Qubyte Classics: TINHEAD By PIKO (Xbox Series X)- Review

Thanks to Qubyte for the review code

Title: Qubyte Classics: Tin Head by PIKO
System: Xbox One
Price: $4.99
Release Date: 10/13/2022


An evil bad guy has stolen stars from several planets! It’s up to Tinhead to travel throughout the galaxy and get them back. That’s as much plot as you get, in this underrated Genesis platformer! Also included here, the SNES port which got cancelled back in the day, salvaged by Piko and hacked to include their Logo and released in the late 2010s, which has the exact same plot.


Same routine as the previous six Qubyte Classics, and I mean it: same wrapper, same sluggish UI, same screen options. The good news is Tinhead on Genesis seems to sound as it should, and the SNES version looks and sounds fine too, at least compared to what was already out there, since the SNES version itself is notoriously choppy and not well polished compared to the original Genesis version.

Tinhead is definitely a mascot created to ride the mascot high of the 1990s, and while his design is incredibly generic and forgettable, I can’t help but admit, he’s basic enough to get the job done and he does have some cute animations, especially when being guided by a magnet or standing on a ledge. The enemies are far more boring in comparison, but the level backgrounds are at least decent, with some cool world designs to keep things interesting.

Shockingly, the music is pretty catchy! Not iPod worthy or anything, but for a western Genesis game, Tinhead’s OST is inoffensive. The sound effects are great, the OST fits, and it’s a rather pleasant presentation all around. The SNES version fares a bit worse however, as while some songs benefit from the hardware (World 3 on SNES has excellent spook to it, fitting for this time of year), a lot of the sound just feels like it was ripped right out of a cartoon, and comes as a bit hard to take seriously. On the bright side, they did use good samples for sound effects, such as when Tinhead hits his head against a ceiling, so that’s a nice little edge in that regard.


Tinhead is another in the list of the many, many 16-Bit Mascot Platformers out there. The last Qubyte Classsic was Radical Rex, another game in that vein, and luckily this time around we only really have one game to talk about, one that’s far more fun than what Radical or Baby T-Rex were.

However, I’ll still format this review like a compilation one, since the two versions do have their own quirks that lead to one being the clear winner here. Without further ado…

Tin Head (Genesis)- The original! This is a euro platformer made in the early 90s, and the main gimmick here is that the titular character must navigate through each stage, nab its missing star, and then rush to the exit. Since the Genesis had three buttons, Tinhead has your typical jump and attack combo, but can use the third button to adjust between three aiming directions, allowing you to shoot balls out of his head as you please. Initially, you don’t really have much in terms of a good fire rate, but luckily pickups throughout the stages will give you the ability to stack up to five shots at once, along with refilling your life bar, though if you take damage your max capacity will lower. (unless you enter a cheat code password, that is, where in that case you’re always be at 5) Whichever the case, Tinhead is very quick to the action, which I appreciate.


The levels in general are your usual Euro platformer fare, with lots of fun collectibles hidden about, ranging from extra lives, the aforementioned powerups or upgrades, and surprise warps to Bonus Rooms, where you have to collect all the items within before the time runs out. As you’d expect, a lot of these are optional, and are really meant for you to goof off and use as a means to building up extra lives or your attack power. Ultimately your only focus will and should be the Star hidden in each stage, for the exit teleporter will not work without it. This means that if you know where to go, you can just blaze through these stages in next to no time at all, nabbing the star and getting the heck outta there. It’s even more fun if you manage to obtain a handy powerup such as a jetpack to give you some extra mobility. At the end of each of the four worlds, you deal with a Boss, and these are fairly typical; shoot them until they die after finding their weak point, and avoid their wrath.


Not much more to say on that front, and generally the core game is pretty fun, being a short four worlds that are more than enjoyable enough, even if it lacks the polish of contemporary platformers from the era. Unfortunately, the input lag I mentioned in the Rex review is back, and just as awful as it has been throughout the entire Classics series, which for this game is especially bad due to the precise jumps you’ll have to make in later stages, which will really make the lag quite obvious. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like this wrapper is gonna improve anytime soon.

