The Dink Network

Malachi the Jerk

February 15th, 2014
1.1
Score : 9.1 exceptional
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DinkKiller
Peasant Male United States xbox steam
The world could always use more heroes 
The year 2014 received its first D-mod not so long ago, and it turns out that it's quite a spectacle, to boot. Cocomonkey (Tim Maurer) is a notorious D-mod author from the early days of Dink, making several terrible D-mods, each being as bad as the last. Or so he says. After taking a long break from TDN in 2000, Tim returns in the year of 2013 and decides to make a brand new D-mod. One that doesn't suck. One that puts all of his previous work to shame. One that is competently made and probably really good. Did he succeed? Let's keep reading and find out for ourselves.

Sit down in your comfy chair by the fire, sip some hot coco or coffee, and relax. We have plenty to discuss about Tim's brand new piece of work: Malachi the Jerk

****MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW****

STORY
Tim is known as a word smith of sorts, and it shows. In the first five minutes, you're hit with walls of text that detail a pretty well thought out story. It's worth reading it all, because it's written very well, and it's quite interesting.

The story starts off with Dink in a bar, talking about the good ol' days when he was the hero who defeated Seth, and how he hadn't been on a real adventure since. As usual, the people in the bar don't believe him, except for one. A blond haired Milder-wannabe by the name of Malachi. He tells Dink of a nearby treasure and asks for help. Dink, wanting to adventure once again, accepts. They reach the end of a short dungeon and Dink crawls into the treasure room, which Malachi promptly seals off with a giant boulder. After a heated exchange, Dink swears to pay him back for his treachery and lies, and the games goes from there. While the revenge plot line isn't brand new, it's done from a fresh approach and is executed quite nicely.

One of the most surprising things that happened during the game was a rant Dink had about a blue bonca character, Grardlegar, about halfway through the game. Without giving too much away, Dink talks about how he regrets some of the things he did, and how big of a screw up he is. With sad music playing in the background during this scene, it pulled off a fairly emotional moment, something most D-mods don't even attempt. This was one of the most unique and best moments of the game. This relates to a theme that appears throughout the D-mod, which is that Dink starts questioning everything he's ever done and why he does what he does. Malachi triggered some sort of existential quandary for Dink. This was a very nice touch to the D-mod. The writing is definitely one of many high points of this whole adventure.

Another major point to the story is the humor. Tim did a lot of excellent writing here too. There were corny jokes, bad puns, bad references, good references, and everything else you'd expect from a Dink game. There were plenty of good, funny lines throughout the game that made the entire thing that much more enjoyable.

GAMEPLAY
There are a couple cool gameplay mechanics (or gimmicks) Tim put a lot of effort into for his comeback. The most prominent being a mud area, where Dink moves considerably slower while going through the mud. It's a serious handicap that brought about a more careful play style while traversing through the area to achieve your goals, and it was pulled off nearly flawlessly. One thing that bugged me about it is that while Dink moved slower, his frames didn't, so it looked a little weird.

Most of the boss fights had gimmicks as well, but they made them more unique, fun, and challenging. One example is a ghost knight which periodically turns invisible for a few seconds. It makes you walk around a little more carefully. Then there were the enemies in the final area, which all had special abilities. Boncas would heal HP every few seconds, slimes would multiply, and spikers would move lightning fast for a few seconds after being hit. It made the late game quite challenging, but far more interesting. Something else I felt was clever was that at the end of the game, there was a credits roll, that gets cut off, and then you go to the true end to the game. It's been done before I'm sure, but it was still interesting and cool. There were a couple puzzles in the game, though none were terribly complicated. Aside from the number/logic puzzle toward the end, your brain function will be down to a minimum.

DIFFICULTY
There are certain things some games should have, and that is the option to choose your difficulty. And this game has exactly that. When Dink gets trapped in the treasure room, on the wall there is a button which says "WUSS MODE" which turns the difficulty of the game down. I chose to ignore the button, against my better judgement, and played the challenging version. And challenging it was. Monsters give generous XP right off the bat to compensate you with bonus stats for the steadily increasing difficulty of the game, and it definitely helps. You encounter stronger and stronger enemies at fairly regular intervals throughout the entire game, and as long as you kill everything you encounter, you don't really need to grind for levels. Most games don't have such a well thought out curve like this, so this is another strong point.

