The Dink Network

Malachi the Jerk

Description
Dink is tormented by a jerk named Malachi and seeks revenge. Along the way, his perceptions of himself, his quest, and even his world are called into question. Mostly, however, very silly things happen.

This is the 8th DMOD by Tim Maurer (me), and first since the year 2000. It's better than the other ones. Leprochaun took the very plain maps and detailed and in some cases redesigned them, and also added a few scripts.

Highly recommended for use with FreeDink. Also tested with 1.08 Aural+.
Released:October 6th, 2014
File Size:3.13 MB
Downloads:39
Release Notes:This version is compatible with Dink Smallwood HD! This still isn't the way I'd recommend playing the game, as it is less stable and has a minor graphical issue or two, but it should be fully playable now. Big thanks to Vladimir Sotirov, without whom this wouldn't have happened.

Dink Smallwood HD Compatibility Fixes:

When playing in Dink Smallwood HD, a lack of semicolons at the end of goto statments causes them not to work. Vladimir Sotirov noticed this, added semicolons to the relevant scripts himself, and emailed them to me. This fixed nearly all of the countless problems this DMOD had running in Dink HD.

Changed the "skip intro" choice when playing in Dink HD to display faded up, since Dink HD won't display choice menu text while faded down.

Grardie.c: draw_background changed to draw_screen because Dink HD doesn't erase corpses and blood when draw_background is used. Unfortunately, draw_screen would mess up the arena, so you have to deal with corpses remaining there.

Added a 'key-##.c' type script to compensate for the fact that Dink HD uses different keycodes for certain letters.

Other fixes:

Typo fix: from from -> from (dukguy.c)
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Let's Play (DSPT)

December 2nd, 2014
v1.00
Score : 8.4 good
custom_skull.gif
Skull
Peasant Male Finland bloop
"I'd like to be a tree..." 
Do Note: This review was written for the initial version, so it might not be exactly accurate to the latest version, in all its aspects.

It's not often a D-Mod author from the very early days of Dink comes back and makes as big an impact on the community as Tim Maurer aka CocoMonkey has. Usually when a Dinker leaves, the most we'll hear from them is perhaps one or two quick forum visits a couple of years after they left, and then they disappear back into the shadows again. Tim, however, came back from nearly a FOURTEEN-year absence, which is insane! You can, without exaggeration, actually count him as one of the original Dinkers, all the way back from when Dink was released. Not only did he do that, which would have been awesome enough in itself, but he has blessed us with absolutely wonderful content since returning, with his "Crazy Old Tim Plays All The D-Mods" -project, Let's Play commentaries and all sorts of stuff. Amongst his contributions, he released a new D-Mod, Malachi the Jerk, which he created almost as a "vengeance" to his younger self, who was known to release less-than-stellar D-Mods.

I have to say, Malachi the Jerk is probably the best D-Mod released in the last four or five years. And I honestly wouldn't be surprised if somebody thought of it was the best D-Mod ever. I can certainly see why. However, there were quite a few things that I felt kept me from thoroughly enjoying the experience as much as I feel like I should have. It had lots of things that personally irritated me.

I finished the D-Mod, as far as I know, as completely as possible. I got through the main quest, I completed the Legendary Loaves quest, I finished the arena and I visited the secret "easter egg world". I didn't read the walkthrough once, but I did cheat two times, although I personally believe this was rather justified (I'll explain why later).

I thought that the D-Mod had excellent things about it, but that its best elements were also its greatest flaws. My biggest gripe with the D-Mod is that everything seems to take FOREVER! And it makes the game extremely frustrating at times. Literally, everything from examining things to boss battles seems to feel as long as watching 2001: A Space Odyssey through three times in a row. I actually remember making the joke in my head that maybe this D-Mod is the next in the Dink *Forever* series. The only things that didn't seem to take forever, are the ones that you would have expected to. I'll go through more of this during the review.

Story:
The storyline of the D-Mod is that Dink's popularity has faded and he's out seeking adventure, when he comes across a guy named Malachi who tricks him into a trap, and then steals all of his belongings. Dink, of course, enraged by this, begins his quest to escape and then find Malachi to exact revenge upon this douche. During the adventure he must go through all sorts of crazy quests, towns and dungeons, and meet lots of interesting people (who I'm happy to say, actually ARE interesting in this D-Mod), before he can get to his destination. The "Dink being bored of having no adventures" backstory isn't anything that special, but it's certainly far more rare than the typical "King Daniel sends Dink on a quest" intro.

