The Dink Network

Crazy Old Tim Plays all the DMODs of 2002

September 17th 2014, 05:43 AM
custom_coco.gif
CocoMonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
Once again, here are some writings about DMODs from a given year. Most of these were written before I could post images on the forum, so they appear here for the first time with inline images and captions.

2002 was an eventful year, featuring such DMODs as "As Good as Eternity," "Cloud Castle," "Pilgrim's Quest," and the Alternative Hero Contest entries, including "Cycles of Evil" and "Lyna's Story."

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join this man to this ridiculous quest to play hundreds of Dink Smallwood games.


What's that? He's already taken? Never mind then.

Ah, 2002. For all my blathering on about departing from the Dink community in the past couple of years, I was still around a little bit. Not this time. By 2002 I was SOLID gone. Free at last of my insidious shadow, the Dink community kicked into high gear and cranked out those DMODs with a quickness.

They look like an interesting bunch, too. Notably, 2002 was the year of the first DMOD contest since Mike Synder's back in 1998. The Alternative Hero contest gave rise to Paul Pliska's mod "Lyna's Story," which I've heard a lot of buzz about. This is also the year in which the top rated DMOD on the website, Simon Klaebe's epic "Pilgrim's Quest," was released. I really know nothing at all about these DMODs, so I get to experience the community's favorites with a fresh perspective.

Actually, there was another epic released almost right after FIAT! First, however, let's take the time to say goodbye to one of the more prolific DMODders.

111: DOEM Author: JVeenhof Release Date: January 8, 2002

Yes, DOEM is the final release by JVeenhof. I was kind of shocked when I checked my list and realized this. I'd gotten so used to typing "JVeenhof" in the author's field that I thought it'd go on forever. In a way I'm kind of sad.

Jan Willem has 8 DMODs to his credit on TDN, but he's also responsible for some of the "lost DMODs," including a DMOD based on the comic book Spawn and something called "Dink Logan." His work displayed a unique combination of caring enough to have interesting and creative ideas with caring too little to bother with things like polish, stability, or balance. On the whole it isn't the best, but the Dink world would lose some of its unique Dinky flavor without it. And you know, for what it's worth, I thought the original "9 Gems" was really cool.

DOEM was an early project that JVeenhof picked back up after abandoning it for a couple of years. The description reads, "I started working on it afther finishing Dink Logan my very first DMOD. Halfway through I stopped working on it for some reason I can't really remember anymore. Then a year or so later I gave it to TIM to finish it, to help him on his way with making his first DMOD. TIM disseaperd though so for another long time it rested on my hardisk. I receantley found it and decided to finish it myself."

..."TIM?" He can't be talking about me. I don't remember this, and my first DMOD came out before Dink Logan. It feels weird reading that, though. The readme also notes that this mod is a tribute to "Slaughterhouse" by Kevin Kazimir, the winner of Mike Snyder's DMOD contest. Boy, this one is hitting me with all sorts of nostalgia for the really early days before I even boot it up.

"DOEM" is a short one with a simple map that amounts to nothing more than a little joke. A man seeks Dink's help to find his brother, who is trapped in a fairly large underground cave filled with monsters. Dink eventually finds out that the guy's brother is already dead. "Great!" says the guy, "Now I get his money!" and gives Dink some cash for his trouble. Da da da da da da! Goodnight everybody, be sure to tip your waitress.

Containing MIDIs and even a couple of NPC shop scripts from the original game, this would be a total throwback to the earliest mods if it weren't for the use of recolored sprites and redink1's lantern effect. Combat certainly isn't a problem with the stats you get. It took me 17 minutes to win because I failed for several minutes to make the connection that I should blow up large rocks that were in my way with bombs I could purchase at the weapons shop. I am hilariously stupid.


Recoloring the sprites was a nice touch that adds to the dimly-lit atmosphere.

The "Slaughterhouse" connection doesn't show up until near the end, when the evil boss turns out to be the joke duck boss from that DMOD known as HIM. HE puts up more of a fight this time, but ultimately is just as big of a joke as before due to your stats. Actually, I hope this was intentional. This duck came back from Hell to get his revenge, but dammit, he's still just a duck. That's pretty funny.


As you can probably tell, "DUCK BOM" isn't anything to worry about.

If you're curious, by the way, "DOEM" turns out to be just a silly way to say the word 'doom.'


How does one pronounce DOEM, I wonder?

The dialogue here has better spelling and grammar than any other JVeenhof DMOD. This is because it was updated in July 2002, and he got Tal to spellcheck it for him. Back in Dink X Trivia, JV proclaimed that he and Tal had such an antagonistic relationship that they were "like God and Satan," so if they can work together, there may be hope for all of us. The readme indicated that he was going to go back and fix up more of his DMODs; this never happened, which is a big shame, because they could really have used it.

I think I can confirm that "TIM" was not me, but I did make a few attempts at collaboration back in the day. One time I got a bunch of people interested in a big collaborative DMOD that we'd pass around and work on in turn - unlikely to say the least. Actually, the project did make it past "post on the forum" stage, surprisingly enough. I remember a short alpha. Dink, who had crazy high stats, was followed around by a sidekick on an ominous mission. Rain fell, and it was dark. The idea was that the Great Hero Dink would die, and you would have to carry on as the sidekick. The concept and dialogue were mine, but everything else was done by another Dinker, though I can't remember which one. Boy, if you think there are a lot of DMODs, imagine how many there would be if every project had lead to a release.

I forgot to note this in my last couple of posts: On December 27, 2001, Dink Smallwood 1.07 Beta 3 was released. This would be the last official version of the game for several years.

---

112: As Good As Eternity Author: Tyrsis Release Date: January 9, 2002

"Don't shoot the piano player, he's doing his best."

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group to have a rating of 9.0 or better (9.1) on The Dink Network.

Tyrsis doesn't really fit the typical profile of a DMOD author, being in her mid-forties when she released this DMOD and hailing from Russia. She also released a file called Dink's Trunk, which expands and improves upon the game's inventory in what sounds like a very nice way, although I'm not sure whether anybody ever used it in a proper DMOD. I can't say for sure, but it seems to me that the release of this Epic DMOD was a bit of a surprise for the community.

AGAE is another "sorta-epic" like the Dorinthia mods, in that there's a big map but it took me a bit over three hours to finish (and I wasn't in a hurry). It's a solid, fun Dink adventure. Nothing about it impressed me to the point where I'm gonna rave about it, but I was only occasionally frustrated or bored. It's way above average and I recommend it.

This DMOD is unusual in the way it pours on the enemies, powerups and gold. It's not hard to get to level 12 or to have over 20,000 gold. Surprisingly, I didn't find this to make the DMOD TOO excessively easy, though if you're out for a tough challenge, you might want to skip some potions and hearts. Even if you stock up, though, the final boss is tough enough to get you if you're not careful (I was).


Aww, crap, he likes it. Nothing ruins the fun of a good final-boss-pounding like that.

There were quite a few little secrets. They were all pretty easy to find, but to be honest, I found that to be a nice change of pace from the impossibly-hidden secrets I've been encountering in many mods. You can get so much gold in this mod that there are a couple of mildly useful ways to burn it off. You can exchange 5000 gold for an attack point midway through the game and the same for a point of defense just before the boss. I'd go with the latter, although it doesn't matter that much.


This is the game's biggest secret. There's real WAV-based music on this screen.

One thing I'm going to have to dock this DMOD for is that it doesn't keep a tight enough control on the order of story events. While this doesn't seem to result in a game you can't complete, it does create confusing and frustrating situations. Sent to fetch some "dead water" for Dink's stepmother, I was bewildered to get into a boss fight when I returned.


I swear, she doesn't shut up for the entire fight.

After spending a tense seven minutes killing her, I found out afterward that I was supposed to have talked to a hermit in order to both find out she was evil and receive the claw sword. Needless to say, it shouldn't be possible to trigger a scene in which Dink specifically references this conversation without having it first. There were a couple more cases like this throughout the DMOD.

I also managed to get stuck once without a way to continue - and it wasn't due to a glitch! I simply hadn't gotten an upgrade for my special sword. In order to get it, I had to load my save. I think it should be a rule of game design that if the player can miss something required to progress, you need to let them go back for it in some way. *Glares at King's Quest VI*


Only a magic sword can do something as difficult as cutting vines.

The maps in this DMOD are a bit of a mixed bag. Some screens, especially those with original 2D art, look really nice:


A bit cluttered, perhaps, but it's better than a boring, empty map.


Some screens really look gorgeous. This is some of the best work I've seen done with the castle sprites.

Others, however, have unusual tiling that just looks off:


This might be intentional, but I don't think it looks very good.

I appreciated the sound in AGAE a lot. A lot of nice MIDIs, mostly from James Perley's old set, were used, and they really set the mood for me. There was an interesting effect where battle-type music plays until you defeat all the enemies on the screen, and then cuts off. The DMOD also uses two full songs in .WAV format, which might be unprecedented at this point.


Wow. Such pages. Much plot item. Very progression. Wow.

While AGAE wasn't a really jokey mod, there were some observations made about Dink's world in this DMOD and in general that made me laugh. This sort of thing has been done over and over, of course, but it felt subtler and more natural here. I particularly liked Dink's anxiety about the save machines and his friendly observation about wizards' houses.


Dink makes a good point. That humming would kind of get to you after a while. Just... unsettling, is all.


This is due to magic. Duh.

I haven't talked about the plot much - Dink has to summon an evil being to his realm so he can banish it away again for seven thousand years - certainly "as good as eternity from his perspective. His evil stepmom at the beginning works for this entity. There isn't a lot more to the main story than that.


*Applauds politely at the use of the title*

There was one rather curious segment, though. In a little sidequest that I think is quite optional (and indeed pointless), Dink comes across a small religious settlement whose population is dying out for lack of water. Bizarrely, they refuse to help themselves, believing forbearance to be such an absolute virtue that they welcome their death with grim determination.


It is just depressing how many real-life parallels there are to this.

By this time, I had already saved a goblin village from the same problem using magic:


You're damn right I good human.

Rinse and repeat, I thought - literally. But these people did not want Dink's kind of help.


I guess you have to give them some credit for not abandoning their principles when it's inconvenient? That, or they're just crazy.

The only way to escape was to murder the lot of them. It was a strange little story, but I can definitely get behind these scenarios in which the "hero" achieves nothing at all. There's only so much you can do, especially for those who don't want to be saved.

113: Dinky Dimensions 2: The End of Time v2 Author: Dan Walma Release Date: January 10, 2002

"It doesn't make any sense..."
"It does, actually, but in a perverted way."


REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group to have a rating of 9.0 or better (9.0) on The Dink Network.

Lordy.

So it goes like this: this is... what I'm going to call a 'reimagining' of redink1's (Dan's) 1999 DMOD "End of Time" in order to make it better follow FIAT, which was intended to be a prequel to EOT in the first place. These two DMODs were intended to be part of a longer series that had a variety of names. Some time after this release, Dan changed his mind about the "Dinky Dimensions" title. He decided to call the series "Ancient Legacy."

In 2003, the plan was for five DMODs:

"Part 1: Initiation (Quest)
Part 2: Paragon (Epic)
Part 3: FIAT v1.00 (Epic)
Part 4: EOT v2.50 (Quest)
Part 5: Hidthspace Revolution (Epic, probably)"

"Hey," I hear you saying, "that first one sure sounds familiar." That would be because it actually came out in 2004. By then, the name of the series had been changed to "Cast Awakening." The links between them were not meant to be all that direct, however. And that was all.

Incidentally, if you want to know the real history of the Dink community from somebody who was actually involved in it instead of my fuzzy and often inaccurate take, go read through the Recondite posts if you haven't already, especially starting with the ninth one. You can learn about things such as the Dinkanoid high score "scandal" (maybe nobody actually cheated?), JVeenhof's fake death, and more. Oh, Dink World - that was the name of the site where the anon war happened. That's what I was talking about way back in the Gnug's attack writeup in the 1999 topic. What a tangent!

I've been lead astray in regards to this DMOD: I've been told that it's basically the same as the 1999 mod. Actually, the two have very little in common! This one is longer and better than the original, so you'd expect that it has lots of content that the other version does not; however, the original also has quite a bit of content that you don't see here either (no insane farmers demand spam here). For much of the DMOD, the experience feels totally unrelated, and the only part that really feels a lot like the original is near the end. I feel comfortable regarding the releases as two separate DMODs.

EOTv2 has some of the same touches of presentation that were present in FIAT, like redink1's crazy exploding-ducks logo and an unusual title screen.


Duck #2: Well, THIS is unlikely to turn out well.


The title screen comes in with a neat crosswipe effect.

Take a look at this loading screen too:


Nasty.

Oh, and Tal drops some more prophecy on us. It's quite foreshadowy.


Dink Network trivia: Miasma is the name of the 'engine' behind the website.

Since this is pretty much a brand-new DMOD, it's impressive that redink1 managed to finish it so quickly. It does feel rushed in places. There are plenty of doors and other objects Dink can clip behind, and some fatigue from just having made FIAT shows in the fact that there aren't a lot of objects that respond to the talk command here. There's even a sign that doesn't say anything, which is always a bummer.

Whereas the original EOT started in the area where Dink can buy the flame bow in the main game, this version begins in Windermere. About the first third of the DMOD takes place there. Some of the nearby islands that were mapped but empty in the original game are used. It was nice to spend a little more time in Windermere, although the town seems to have let some things go.


Windermere's citizens are a fickle bunch.

On the other hand, that talking tree finally does something! Hooray for that. The flame bow guy is still in the same spot, and you can find a secret stash of money to afford one, but since this mod lacks Bow Lore, it's utterly useless.


