Tinker: how to play

To play Tinker, you must be running Windows Vista Ultimate, and you must download Tinker as a Windows Ultimate Extra. For more information, see How do I get Windows Ultimate Extras downloads and services?

Show all

To play Tinker

The objective of the game is to complete levels by navigating the robot around the obstacles to reach the end tile.

The game levels are organized into sets. Each set has twenty levels. The first level in each set is unlocked. To unlock the next level in a set, you must first complete the previous level. To obtain better results and earn achievement stars, you can return to levels previously completed.

  1. On the menu screen, click MAIN GAME.

  2. The SELECT A SET screen will appear. The numbers beside each set name indicate how many levels have been completed in that set, and how many levels the set contains. Click TUTORIAL or one of the numbered sets.

  3. A level selection screen will appear for the set that you select. Unlocked levels are highlighted and locked levels are dimmed. Completed levels are marked with a red check mark. Click any of the unlocked levels to play that level.

    Note

    • All the tutorial levels are unlocked.

The game area consists of a square playing board. Move the robot to the red-and-white end tile. The board contains a variety of objects including moveable blocks, switches, transporters, cog wheels, and other devices.

With the robot you can:

  • Move certain objects around.

  • Use switches to turn certain devices on and off.

  • Collect cog wheels.

  • Destroy certain objects.

The robot can be trapped or destroyed if incorrect choices are made.

You can play Tinker by using the keyboard, a Windows Media Center remote control, or an XBox 360 controller. To see a map of the controls, go to the menu screen, and then click CONTROLS.

To play by using the keyboard or the Windows Media Center remote control

  • To move the robot, use the arrow keys. To move the robot forward one tile, use the UP ARROW. To turn the robot 90 degrees clockwise, use the RIGHT ARROW. To turn the robot 90 degrees counter-clockwise, use the LEFT ARROW. To turn the robot around to face the opposite direction, use the DOWN ARROW.

  • To push a moveable block or object, move directly into it.

  • To flip toggle switches, move the robot to an adjacent square, face the switch, and then press the SPACEBAR or the ENTER key. If you are using the Windows Media Center remote control, press OK.

  • To return to the menu, press 1.

  • To restart the level, press 2.

  • To pause, press 3 or the ESC key.

  • To record a video, press 4.

  • To show the tutorial solution, press 6.

  • To rotate the game board, use the PLUS SIGN (+) and MINUS SIGN (-) keys. If you are using the Windows Media Center remote control, use the 7 and 9 keys.

To play by using the XBox 360 controller

  • To move the robot forward, push the control stick up. To turn the robot left or right, push the control stick in the desired direction.

  • To push a movable block, move directly into it.

  • To flip toggle switches, move the robot to an adjacent square, face the switch, and then press the A button.

  • To rotate the game board, use the right or left trigger keys.

  • To pause the game, press the Start button.

  • To return to the menu, press the X button.

  • To restart the level, press the Y button.

  • To record a video, press the B button.

The following table describes the buttons on the wooden box under the playfield.

Button Image What it does
Button

Back button

Image
Picture of the back button
What it does

Returns to the level selection screen of the current set.

Button

Restart button

Image
Picture of the restart button
What it does

Restarts the current level.

Button

Pause button

Image
Picture of the pause button
What it does

Pauses the timer and brings up the options screen.

Button

Record button

Image
Picture of the record button
What it does

Starts recording a video of the game. The button changes to a red Stop Recording button. The recording stops when you click the Stop Recording button, when you complete the level, or when the recording time limit of five minutes is reached. Videos are saved in the Videos folder, in your user profile.

There are also three dials on the wooden box:

  • The timer dial shows the number of hours, minutes, and seconds that the current level is being played. To earn an achievement star, complete the level inside a given time limit (par time).

  • The energy dial shows how much energy the robot has remaining. Each movement or action uses up one unit of energy. If it reaches zero, the robot stops functioning. To earn an achievement star, complete the level with a given amount of energy still in reserve (par energy). To increase the robot's reserve of energy, pick up batteries.

  • The pick-up dial shows how many cog wheels you have picked up. To earn an Achievement Star, pick up all the cog wheels in the level. Cog wheels only appear in certain levels.

Objects in the game

There are five types of objects in the game: blocks, transporters, switches, devices, and pick-ups. The following sections describe these objects.

Blocks

Wooden blocks are immoveable and indestructible. They form the framework of the puzzle.

Dice, puzzle blocks, metal blocks, and ice blocks can be moved. These moveable blocks share the following properties:

  • When blocks are moved onto a round floor switch, they activate the switch.

  • When blocks are moved onto an elevator, they activate it.

  • When blocks are placed at the exit side of a conveyor belt, the robot can move off the conveyor belt in any direction.

  • They can be used to hold domino doors open.

  • They can be dropped onto destructible objects to crush them.

  • They can be used to transport other objects.

  • They block laser beams (except for ice blocks, which will melt).

  • If a bomb explodes next to a block, it will be moved one space away from the explosion (except for ice blocks, which will melt).

Puzzle blocks, metal blocks, and ice blocks have special properties. The following table describes these blocks.

Type of block
Image
What it does

Puzzle block

Picture of a puzzle block

When pushed onto a puzzle switch of matching color and symbol, activates or deactivates devices of the same color.

Metal block

Picture of a metal block

Can be moved by adjacent exploding bombs or the nearest active magnet that is pointing towards the block. When under the influence of a magnet, metal blocks push other moveable objects. Gravity and teleporters take precedence over the power of a magnet. The robot can't move metal blocks.

