Tinkerbats are Risky's silent shadow army. Individually they are not very formidable in battle, and therefore tend to huddle in groups of 3 or more. They are intelligent and skillful, yet skittish and non-communicative. Their loyalty knows no bounds, and like drones serving a queen they act as an extension of Risky's will. Where Risky harvests her Tinkerbats is unknown, but she apparently inherited them from her mentor, The Pirate Master.
The Tinkerbats are small, pitch-black, humanoid creatures with hands featuring four clawed fingers and feet featuring three similar clawed toes, yellow eyes, and always wear the same outfit: a red bandana and pants. They have protruding spikes on their backs, presumably forming part of their vertebrae. It is unclear whether they have a mouth or not: their sprites feature three protrusions resembling teeth, but their character portraits never feature them, instead showing their heads as uniformly circular. In, the teeth are absent. It is notable that they are completely silent, which may indicate that they don't have a mouth at all.
They first appear attacking Scuttle Town. Some are throwing torches, some come in pods and come out continuously until the pod is destroyed, some are walking about, some are hidden in barrels, and some come in small boats. There are a few that are pounding away with a ram causing things to come in and out of the background wall to make impromptu floors for footing. They also appear when they took the steam engine from Mimic and blew up his workshop. Later at the pirate ship, the first half of the battle there is one loading and firing the cannon and some come out the door where the exploding barrel is kept. In the second half of the battle they peer out of the three portholes and throw exploding barrels. They appear again in the Tinkerbat Factory later in the game, operating various machinery and flying using steam-powered, winged jet-packs.
Shantae is able to transform in a Tinkerbat in this game, provided the game is played on a Game Boy Advance and she has paid 500 gems to the Advanced Genies! guy in Bandit Town (or on a regular Game Boy Color while in Debug Mode).
In the end credits a Tinkerbat can be seen repairing Shantae's lighthouse roof. It's unclear how Shantae coerced the creature into doing this.
They first appear in the background of the hole in the roof operating a winch for the anchor Risky Boots uses to go in and out of the room to steal the Magic Lamp.
They also appear in the underwater side scrolling shooter portion. During this part of the game, they use scuba suits and harpoon guns.
The last time they appear is in the battle against the Tinkertub, coming out of huge cannonballs being shot by the cannon on the Tinkertub. They don't do anything other than walk through the arena, and Shantae can defeat them for gems and hearts.
When the Tinkerbats' former ruler, the Pirate Master, begins to revive and spread his evil curse, many of the Tinkerbats are affected by dark magic and are transformed into vicious Cacklebats. Part of Shantae's quest requires her to seek out and destroy the Cacklebats, and collect the dark magic they leave behind. A few normal Tinkerbats are also spotted holding maps that lead Shantae to the major locations in her quest. After the Pirate Master's defeat, the Tinkerbats return to Risky's side.
The Tinkerbats once again return as Risky Boots' servants. They're common enemies on Main Street, as well as in Risky's Hideout, and have similar behaviors as they did in their original appearance. Occasionally, they can be spotted riding atop Tinkerbeasts. Risky can also summon her own Tinkerbats in Pirate Queen’s Quest in order to clear her path.
Shantae's Tinkerbat transformation returns as well. Originally, it was a backer exclusive for fans that pledged $55 or more during the game's Kickstarter campaign, but it was included in the game's Ultimate Edition for all players.
In Pirate Queen's Quest, the Tinkerbats help Risky to complete her plan to finish the Tinkerbrain. At the end of the game, their incompetence causes the Dynamo to explode.
Tinkerbats are, again, Risky's loyal minions. When Shantae fights Risky at the mid-point of each labyrinth, one of Risky's attacks is to summon Tinkerbats to attack Shantae (how many she summons increases as the game progresses).
Shantae will also encounter them in several areas of the game; these Tinkerbats do not attack Shantae (but she can attack them) and seem to be working with hammers and picks on the surrounding stone. (Eventually, this is explained by Risky's desire to steal the airship; she is directing her men to fix it.) In rooms where they appear, there is usually something Shantae can reveal using her Quake Dance or Tortoise Stomp.
Cacklebats are a more powerful form of Tinkerbats, in which they transform when influenced by dark magic through the Pirate Master's curse. This form has wings, a huge mouth with sharp teeth (and are notably capable of screeching in contrast to their Tinkerbats form), and their colour scheme is lighter than the pitch-black of Tinkerbats. Shantae only encounters them during the events of The Pirate's Curse, in which she must defeat them to release the dark magic they absorbed and seal it with help from the Magic Lamp. They attack by biting, flying, and diving at Shantae and have 40 hp.
The Tinkerbats are similar in appearance and methodology to the Heartless from the Kingdom Hearts franchise in that they are shadow creatures, single-minded and generally attack in groups.