This pointless thing bugged me in the original game. Why was it there? I was convinced it did something, but no.

I did a lot of walking in this one, and it did get a bit dull at times. It's not anything like the original, though, which required you to walk all the way back and forth with the bomb machine several times. Ugh, that sucked.

There was a memorable segment where Dink hallucinates a blood-red world, where he fights and kills Seth, Milder, and his own mom, all of whom are already dead. Apparently this dream is supposed to somehow communicate the future, but I didn't get it. Still, it got my attention. I am in favor of weirdness.


Wait... is this where Mario comes from? Is there a green dimension for Luigi?

For most of the DMOD, I had a pretty fun time, but there's a really awful segment near the end that drove me crazy. Dink has to navigate a cave maze filled with tiny pillbugs. You have to stop and slowly, torturously chop them all down as you go. This is made worse by the fact that if you have to double back for some reason, they'll all be back!


Screw this part. I'm not kidding.

The maze is also infuriatingly huge and really tried my patience. Seriously, take a look at this:


As an aside, "This is complete bullshit" is one of my favorite sentences.

I'd like this one a lot more if you simply cut this segment out.

As in the original End of Time, Dink ends up accidentally destroying the town of Windermere, which the mod really lingers on this time. It was already dark the first time around, but the fact that I had just spent a third of this very mod hanging out in Windermere made the loss more immediate to me. The characters who perish are characters in this story and not dimly remembered ciphers from the original game. I have to confess, it put a bit of a lump in my throat.

In the 1999 version, Dink is sentenced to life imprisonment for his crime. Here, things go even worse:


Oh. That's... oh.

Without Dink, the world is left at the mercy of King Daniel's evil brother, and the story ends.

Obviously, the never-produced final part of the story was to involve Dink being resurrected in some way (sounds familiar). In its absence, though, I guess this stands as the ending of the Redinkiverse. It's a bit of a rushed effort, but it's still a pretty solid DMOD and way more than I was expecting from a remake of End of Time. If I ever play it again, though, I'm cheating past the damn tiny pillbugs.

114: The Monster House Author: Timo Jyrisoo Release Date: January 26, 2002

"Dink must kill all monster in the house!"

OK, I'm impressed. Somehow Timo managed to make an adaptation of a movie four years before it came out! Naw, I'm just playin'. The actual plot is that a "house" (actually just a hallway) is full of all the monsters from the original game, and Dink has to kill them.

Hmmm... You know what, yes. Yes, I am going to do it.

*********This DMOD, "The Monster House,"***********
********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
**********On this day May 11, 2014***********

There are nine rooms in this DMOD. Seven of them contain monsters. Dink is equipped with a claw sword to defeat the monsters. If you bring up the inventory screen, you'll find that you also have the spell of fireball, which is nice, although it's odd that it isn't equipped from the start. The monsters you encounter are, in order: pillbugs, boncas, slayers, dragons, stone giants, spikies, and slimes. Each room contains a sign, which will display the name of the monster for you. Each room is screenlocked until you beat the monsters, but since the slimes screen has a warp on it, defeating the slimes is unnecessary. There are no savebots. There is one MIDI.


Here is a picture of the victory screen. Now you don't have to play it.

There; now you may as well have played this, because there isn't much to it. Even that quotation up there is from the dmod.diz file. I was almost going to spare it the Award of Badness because it pretty much accomplishes what it sets out to do, but the spikies (referred to here as "roll or something") each have five hundred hit points. Five hundred! And there are a lot of them. They move too slowly to present you any threat, so you get to experience the fury of nearly ten minutes of dull, dull chopping. By the way, the spikies come with a neat little animation where they stop moving and fold up. How come so few DMODs use that as the death?

115: The Legend of Pärnu (Beta) Author: Timo Jyrisoo Release Date: February 28, 2002

"There is many shop!"

Pärnu is a city in Estonia. As an Estonian, Timo must have a special interest in the fact that "Dink must save the Pärnu," as stated in the dmod.diz.

The version of LOP that currently exists has a main.d file that, like all the scripts in Gnug's Attack, contains just one character: ’. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a DMOD had no main.c/d script? I will tell you what it is like: IT IS HILARIOUS.

When I started this DMOD, I heard the level up noise. 0 experience was good enough to level Dink up from 0 to 1! Dink celebrated his good fortune by dropping dead immediately, as he also had 0 life. I was still able to increase a stat before the load/restart/quit prompt came up.


Yay!

This made me laugh so hard, I nearly fell out of my chair. Words don't do it justice: Start game, Happy level up tone, Dink falls over dead. All within two seconds.

Well, I'm game. Only some of the scripts seem to have the bizarre ’ problem, so let's try replacing the main.d with the one from the original game and see how it goes. Hopefully Timo didn't add any new global variables...

...Okay. He did, and the scripts that reference them cause crashes. Bummer!

It'd take more work than I'm willing to put in to make this playable. It's too bad, because I'm missing an even better virtuoso performance in crazy English than True of Life. Let's at least have a look at some of the things the DMOD would have said...

"Duck his death!" - Dink, after failing to save an old man. This is immediately followed by kill_game().

A conversation between Dink and a man named Jack:


Dink: Do you have job?
Jack: Yes i have!
Go to east there are ducking bitch soldier. Kill him!.
Dink: Okay i kill him.
Jack: Good!


Really, everyone seems to say the F-word every few sentences, as if they're testing it out to make sure it still works under heavy usage.


Dink: What place there is?
Soldier: There are the Nikolai Street.
There is many shop!


Hahaha yes. YES. "There is many shop!" <3

Oh, and you should try hitting this guy:

"You can't kill me! I'm a very strench!

Too bad this one doesn't work. To be honest, though, it looks like there wasn't much here anyway. This DMOD's corruption has likely saved it from an Award of Badness. Timo, you were a very strench.

116: Gorack, Umtar, and Shreik: The First Battle Author: Marijn van Sliedregt Release Date: March 28, 2002

"I think it's better not to sign up"

This was the most confusing experience I've had yet. First of all, it richly deserves some recognition.

******This DMOD, "Gorack, Umtar, and Shreik,"******
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   **********On this day May 13, 2014***********


I've got no clue what this DMOD is supposed to be about. I've got very little clue what even happened in it. The description is no help - it just says "I'm not giving away information!" The DMOD adopts a similar attitude.

It takes place in some hunting grounds belonging to a "Mr. Buxton," who does not appear in the DMOD. One is supposed to sign up in order to hunt there, but since Buxton isn't around, you can't. You can encounter a bewildered would-be hunter who declares that the forest is fake, and there are no animals. Your guess is as good as mine, buddy. By the way, both NPCs you can encounter fail to freeze you for conversation, so you have to wait around to hear it, a true DMOD sin.

The only thing that happens in this DMOD is that Dink encounters a violent knight who takes him to a weird place. Dink must fight the knight and his two friends - these are Gorack, Umtar and Shreik. This takes place on top of an odd picture.


...Darth Maul?

It's not hard to win if you equip the +25 longsword sitting in Dink's inventory. When you beat the trio, Dink declares that you have won. I raved at my computer for about an entire minute to the effect of, "Wait, what? What the duck was that?"

As usual, I'll attempt to make up a point. The reason there are no animals on the hunting grounds is that those who sign up to be hunters are actually the prey; the real hunters sign up elsewhere, for a much higher entry fee. Gorack, Umtar and Shreik signed up to hunt the hunters. Unfortunately for Mr. Buxton, he failed to safeguard himself adequately from his murderous clientele and fell to their axes himself. Fortunately for the others, Dink put an end to their hunt prematurely.

...Eh, it's been done before. I'll give it a thirteen out of ten, but no higher.

117: Kill the Hippies Author: Josh "Riot" Kosloski Release Date: April 6, 2002

"peace and love dude"

Now that's what I like to see: A DMOD with a clearly stated point! And you know, I don't much care for hippies either, so I'm on board.

This is a short weird thing where you mostly throw axes at so-called "hippies," who do, to their credit, shoot back at you. So much for making love rather than war. You're also carrying a bow, if that's your thing. Dink has a stick of dynamite from the start as well, but it's not clear what it's for. All of this occurs to the tune of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit."


I guess these things are hippies in much the same way that those green-haired things are lemmings.

Anyway, you save the game (hardly necessary) by shooting disco balls, and there are smiley faces that you can make tricky diagonal shots at to get a life extension. If you're more of the "why can't we all just get along" type, it's not actually necessary to kill any of the hippies - you can walk straight to the end.

This one demonstrates some of the potential of a "shooting gallery" type mod, but any such potential is not realized at all here. However, it's enough of a laugh just for how odd and dumb it is to keep it out of Award of Badness territory.

Your reward for winning is an amusingly incoherent rant followed by that dynamite you've been carrying around blowing up and killing you. Violence!


Appearantly some of this text was redacted. I will forever wonder what it says.

118: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ Author: Elias Hasle Release Date: April 6, 2002

"Dinner!"

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the incredibly select group to have a score lower than 1.0 (0.6) on the Dink Network!

What a distinguished run of releases we're facing in mighty 2002. Truly, this was the peak of the Dink Smallwood community.

I wanted to skip this one. However, I did say "All the DMODs," so let's get this over with.

*************This DMOD, "[Alphabet],"**************
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   **********On this day May 13, 2014***********


This is the least interesting DMOD ever released. The premise is that Dink's full name is actually 26 words long, beginning with "Adolph Blaine Charles Dink" and ending with "Yancy Zeus." It doesn't even have "Smallwood" in the S place. It reminds me a little bit of the Monty Python sketch about the composer with the really long name, except that that was funny and this isn't. The DMOD (if such it can be called) conists of Dink announcing the name and a bit of dialogue about moms and dinner. It then returns to the title screen (there isn't one).

The author requested that this DMOD be removed, and so it was on August 11, 2002, making it a "lost DMOD." However, he put it back up on March 29, 2005. I honestly can't imagine why.

The author claims that the purposes of this DMOD include to be a joke, to start a debate, and to be "art." I don't see how taking it down for a couple of years lines up with these goals - to increase its notoriety? I'm not buying it. At any rate, a debate over this game's artistic merit is pointless; clearly, it hasn't got any. If you want to roll your eyes so hard they might come out of their sockets, you can read Ehasl's own review, in which he essentially claims victory for the reaction gained by his intentionally bad DMOD.

Indeed, this is probably the most-reviewed DMOD on the site. Almost all of the reviews absolutely rip the thing to shreds, but I have a hard time figuring out why people thought it was worth discussing at all. Lord knows that if this project were anything but "All the DMODs," I wouldn't waste my breath. That's why I wanted to skip it - too many words have been said about this already. It isn't art, it isn't funny. The only thing you can really take from this is that the Dink Network should have standards about what it accepts and publishes. I *HATE* this kind of shit. It's like "B" on Newgrounds. I'm convinced this sort of crap exists to annoy me personally.

119: Once in a Lifetime Author: Simeon Release Date: April 8, 2002

"You see, we live in the biggest pimplecreamcrisis since 1967..."

Same as it ever was... same as it ever was.

"Once in a Lifetime" is the first DMOD by Simeon, the author of two more mods including the epic "World of DinkC," which is one of the few post-2001 DMODs I've actually played before. I wasn't a fan back in 2006, but I'll talk about that when I get there.

This one was an amusing 40-minute quest that passed in a pleasant way, even though I was never sure of what was going on or why it has that title. It seems that some people have been forced off of half of the island on which they reside by a bunch of monsters; the only explanation you ever get for this is that a giant pillbug did it. Okay. The plot is incredibly standard DMOD stuff, Dink's involvement coming about because he's sent to the island on a boat by King Daniel. Still, it won some points with me for being highly silly throughout without lapsing into total incoherence. The tone of this mod is so happy-go-lucky that even when I found the diary of a doomed man trapped by the oncoming monsters, it didn't move the needle on the mood of things even a little.


I have about had it with you trees and your delusions of grandeur.

There's quite a bit of optional stuff here. There are little red sparkles called orbs strewn about - I immediately thought of Quest for Cheese, but it's actually not much like that. Whereas "Cheese" hid its pixy poops quite cleverly, these orbs are not so much hidden as they are a reward for being thorough and paying attention. In the end, they don't do anything but determine how good a set of powerups you get near the end, and it doesn't matter anyway, because the giant pillbug is a pushover.

Of more interest: by going out of your way and solving a puzzle, you can unlock something called Dink's Pimple Minigame, an even sillier DMOD romp where Dink seeks pimple cream and to defend a village from invading goblins.


I'm a little disappointed that no attempt was made to actually give Dink a pimple. I bet it would have looked hilarious.

It turns out that the goblins are only invading because their leader also suffers from an ugly blemish, and they don't have any pimple cream either. It doesn't get much sillier than this.


Most sitcom-ready plot in a DMOD ever.

If I had to describe "Once in a Lifetime" in one word, it'd be 'agreeable.' It wasn't by any means great, but I've got nothing bad to say about it except that the story was a hardly-there mess, which didn't bother me terribly given that it took less than an hour all together. You could do a lot worse than to play this one.

120: Milderr!! 3: End of Questing Author: Sharp (Anna-Leena) Release Date: April 8, 2002

"Watch the madman burn!!"
"He burns!"
"He burns!"


I'll say that Milderr!! 3 is the best game in the trilogy. Things seemed to make a bit more sense here, and it had better structure than its predecessors. This was still an awfully weird one, though.


I'm sincerely sorry about this map work.