Overall, the story is pretty well thought out and moves on well throughout the D-Mod, rarely being too forgotten in the background. Malachi appears quite often in the first half of the D-Mod, which is good to keep you reminded about your goal, and the D-Mod does a really good job in making him as annoying as possible. Seriously, I don't think I've ever wanted to beat up a character as badly in any D-Mod, as I wanted to beat Malachi. All around, the D-Mod is pretty good in drawing out emotion from the player. During the real ending, after the Legendary Loaves quest, I felt the D-Mod dropped the ball with Malachi's character, though. During the whole D-Mod, I wanted to beat him up, but towards the end, the D-Mod started working against itself in this. Malachi suddenly became much more likeable, for some reason, and I actually started feeling sorry for him. Dink seemed more like the real jerk in the end. Dink being a jerk is nothing out of the ordinary, but here it just felt... somehow wrong. I don't think it was supposed to have that effect, but it did for me.

While being structured well, the story is somehow simultaneously all over the place. I never got what the "idea" of the D-Mod was. Even after finishing it, I couldn't tell if the story was supposed to be serious or a joke. It seems to try to deliver a very serious message and dwell deep into Dink's issues, but it never worked out for me, because the D-Mod presents itself in a humorous way, constantly throwing fourth wall jokes for the player. There's an especially emotional scene with a dying Bonca, which I found unique and surprisingly sad. In all honesty, it probably would have gotten my eyes slightly teared, but I found it impossible to emotionally invest myself in this scene, because Dink was suddenly talking with "the author" and being informed that he was in a "game world" or something like that (I can't quite remember the exact way it goes). The "Dink talking to the D-Mod author" is not an unusual or a bad joke, but this D-Mod uses it at the wrong times. I think, in the end, the D-Mod tried a little too hard to bring serious stuff into a humorous environment. It would have worked far better for me, if the storyline was just simply "Malachi is a jerk who stole Dink's stuff, and now Dink wants to kick his butt", instead of dwelling into all this "Dink's emotional journey" stuff, which didn't really even lead to much in the end. Sometimes less is just simply more. The storyline is also somewhat predictable at times. Such as with the Shady Stranger part, which was obvious from the beginning.

Most of the characters all have distinct personalities, and makes talking to them fun. Out of all the NPCs, probably the least interesting and boring one to me was the mayor. The characters have lots of dialogue and options, and some even change their dialogue fifty (ok, maybe not that much, but I didn't exactly count) or so times. But I think this could've been implemented better. You end up walking back to previous areas quite often, so why not give new dialogue to the characters as the story progresses? Multiple dialogues with characters is nice, but I'd much rather have it unfold as I go through the D-Mod, instead of going through every conversation once and then having them say nothing new for the rest of the D-Mod. Of all the characters, it was actually Dink who was the most divided to me. He seems very... calm and nice for Dink. Of course, his personality varies a lot depending on the D-Mod, but here he just seems awfully un-Dinkish. Barely ever does he crack any smartass joke, or act like a moron towards women or make fun of people, like we're used to seeing from him, but then all of a sudden he's going crazy and throwing F-bombs all over the place. For some reason, this actually made me feel really confused. Speaking of F-bombs, there's a lot of them here. I never really found swearing that funny or fitting in Dink. I'm ok with some light swearing like "Dammit" and stuff, but Dink screaming F-bombs and sh*t never really worked for me.

The D-Mod also apparently has multiple endings, but I never found more than one. Unless you count the main story's ending as one of them, in which case I found two.

Gameplay:
The best part about Malachi's gameplay, is definitely the ideas. It's hard to come up with fresh ideas to add-ons for a game that's 16-17 years old. But Malachi is full of all sorts of crazy fresh ideas I never even thought of. Each dungeon, each boss and quite a few of the enemies all have some clever new tricks to them, that I've never seen before. In short, the gameplay is actually very, very good. However, it's also where most of my pet peeves come in, because despite finding it good, I also found it to be one of the most frustrating and dumbfounding D-Mods ever, for all the wrong reasons.

