Tinker (also known as Microsoft Tinker) is an isometric puzzle game developed by Fuel Industries and published by Microsoft for the PC on September 23, 2008 (via Windows Update for a limited time to those who owned the Ultimate edition of the Windows Vista operating system).
In Tinker, players help a small robot navigate an obstacle-filled level to the goal by giving it directions (either moving forward, rotating their position, or performing an action, such as hitting a switch). The game included 60 levels (including 20 tutorial levels) and later came with a bonus level editor. The game is considered a spiritual successor to Chip's Challenge, which was part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack series.
It was one of two games that were part of the Windows Ultimate Extras system (the other being Hold 'Em) and its base installation was removed completely in a later update. On December 15, 2009, the game received a revamped freeware re-release as part of Microsoft's Games for Windows - LIVE service. While it breaks support with the original version's level editor, it added 100 new levels and Xbox Live features (such as achievements). This version was later delisted from the online storefront.
The game is played in isometric view on a checkered board (which changes size depending on each level). In order to get the little robot to the goal, players must give the robot directions to move forward, rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise, or hit a switch. Each action (moving, rotating, hitting a switch) consumes the robot's energy. The robot has a pre-determined amount of starting energy. If the robot runs out of energy, falls from a height greater than two blocks, gets crushed by a block, or hits a laser beam, the robot becomes inoperable and the level must be restarted.
The levels are split up into different "sets", including a tutorial set. The first level from each set is unlocked from the start, which must be completed to unlock the next level in the set. As a bonus, players can "conquer" levels by beating the level under three criteria (at the same time):
- Completing the level under a pre-determined par time.
- Completing the level using the least energy (which is pre-determined).
- Completing the level collecting all the "cogs".
Other than achievements, conquering levels serve no purpose.
Obstacles and Objects
Obstacles and objects present in each level include:
- Gray and dice blocks - Normal blocks that can be pushed by the robot. If anything is on top of the block, that would also be pushed. (Unless there is a low ceiling covering one of the blocks)
- Colored blocks - Same as the normal blocks, only it can activate special pressure switches of the same color.
- Metal blocks - These blocks cannot be pushed by the robot. It is the only type of block that can be pulled by a magnet. When multiple magnets pull the block, only the closest magnet will affect the block.
- Ice blocks - No, they are not slippery. These normal blocks can be destroyed by bombs and melted by laser beams.
- Conveyor belts - Automatically moves the robot or any object placed on it in a particular path. The robot can turn but not take any steps (unless there is an object preventing the robot from continuing the conveyor). The belt can be switched on and off by switches.
- Switches - Usually comes in two forms: Flip switches, which must be activated by the robot, and pressure switches, which are only active when an object is on it. Switches are color-coded and activate or de-activate laser guns, conveyor belts, magnets, barriers, bombs, and mirrors of that same color.
- Barriers - Restricts the access to an area. Can be obstructed by an object on top of it (when it's down).
- Magnets - When activated, it pulls metal blocks towards them.
- Laser Guns - When activated, it fires a laser beam at a straight line. The laser beam destroys robots and items, melt ice blocks, and destroy other objects.
- Targets - When laser beams hit it at the right angle, it acts like a switch.
- Bombs - They won't hurt the robot, but they can move blocks and the robot itself when exploding, as well as activate adjacent bombs and destroy items, ice blocks, flip switches, magnets, targets, mirrors, and laser guns. They are activated either by a switch, a laser beam, an adjacent bomb, or an object above it.
- Teleporters - Numbered and bi-directional. Transports any object, or the robot. If an object is already present at the destination, then it will switch places with the other object.
- Lifts - Resembling clothing buttons. Moves the object or robot up or down one level. Lifts already raised can only be lowered by moving an object (or your robot) on top of it, so be careful.
- Batteries - Come in large and small varieties. Gives the robot additional energy.
- Cogs - Bonus items that serve towards "conquering" the level.
- Exit - Resembling peppermint candy, moving the robot onto the exit will make it perform a little dance. (As well as completing the level). If the exit is on a block that can be moved, then the exit can be moved along with that block. The exit can be covered up by another object, making it temporarily (or permanently) inaccessable. If there is a laser beam directed towards the exit, then the robot will get zapped by it instead of exiting the level.