The maps aren't very good. There's a place where you're expected to walk on water without being told this is the way to proceed, or being given any indication of why this works. As ever, there isn't much combat because Milder lacks an attack animation, although there is one battle against a dragon that can be impossible if you didn't think to bring several elixirs from the early game. A visit to Terris includes some "invisible walls." There was a spot where I got stuck behind the hardness line of some trees. In terms of mechanics, this is a substandard DMOD, but not terrible.


Hey mister, if you're going to walk on water / You know you're only going to walk all over me.

Sharp's DMODs do have an odd sort of personality going for them, though - it's what made me strangely enjoy "Forest of Dangers" despite the fact that there was practically nothing to it. The dialogue in "Milder 3" (Shut up, that's what I'm going to call it) is more mature than the author's previous mods without losing that bizarre flavor that I can't quite seem to explain. These mods have a tone that's unlike any other DMOD I've played. I'd almost call it nihilistic, but that doesn't quite fit.

Milder's character is stronger in the third mod, and seems to be a valid interpretation (though not the ONLY valid interpretation) of what we know about him from the original game. He cares about himself above all else; though he may be attached to someone else and attempt to help them, if the opportunity passes, he doesn't worry about it too much. Some of the morally questionable things that Milder does in this DMOD are in a grey enough area that I could see Dink doing them, like when he passes the blame for killing a "bonca god" to a guy who had tried to screw Milder over anyway, resulting in his death by burning.


You might think I'm taking a silly mod a bit too seriously, but this scene made me kind of uncomfortable.

Others are on a whole new level of ****ed up. When Milder helps out a village that has lost its witches, they reward him by sacrificing three people in order to add their strength to his own. The sacrifices include a woman, who volunteers eagerly; a knight, who volunteers reluctantly; and a little girl, who begs not to be killed. Milder is completely fine with this.


I just... I don't even know what to say.

Everything is like that, in Sharp's world of Milder's adventures. There's no such thing as loyalty or moral consideration, nothing that will hold up to the slightest test. Milder spends most of the DMOD looking for Lyna, but when he finds out that she's dead (from Dink, who seems awfully happy about it despite the fact that he's become her husband), he doesn't sweat it: "Oh, that was no big deal. I never liked her anyways. Never." If Milder volunteers to help somebody, the odds are good that he screws them over in short order, but he gets almost as good as he gives. Every time you think you've achieved something, it doesn't work out well for long, and the plot steadfastly refuses to keep going in one direction. You're told you have to kill an evil dragon, but it turns out that the dragon was supposedly good. You're told that you have to work with Sharp instead of killing her, but that doesn't happen, and then it turns out that she really is evil and is killed anyway. Milder, for his part, takes it all pretty much in his stride. I'm the one who's left reeling.

There's a dark kind of humor about it all. As dark as this is, it's never all that serious. I laughed out loud several times at some witty dialogue. For example, Milder asks a bar owner why the place looks so crappy:

"It's not crappy!"
"Oh, now I see."
"Sure, it just began to look like a palace."

I also enjoyed a sassy fountain that refuses to heal you.


Well, it's got a point.

While it's still kind of weak in terms of gameplay and doesn't tell a grand story either, I found this tale of depravity quite interesting, and far superior to the earlier installments. I don't think anyone else could recreate this bizarre, slightly unsettling feeling if they tried.

121: Quest of Glandor (Unfinished) Authors: John M. Hagen, Christiaan Janssen Release Date: April 17, 2002

"hint to player: not finished"

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the incredibly select group to have a score lower than 1.0 (0.5) on the Dink Network!

I've disagreed before with the community that certain DMODs should be rated highly. I've yet to disagree that something should be rated below 1.0. This isn't an exception, but unlike the other very bad DMODs, this one doesn't seem to fail due to a lack of talent or ambition.

I have to give it one of these on general principle alone.

**********This DMOD, "Quest of Glandor,"***********
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   **********On this day May 22, 2014***********


It's hard to stay motivated when making a DMOD. They're a lot of work, and even in the best of times, not all that many people were going to play them. None of us are making The Stanley Parable here. Your determination to make something and finish it has to be pretty much its own reward. It's understandable that a lot of projects run out of steam, and you can't blame authors for wanting to get a version of what exists of their abandoned project out there so that their work hasn't gone to waste. Hell, the community has benefited from this practice. Think of the great unfinished mods out there - Dink's Doppelganger, Crosslink, Back from the Grave. But you know, there's a point at which it's just insulting. "Quest of Glandor" is past that point.

The only thing the DMOD really contains is a bonca who tells you that he would be a really awesome boss if he were finished. I have to admit that it's kind of entertaining to watch the bonca and Dink (actually Glandor I guess, but I'll get to that) talk about which MIDI the fight would use and so on. After a minute or so, though, he sets you free to explore the "rest of the demo."


In case you can't read that, it says, "Hey! Here's supposed to be a giant monster which is very hard to beat!"

I wasn't sure what he meant at first, as there only seemed to be three screens, but eventually I found that there's a way to get out. I regretted it, as the rest of the screens contain absolutely nothing of interest. They're dull and unfinished.

If you want to know anything at all about the plans the authors had for "Quest of Glandor," you have to look in the DMOD's folder. There, you will find an awful lot of text about the story. Here's a little sample.

2000 yrs after dink
technology has come and gone, after a war fought for 500 years, nearly all civilization was lost. Magic, also long since gone, has been wiped from history by an organization known as the Illune. Members of the illune immediately set up order after the war, burning books with historical documentation and the banning of writing and reading. In (twisted) hopes that without literacy, technology will never live again. Life is hard in the wastelands. monsters (now intelligent, engineered by a mysterious organization) are more abundant that humans. Monster overlords rule the human population. Breeding them so that their monster kin have food. And food in ready supply do the divisions have.


Apparently the DMOD was to start with Glandor, the protagonist, escaping from the torture of a cruel but stupid tyrant. Most of the story was pretty melodramatic, but there were also elements like Glandor saying "WAZZZZZUUUP" to people and a quest for a porno mag. What fun, but it's all irrelevant because there's practically no connection between the text and what you get if you press the play button on DFArc.

To take this and release it as a DMOD is insulting. I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but I really do feel insulted here. One of the text files says that anyone is free to finish their project - a proposition I've never seen anybody get really excited about, but it's especially ridiculous here because they didn't even really START their project. Another text file says that they spent "a few months" on it, which proves to me that the project, despite its high ambitions, was never serious in the first place.

122: Cloud Castle Authors: Sabretrout, Arik Release Date: April 17, 2002

"Of course, a megalomaniacal fairy. How did I not see this coming?"

Well, crap. I've been good about this for a while, but I forgot to open my screenshot software again before playing this one. I'm bummed about this, but I'm not gonna replay the whole thing to get screenshots, sorry.

Anyway, "Cloud Castle" is the first DMOD by Sabretrout or Arik. Obviously, it's the predecessor to their famous 2004 mod "Cloud Castle II: Scarab," which is one of the highest-rated DMODs on The Dink Network. The original, while a tidy quest in its own right, seems to be intended almost as a prologue to "Scarab," for which there is a trailer within "Cloud Castle."

This time around, Dink has just purchased some land and moved in when he discovers that mysterious kidnappings have been occurring in the area. I'm honestly having trouble remembering the exact details, but Dink ends up traveling to a castle in the clouds in order to rescue the kidnapped people from an evil wizard and help out some fairies. Unfortunately, it turns out that the fairies were even more evil than the wizard, and Dink has played right into their hands - their sparkly, glittery beautiful fairy hands. The head fairy is called "Monkeynuts." As a coconut monkey, I can't help but approve.

This mod's sense of humor seemed to teeter between sardonic and wacky, and I enjoyed it. A couple of my favorite conversations include Dink taunting a wizard until he admits that he's a wizard (he doesn't want to let on because "I guess I just get annoyed with the prejudice. It's always 'Fantayen, help me with this' Or, 'My pig/duck/bonca fell down the well, teach me hellfire, please?'") and a completely awful exchange between some jerk and Dink, who is also a jerk, discussing how fat and ugly the former jerk's daughter is even though she can clearly hear them:

Miller: My daughter was walking by the river - she was collecting mushrooms.
When she came back, she was crying, and locked herself in her room.
Dink: What do you think happened to her?
Miller: She saw her reflection in the water?
Daughter: *Sob*
Dink: Harsh. But fair.


I guess I'm kind of a jerk too for finding that funny.

My favorite thing about "Cloud Castle" is a little touch in the dialogue trees. The choice statement titles are used to provide a description of what the NPC looks like and what they're doing:

"A tall man with a silver cross over his neck sips from a tankard with a disgusted look on his face"
"An exceptionally ugly man looks at you from behind a large swollen nose"


It reminds me of the sort of brief descriptions you'd get from the "look" command in a text adventure game, or from your dungeon master while playing Dungeons and Dragons. In an environment like Dink, where we use the same stock sprites over and over and can't actually show these things, this is a brilliant way to give some flavor to the world and help the player understand a character quickly. I wish I'd thought of it.

When you get to the actual portion of "Cloud Castle" that takes place in a cloud castle, shit gets real in a hurry. By the way, is the title one of several references to Heroes of Might and Magic in the DMOD? There are potions of Steelskin, and I noticed some others - could be just a coincidence, I guess. Anyway, you have to fight a tough series of battles against knights, and although you can save before fighting the wizard boss, the save point is in a room full of knights, and if you lose to the wizard, you'll have to fight them again. This kind of situation is very frustrating and should be avoided. The wizard himself is stupid hard, having an attack where he suddenly runs at you much faster than you can run; I sure couldn't find an effective counter to this. I was strongly tempted to cheat here, but after several tries, I managed to win (barely) by cowering behind something like a bitch. However, I was completely dismayed to find that this was not the last boss, and found the fairy boss to be utterly impossible. I am certain that almost everyone to ever play this DMOD either gave up or cheated. It might be possible with a few of the steelskin potions from early on, but I never had enough money to buy more than one! Not to mention that it's unconscionable to expect the player to see into the future and know that they've got to bring them.

Early on, a lot of DMODs had final bosses that were too easy, but I now realize that, while that's kind of disappointing, it's greatly preferable to final bosses or boss sequences that are too hard. I've lost count now of the number of mods in which I've run into a wall at the very end, and it really does a lot to drag down an experience I may otherwise have enjoyed. You know, I might not be the best at Dink Smallwood, but I think I'm pretty good at it. I mean, I've had a lot of practice. If I not only can't win against the end boss, but feel strongly that it's not even close, then I have to conclude that the author has simply failed to balance the mod acceptably. I don't really want to end on this negative note, but the fact that I easily could have demonstrates how much impact an impassable final boss can have on the mood that a player comes away with.

"Cloud Castle" was still a pretty good time overall thanks to a sharp wit and a story that set itself apart from the standard DMOD plot a little bit (even if I can't remember it all that well, *sigh*). There's a tease for "Scarab" at the end, and I have to admit that it kind of makes me want to go ahead and play it. I can't do that, of course. I have to play... *looks it up* "Baywatch" next. Oh. Super.

123: Baywatch Isle Author: Vilius Tamošiūnas Release Date: May 28, 2002

"ADD SUN LOTION??? C'mon, say yes"

Baywatch may never have been great television, but it was one hell of a lot more competent than this.

************This DMOD, "Baywatch Isle,"************
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   **********On this day May 28, 2014***********


Confusing, pointless, and above all buggy, "Baywatch Isle," which I'll call "B-Isle" (pronounced 'bile') for short, is a nonsensical failure. While there's a title screen included, it doesn't display. The status bar never fully comes up either unless you go into your inventory and re-equip your fist. Hardness errors are everywhere. Several screens cause the game to freeze upon either entering or leaving. Conversations never ever let you skip through with the talk button. Virtually everything that has a script transforms instantly - for example, hordes of tiny boncas are actually placed as explosions.


Why?

Some NPC sprites have no scripts, and others are repeated. The English is poor. There's no story apart from a note you can read that tells you how to locate the end boss, a dragon. Despite the fact that you start with all stats over 50 and can find potions that will raise your attack and magic well over 100, the dragon is difficult to beat because there's no way to restore your health - not without freezing the game, at least. Your reward for beating the dragon is nothing. There isn't even ending text that fails to display like in Bloop the Fish, there's just nothing.

The absolute best thing you can credibly call this DMOD is "weird." The only thing I saw that I didn't actively hate was the fact that the savebot is called an "ass-saving machine." Actually, I kind of liked that. "ass saved."


This bizarre tableau doesn't mean anything. It just is.

I found myself wondering why on Earth anyone would have released this dauntingly meaningless wreck, but then I remembered when I released "Dink Forever," and I was sad. There are going to be a whole lot more of these, aren't there? At least it wasn't as bad as "Evil Empire."

Incidentally, while I've had several close calls, I feel like I should stop to recognize that this is the first DMOD I've written about on the anniversary of its release. So happy 12th birthday, "Baywatch Isle," you ruinous little pile of putrefied squid viscera. I hope you get food poisoning from your cake.

124: Tutorial Island Author: SabreTrout Release Date: May 31, 2002

"Gee SabreTrout, your so swell!"
"I'm no hero, I just want to help people"


It's debatable whether I should have included this in this project. It was obviously intended more as a helpful file for developers than a proper DMOD that you play through. Nevertheless, unlike a lot of development DMODs, it's in the DMOD section, and I decided that would be my sole criterion for inclusion. I was interested to find that, unlike all the DMODs so far, this one is stored on the site in a .zip file rather than a .dmod archive.


That fish is up to no good. I've got my eye on you, fish.