Let's start with the combat. This D-Mod suffers from the classic flaw that I call the POTA -syndrome. The D-Mod is far too easy when it comes to combat. Let me put it in perspective: at the beginning, the D-Mod offers an easy mode, which I didn't take. Couple of screens later, there's a hidden Fireball spell, which I never found until after completing the main quest. There's a secret island that sells you Herb Boots, super powerful Throwing Axes and all sorts of crazy stuff. I never got any of these before completing the main quest either. Only weapons I had throughout most of the D-Mod was the Claw Sword and the Acid Rain, and even then the enemies were far too weak. Towards the end, I started having a bit more trouble, but by that point you could buy the Flame Bow, which was waaaayyyy too cheap compared to its power. So even then the enemies weren't of any problem. The most annoying enemies in the game were those goddang Wasps and the multiplying Slimes. But even they weren't that difficult. The only time that I was truly challenged was at the Pillug Arena, but I'll talk more about that later.

The bosses all had an unique twist to them. There wasn't a single boss that didn't have some trick up their sleeve. However, unfortunately when it comes to challenge, this was all a big waste of scripting. The fights could've been amazing with all this neat stuff they do, but they're EXTREMELY boring and just like the regular enemies, easy as heck. In the start of the review, I said my biggest gripe with the D-Mod is that everything seems to take forever. This is where I get to talk about it. As said, all the bosses perform some cool trick, but often times these tricks provide no extra challenge. Such as the Ghost bosses. They turn invisible every once in a while, but they're super slow and as long as you keep your distance, there's no way they're going to hurt you. Then once they are back visible, you just go and punch them like any other enemy. This makes it feel like the battle takes forever, because most of the time you're just standing still, waiting for the Ghost to appear back, with nothing to hurt you whatsoever. The worst boss, when it comes to this, was definitely the Goblin King. He does a really greatly scripted spinning move, and bounces around the room, but literally all you have to do is stand still in one corner and wait for him to stop, then go bash him. He does this over and over too, which can potentially result in you having to stand in the corner for about a minute each time, with no hazard whatsoever, and just wishing he'd stop spinning so you would get to finish him off. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge in thse bosses is trying to keep your sanity from all the sitting and waiting.

Keeping on the topic of things taking forever, it's not just the boss battles, it's pretty much EVERYTHING in this D-Mod. The main one that annoyed me being the insane amount of dialogue and text. Tim is a very good writer, so I expected this from Malachi, but holy crap did it go overboard in this D-Mod. I'm not knocking the dialogue itself, there's pros to it. It makes scenes seem more important and gives characters much more depth. But like I said, this D-Mod's pros are also sadly its biggest cons. There's just simply too much text. I'm sorry, I know Tim must be proud of this accomplishment and I can see why, I can even see how some would like it, but when you run into an insanely long scene of dialogue every few screens, it's more annoying than all of Malachi's smartass remarks combined. Every little chat you try to have with an NPC, you get yourself stuck in a ten minute conversation. What's worse, if you forget to save and die, you have to watch them all over again, and they are LONG. I mean LOOONG. I can't stress it enough. Even with skipping the text, getting past one screen took five minutes sometimes, only to unveil another, even longer scene in the next screen. Sorry, all I can say about this is ugh. What if I'm supposed to be leaving somewhere soon and all I want to do is quickly check if an NPC has something new to say, and then quit? In that situation, I'm probably expecting the dialogue to be reasonably short, but with this D-Mod, you're just gonna have to quit the D-Mod if you're in a hurry, because you might have locked yourself in yet another five minute conversation. This actually happened to me more than once during the D-Mod. Even worse is, if you're in a new area and are trying to find a save machine and then quit the game, you might walk in the wrong screen and accidentally get yourself stuck in a chain of long scenes. In the end, I was so afraid of getting myself stuck in conversations, I was dreading to even examine a table.

And while I'm on the topic of examining things; With all the dialogue, I found it surprising how poorly the decoration was scripted. I was expecting Dink to make at least some form of comments about things, but very rarely he did. If you cut the other dialogues by half, and instead added it into examining things, I probably would've been much more pleased.

We're not done with the "taking forever" part yet. This same problem also exists in the dungeons. Most of them have screenlock after screenlock with screens full of monsters. One good thing is the screenlocks don't reset afterwards, but still, it almost feels like a deliberate trick to make the game seem longer when each dungeon takes twice as long just due to screenlocks. The one dungeon that annoyed me the most was the mud one. In this place, you walk slowly because of the sticky mud, and it's a great idea, no doubt. But again, this pro is also a con. It's extremely cruel to make the player walk through twenty screens so slowly, while having screenlock after screenlock with tons of enemies. It's ridiculous, yet again, because after a couple of screens getting used to it, it provides no challenge whatsoever, it just takes an eternity. And of course, out of all the mazes in the game, this one happened to be the one where I didn't get it right on the first try (there seem to be a lot of mazes in this D-Mod, but they aren't much of a challenge. Each except the mud one I got through on my first try).

