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 horns in their back, 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 arts never feature them, instead showing their head as uniformly circular. In, the teeth will apparently be 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 of some sort.
Shantae is otherwise 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 some sort of 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 else than walking 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 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.
It is revealed that the skull Risky has been wearing through her bust and arround her waist were the actual face of the Pirate Master. This suggests the possiblility that as long as she wore them along with his hat, the Tinkerbats have been mistaking her for the real Pirate Master, allowing her to gain control over them.
Though they have not appeared much yet in promotional arts, it looks like they will be once again Risky Boots servants. Risky will seemingly be able to use Tinkerbats to reach items which she would otherwise be unable to, while they will be antagonists of Shantae. In the most recent update to the backer exclusive demo (Stage Four) Scuttle town can be seen under attack by Risky's Tinkerbats once again, they behave much similar to their GBA counterparts, walking toward Shantae, throwing torches (the flames created from collision now have homing properties), being released from pods (now six pop out immediately), and jumping out of boats from the background and foreground.
Shantae will also be able to use her Tinkerbat transformation anew, although this one will be exclusive to the game backers. The eyes of her Tinkerbat form will have blue eyes, presumably to make her more distinct from the antagonist Tinkerbats.
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.