The point of Tutorial Island (Called Tutorial D-Mod on the site) is to help a beginning author with DinkC by doing some basic things and saying which scripts to look at. The scripts themselves are annotated to tell the wannabe author what to do. Using a DMOD to teach DMOD authoring is a good idea, but SabreTrout made this in about a day, and it shows. There are a number of problems that prevent this from being effective.

First of all, the DMOD itself is quite buggy. There are hardness errors all over the place, a bonca sprite has been carelessly placed on one screen without a script, and NPCs who give you something will do so again every time you talk to them. There are some problems with the scripts, which is a big deal because these are supposed to be examples. Por ejemplo, at one point, you're supposed to get 200 experience points. The script uses this code:

//This gives Dink 200 experience
add_exp(1, 200);


Because add_exp is only looking for one argument, this adds 1 experience point instead of 200.

The other problem is that this rush-job isn't nearly thorough enough. An ideal example of a tutorial DMOD would cover a wider variety of things you might want to implement in your own mod by having them happen in itself. It wouldn't hurt to do some of your explaining in the mod itself, either.

As for the actual content: In "Tutorial Island," Dink meets SabreTrout, who tells Dink in a vague way how to make a DMOD, for which Dink is immensely grateful. I found it kind of amusing to see the fourth wall not simply broken, but missing, with Dink exclaiming, "My status bar!" when the status bar shows up, or pillbugs helpfully announcing what script is attached to them. There's a tiny quest of fetching five rocks for SabreTrout, but all he does is give you one experience point (see above). You can keep redeeming your one experience point to your heart's content, at least.


Aw, that's nice. Now to make you all execute its "die" procedure.

You can also find a hut that appears to be blocked off, but isn't. Inside are WC, Tal, and redink1, who make some quips at you.


The answer is that it's 'red ink,' not 're-dink.' I'm pretty sure of this.

I could see this being useful to a truly clueless beginner at the time, but it's ultimately not a tutorial I'd recommend at all to new DMOD authors.

125: The Creeping Sands Author: Simon Klaebe Release Date: June 16, 2002

"This would be more fun with some ladies."

With "The Creeping Sands," Simon apparently meant to create a DMOD in 24 hours, but he couldn't finish it in time and ended up taking "just over 72 hours", though not non-stop. I've got to say that it's a pretty righteous job for such a time constraint. Making DMODs is time-consuming.

It's not a tiny mod, so to make it so quickly you'd have to cut a corner somewhere. In this case, Simon chose to have very little text. The story is quite simplistic: the lands north of Castle Goodheart are quickly turning to desert, and soldiers sent to investigate have failed to return. Enter Dink, naturally.


See? The sands are clearly creeping.

Do you want to play a DMOD where you'll do lots of fighting and exploring? Here's one for you. The game sort of leaves you alone to contemplate your steady work. I happened to be in the right mood to be just fine with this. Yes, I'd say that "Creeping Sands" was a fun DMOD. Anyway, the fundamentals are sound. The fights get quite tough, and you won't win without plenty of grinding. I know I didn't. All of your old favorite SimonK enemies are here, genitalia-based and otherwise. And there are these weird eyeball things, which are creepy in a neat way instead of a gross one - a nice change of pace.


I can't remember whether or not these have been in previous DMODs by SimonK.

The author made some downright weird choices in picking sound effects, replacing Dink's default sounds with loud, discordant notes that get pretty annoying after a while. The "select option" noise in particular is so loud and harsh as to be kind of startling. It reminded me of old shareware games like Jill of the Jungle. I thought that the odd sounds had a certain charm in that game, but they're terribly out of place here.

The setting brings back the desert tiles and sprites that I liked so much in "Stone of Balance," and there's a new feature - cacti that you can burn down with the fire spell like pine trees! Unfortunately, I couldn't really tell which cacti would burn and which wouldn't without actually throwing a fireball at them.


Finally, something else to obsessively throw fireballs at.

Do you know that I set up these writeups, intending to write them immediately upon finishing my playthrough of the DMOD, and then reliably proceed to dick around on the Web for as many as 12 hours? I'm not joking; it's awful. I'm reading about the NBA, or following Twitch Plays Pokemon, or even lurking about sadly on the Dink Network forum - anything but writing. In fact, I tend to cycle through the same few websites over and over. I would actually have an easier time with this if the problem were that I forget about my writing project, but the opposite is the case. I can't forget about it. It directly motivates my dicking around. That unease I've always felt when putting my fingers on the keys, the little sickness that gets into me every time I see an empty 'page' - that's what's in my head the whole time. Okay, I tell myself, after I read this web page, I'll get back to it. Well, after this one. After this one, at least. Surely after this one. After this one. After this one. After this one.

I guess I don't have the discipline to crank something substantive out like Simon Klaebe did with this DMOD. Speaking of this DMOD, it was quite difficult, but it was a sort of difficulty I feel more at home with than the kind found in the mods I've been giving up on and cheating to get through. With enough grinding (mostly for money) and finding powerups, you can slowly work up to a point where the daunting final cave is just manageable. You'll then be able to meet the cause of the "creeping sands" - a nut< that attacks by farting on you and restores itself by suckling at giant bouncing breasts. Sure, why not? You can't surprise me anymore, Klaebe.


One of Mr. Peanut's less scrupulous relatives?

That's what I said to myself, but I was wrong. After finally defeating the fiendish nut (those farts are DEADLY, man), you are given the option to view Dink's victory dance. At first, it's just some clever moves like the "fall" graphics turned into a series of rolling backflips, but then... well, um, graphically stupid image warning:


My wife happened to be watching when this happened! She wasn't a fan.

You know, when I finally crank it out, it seems incredibly dumb how I've spent all day not writing - which is itself a distinct activity that preempts other things I might be doing - and maybe 40 minutes writing. It's not new for me, though. In college, I wouldn't do my papers, even huge assignments I'd had a month to work on, until just hours before they were due, and I usually got very good grades on them. In the end, was it really that easy? Was all my worrying for nothing? Or was all of it - the fretting, the avoidance, the dicking around on the Internet - part of the process? Could all of it somehow be integral to the way I write?

The craziest thing is, I honestly couldn't tell you.

126: Three New Heroes (Demo) Author: Martijn van Sliedregt Release Date: June 23, 2002

"I am Baal, the master of evil"
"So what?"


Well, here's an oddity. This demo from the creator of the baffling "Gorack, Umtar and Shreik" is much more highly regarded on TDN than anything else he's ever done. Whereas all his other stuff has very poor marks, the average rating for "Three New Heroes" is over 8! I think it's quite overrated, but it's still better than I would have guessed a followup from the author of that mess would be.


No, this DMOD doesn't take place in space. Well, except in the sense that everything does.

Something that may have impressed the reviewers is the fact that this DMOD starts out with some very fancy title screens/effects. I enjoyed the opening credits; never before have I seen Microsoft Paint recognized under 'Special Thanks.' Martijn also credits SimonK for graphics, which is good because there's a lot of stuff from Stone of Balance here. Even though the added graphics aren't original, more variety over the stock stuff is rarely a bad idea.


Take a bow, MS Paint. Few applications have so successfully combined ease of use, ubuiquity, and terribleness.

Unlike "GUS," this has a discernible, if loosely established, plot. Dink and two other heroes are forced by somebody who is totally Baal, you guys, to retrieve runes for him. There are some problems with this and the title. First, if Dink is one of the heroes in question, we don't have 'three new heroes' here, just two. Second, working for Baal is hardly what I'd call heroic. But third and most importantly, Dink is the only hero in this DMOD. The other two are represented only as knight sprites on the initial screen that don't move or talk at any point. Actually, after the intro, even Baal won't respond to your attempts to talk to or hit him. It took me a while to even figure out that those knight statues are the two other heroes that would presumably have playable segments if this weren't just a demo.


King Dan always gets kind of weird when he's on the mescaline.

It's an okay little Dink adventure with some interesting points of presentation, such as sound effects and the ability to choose your font (unfortunately, I lacked the alternate fonts). The maps are kind of awkward in places, but it's not too bad. There are some bad depth que issues, like a bridge you have to cross that Dink walks "under" instead. A few design elements are annoying - there are volcano sprites made into "anthills" that spawn lots of pillbugs for you to fight, for example - kind of a neat concept, but it does this and locks the screen every single time you pass one, which is a drag.

I had a hard time figuring out what to do toward the end, after Dink takes a magical gate of sorts to "Egypt" (okay). If you didn't read a certain sign in an out of the way spot toward the beginning, have fun figuring out that you have to go back and do that. Like many demos, there isn't a proper ending - this is one of the cases where your reward for victory is death. Hurray!

This is a strange DMOD, but it's okay. I award it not last place.


Oh and, don't shoot the piano player, he's doing his best.

127: The Search for the Treasure Author: Vilius Tamošiūnas Release Date: July 25, 2002

"If you are searching treasure, there is nothing"

Damn it, how many times am I going to get punked like this?

*****This DMOD, "The Search for the Treasure,"*****
 ********Has been awarded the prestigious*********
  ****DINK FOREVER MEMORIAL AWARD OF BADNESS*****
   **********On this day June 2, 2014***********


If you want to know the truth, there's nothing here. I spent less time on this than I did on any other DMOD that could at all be described as 'functioning.'

There is a conversation you can have at the start that amused me slightly - not because it's clever, but because it's so awkward and contains the word 'treasure' so many times:

Dink: Hello
Man: Do you want to find treasure?
Dink: Yeah!!
Man: well, you see, i was reading books, and found a page about treasure

...

Man: Ok, but remember, there are a great monster guarding treasure...
Dink: I will get that treasure!
The greater monster the greater treasure!I gonna be RICH!!


Yeah, I cut some of it out. It wasn't nearly as amusing as I remembered. Vilius, you're no Timo.


How does this even work? Trees are supposed to have roots, aren't they?

Dink then takes a walk through the spritely woods for way too many screens, only to find a sign stating that there's no treasure. And that's it. Opening the DMOD in WinDinkEdit, I found a screen with a pillbug and a lot of coins, but I couldn't find a way to get to it. There are a couple of scripts attached to sprites there to the effect that the huge pile of gold coins is fake, but there's one real gold coin you can find - this is the treasure. And that's it.

I felt like holding back a bit when I described Vilius's first DMOD, "Baywatch Isle" - yes, believe it or not, that was me holding back - but I don't anymore. "Baywatch" was like "FIAT" compared to this. This is a joke that is neither funny nor successfully executed. Truly, this is the work of an idiot. Happily, this second DMOD is his last.

The treasure I'm searching for is a decent DMOD; let's put our shovels into the sand once more and try again.

128: New Shores: The Maori Authors: Kyle, Tallis Release Date: July 28, 2002

"Mighty Kiwi mythical bird. Only few still live and they hidden."

"New Shores" is another DMOD created for a school project, like Redink1's "Reconstruction." Unlike that DMOD, however, this one contains almost no educational content. If you put that expectation out of your mind, it's an okay romp.

This is a short mod with a couple of puzzles to solve. Enemies are all over the place, including spikies walking around using their death animation as usual (sigh), but there's never a good reason to fight them. What you have to do is memorize four Maori terms so you can pick them from some multiple choice prompts later. I didn't find it hard to remember the terms, but writing them down might be a good idea, as getting the answers wrong incurs stat penalties.


This puzzle is the only thing the DMOD really has to do with the Maori people, but there's no context.

Dink washes up on an unknown shore - except I don't think it's Dink. He talks about his mum and Dad, and more to the point, he talks about dollar bills, checks and guns. Anyway, whoever he is, he meets some supposed Maori people. At first, he and these people can't understand each other. Oddly, I don't think the words that the people speak at this point are from the Maori languge. Also, talking to one of the characters (the only female) at this point caused my game to freeze.

Probably-not-Dink gets some sort of magical pendant that enables him to communicate with the Maori, whose speech is rendered, at this point, in broken English. "Me understand you now," that sort of thing. I wasn't a fan of this - as long as the magical pendant is doing its magical translation, why doesn't it go ahead and do it well? It's awkward. The Maori whatshisface encounters are depicted as being rather simple. "What is war?" one asks, which is absurd, and I shouldn't have to explain why. UnDink is kind of a jerk, and the native people talk as if they're children. I started feeling like this mod was the opposite of educational when one character said, "MAORI! That name of tribe," which is false. I'm sorry; all this stuff wouldn't bother me so much if it wasn't supposed to be representing a real group of people.

Anyway, the map was surprisingly large, and the central puzzle was pretty-well executed. Despite my misgivings, some of the dialogue was pretty clever. I found the depiction of the kiwi almost hilarious, and our New Zealand Dinkers might get a kick out of that.


It would be difficult for this to look any less like a kiwi.

129: A Knight's Tale Author: SabreTrout Release Date: July 29, 2002

"He always was a cocky little son of a gun"

Jarvis is a short knight, and this is a short DMOD. It seems like my writeups have been getting shorter lately, too. Anyway, I liked "A Knight's Tale." Zee you nezz time!!

130: The Legend of the Pillbug Author: Nam Hoang Release Date: August 2, 2002

"Can't I have a good vacation with no more 'Getting lost' crap?"

I was kind of disappointed that you don't play as a pillbug in this one. I mean, that's what I assumed from the title. I can't say it doesn't deliver on pillbugs, though. They are everywhere in this DMOD. Pillbugs that line up and charge you in formation, polite pillbug townsfolk, a big good king pillbug, a big evil pillbug. Everywhere.

"LOTP" feels weird because, among other reasons, it's incredibly linear. If you're familiar with my DMODs, you might be sneering right now, "like Zink? Or even Malachi?" But no, it's even more linear than that. It's basically like being in line for something and walking along the neatly zigzagging, roped-off paths. It's so distinct that you can sort of see what I mean just from looking at the minimap.