Then there's the fetch quest part, which wasn't all that bad, but was also something I felt was stretched a little too long. Towards the end, it really started getting ridiculous and annoying. You have to walk back and forward a lot at this point, but I don't think I'd mind so much if the map was bigger. Since it's so small, you end up walking across the same screens about ten times within five minutes. Another thing that would have helped this part, is if things somehow progressed along the quest, but nothing happens. The only thing that does happen, IIRC, is that you get one of the Legendary Loaves. And that's it. The rest of the quest is literally just to get ONE FRICKIN' FLOWER! Dang. At least Dink complained about it, too. It would have really helped if Malachi showed up during this quest or something along those lines.

The D-Mod isn't that long. Around 2-2,5 hours. But all the, what I feel is, unnecessary prolonging makes the D-Mod easily longer than that. The only thing that I feel didn't take long enough, was buying the Flame Bow. In fact, I'd have accepted if that took me a few hours, but nope. With how easy the enemies are, it only takes about 10 minutes. It's crazy how the one thing I almost wanted to take long, didn't, but everything else felt like it took forever, to me. That's irony.

The humour in this D-Mod is pretty good. It mixes lots of fourth wall jokes and just generally very silly stuff. I can't say I laughed out loud at any point, but it was entertaining. Sometimes the humour was a bit of a miss, though, but that's understandable as the D-Mod goes on. I find that if more things were able to be examined, it would have provided an opportunity for more comedy. As said previously, the D-Mod tries to be funny with the swearing, but that doesn't really work out so well. The humour, like everything else, also takes forever at times. Some of the jokes last longer than a Family Guy gag (okay, maybe not THAT long). For example, there's a part where Dink has to recite a poem about wooden signs to a guard, to pass through, because the guard is disappointed at how many times you've punched signs (it actually counts, I think), which is funny stuff. But then when Dink recites the poem, it isn't that funny at all, and it just goes on and on forever. But I didn't wanna skip it fast either, cause I didn't know if any important dialogue would pop up at any second. Even worse, this is a necessary part of the game. Or at least I think so. I don't know what happens if you don't punch any signs.

I found the puzzles in the D-Mod to be very unique, clever and entertaining. They actually made you think, but weren't too difficult. Actually, they were far more well-balanced than the combat. Especially the last puzzle. At first it feels impossible, but once you put your brain into function, it's really fun!

The dungeons, despite being somewhat of a drag, are all unique and very cool. None of the dungeons felt similar. All had their own obstacles and surprises, and I was genuinely interested in each one. I think the dungeons in Malachi are as close as any D-Mod has gotten to the awesomeness of the dungeons in Cloud Castle 2. Except in CC2, they make a bit more sense. But then again, that D-Mod is much more of a sandbox-style game than Malachi.

I cheated twice during the game. Both times at the Pillbug Arena. This was without a doubt the most frustrating part of the game for me, and the only part where I had problems with the combat. Let me explain: You have to fight around ten rounds of SUPER WEAK enemies, then in the last four rounds, you have to fight four dragons, a Ghost Knight with around 500 HP, Seth who is as strong as in the first game, and then finally a Pillbug that is so fast there's no chance you'll run away from it. At first, I tried time and time again with the Claw Sword and the Acid Rain. I made it through the first ten or so rounds without a scratch, but then the last four rounds kicked my butt. I decided to forget it and finished the main storyline, during which I bought the Flame Bow. At this point, I went back to the arena, and the Flame Bow made each round ridiculously easy, except for the last one, cause the Flame Bow doesn't work on that one, instead you have to use a sword. I got my butt whooped each time, before I could figure out a strategy. However, THIS is where the most frustrating part I experienced in the whole D-Mod comes in. Everytime, you have to fight through EACH round again. It gets extremely boring and, once again, takes forever. You have to spend about ten minutes of literally not getting a single scratch, just to die at the end Pillbug. I gave it around seven shots, but finally decided to screw it and blow the enemies up with the Ultimate Cheat, until I reached the final Pillbug (even then it took forever), and after that I beat the Pillbug on the first try, cause I had come up with the proper strategy. I would have come up with it anyway, but I think it's extremely cruel to make the player go through so many easy rounds everytime before they get a chance to even try. In the end, I just couldn't be assed, since I knew the player's health would be refilled before the final Pillbug anyway. I cheated the second time when I played through the Arena again, to collect some tokens. I just wanted to collect them faster, since I already knew I was able to beat all the rounds with ease.