However, there is one thing I have to mention about the late game. The Firebow. Yes, the Firebow makes it's return, and it's even better than before. It's cheaper, and it's more powerful. You have to grind a little bit to get the 10,000 gold for it, but once you do, the final area is a cake walk. Seriously, as far as I know it's a lot more overpowered than it was in the original game.

AESTHETICS
Graphics are a major component of any game. This D-mod uses plenty of new graphics (new as in not from the original game) and it uses them well. New brown "grass" tile sets which bring a feeling of desolation and emptiness to a town which happens to be named Disappointment. Wasp enemies make a return, and these ones actually fly over tile hardness which was really cool, but still hit sprite hardness. I thought it was a bug at first, but I tried walking over the same tile and I couldn't. There was also a set of graphics for a NPC in a dark, hooded cloak, which looked awesome, and to top it off it had a really well made animation where the NPC took off the cloak to reveal their secret identity. These graphics fit in perfectly with Dink's art style.

The maps are very beautifully detailed. Leprochaun did a really great job with them. Some screens seem like he went a little overboard with sprite placement, but even so, they look great. There was also a few points where depth queue was used to make something interesting. I found a screen with what looked like a woman impaled on a spiked fence, and it looked really good and violent. One of the areas that looked least interesting, at least to me, was Malachi's house. It was intricately detailed in some rooms, but for the most part it was a bit simple and empty at the same time.

SOUND
Another key factor to a game is its music and sound effects. This discussion won't be too long, because there isn't much to say. Malachi the Jerk had good music in it, though I feel that not all of it fit into Dink. I enjoyed the tracks taken from Sonic the Hedgehog games, though their instrumentation just didn't feel right for Dink's style. It was like this for a couple other tracks to me as well. I also strongly disliked the music that played in the mud area. It annoyed me for some reason. Sound effects were fine, as to be expected, though there were a couple that were out of place, for example, a bonca that roared like a dragon. Unusual, but not a bad thing, really.

FLAWS
I need to start off by saying that there is nothing inherently wrong with this D-mod. It's perfectly playable and it doesn't have major game breaking bugs all over the place. That being said, I know it's surprising, but no game is perfect. While I encountered few major bugs and numerous minor ones, I did experience one that broke the game, where I had to pretty much restart the entire game because of my lack of multiple save slots. (That bug is fixed already and will be in the next update.)
-There were a few tiling issues in the mud area, and there were certain areas where you would transition between two screens, one of which had the green grass tiles, and one had brown, dead grass tiles, and no medium between them, which looks a bit weird when going between the two screens.
-There was a rock that Dink decides he's going to punch through to get into a room, and it takes an obnoxious amount of time to do it. I was bored of that after about 5 seconds. It wasn't very fun.
-There was a mandatory fetch quest where you were running around, back and forth, for about 20 minutes collecting this and that from certain people to give to other certain people, and it was tedious and dull. Fetch quests are not fun.
-The dungeon of Pointlessness and the town of Disappointment are fitting names for what they were, but to me felt like unimaginative names that took little effort.

But here's the two things that annoyed me the most:
A.) You remember when I said that the Firebow was ridiculously overpowered? (If not, scroll back up and read the gameplay section again) Well, even with how strong it was, the final boss had a ludicrous amount of HP, and he took me nearly 5 minutes to kill. 5! This isn't a JRPG. A boss in a game like this shouldn't take so long to kill. Sure, maybe my aim kinda sucks, but even then, it's a long boss fight. I don't enjoy that!
B.) This is what really got me. There was this secret I had found by burning down a tree, pretty early in the game. So I open the chest in the room and this bonca spawns. I'm like, 'Okay, that's different'. And it turns out said bonca is really freaking powerful, and ends up killing me. On the second try, I kill it, and am rewarded with a defense potion. Not super helpful at this point in the game. I don't appreciate being punished for my exploration. This really ticked me off.

REFLECTION
Despite its flaws, which really are minor compared to a lot of other D-mods, I still enjoyed the heck out of this game. Ever since Cocomonkey announced he was starting to work on a new D-mod back in August/September or so, I was excited to play it. And he did not disappoint. The story and humor was fantastic, there was plenty of uniqueness to the gameplay, and graphically it looks pretty dang good. I would recommend this D-mod to everybody, and I'd play this a hundred times without question. Sir Tim, you have definitely redeemed yourself in the eyes of the D-modding community. Well done!

VERDICT
9.1