Please follow the roped path. The expected wait time for an ending is 10 to 15 minutes.

There are a couple of places where you can divert very slightly for a powerup or two, but aside from that, it feels like you're being led along past a video game, rather than playing one. You know, like Final Fantasy XIII, but with a slightly less stupid plot and an actual combat system.

After the original game, Mystery Island and judging from a certain comment, Dink's Doppelganger (wonder how THAT worked out), Dink is vacationing in a very nice beach house with a deck and everything.


More like some planks on the sand, but it gets the idea across.

Dink goes out to have a good time on the beach, which naturally causes the house to catch fire immediately. Y'know Dink, I'm amazed you aren't suspected of arson by now. There's a point at which it can't be a coincidence anymore. This event causes Dink to meander along The Path, upon which he eventually meets and slays a legendarily evil pillbug.


Evil is charcoal grey.

For this, the author rewards him by building another house. Yay!


Poor Dink. Nobody even pretends he's real.

There's a lot of other weirdness going on, like the fact that enemy groupings (and grouping of other things, like ducks) always seem to start clustered in one spot and spread out in a star-like pattern. There's one screen where pillbugs are placed, but not scripted:


There are some errors that even the most minimal self-test would have to catch.


Why is the savebot a pirate?

On that note, when I got to the King Pill, he wouldn't talk at all. The whole experience was kind of awkward and strange. It did have an odd charm at times. It wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't good.

131: Counterstrike CTF (Demo) Author: Paul Zielinski Release Date: August 14, 2002

"Hey, I thought you were from Saudi Arabia... Why do you have a French accent?"

Half-Life Counter-Strike is an FPS game by Valve in which you fight terrorists. 'Capture the Flag' is a popular multiplayer mode in FPS games. That's about all I know, never having played Counter-Strike or indeed, any FPS that came out after Quake II.

Therefore, I was sad that the text "I'm a n00b, help me" on the title screen was not a button. You'd think that it would be, and I wasted several seconds repeatedly clicking it in the mad belief that it would suddenly become one, but it isn't. Since it's not a button, I can only conclude that the text is a plea from the title screen itself. Sorry, title screen; no help is coming for you, no matter how n00bish you might be.


It does nothing, but it would have been dishonest for me not to click it.

There might not be much gameplay, but I was surprised and very amused by the amount of effort put into this little demo. You have two guns and can fight guys who are presumably evil terrorists.


The original graphic for these guys is MS Paintesque, but it looks okay in context - it's out of "Bloop the Fish's" league, at any rate.

There's a neat, functional map to make your simple task even easier. Oddly, this is an item, and is not brought up using the map button. The bad guys will indeed shoot back, thanks to Dan Walma's original Enemy Shoot script. Nearly all of the text in the DMOD is voice acted by the author, which is a first. The acting isn't great, of course, and the sound quality is poor, but he does deliver the lines with confidence and a clear self-amusement that added to the experience for me.


This is neat. I wish more were done with maps in DMODs. Of course, I am a hypocrite who has never included a map in my own DMODs.

Like I said, there isn't much gameplay. You brave the terrorists and pillbugs, capture the flag (which doesn't disappear nearly as soon as it ought to), and return to the drop point, where you'll fight Osama Bin Laden. You have a silly, voiced conversation with him. There's also a joke about the mod having a "low budget." I would like to see the budget sheet for this DMOD, I really would.


I guess the author was a Sixers fan?

The game could have been improved by making you actually fight the terrorists. Leveling up increases your armor and ammo capacity, and you can buy more ammo from a "black market dealer," but you're better off ignoring it. As it is, I was able on my second try to run straight for the flag, take it, run straight back, and defeat Osama, although I did use up nearly all of my ammo.

Nevertheless, I had fun. "Counterstrike CTF" doesn't take itself too seriously. The graphics and voices are very amusing, it's fun to have guns in a DMOD, and the music is really catchy. I could tell the author had fun making it, and for something really short, that can be enough.

All right! See you next time for the Alternative Hero Contest!

Bye!

...

...What?

Why are you yelling at me?

Oh, that? Really?

Oh, FINE. We'll do it over, then. I guess I could make it a little longer.

129: A Knight's Tale Author: SabreTrout Release Date: July 29, 2002

"The innkeeper stinks of Rum, and looks very generic indeed..."

Jarvis is a short knight, and this is a short DMOD. Jarvis is short because he's been imported from Warcraft II, which is pretty much a DMOD tradition at this point. The DMOD is short because it was made in three days. As for my writeups, they are short because I am a lazy, lazy man.

Jarvis the Warcraft II knight is brought out of suspended animation to defeat a big stone giant. He's not the only imported graphic; there's also a dragon and a troll, both from the same game as Jarvis.


I have played Warcraft II, and these units are damned expensive.

The main "puzzle," simple as it is, involves singing songs at a lake until you happen upon the correct one to summon the Lady of the Lake (or "Pondlady") and receive excalibur.


Supreme executive power is derived from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!

The songs are fun to see, and there's a "secret" song as well, although it's very easy to find it by accident. The only other things to do are to find a little defense boost and head for the boss.


Yo. Yo!


Notice how I took four screenshots, and three of them are of the same screen? I did this so you could see the different text, even though I could have simply told you what it said. To be frank, I am not very good at this.

There are a lot of little problems that I could pick at in this DMOD. The dragon stutters a little bit, and there are several really bad-looking tiling errors throughout this mod that would be easy to fix. There's a defense potion that doesn't work, which annoys the hell out of me. The scripting is kind of messy, frequently failing to freeze Jarvis at the right time so that events can happen in places they're not supposed to. Finally, the boss's hitbox is frankly a mystery. Still, you can call me a fan of this one. It's a breezy, fun romp with a relaxed, kind of sarcastic tone that I enjoyed very much. The balancing of the monsters was done exceedingly well, and the boss was not too easy or too hard. I look forward to further adventures of Jarvis the Knight.

--Alternative Hero Contest--

Announced on August 13, 2002, the Alternative Hero Contest was the second DMOD contest in the history of the Dink community, and the first since Mike Snyder's DMOD competition in mid-1998. It produced three entries, which is fewer than the four submitted to the original contest; then again, that contest had a cash prize of over a hundred bucks, whereas the prize for the Alternative Hero Contest was a "little award icon." At any rate, the contest was a rousing success, producing multiple well-regarded DMODs and establishing a new tradition for the Dink Network, which has hosted a total of 8 contests with 36 DMODs between them. If you add in Snyder's competition, there are a total of 40 contest DMODs in the history of the community, which is over 10% of all DMODs that exist! Sadly, it doesn't seem like this sort of thing is doable around here anymore. On the other hand, if you dredge up conversations from the time, they sound an awful lot like the result of recent attempts, so who knows?

Of course, there's a big difference between Snyder's DMOD comp and the contests that followed. The original contest was simply intended to get people to make DMODs of any sort in order to kickstart the modding community. The Dink Network's contests each have a theme that entrants are required to follow.

The first theme was fairly simple. As it was stated in the announcement, "The main player character cannot be Dink Smallwood, and must be another character from the original game." This was further clarified: the player couldn't be somebody else who LOOKS like Dink (lord knows there's enough DMODs like that already), nor could they be Dink in a different body. The DMODs were also limited to no more than 60 screens, and could not exceed 600 kilobytes in zipped form (effectively limiting the amount of new graphics that could be used). I think these limitations were a good idea to keep DMODs that had to be finished within a month from becoming too ambitious.

The three DMODs were released on September 13, and visitors to The Dink Network were allowed to vote on a winner. I can't find the actual voting results, so I'll just cover the DMODs by ascending rating, ending with the contest winner.

132: Quest for the Golden Nut Author: James Perley Release Date: September 13, 2002

"Hello Quackers its been a while"

This is a profoundly silly idea. I know this is lazy, but seriously, get a load of the description:

The Golden Nut a mythical fruit which is known only to the duck race. Its mystical powers unlock the innate ability of human speech that all ducks have. Quackers wants to be able to talk and use profane language and he tires of Ethel, so he sets out to find the Golden Nut.

I doubt I could say it any better. "The innate ability of human speech that all ducks have?" What else do you know about the world that we don't, James?

Speaking of James: I know I brought this up back in the "Castle of Lore" writeup, but I really feel like I should emphasize again how big of an influence the "374 MIDI pack" had on the DMOD-making community. Every time I hear "Bad Moon Rising," something by the Eagles, or many other songs in a DMOD, I know where they came from. Some authors might not even have known exactly what the songs were. You might find it strange that I dwell so much on the influence of a file that consisted of just taking a bunch of MIDIs from the Web and packing them together without even identifying them, but you should trust me. If you were into playing mods, Klik n' Play games and the like in the late 90s and early 2000s, you pretty much just heard the same few Final Fantasy 7 MIDIs over and over again. A simple thing like the "374 MIDI pack" was able to save DMODs from that.

Already, the Alternative Hero Contest, with its rule that the main character must be from the original game, has shone the spotlight somewhere it probably never would have touched otherwise. We probably never stopped to wonder: what is Quackers's deal anyway? In this romp, we learn how Quackers came to be able to speak and, to our dismay, exactly why he ran away from home (and why, for that matter, he's so salty).


*vomits*

It turns out the Ethel is an awful woman who makes Quackers do sexual favors for her. He decides to run away, and while he's at it, search for the Golden Nut that will grant him the ability to speak. The DMOD isn't all that clear why he wants the Golden Nut, but I'm guessing it's so that he can go back and TELL Ethel off instead of getting her off for a change.

Before you can find the nut, you have to do some annoying favors for an annoying duck. It wants a certain seashell. It tells you to search the beaches, but you won't find it there. It then tells you to search inside a farmer's house, but it isn't there either. Finally, the duck tells you to look for it on a "secret island," which is the worst because you then have to push yourself against all of the coasts until you happen to find it. This was more bearable than it would have been thanks to the way you can press Tab to speed up the game in FreeDink, but it still really got on my bill.

After that, you help a third duck named Rubber Ducky unite with a friendly young woman (Quackers is not optimistic about how this relationship will turn out, understandably) and navigate a simple maze. That's it.


Quackers counsels another duck on human-poultry relations.

This DMOD contains the bug that plauges too many with an alternative hero: when you push things, you turn back into Dink. It's not necessary to push anything, but this still happens by accident pretty frequently.

It may not be much to play, but focusing on Quackers was an amusing idea, and he has a few ornery wisecracks (wisequacks?) that keep the mod from being too boring. It ends with the exchange between Dink and Quackers from the original game.

I wonder what becomes of Quackers after he returns to his sexual abuser. Of course, it's possible that Dink murders him. Maybe Quackers escapes again and finds fame and fortune as the duck from Friends or maybe the Aflac duck. Perhaps he stays. It might be that this little duck is too afraid of the big bad world to leave even such a perverse home. If he stays, I hope he at least uses his newfound ability to speak to prevent Ethel from trying any more funny stuff, but I fear that he won't be able to work up the courage to talk in front of her. It's often too much for a victim of abuse to attempt to confront their abuser, and poor Quackers may find that his ability to talk is no more freeing than the ability to fly that he has had all along. Little bird... all you have are your dreams, where you can fly to faraway lakes where the old women bring bread without expecting anything in return. Fly away, Quackers. Fly away.

133: Cycles of Evil Author: Dan Walma Release Date: September 13, 2002

"It isn't exactly cool... a tragedy is never a cool thing."

I had to turn true color mode off to play this! That's a first. Tragically, this ruined all my screenshots. We'll have to do without.

It's curious that this DMOD came out of the Alternative Hero Contest, because I don't think it contains any heroes. A couple of the characters you play as attempt to do heroic things; one of them sort of succeeds, but I still don't think I'd call him a hero.

Another curious thing is that the rules of the contest were stated awkwardly at first, because this DMOD contains zero characters from the original game. All of the character GRAPHICS, with the exception of one animation, are from the original game, which is what redink1 actually meant by that requirement. If you look at the original announcement, there are further statements that make this clear.

"Cycles of Evil" is unique among DMODs so far in that it focuses entirely upon telling a story, to the near-exclusion of all else. You have the choice to talk to a few characters or not, but apart from that you're riding a rail just as sure as a 1930s hobo. There is actually quite a bit of required combat, but it isn't too difficult, and there are no experience points. Your stats, apart from life, are also invisible. The combat is there just to heighten the impact of climactic moments in the story. Removing the elements I just mentioned was a good idea; they would only have distracted the player and given them the wrong idea about the sort of video game they were playing.

The plot about a village being afflicted for generations by an evil curse that causes death and suffering is fairly standard RPG stuff, but the method by which it is told is creative. The game takes place simultaneously across four time periods:

AUTUMN, long, long ago, Allison the Fairy seeks to rid herself and her sisters of the Wizards of Dubious Morality. The cycle of evil begins.

WINTER, 50 years ago, Farmer Ted plans to murder his abusive wife.

SUMMER, 20 years ago, disaster awaits a young boy named Tim who transforms into a bonca when he becomes angry.

SPRING, in the present, young Billy tries to destroy the source of the cycle of evil in order to avenge the death of his father.

The game opens in winter, and the time-shifting device is not revealed until the time suddenly shifts in the middle of things. All of the time shifts are like this; you'll be headed along, a specific purpose in mind, and your perspective will suddenly shift. Toward the end the shifts become more frequent; in a couple of cases, only one line of dialogue will happen before the scene shifts again. I found this device to be powerful, exciting, and well-executed. The tension becomes high as you can see the climaxes of all four stories happening as if at once. The seasons, in addition to their symbolism - autumn being the moment before the harsh 'winter' of the cycle of evil begins, winter representing the bitter cold feelings in the farmer's relationship with his wife, summer showing the heat of madness and anger, and spring symbolizing hope and renewal - also are convenient reference point to prevent the dizzying shifts from becoming too confusing. An icon for the current season is displayed in the place your armed item would usually be, as this game has no inventory either.

