A hovering unicycle robot trapped in an alternate dimension? Yes, please!
Tic is a HoverBot who looks like a unicycle with long wobbly arms. That’s not even the strangest part of Tin Man Can, either, as when the game opens a wormhole appears and drags Tic into another dimension, stranding him in a colorful world full of hills and hovatrons and holes. Now the little guy has to ride his way home, and you’re just the arcade game expert to do it!
Tin Man Can plays a lot like the endless running/flying games currently on the market (Tiny Wings, Whale Trail, etc.). The gameplay is slanted in a slightly different direction, though, as it’s not as much about maintaining speed as it is about precise movements. Tic rides along under his own power, and all you do is tap the screen to activate his hover ability. Tap and hold to fly higher and further, leaping to avoid massive pits that dominate the landscape. While flying you’ll encounter plenty of obstacles, some of which are helpful (jet boosts, dash points), others not so much (inverted bouncy platforms, yuck).
Tic can’t hover forever. A fuel gauge at the top of the screen limits how long he can stay aloft, and it’s no more than just a few seconds at a time. Fuel recharges when you touch the ground or pick up a “hovatron,” meaning you’ll very quickly learn to get creative when it comes to flying for long distances. Hovatrons are strategically placed to help you make it across large gaps, but grabbing them can be tricky. Since you can’t control Tic’s speed, you have to bob up and down at just the right moment to stay in line with the goodies.
The goal of Tin Man Can is to collect all three energy canisters in each level, nab as many hovartrons as you can, do everything as quickly as possible, and eventually get the little guy home. Bumping into cliff sides or sticking awkward landings slows you down, and if you want to go for the gold you’ll need to practice each level to get the rhythm down right.
Tin Man Can also includes an in-game shop as well as a special cheat menu you can utilize if you aren’t feeling your A-game. Cheats include invincibility, a jetpack, and two different space ships to help you fly in style. Apart from that, you can spend hovatrons to spruce up your wheel’s looks or make your exhaust trail a little more interesting. All of this is powered by hovatrons, and if you haven’t collected enough through normal play, you can dip into some in-app purchases to get large packs of them. To be honest, though, most of the shop items offer little more than a tiny thrill and aren’t worth the expensive hovatron investment.
Online multiplayer is one of the more curious features in the game. When you’re feeling confident enough in your hovering abilities, access multiplayer from the main menu and the game will match you with an opponent. It’s a hit-or-miss experience (mostly miss), as there have to be people online to compete against, so you’re better off coordinating with a Game Center friend for planned matches.
With its bright visuals, extremely catchy soundtrack, and simple one-touch controls, Tin Man Can proudly displays itself as an exciting arcade game. The longer you play, though, the more you’ll feel like it’s stuck in an awkward space between an endless flying game and some sort of stunt racer, never really committing to either side and feeling a little incomplete as a result. The gameplay is never ruined by this lack of direction, though; it just keeps the game from becoming one of those classics people turn to for months and years to come.