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April 30th 2014, 05:05 PM
custom_coco.gif
Cocomonkey
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
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.

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110: 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). 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.

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. 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*

Tyrsis seemed to take sprite decoration a little farther than most authors so far. Some screens, especially those with original 2D art, look really nice. Seriously, some screens look gorgeous. Others, however, have unusual tiling that just looks off. There's too much care put into this DMOD for me to think that the tiling is an accident, 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.

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 (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.

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. By this time, I had already saved a goblin village from the same problem using magic. Rinse and repeat, I thought - literally. But these people did not want Dink's kind of help. 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.