For the first time in this entire project, I really don't want to spoil the story here. Suffice to say that things don't turn out well for much of anybody. It's worth experiencing for yourself. Again for the first time in this project, I would recommend this DMOD to people who know nothing about Dink without even necessarily playing the original first. If you haven't played this yet, please do so. It's not long. I can't recommend it highly enough. "Cycles of Evil" is my new favorite DMOD. The stories it tells are simple, but the way they are interwoven is powerful.

Video games have a lot of potential as a storytelling medium that is completely unlike the potential of media like writing, films, or comics. Even if you strip player agency down to practically nothing, the very fact of player input changes what a story means. A player can't help, if your story engages them at all, but to feel participant in the events that happen while they have control of their character. The "language" of video game genres like the RPG also becomes an important tool that can be used to make the story more involving. This is demonstrated in a limited way here. Even the Dink Smallwood screenlock we're used to made me realize here how trapped these people were in their situations. All right, that sounds pretentious, but the point I'm trying to make here is that video games can tell stories in different ways. If you take the text from a video game, compare it to a book, and say that it isn't as good, you're missing the point. It's never going to be as good because you aren't writing a book, and if you tried to write a book into your video game you'd get something less than either form. "Cycles of Evil" isn't perfect, and it could be improved, but it really grabbed me with its form alone and stood out from all the other DMODs in a big way.

There's some impressive technical work behind the changing seasons and time periods. The seasonal backgrounds are made using copy_bmp_to_screen, which does just what it sounds like. Load_tiles might have worked better, except that it didn't exist yet because Dan hadn't made version 1.08 yet. There are some lovely seasonal trees that a lot of DMODs could use. The farmer character has a clever sickle-swinging animation made with some quick rotation and "spinning" that is pretty convincing. It would be nice to have these things available in case another project needs them, but I wouldn't use them without asking first.

It blows my mind that this got submitted to a DMOD competition... and didn't win. "Lyna's Story" must really be something special. I'll find out soon.

134: Lyna's Story Author: Paul Pliska Release Date: September 13, 2002

"Dink wasn't available."
"And the knights?"
"Chicken."


REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is one of the select group to have a score of 9.0 or higher (9.6) on The Dink Network.



Twice in a row! Like "Cycles of Evil," this DMOD uses palette-switching, and is incompatible with true color mode, so I couldn't take usable screenshots. Which suuuuucks.

"Lyna's Story" is the second highest-rated DMOD on The Dink Network, so it kind of goes without saying that it won the Alternative Hero Contest. In fact, it won with an impressive 58% of the vote. I'm guessing that most of the remaining votes went to "Cycles of Evil." Not to put down "Quest for the Golden Nut" or anything, but... yeah.

130 DMODs. Over four years. How did it take so long for somebody to make one about a female protagonist? It might have something to do with the fact that for quite a while, the treatment of female characters in DMODs was... simple at best, let's say, to put it nicely. I don't really feel like dragging those mods over the coals again; suffice to say that if you've been reading these or even if you've played a lot of DMODs, you probably know what I'm talking about.

Lyna was Milder's main squeeze (and quite briefly his wife) in the original game. Paul had shown interest in developing her character before; way back in "Crosslink" (which isn't in continuity with this DMOD or anything), she tells Dink that she's been practicing with a sword. Now, he's given her her own adventure.

In the familiar-sounding setup, the King has sent off a group of knights and they haven't returned. This time, when the call for a hero comes, Dink isn't around. Very amusingly, this occurs during "Valley of the Talking Trees," which means that while this serious stuff is going on, Dink is off trying to catch the duck from Friends. King Dan's remaining knights are content to wait for Dink to show up, so Lyna takes it upon herself to go on a rescue mission. This is especially bold and more than a bit foolish of her, since, as she immediately realizes, she hasn't actually brought a weapon. A bow may be found reasonably early on, and this will be your weapon for the DMOD. Of course, there aren't actually graphics for Lyna drawing the bow, but a colored arrow indicator works well enough for gameplay purposes.

While you can certainly do plenty of fighting if that floats your boat, combat really isn't the focus in this DMOD; exploration is. You can leave the map the way you came in at any time, and the game will end. The ending will change based on how much you have achieved before leaving. If you want the perfect ending, there are a LOT of things to do and find. There are ten knights to find, only one of whom is still alive, but you have to find a scroll of Last Rites and read it over the corpses in order to receive the best ending. You should make sure to loot the corpses when you find them, as each has something that will make your quest easier. As for the tenth knight, Stanley will join you and fight monsters quite well, but you need to be careful he doesn't die before you get back.

The many helpful items you can find have an impressive variety over the usual powerups. Of course you can get Bow Lore, but there are also special "triple arrows." There's a pendant that, just by being in your possession, causes your health to regenerate very slowly, which is unlike anything I've seen before. There's no magic except for a few scrolls. One of them summons a being of living flame to attack your enemies, which is a wild effect.

Like "Cycles of Evil," "Lyna's Story" gets the most out of the contest's 60-screen limit by reusing the same environment. Half of the DMOD takes place in the "Shadow Realm," where the colors are inverted and all the objects are placed differently. It's kind of like the second world in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo. The effect is a little bit hard on the eyes here, though. The Shadow world features very dangerous enemies, like boncas that spew acidic blood at you.

The world of "Lyna's Story" is better-designed than any other DMOD so far, period. I don't mean graphically, although there are some rather nice new "winding mountain path" tiles that made me a bit nostalgic for King's Quest III. What I mean is that DMODs typically treat the screen as a box that you put things in. You can put a lot of nice things in the box, but in the end what you've got is still a series of boxes. The original game is very much like this. You might not be hyper-aware of this while playing, but there is a certain base awareness that you have of screens basically being squares of grass. "Lyna's Story" is nothing like this, not at any point. The mountainous area of Sojourn Heights is thoughtfully constructed. The tiers wind around and connect in ways that make sense, and after you've been wandering around for a while, each screen you come to makes you think, "Oh, THIS screen." Each screen has its own identity, its own feel. The sense of elevation, always rather precarious in Dink games, is handled very well. It's possible to slip and fall off of cliffs, and this is even used to reach certain areas.

The plot is connected to what has come before. The problems are caused by another Cult of the Dead Dragon Carcass, led by Henry, the priest (thought dead) from Mystery Island. You'll have to defeat Henry and spare the other cultists if you want the best ending. Another thread that runs through the plot involves the deceased Milder FlatStomp. It seems like all that anybody ever remembers about Milder is what a jerk he was, and it's fun to remember that. But I was young and impressionable when I played Dink Smallwood, and Milder's final, noble words before his death got to me. Playing through the DMODs up until now, whenever somebody mentioned Milder I thought I might have been the only one. This DMOD treats Milder very differently. Lyna can meet his ghost, and it is the spirit of a man who learned important lessons too late. I'm glad somebody paid respect to Milder.

After reporting back to the incredibly useless King (Dink Smallwood is in the "Dragon Quest" school of Kings - their butts are glued to those thrones), Lyna visits Milder's tomb and wonders how she can go on with life as it was. Filled with determination, she thinks to herself, "who says I have to?" and takes up Milder's sword. It's a fantastic ending. Her journey to becoming the strong female character this universe always needed is complete. Why aren't there more Lyna DMODs? Arghible!

At this point it's almost with a sense of dread that I go back into the Great Big pile of DMODs. I feel spoiled by these last two. I'm afraid I'll forget how to enjoy the more pedestrian, run of the mill, stuff. Then again, Pilgrim's Quest is coming right up. Man, 2002, you are really making your case here at the end.

135: Dink Racer Author: Joeri van Eekelen (Magicman) Release Date: September 15, 2002

"Grab the gold and avoid the stones, that's what it's all about in this arcade-like game!"

In this one-screen minigame, unseen space invaders attack Dink with endless pong paddles and rocks, although only the latter seem to do any damage.


Okay, so it's meant to be a scrolling road.

Seriously though, the description, quoted above, tells you everything there is to know. Dink runs constantly on the road, although it does look pretty funny when you move downward, as he stops moving his legs and seems to just coast. It's not a bad idea, but as executed, it's really boring.

When you collect the little piles of gold, you receive not only a small amount of gold, but also experience. When you level up, the level up noise plays, but no dialogue is displayed. Instead, the rocks become more frequent. At least the experience counter doesn't reset like it usually does at level up, but it still takes forever to get from one level to the next. A glance through the scripts reveals that it's possible to win by reaching level 10 (8100 points), but I couldn't be bothered. I played way longer than I wanted to and still gave up at exactly 1500 points.

136: The Pirates of Portown Author: Dinkmega Release Date: October 20, 2002

"SMALLWOOD HAS RETURNED."

Portown was one of several loose threads left hanging when the original game was hastily finished. It's clear that Dink was supposed to go there in order to book passage on a boat. I believe pirates were also mentioned. As it happened, Dink would have to wait until Mystery Island to ride a boat, and Portown would never be seen at all... until now, I guess.

The idea of finally getting to see Portown is the only interesting thing about this DMOD, and it isn't well-executed. "Portown," in this mod, is just another smallish area with several thatched-roof buildings in it, and it doesn't appear to be a port. There's a shore of sorts, but that alone hardly makes a port. There aren't very many people in it either, but, well, that much is easily explained.


Population: corpses.

Take away the word 'Portown' and this is another stultifyingly generic DMOD. Dink is summoned by King Daniel and sent on a mission, just like in Mystery Island, the Quest for Cheese, FIAT, etc. etc. etc. The dialogue involved in this scene adds exactly nothing to the well-worn concept. In the ending, there's even an exchange about Dink being given a vacation, which has been repeated just as often, if not even more. There is a guy who charges you money to make a bridge. It's set in a village whose population has been mostly wiped out. Even the fact that it's a DMOD consisting entirely of existing DMOD tropes is something I've seen before.

I don't want to come down on it too hard. In terms of gameplay, it's a competent romp. You spend most of your time wandering around the oddly wild Portown, finding powerups and gold hidden behind trees. You can buy a sword from a survivor, at which point you can find a screen loaded with powerups that makes you strong enough to fight the one pirate (pirates being represented by gold knights in this DMOD) still hanging around town. This pretty much opens up the end of the game, in which you storm a rather short fortress where the pirates have holed up. Even though there's ANOTHER crazy room full of powerups in the fortress, and even with the "spike sword" (clawsword) and hellfire I went back and bought from the merchant, the boss is quite difficult because he runs around at a simply ludicrous speed. I won on my first try, but barely, and that's with an inventory mostly full of elixirs.


Dink didn't seem too pleased about his victory, though.

137: Darkspace Derelict (Unfinished) Author: Jonaton Pöljö (Eldron) Release Date: October 27, 2002

"Surrealism is beautiful."

Following "Quest of Glandor," this release continues the trend of releasing mods that were barely even started. Amazingly, there's even less to do in this one - you really can't do anything at all except walk around two screens. However, this one makes a bit more sense as a release (and barely avoids the Award of Badness) because it functions as a graphics pack if nothing else.


Watch out for that tree!

The background stuff is pretty nice, but the main character isn't very good. He looks like a faceless American football player, and looks worse in motion than he does in screenshots. The animations look fluid enough, but the actual way that the character moves makes no sense. He appears to be dragging one leg behind him and constantly thrusting his palms out as if asking for change. He doesn't have any animations other than the walk, either - no punch, push or even idle, making him pretty weak as a player character.

If you care to look in the DMOD's folder, there are some extras. The blend files for the graphics are included, and there are a couple of rather nice original songs in .wav format. Really, I can't say much else. This kind of release doesn't give me much to work with. "Derelict" is right, ha ha!

Sorry.

138: Fighterz (Neglected) Authors: Travis Kirsten (Trav666), SabreTrout Release Date: October 30, 2002

"A bunch of levels where you hit things!"

The dmod.diz claims, "Sabretrout also helped in the making, but he asked not to recieve credit," which is singularly odd. Go ahead and give him credit right as you tell us he didn't want any. That makes so much sense. In fact, I think this is a DMOD that was created by Sabretrout and somehow updated by Travis.

This DMOD follows the same basic idea as "Monster House" - fight all the enemies in sequence - but it's executed much more competently here. It could still be done much better, but I had an okay time.

"Fighterz" starts in very amusing fashion, if you have a certain sense of humor. It's trying to be so gosh darn serious at the start, with lines (that overlap each other) like "the five greatest warriors were gathered" and "this is the final battle," but it is just SO silly.


Sure you are.

You can play as one of five different characters: Dink, a wizard, a knight, a goblin and Dink with a bow. Playing as the wizard is a bad idea, because the fireball and acid rain spells you're given won't be strong enough to get you through the later enemies. The bow comes with bow lore, and the bow script seems to have been altered slightly to make the arrows travel faster. This might seem to be the way to go, but the bow struggles with the slime level. Trying to hit a whole mess of tiny, crazy fast slimes with the bow was probably the most frustrating experience I've had with Dink since "9 Gems of Life 2," or at least "Okaly-D Dink" (which isn't that frustrating, I just sucked at it). If you pick regular Dink, he comes with a boomerang, and this is the neatest thing about the DMOD. It uses the same boomerang graphics that have been around since the early days, but here we finally have a boomerang that comes back to you after you throw it. This is really a great addition to the game, as you can figure out the distance at which the boomerang turns around and use that to do plenty of damage to foes from afar. Unfortunately, the boomerang will only damage the first four sets of enemies. Also, if the boomerang misses you on its return trip, it'll get stuck on hardness and spin there forever.


