing tasks set by non-player characters (NPCs). Exactly how any of this will fit into the world of platform action and fast-paced combat remains to be seen, though any level of perception would have you relating these suggestions back to the many tasks presented in the like of Super Mario 64. This isn’t a revolution after all, it’s a young team bringing new ideas to established templates.
The combat system is reportedly undergoing a significant renovation at this very time, though in truth Tink looks set to provide an enjoyable action experience alongside its more thoughtful aspects as it stands. The player has an attack on three of the face buttons, and each attack is related to a colour. Splashing enemies with specific colours will enable special effects: red is basic is hit, blue is stun, green insights fear to make them run away. The combat system seems fluid, closely related to Batman: Arkham Asylum, featuring a slow motion camera on great impacts and the ability to dash directly from enemy-to-enemy. What’s more, as a combo meter fills the player gains access to three special moves – shield, heal and slow motion – which can quickly turn the tide of any fight.
Players can use the crystals earned during fights and collected from throughout the world to purchase additional combat manoeuvres and upgrades. These are purchased from the aforementioned hub, which looks set to become quite an active location. A section of the videogame taken from a save with further progression demonstrated Mimimi Productions’ intentions for the evolving landmass, and offered a taste of how the design template will constantly reward players for progression. The unique claymation-esque art style of Tink was evident here more than ever, with greyed-out areas sitting uncomfortably next to the rolling green hills and bright orange houses. It’s a juxtaposition of colour that signifies the divide between happy and sad, good and evil, and it works beautifully alongside the charming character design.
The in-game visuals look almost as good as cutscenes, with the brightly coloured world presenting a constantly busy environment, with flowing grass, butterflies fluttering about the place and cardboard cutout style characters throwing communications at the player in speech bubbles as you pass. As an aside, Mimimi Productions discussed the interactive band that are discovered later in the videogame, which when hit with different colours will change the type of music being played. One particularly subtly delivered mission will be to get different characters to dance based on the music the band play; a simple illustration of the joyful atmosphere that Tink will present with greater success.
As an independent production being developed by a very small team, Tink is still some way from launch. And with an intended release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Mac, Mimimi Productions is aiming to please a very large audience. With the price point set at around £10 (1,200 Microsoft Points is the estimated target) on consoles, if Mimimi Productions manage to deliver even half of their ambitions Tink will be nothing less than a bargain. It’s a videogame with so much potential based on passion that it would surely be criminal to overlook the innovation on offer, and if the young team manage to achieve all of their goals Tink is almost certain to become yet another indie darling.