Also, I didn't really know where else to fit this, but one thing that dumbfounds me is the placement of some of the save machines. Why in the world would you have a save machine two screens apart from each other, in the overworld, but not a save machine at the end of a dungeon, or after a challenging puzzle? I just don't understand that.

Map:
The map of Malachi is quite straightforward. You never get to enter a new area until everything in the current one is completed. The map suffers a bit from being just a "tube" that you follow, with only an occasional detour. There's really no world-exploration. The closest you get to that is around the beach area. I don't think this is a problem though, cause Malachi somehow manages to make this work. I'm not sure how, but it does. The map just somehow makes sense, much more than in other D-Mods. Once you complete the main storyline, the map sort of becomes more of an open-world, but throughout most of the game it's just "follow this path of screens". It's actually kind of nice. You never get lost. But if you're looking for a big world to explore, this isn't the D-Mod to do that.

The decoration of the map was done by Leprochaun. He did an excellent job bringing the map alive! I hate to say it, but it really shows in the final product, that another person made the map, because it obviously got every single bit of attention from the person who made it. At points I felt some screens might have been a bit to crowded with stuff, but for the most part the decoration is amazing. Around the last maze, it seemed a bit bland, but honestly, bland screens were almost a nice welcome after so many screens filled to the max. The only thing I think could've looked prettier are the tile-transitions. While it sort of made for an unique look, at the same time it looked ugly.

Graphics:
I don't have much to say here. There were quite a few graphics collected from other D-Mods. Leprochaun used lots of these in the map decoration, and it really made the map look special and alive. There were also new enemies and some NPC-sprites were edited to create distinct looks. Many of the original graphics were used in new, imaginative ways.

Music:
The music was honestly my favourite part of this D-Mod. Lots of the music I've never heard in other D-Mods, which is highly unusual. They sounded like music from old N64 and PS1 games (Spyro the Dragon pops to mind). It was funny how at one point I was thinking that Malachi has sort of similar traits to Conker's Bad Fur Day, in its humour, and then later I found out the music that played was from Conker's Bad Fur Day. Maybe my brain made the connection?

Anyway, I always appreciate when people put a lot of effort to pick up the right MIDIs for their D-Mods, and it was obviously done here. The music that plays outside Malachi's house is especially memorable. The only MIDI that I couldn't stand was the one in the title screen. It was just an atrocious ear-killer with its screeching violin.

Overall:
Usually I put my "Good" & "Bad" sections here, but I feel like those have become clear enough by now without me separating them.

I have been extremely negative towards this D-Mod in my review, I've realized. But unfortunately one always finds more things to say about stuff they didn't like than about something that they did like. My original intention wasn't really to sound so negative, but at the same time, it's honest opinion. I wanna stress that I think Malachi is a great D-Mod. One of the best? Ehh, yes and no. I definitely can see how it would be, it's just those tiny things that I don't like that prevent me from fully enjoying it. I realize they're just little pet peeves, but when there's so many of them, it has an effect. Still, Malachi's the best D-Mod to have come out in a while and definitely up there. Out of all the things, I am most impressed with how quickly the D-Mod was made. And how polished it is, despite that. I feel that one thing that would have made the D-Mod better is if it was slightly bigger, both in map and longer in story. The dialogue takes far too much time and space from the game, imo, and I feel making the D-Mod a bit bigger would've helped this problem somewhat.

I did encounter a few bugs. None of them were game-breaking. The biggest one was where you wouldn't slow down on the mud, or you wouldn't speed back up on land. I've heard there are some game-breaking bugs, but I never ran into any. In the "easter egg land", I got stuck in hardness after one scene. I'm not actually sure if this was intentional or not, though, but I have a feeling it wasn't.

Fit for:
If you don't have the best attention span, like me, you might find this D-Mod extremely frustrating at times. If you're looking for a big map to explore and tough battles, then it's probably not for you. However, if you're looking for one of the most polished, innovative, different and overall best Quest-sized D-Mods available, this one is definitely for you. I might have seemed like I didn't enjoy it, but really, I did. I suggest you check it out in any case, even if you don't end up liking it as much as some people. It's still a very good D-Mod and worth it.

Tim definitely got his revenge on his younger self's D-Mod releases.
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