This weapon is known on the site as the "Bangerang Boomerang," created by Joshriot.

There are seven levels, each with just one type of enemy. The levels have alliterative names, which is a touch that I appreciated. The levels are as follows:

1: Pillbug Plains
2: Bonca Beach (Buggy - the first bonca you kill per screen will release screenlock)
3: Slayer Snowdrift
4: Slime Swamp
5: CaveTroll Caverns (Stone Giants)
6: Dragon Dungeons
7: Mog Marshes (actually just Hammer Goblins)

Some of the MIDI choices were hilarious. I almost cried picturing pillbugs singing "I'm the skatman" or slimes belting out "Gangsta's Paradise."

The levels themselves are quite plain. All of them except Mog Marshes are just a straight shot from left to right. On the other hand, it's still more interesting than Monster House, and if you look at it in the editor, it looks like a layer cake.


Ooh, it's the kind with an ice cream layer.

The game can get pretty tough, especially at the end, because health restoratives are rare after the first couple of areas.


Yes, it does.

It took me several tries to finally beat Mog Marshes. All I got for my trouble was the words "Well done!" The game fails to fade up, so I didn't know that I could have a little congratulatory conversation with the old man from the start of the DMOD. I wasn't missing a lot anyway.

If you just want to beat up a bunch of monsters... you could probably still do better, honestly. But I didn't hate "Fighterz." Hooray!

139: Pilgrim's Quest Author: Simon Klaebe Release Date: October 31, 2002

"Hell no, I hate riddles."

REPUTATION NOTE: This DMOD is the highest-rated on The Dink Network (9.7).

"Pligrim's Quest" is the second really big DMOD by Simon Klaebe. He's the first author to successfully complete two such DMODs, and I'm not sure anybody else has ever done so. This is understandable, as making one of these huge things requires an insane amount of effort when you consider what you're putting it towards. It's a sequel to "Stone of Balance," Simon's other epic, but the connection is light enough that playing it is by no means a prerequisite. PQ is absolutely revered in the Dink community from what I can tell. Of the many reviews it has, the one with the lowest rating is a 9.1 take that raves about the DMOD from start to finish.


PQ features a total interface reskin, one of the best I've seen. The magic cost bar creeps around in a pleasing effect.

While "Stone of Balance" was very impressive, a number of frustrating design issues kept me from enjoying it as much as I could have. I didn't have any such problems with PQ. This is just a rad DMOD, you guys. It's got everything you want out of a Dink adventure and then some. Actually, I think my favorite thing about this DMOD was how it didn't feel like it was trying to set up some grand, epic story. There weren't seven crystals or orbs to collect, and it wasn't until pretty late in the game that the stakes were elevated into "save the world" territory. It all felt relaxed, natural and very Dinky. This DMOD was just fun, not something I felt like I had to put myself through because it was a Great DMOD. I think that's the best compliment I can pay it, because that's a tough feeling to sustain for eight hours.

Screw the riddles, though. Seriously.


But they're so clever!

At the start, you're given the choice to play a "bawdy" or "mild" quest. This is a good idea, given how I've seen some reviews complaining about the obnoxious sexual content in Simon's mods - Hell, even I complained a bit in my SOB writeup. I played the bawdy version, though, and I don't think this one stepped over my personal line and made me uncomfortable the way SOB did at times. "Pilgrim's Quest" seems a bit more self-conscious, for example acknowledging that its bad fabulous jokes are bad fabulous jokes. I had many a good laugh while playing this DMOD.


It's a hallowed tradition.


I also really enjoyed the puns, but apparently some people find them a little bit annoying. This is just a subtle impression I'm getting.

Like SOB, this DMOD is full of good, original ideas. There are several new magic spells, my favorite of which is the spell that freezes one enemy in place so you can easily dispatch or avoid them (if they're the last enemy maintaining a screenlock, the spell will also cause the screen to unlock). There are great visual concepts in the areas, like the "fire wood" (another lovely pun), where all of the trees are on fire. You can find a spell that will cause all the trees on the screen to burn down to their trunks at once, which is really something to see.


It's enough to bring a tear to a Dinker's eye.

The bulk of the fighting is done with a series of throwing star weapons, which are similar to the throwing axe. Rather than strength, their performance is determined by an extra statistic called agility. There are also 'luck' and 'honour' stats, but as far as I can tell, they don't do anything apart from being required to reach certain levels in order to progress through specific parts of the game.


Suuure you do.

Once again, Mr. Klaebe's visual work spoils me for other DMODs. I shall let the screenshots do the talking. And then I will talk below them. Because I never shut up.


These full-screen animations look too good for the Dink engine; Simon is clearly the Devil. Also, check out that boat model! There's even a little Dink at the helm.


Those bunnies are really odd, but this snow effect is by far the best weather effect I've ever seen in a DMOD. It did more than get the idea across; it was downright convincing.


BOY that dragon was fulla blood!

When I look back on "Pilgrim's Quest" and I piece it all together, it's hard for me to believe that all these memorable bits are from the same DMOD. Remember that DMOD where Dink has to help a fairy change its rather unfortunate name?


You have to get him a sign that says "Manne." I eat this stuff up, I really do.

How about the one where Dink has to lure a horrible genital-creature to help a tyrannical village elder? Just the other day I was playing this crazy DMOD that had a Vegetable Church in a snowy land. Or that one with a tough slime boss in a strange-looking cave that turned out to just be the servant of a weird fire demon. Each bit felt like it could have been its own quest. It's hard to reconcile in my head that it was really all part of the same DMOD. SOB was like this, too, but all of its segments were clearly separated from one another. In PQ, these parts seem to run together, and before you even know it, you've lost track of how you've gotten from where you've been to where you are. It's making me feel kind of light-headed even now.


I know how you feel, rock.

I haven't even gotten to the part where the bad guy succeeds, much like in LOT, in his world-destroying plan. I saw it coming, but it still got a reaction out of me.


Well, this probably isn't good.


Nope. Nope, it wasn't good at all. See, I was right on the money with that one.


Y'know, in retrospect, I could even have done without that "probably."

The final portion of the game - and it's quite a good chunk of it - plays out in a nasty land of blood-red water that turns people mad. Floating skulls warble, "Join us." It doesn't seem like a fun place to be. What I found a lot creepier, though, was that you can end up in this doomsday wasteland much earlier in the game.

You have to bargain with a certain queen. She was being a bit of a crazy bitch, so, knowing it wouldn't end well for me, I decided to be a pervy jerk and tell her to "take it off." Into the clink with Dink. He remained there as years passed, until he was finally broken out by one of the big bad guy's frog robots. I had no idea what this thing was. The villain had not even been introduced. I left my cell and wandered the castle, but as creepy music played and I found nothing else but these frog-bots, a dreadful feeling of futility slowly came over me. My weapons confiscated, I couldn't seriously fight the bots, but I had an instinctual feeling that it wouldn't matter if I could. Finally, I found the Queen's chamber to contain nothing but corpses, and then... this:


Ahhh Jesus! WHY?

When I read the words "bad ending," I realized what was going on, and I smiled. This must be what the end of the game is like! With Dink out of the way, I surmised, whatever calamity was on its way went ahead and happened. All of it - the loneliness, the futility, the realization of what's going on - was a singular experience. It was also one of the creepiest things I've seen in a DMOD, quite appropriate for a mod released on Halloween. If Simon Klaebe came up with this idea, he's a damn clever guy. Even if he cribbed it from somewhere, he did a good job. All of that from happening to pick a dumb, jerky dialogue option.


Don't get too mad at Dink for asking others to disrobe. He gets as good as he gives.

The game ends on an intense scene where you have to run out of a crumbling cave as huge rocks fall down all over the screen as exciting music plays. It's a great effect, but I couldn't get a decent screenshot of it.


This scene is pretty cool, though. The way the magic object is framed, it screams, "This is important!" If it weren't at the end of a long game, it would kind of come across as ridiculous.

The actual ending sequence, however, is incredibly short, and cuts off abruptly. It's like, "Okay, Dink, now let's go over here..." Bam. Black screen. "TO BE CONTINUED IN SOB III: NECROMANCER."

"Noooo!" I shouted at my monitor. "Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!" (This really happened.) No resolution for Dink. Not in December 2005, not now, not ever. Sad.

I just realized that I forgot to complain about anything. Well, I don't care for the author's obsession with inserting loud, inappropriate sound effects for things like moving the cursor on the inventory screen. Also, I ran into a really nasty bug. When I go to plant the sugar beets, I get stuck.


Help!

I could never get out of that spot without using the Ultimate Cheat. I wonder if it's just me.

That's about all I can think of. If anybody was hoping for me to take the reigning review ratings champ down a peg, I'm sorry to disappoint.


Here are my final stats. See you next writeup!

140: A Perilous Journey (Unfinished) Author: James Perley Release Date: November 1, 2002

"I want to buy that house your selling in Terris."

Another loose end from the original game that bothered players back in the day was an empty house in Terris. A sign declared that it was for sale by someone named Charlie. "Where is Charlie?" people would ask. He was nowhere until this DMOD. It's nice to revisit these concepts, but I wish people would have picked up on more interesting things, like the wizard who tells Dink that he has heroic ancestry.

Dink's search for Charlie brings him to Port Town, and I'll say this for "Perilous Journey" - it at least has a much more reasonable Port Town than "Pirates of Portown" did. The town, though it seems a bit unfinished, is up to the original game's standard for settlements.


The port itself is kind of weak, though.

When you find Charlie, Dink is just inquiring about buying the house (I'd like to know how, since he doesn't have any money), a battle apparently breaks out, part of some kind of war that is apparently going on. Dink agrees to serve as a spy in trade for the house in Terris. The game then dumps you out into an unfinished area where you can't do anything at all.


They said I couldn't wear a house. Who's laughing now?

The opening is okay, but it's all there is. You can wander around Port Town a bit and talk to a few jokey characters (including a "Wizard Partridge" joke I'm pretty sure I had made in one of my old DMODs), but there's nothing to actually do. The whole thing takes no more than five minutes, if that. Speaking of which, the funniest thing about the DMOD by far is an included readme file, which contains this gem of a line:

Approximate time 10+ hours, depending upon skill level of player

I mean, come on, James! Sure, there's something to be said for ambition, but even Pilgrim's Quest didn't take me nearly that long. Now that I'm looking at the file, there's also this:

It can be finished

A more modest goal, but one the DMOD as uploaded still falls well short of. It wouldn't have taken a lot of effort to change the readme. Then again, I guess whether the DMOD can be finished depends upon your definition of "finished." I'm certainly finished with it.

141: The Fairy Named Bincabbi Author: Scratcher Release Date: November 4, 2002

"See you in hell, sucker!"

Scratcher pulled this one's listing off of the site between the time I made this list and now, but I've already got it, so I'm playing it anyway. It's still on the Dink Network if you want to hunt through the files directory for it.

...I wouldn't, personally.


No it isn't! That is clearly a bonca.

This time, The Idiot Named Dink is tasked by an even dumber king with pleasing a Fairy that apparently is threatening to destroy the world. He fails miserably.


She's so charming, though!

Yeah, this doesn't go much of anywhere. I spent most of my time dying due to the sextillion dragons scattered throughout the map that you can't possibly fight. Once you know where you need to go, however, getting past them isn't difficult. All you do is fetch a necklace for the fairy, but give it away in order to secure passage back. She responds by (apparently) destroying the world.


My favorite thing about this DMOD is a sign that actually breaks when you hit it. Wheeee!

If you gave me just one word to describe this DMOD, I wouldn't bother, because describing things in one word is impossible, and you'd be dumb to ask. But if a world-destroying fairy made me do it, the word I'd use would be "Why?" Now, you might say that that word isn't descriptive, but if you played this DMOD, you'd understand.

*Why, when you have to out-puzzle a guard to enter the castle, is the winning question, "What's a diary?" That is in no way a puzzle, nor should it be difficult to answer.

*Why does the blue fireball magic you start with not show up until you equip the sword? It's weird. And why do the words "Brr.. Cold.." appear wherever you throw the magic? Are all the trees talking trees now?

*Why is there apparently such a thing as a "bridge shop?" Actually, after all the bridge repairmen in DMODs, it's kind of nice to just cut to the chase.

*Why does the local poet describe himself as a "poem writer?" This is not a good sign.

*WHY ARE THERE DRAGONS EVERYWHERE WHY WHY

And so on. I haven't got much to say about this one. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a nap.


Ahh!

142: Dink Smallwood's Christmas Author: Binirit Release Date: December 25, 2002

"Ah, so I can fight but STILL be in the Christmas spirit?"

Here I go playing a game about Christmas in July. This is the third holiday-themed DMOD, after redink1's charming Halloween minigame and that Thanksgiving thing.

You know, there's something slightly unsettling about consuming Christmas-themed media at other times of the year. Looking at all those elves and all of that ho ho ho-ing, I feel as if I've stepped into a strange and slightly disturbing world that is unfamiliar to me. It's like I've accidentally taken a step sideways along an axis I didn't even notice existed - a step outside routine perception. From my new vantage point I can see that the shape of things is weirder and more askew than I'd reckoned. During the "holiday season," of course, I hardly blink at this stuff, except for the songs. I hate Christmas songs. There are exceptions, of course, just like Dink occasionally meets wizards who aren't either jerks or villains.

