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Tinhead

Genre: Platformer Developer: Spectrum Holobyte Publisher: Microprose Players: 1 Released: 1994

Playing TinHead is like meeting a beautiful, smart, and charming girl with bad teeth. It’s that one little flaw that constantly bugs you. Even though there are times when you try and forget how bad it is, you can’t escape the truth. Want to know what TinHead’s fatal flaw, or bad teeth, is? Read on Genesis fans!

The story goes that the evil Grim Squidge is stealing all of the stars in the galaxy. Apparently, TinHead is the only one able to stop him and thus you begin your quest across the universe to rescue the scattered stars. It’s a cliched story that’s been done a thousand times, but it works, and the character design for TinHead is cute. He’s a red little robot that shoots tin balls from his head (hence his name).

TinHead plays like any good action platformer. You have to explore these huge levels, twenty-four in total, looking for a lost star in each level and then finding the teleportation device at the end of each level. Along the way, you’ll have to use your brain to solve a few puzzles, and use your trigger finger to blast a few bad guys. There are plenty of items scattered about to give Tinhead points for more lives, as well as secret bonus zones where more points can be racked up.

Finding little oil cans with lightning bolts on them will give TinHead more hits, and finding balls with different numbers on them will allow him to shoot more tin balls in progression. Starting off only able to shoot one ball at a time is rough, but shooting five quickly in succession will have you destroying the bad guys in no time. Add to the fact that there are power ups that change TinHead’s appearance and abilities, such as allowing him to fly or bounce high, and you’ve got one cool little robot.

Of course, the cool thing about how TinHead shoots his tin balls is that he can aim in three different directions. Pressing the A button allows him to change the direction of the balls to an upward diagonal, lower diagonal, and straight shot. This adds some nice strategy to the game, as you can stand above ledges and drop balls on baddies, and the balls also can bounce off walls. However, all is not well with the little robot’s controls.

The biggest problem in playing TinHead is how the robot jumps. It feels like he’s jumping through a vat of super glue every time he tries to lift his feet off the ground. Just walking and shooting is fine, but the jumping is frustratingly annoying. Add to the fact that there are several sections in the game where TinHead must jump over obstacles to reach necessary parts of the level, and you have a problem. Even after playing the game and beating it and playing again, the jumps are still way too hard, and the game would have benefited greatly from some more fluid physics.

Thankfully, the levels are full of great graphics so at least you’ll be cursing the jumps in paradise. The game is split up into four worlds, and they are all very detailed and colorful. There are many different enemies, from dinosaurs to robots and piles of green slime, and TinHead is just very pleasant to look at. The bosses are all huge and detailed, but that brings on another problem. When TinHead dies, he loses the number of shots he can shoot in progression and goes back to shooting just one shot. This means, if you die at a boss, you’ll have to try beating the boss using the very slow one-ball-at-a-time attack. It’s somewhat annoying and adds unneeded frustration, but the electronic soundtrack will certainly sooth players and TinHead gets a nod for having a pretty good musical score. Most of the tracks are up-tempo and beat driven, with a few slower moments here and there. The sound effects are equally nice, so there’s really nothing too shabby about the sound department.

For beginners, TinHead includes a practice mode which cuts half of the levels from the game. You also don’t get to play some of the boss fights, including the final boss. It does however, allow you to get used to the game play and the controls, and it was a nice addition. There is also a password feature after you beat every level, and that was also a plus as some of these levels are very long and finding where the star is hidden can take quite some time in some cases. Also of note is the special pause feature. Pause the game and you can scroll around the screen a little to look at nearby dangers.

Overall, I had a good time with TinHead. His three-way shooting head brought some fun action to my Genesis, and the graphics and sound were excellent. The game is difficult, and sometimes there are some cheap flying enemies that seem to zoom on the screen and dog you, and dieing will make you start at the very beginning of the stage. The added practice mode was thus a very good addition to the game; however, the occasional cheap enemies are nothing compared to the downright sad jumps. Much like a lovely girl with a great personality, you’ll find yourself ignoring this fact and having a great time for the most part. It’s really a shame though, when you know things could be better. Oh TinHead! I could never stay mad at you!

SCORE: 7 out of 10

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