Ice block

Picture of an ice block

Can be destroyed by a bomb or a laser beam.

Transporters

Transporters can move objects, including the robot, from one location to another.

The following table describes the different types of transporters.

Type of transporter
Image
What it does

Elevator

Picture of an elevator

An object placed on an elevator is raised or lowered one level, depending on the initial state of the elevator. An extended elevator blocks a laser and prevents moving objects from passing through it.

Conveyor belt

Picture of a conveyor belt

Transports objects, including the robot, in the direction that they are pointing. Some conveyor belts can be activated or deactivated by switches of the same color.

Teleporter

Picture of a teleporter

When the robot or an object is moved onto one teleporter, it is sent to the other teleporter bearing the same number. If an object or the robot moves onto one teleporter and there is an object on its twin, the objects trade positions.

Switches

When a switch changes state, it activates or deactivates all devices of the same color.

The following table describes the different types of switches.

Type of switch
Image
What it does

Floor switch

Picture of a floor switch

Changes state when the robot or an object moves on top of it. It reverts to its original state if the robot or the object is removed.

Puzzle switch

Picture of a puzzle switch

Changes state when a puzzle block with the same pattern and color is pushed on top of it. It reverts to its original state if the puzzle block is removed.

Toggle switch

Picture of a toggle switch

Changes state when the robot interacts with it (use the SPACEBAR on the keyboard, the OK button on the Windows Media Center remote control, or the A button on the XBox 360 controller). A toggle switch can be destroyed by laser beams if a bomb explodes in an adjacent tile or any object falls on top of it.

Target switch

Picture of a target switch

Changes state depending on whether a laser beam is hitting the target face or not. A target switch can be destroyed if a bomb explodes in an adjacent tile or if any object falls on top of it.

Devices

The state of a switchable device can be affected by a switch of the same color. If the device appears gray, then it will remain in its current state until it is destroyed. Conveyor belts cannot be destroyed.

The following table describes the different types of devices.

Type of device
Image
What it does

Bomb

Picture of a bomb

Can be detonated. When detonated, bombs:

  • Push moveable objects (including the robot) one space away from the blast, if there is an empty space behind them. Objects that are already moving are not affected by the blast.

  • Destroy cog wheels, batteries, lasers guns, mirrors, target switches, toggle switches, magnets, and ice blocks.

Bombs can be detonated by:

  • Activating a switch of the same color.

  • Directing a laser beam at the bomb.

  • Exploding an adjacent bomb.

  • Dropping an object (or the robot) onto the bomb.

Bombs cannot be used to transport other objects.

Domino door

Picture of a domino door

Can block the path of the robot, a laser beam, or a moveable block. Dominoes can be opened or closed by activating a switch of the same color.

Magnet

Picture of a magnet

Attracts any aligned metal blocks to itself when activated. A magnet can be activated or deactivated by a switch of the same color. Bombs, laser beams, and falling objects destroy magnets.

Mirror

Picture of a mirror

Deflects a laser beam by 90 degrees. A mirror can't be pushed by the robot unless it is on a movable block. The orientation of a mirror can be changed by activating a switch of the same color. A mirror can be destroyed by a bomb or a falling object.

Laser gun

Picture of a laser gun

Can be activated by a switch of the same color. A laser beam activates target switches and can be deflected by a mirror. A laser gun can be destroyed by a bomb, a laser beam, or a falling object. A laser gun's beam destroys the robot, laser guns (including itself), ice blocks, cog wheels, batteries, toggle switches, and magnets. The laser beam is blocked by blocks, raised domino doors, target switches, and raised elevators.

Pick-ups

Pick-ups can help increase the complexity of the puzzle. It is not necessary to collect all the pick-ups to complete a level. Pick-up items can be destroyed by laser beams, bombs, and falling objects (excluding the robot).

The following table describes the different types of pick-ups.

Type of pick-up
Image
What it does

Battery

Picture of a battery

When the robot retrieves a battery, the robot's energy reserve increases. Small batteries provide an additional 10 units of energy; large batteries provide an additional 20.

Cog wheel

Picture of a cog wheel

Upon level completion, if the robot retrieved all the cog wheels, an achievement star is awarded.

Strategies and tips

  • Try to identify all of the devices in play on the board. Understanding where they can move helps solve the puzzle.

  • Rotate the board (using the PLUS [+] and MINUS [–] keys) to see it from all directions. Look for elevators, floor switches, and puzzle switches that might have been hidden.

  • When using switches and buttons, turning them on and off quickly can reveal different areas.

  • Look around before pushing a block or flipping a switch. Sometimes the order of tasks is crucial to success.

  • Not every switch has to be used to solve a puzzle.

  • A raised elevator can only be lowered by placing something on it.

  • Certain objects can be destroyed using a laser beam or bomb, or by dropping an object (including the robot) on top of them.

  • Objects might need to be destroyed to reach the end tile, but be careful not to destroy an object too soon.

  • An object will remain on a moving conveyor belt if the exit is blocked. The object on the conveyor belt will not be pushed through the blocking object.

  • Objects might need to be moved around. See how the teleporters, conveyor belts, elevators, and bombs can help move them to spaces where the robot is unable push them.

  • If you are having trouble with a level, try playing the levels in a different set before returning to the tricky level. The tutorial levels are useful for learning the functionality of the game's devices.