Anyway, it's an odd, liminal feeling, and this feeling is unique to Christmas. Other holidays don't elicit this reaction out of me at all. Halloween, for example, is timeless. Spooky stuff? Candy? Costumes? All things that I can easily get behind at any date. Christmas, on the other hand, has so come to dominate its (ever-expanding) portion of the year that it's now self-defined. Christmas's main point has become Christmas, and if you displace it, it stops making sense.

You're probably rolling your eyes at me. It doesn't freak me out nearly as much as I made it sound, anyway. It's just a little feeling that doesn't quite go away. It's a little block in the middle of my consciousness going, "Hey, wait a second..."

DMODs! Right. Sorry.

This DMOD I clearly haven't played yet is also the first by repeat author Binirit, who went on to make some well-received mods. She also has a document on the site called "The Rudiments of Scripting," which is a lovely place to start for people approaching DinkC as total beginners.

Now that we've reached the point in the writeup at which I've actually played the DMOD, I can say that despite the odd Christmas-in-July feeling, I found this short romp kind of charming. There's not much to actually do in this game, but I got a kick out of how relentlessly cheery it was.


The usual graphics have received a fluffy coat of snow.

"Cheery" isn't strong enough. "Manic" gets closer. Most of the sentences spoken in this DMOD end in exclamation points. Here's a little sample for you.

Ben: Merry Christmas, Dink! Isn't it a wonderful day, full of joy and laughter?
Dink: No... Al our presents were stolen!
Ben: Don't tell me Evil Santa visited your house!
Dink: Guess so. They're all gone!
Ben: Oh, that's real bad!
Dink: Yes!


Even when discussing misfortune, the characters act as if so much sunshine were pouring out of their asses, you'd get skin cancer if you stood within 50 yards of them. It is a proper hoot. I laughed - not hard, but a lot. The only thing I've ever read that's comparable are the little hypothetical dialogues that humorist Dave Barry sometimes writes into his articles. The whole DMOD is like that. It's like that even more than I'm letting on. If you punch anybody in this DMOD, they exclaim, "It's still a merry Christmas!"


What do you think, Mr. or Ms. non-gendered Snowperson? Isn't it just the gosh-darn merriest Christmas ever?

As you've probably gathered already, the plot here is that the presents belonging to Dink and his Mom (this must be set before the original game) have been stolen. The culprit, Evil Santa, does not appear in this DMOD, and it's just as well. Much like the devil antagonist of the movie Santa Claus, this thieving anti-saint was not competent enough to get far, and the presents can all be found in the immediate area. To find them, you'll have to go around and talk to people, greeting them "Merry Christmas!" although you're also given the option to wish them "Happy Holidays!" One of the presents requires you to fight an "ice bonca," which is just a recolored standard bonca. To make it easier, you can get a bow whose arrows all have snowballs on the end. How seasonal! It practically never snows where I live (and when it does, it's water when it hits the ground), so the white stuff is almost on the same level as elves and flying reindeer for me as the trappings of Christmas fantasy. It's something that you see on cereal boxes, in comic strips and cartoons, in commercials, and everywhere else that time of year except on the ground.

Like I said, there's not a lot to the gameplay in "Dink's Christmas." Everything that happens is arbitrarily triggered by other, unrelated things, so the only way to win is to go around in circles, repeatedly talking to the same people. I also found a hardness bug or two. The Christmas MIDIs get a tad grating after a few minutes, and the whole thing probably would have felt better in the context of the proper season. Still, the mood - the sheer over-the-top zeal - was amusing. Furthermore, it was clever enough that it felt intentional. Here, have some more.

Cleo: There's a cave to the north!
Dink: A cave? I never saw a cave!
Cleo: Well, Christmas is a time of wonders!
Dink: That's true! I'm on my way!


Tee hee. Of course, I could also see how you might find this annoying as Hell. In a different mood, I might've.


Christmas is saved! Hooray!

143: Christmas Adventure: Search for Santa Author: Anna-Leena(Sharp) Release Date: December 25, 2002

"Because of YOU children will cry."

Yes, two DMODs about Christmas were released on the same day. There are now four Christmas-themed DMODs. Three of them are by female authors, which is an interesting bit of coincidence since there are only five female DMOD authors total that I can think of.

"Christmas Adventure" is another mod where you progress by talking to people; in fact, this is all you can do, for you are not Dink, but an inexplicably giant MS Paint gnome. Forget an attack animation; all you've even got for a walk animation are little foot-stubs that vibrate a bit. At any rate, the only item you have is a present. Using it produces the text, "There are no children here!" even when there are.


The engine likes to put the text in the middle of your face, which sucks.

The graphics are usable, but they're definitely not very good. I did find the mooing reindeer kind of cute. More bothersome is the plain white background. I know the area is supposed to be snowy, but the original game DID come with some snow tiles.


Muu <3

The fact that there are never any visible walls to tell you where you can't go makes this very short DMOD a lot more frustrating than it otherwise would have been. I forgot where the boundaries were over and over, even though the actual shape of the tiny map is qutie simple.

Your objective is to retrieve a magical beard elixir to restore Santa's beard after he accidentally got it cut off. To accomplish this, you must give your love - not even just your body, your undying love - to a character who is billed as the "evil witch," and certainly acts like it if you refuse. Is Christmas really that important? Here we see yet another example of Sharp's twisted sense of humor. Although this mod is very short and doesn't contain much dialogue, there are nonetheless two separate bad endings, each of which blames you, the player, for ruining Christmas without an ounce of mercy. Harsh. I got both bad endings before the good one. In my shame, I must retire to become the gnome in one of those banner ads from several years ago. I may have ruined Christmas, but at least I can help people save money and/or win nonexistent prizes.


Print this out and pin it on the wall of your home or workplace.

144: PlaneWalker (Demo) Author: James Troughton (SabreTrout) Release Date: December 31, 2002

"Now prepare to be amazed..."

This DMOD is tagged on the Dink Network not only as a demo, but as unfinished. It seems that Mr. Trout intended a larger scope not just for the full DMOD, but even for the demo. This makes sense. What's here seems to be an introduction, establishing the motive for your quest; it ends just as things actually get going.

This time, the protagonist is one Saben, winner of the "tiny torso contest" three years running.


And they just went ahead and gave him the "long legs award" for life.

Of course, his appearance on the title screen has no bearing upon the game, where he's represented by the Dink recolor from "Friends Beyond 3: Legend of Tenjin." This was a decent idea. It's a relief that this isn't yet another DMOD that tells us to take it on faith that the guy in the game isn't Dink even though it looks just like him. Unfortunately, he reverts to the regular Dink palette whenever you push anything. While I'm at it, there were some other problems. I saw a tiling error, incomplete hardness, a pillbug that was stuck on map hardness, and one of my least favorite things: a sign that doesn't say anything. It might seem like a tiny thing to get hung up on, but every time I see an unscripted sign, it really affects my opinion of the entire DMOD. It's like the sign actually says "Hi there! I am proof that nobody, not even the author, tested this. If they did, they sure didn't care that I don't work!" There was a sign like this in Dink Forever, so I should know.


I respect a villain who's too practical to whip out the usual "none shall disturb the mighty etc." I mean, obviously somebody did. "Should" makes more sense.

Saben reveres and seems to serve his neighbor, the wizard Merlyn (no relation). Declaring himself on the verge of some great discovery, he bids that Saben go fetch him some dragon's blood from a nearby witch named Rafi Shaaban. Merlyn warns Saben that the witch might not be friendly, but she agrees to help if Saben will fetch her some mushrooms. After he does that, she gives him a mysterious package and tells him not to open it before giving it to Merlyn. The package causes a demon to appear when opened, killing Merlyn. Saben is able to finish off the demon, and seeking revenge, he pursues Shaaban as she flees through a portal to another realm. This is where the demo ends, although there's a couple of people that you can talk to in the next section. It sets a release date of November 2003 for the final version, but the author was long since onto other things by that point, I suspect.

Since you're blocked off at every turn from trying to explore, it seems like the story was intended to be the main point here, but I had a few problems with it. First of all, these events are meant to give the hero motivation to seek vengeance, but we never really learn why he admires Merlyn so much. In fact, even the basic nature of their relationship is never made clear. Second, it kinda bugs me that we never learn what his "great discovery" was going to be, and it doesn't seem like we would've learned it in the full game, either. Finally, Merlyn was absolutely out of his mind for opening that box. He has at least an inkling that Shaaban may be treacherous, and Saben tells him about her insistence that Merlyn be the one to open the box. As soon as the witch said that, I said out loud, "that box is gonna kill that wizard," and I don't think I was being especially clever. He kinda only had himself to blame, really.

I think this would've turned out to be a fairly good DMOD if it had been finished. The characters had some personality, particularly the witch, and SabreTrout's trademark of describing a character in the dialogue tree title always adds an interesting bit of atmosphere. I'd hope that, this demo being an intro area, the full game would've felt a bit more open - I don't have a problem with linearity, but there's no point at all to trying to explore in the demo. It's a bit sloppy, but I've seen much, much worse.

--2002 wrap-up--

2002 was a great year for DMODs. I feel like I ought to stress, however, that a lot of the mods released that year were crap. I gave out a limbic system-liquifying six copies of the Dink Forever Memorial Award of Badness, and at least a few more barely evaded the distinction. One (Legend of Parnu) really should have gotten one, but I couldn't get it working properly. And then there are the mediocre DMODs, but those do have some value because every player is different. I was rather harsh on "Fairy Named Bincabbi," for example, while I was nicer to others that probably aren't objectively much (if at all) better. Others' experiences may vary.

The reason I (much like a flooded sewer) bring up the crap is that it often doesn't get remembered like the good stuff. The mediocre DMODs may be remembered even less than the terrible ones. Metatarasal expressed surprise at the sheer number of them. The years are a distorting lens indeed. Our memories are selective, and for that matter, some of you weren't around the community back then; to you, 2002 might be all Pilgrim's Quests and Lyna's Stories. If I perform any service in these writings, it's probably to hold up all of these not-very-good and okay DMODs and bother to remember them, for what in some cases may be the last time. I do my best to go over the well-regarded mods as well, but they were already being discussed anyway. Now you can see that the golden age was really more like a can of chicken and noodle soup. Sure, there's chicken, but maybe not as much as you remembered. It's mostly slimy noodles after all. And, um, pretend there's also nasty spoiled things in there to represent the Award of Badness recipients.

Nailed another metaphor. I am so good at writing.

So much media is currently devoted to the enthusiastic celebration of nostalgia that we might forget what it really is: a melancholy longing for something forever gone. You really can't go home again, you know. It won't be the same. Even if it hasn't changed, you have, and it was the interaction between you and it that formed the experience. When we put together slideshows about 90s cartoons, we're really remembering a time, a place, a feeling.

My favorite video game is Sonic 3 and Knuckles, and I have a strong sense of nostalgia associated with it. The game is a work; unanchored from time, it's the same thing that it was. I can still play it now; I can even do it on the original hardware. Heck, I even still have a clunky old CRT television for a really authentic experience. And it's fun, but at moments it's also a little sad. I didn't really have any friends in 1995. Kids were nasty to me at school. I was convinced the world was out to get me. So I sat in my room with my cat and played Sonic 3 and Knuckles for as long as my parents would let me. I memorized every detail of the stages. I spent my time in a world that I liked more than the one around me, and it was a sweet, cool feeling. I can still play the game, but my mind is no longer simple enough to enjoy such a complete escape. Nostalgia, even when it makes you feel good, always ends at grabbing for something that just isn't there anymore.

--Awards--

*Evil Empire Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Terribleness: The Search for the Treasure, by Vilius Tamošiūnas

This was a tough pick, but ultimately, despite a weak attempt at trolling the player with promises of treasure, there is really nothing to this appalling excuse for a DMOD.

I know what you're thinking - what about [Alphabet]? Don't worry.

*[Alphabet] Lifetime Achievement Trophy for Utter Lack of Interest of Any Kind: [Alphabet], by the [Alphabet] guy

'Nuff said.

*Portown Plaque Recognizing Unrealized Ambition: The Other World, by Mimifish

This is a 2001 DMOD, but I had to recognize it here anyway. An intriguing concept and intro. A text file informing us that much more was done... A version existed with at least 100 screens, over 50 scripts, and over 250 new graphics (!), none of it ever to see the light of day. What a shame.

*Milder FlatStomp Medal for Frustration: Fighterz, by SabreTrout and Trav666

The Mog Marshes really wrecked me. I had to restart and nearly gave up.

*The Dead Dragon Carcass of Disturbingness: Milderr!! 3, by Sharp

Sharp's nihilistic world is terrifying, but in a strangely compelling way.

*The Ice Wizard's Award in Storytelling: Cycles of Evil, by Redink1

Forget DMODs, this is one of the most interesting ways I've seen a game tell a story.

*The Bronze Pig: Cycles of Evil, by Redink1

As I said, this is my new favorite DMOD.

*The Silver Duck: Lyna's Story, by Paul Pliska

This game is so well-designed. Every screen is packed with ideas, nothing is wasted.

*The Golden Pillbug: Pilgrim's Quest, by SimonK

I had so much fun with this that 8 hours didn't feel like they dragged on at all.
September 19th 2014, 01:58 AM
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Paul
Peasant Male United States
 
It was cool to read all the nice things you said about Lyna's Story. Best map ever? Wow. But I just thought I'd mention that it actually was intended to be "in continuity" with Crosslink. It takes place 1 year before, and in the best ending, Lyna takes up Milder's sword. In Crosslink, near the end of the demo, she loans that same sword to Dink. If Crosslink ever got finished, she would have further important things to do.