Tin Head (SNES)- And this is the oddball version here. While the Genesis version was the original, and you’d expect such a port to be made back in the day, this SNES version was actually cancelled along with some other ports such as one for the Amiga. (funny, considering the overall feel of this game) However, as Piko usually does, they obtained the legal rights to this version, and since it is in a finished state, they’ll throw it in, damn it! So, how does it compare to the Genesis one, and does it warrant playing the same game again?

Well the good news is that unlike the Genesis version, there’s no more direction swapping! You just have each fire direction mapped to an individual button. While this did trip me up a lot as someone who got very adjusted to the Genesis style, I eventually got the hang of it as I went through the first world again. Input lag is still as atrocious here as it is in Genesis Tinhead, so don’t think Qubyte’s SNES emulator will save the day, and even with the extra ease of aiming this game is still rather tricky, so the awful lag continues to make an already frustrating game even more difficult than it was meant to be.

Also noteworthy about the SNES version is the abhorrent amount of slowdown, which I’m pretty certain upon inspecting other footage of this port is not a fault of the QuByte emulator, but rather just a weird quirk of this version. Considering how a lot of earlier SNES titles chugged in a similar fashion, well, pretty much think of those sorts of moments in platformers and you can easily imagine how much slower and clunkier Tinhead feels here. Besides that though, the core game is roughly the same with similar levels and bosses, and while I absolutely see no reason to play this port over the Genesis one, I am glad that both are here for the sake of completion.

Unfortunately, this SNES port has a very nasty bug that I’m appalled was not caught by anyone with this port, to the point I held off for a few weeks in hopes it would be silently patched in. In the past I have noted that Qubyte’s emulator is rather clunky, and yes, that remains the case, but generally when it came to using save states and options, neither really caused much of a problem besides being cumbersome and slower compared to a lot of other retro compilations on the market, yet at the end of the day it still worked.

Well, for whatever reason, either only on the Xbox version or perhaps on all of them, loading save states in the SNES version of Tinhead will cause the game to hang. I have been able to reproduce this consistently, week after week, and only got a state to load properly once. In comparison, the Genesis version loads them flawlessly and shouldn’t be any trouble to play through, but if you were hoping to use the basic emulation feature that’s worked on emulators since the 2000s, and really liked the Super Nintendo and hoped to play that port, you pretty much will never be able to get anywhere unless you stick to the old school password saves, for the states are busted! I was honestly appalled by just how bad of an oversight this was, considering it’s a whole freaking half of the collection, and I swore maybe it had something to do with quick resume (which has made older Classics hang on me after I took a break and jumped back in), but even without any other apps open and just playing Tinhead by itself, and having him as the center of my Series X’s attention, the Super Nintendo port would still hang on save states, continually loading, forever…

Needless to say, the lack of any fixes to this doesn’t have me with much optimism, and if they haven’t addressed any of the wrapper issues since the very first release, I struggle to have faith even this more urgent bug will get squashed.


The depressing part about this Qubyte Classics reissue is that Tinhead isn’t a bad game at all. Honestly, I was reminded how much fun it was and got hooked enough to sink through 3 quarters of the Genesis version in a single sitting, even with the input lag woes, since it’s such a fun game to speed through, even if Tinhead doesn’t do much you haven’t seen before.

However, the continual input lag issues in this lineup, along with other general lack of polish, combined with a baffling “how the hell did they not catch this” fatal bug with Save States on the SNES version, really just shows that this compilation was put out with little particular care at all, and the sheer fact that we are around 7 games into the Qubyte lineup with none of the glaring wrapper issues from the first release addressed, and I can’t help but feel incredibly nervous that a future release, a collection of the outstanding Top Racer series, will end up with the same sort of input lag-ridden, buggy treatment.

If you do end up getting this, and somehow can handle input lag in a platformer game that’ll make you slip up a lot, you will get a pretty short and fun hidden gem of a platformer, at least in the Genesis incarnation. The SNES port is more of a curio to see what could have been, and will make you thankful it never fully panned out back in the day, but I honestly hope to all hopes that Qubyte at the very least addresses the input lag and bugs in these releases to make this experience a lot easier to recommend, for if it wasn’t for that continual issue and the busted save states, this would be an easy recommendation from me due to the $5 price. As it stands now though, the lack of QC in this compilation is depressing, and makes Tinhead himself look more stable than this rusty compilation wrapper he’s trapped within.

I give Qubyte Classics: Tinhead by PIKO a 4 out of 10.

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