The Dink Network

Mystery Island

A mysterious well on the mysterious island. DDC goes boating Trouble, indeed.
This addon tells a story - don't rush through it, enjoy it. Full source
is available.

Released:January 2nd, 2010
File Size:4.95 MB
Release Notes:Initial version.
Play:Play this D-Mod right now in your web browser! (More Info)
April 20th, 2023
Score : 6.9 fair
Peasant They/Them Australia
Mystery Island was included with the freeware release of Dink Smallwood that I first played in the year 2000. It's intended to be a sequel to the main game, but really has little in common with it in terms of storyline and gameplay. It opts for a different play style and adds some new and unique scripting techniques and engine features which make it very different to the game of knights and dragons we're accustomed to. For a better understanding of the design and development process, I highly recommend reading "The Making of Mystery Island" as it explains the planning process, involving writing all the scripts before designing the map. Unfortunately, this planning process didn't prevent a variety of flaws from ending up in the final product.

The game starts with the usual RTSoft sense of humour in the form of the punchable decorative dragons, but soon after goes straight downhill. Upon talking to the king and selecting the "wrong" option, you'll be blasted with a WAV file that sounds vaguely like a marimba playing a sequence in a minor key along with seeing a pop-up box that tells you that the game has ended. Anyone who is intent on playing this game to the end will soon become very well acquainted with this sound due to the many "trap" choices and dead-ends littered throughout.

Upon boarding the ship and beginning the adventure, the player will see one of the many 3D pre-rendered stills that are scattered throughout the game. They'll also hear one of the game's MIDIs which are all original compositions by Mitch Brink, tailored to the setting the player finds themselves in. The soundtrack and the new graphics almost manage to redeem Mystery Island by making it feel much more atmospheric and professional when compared to the average D-mod. Unfortunately many will have given up before they get to hear and see all of them due to the sheer frustration of the subsequent sections of gameplay.

On the ship, the player is forced into several different "arcade-style" sequences before they find themselves on the island. These sound like great fun, but they really only exist to annoy the player and draw out the game, as one's success in them is almost entirely random. When I first played, I assumed there was some sort of pattern or consistency to the "Cave of Terror", but then discovered much later on by reading the scripts that it was entirely random with a 50% chance of success, meaning one's choice is entirely irrelevant. The "puke" sequence is thankfully much more transparent in terms of what to do, but unfortunately in many cases just as random as your shipmates unhelpfully run to opposite corners of the deck, causing you to inexplicably lose when there are more than 9 active pukes. The shark sequence is the only minigame that involves skill but not very much of it, as one can usually just press "right" a few times to get to the end without much trouble. It also makes no sense that you'd go back to the Cave of Terror over and over again without some sort of explanation from the crew, and these sorts of oversights end up cheapening the experience.

The only redeeming part of this section is the hilarious shipmate banter, and I recommend all players talk to the crew as much as possible after every arcade sequence so as to disperse the monotony of the sea voyage somewhat. Unfortunately, there isn't very much of it and soon afterwards, you're dumped onto the island and must contend with one of the most notoriously irritating bits of Dink modding ever, namely the camera section.

It is commonly known that the camera destruction sequence is one of the most poorly regarded DMOD plot devices of all time, simply because at release many PCs couldn't handle it due to the Dink engine's timing being reliant on the speed of the user's CPU. As such, many people around the world collectively wasted thousands of hours attempting to traverse this shoddy bit of game design only to find out later that it was more or less impossible for them to get past it without either a cheat script or by buying a faster PC. Thankfully, if the player manages to destroy them all, they'll find the rest of the game to be rather straightforward for the most part, assuming they can figure out what they're supposed to be doing.

Despite the relative simplicity of the post-camera end-game section, there is very little assistance provided to the player in terms of figuring out what to do next. The girl who is supposed to assist you provides the occasional vague hint but is otherwise an unhelpful annoyance. There's also the possibility of softlocking if one accidentally kills the duck or attempts to fight the endless robots near the cliff, along with various other niggles such as being able to trigger the camera sequence after morphing into a duck. For the player to heal, they must find the obscure burping tree or hope the unusually strong enemies drop enough hearts. All of these little things add up and overshadow RTSoft's attempts to innovate and develop an alternate and fresh D-Mod style. Dink's commentary on the state of the various houses and his responses upon hitting things almost make up for this lack of effective story development but fall short, and leave the player with unanswered questions such as why there's a fountain in the middle of town which turns people into ducks.

It is also worth noting that from the moment you arrive on the island, the pre-rendered Bryce stills take a back seat and are nowhere to be seen until the very end. Notably absent from the credits list for Mystery Island is Dink's lead artist, Justin Martin, with the new robot sprites all having been modelled and animated by Greg "Pap" Smith with perhaps some help from Seth. Unfortunately, Pap's lack of artistic flair is evident upon encountering the cameras and robots, which are made from simple primitives such as cubes and spheres with lacklustre textures, and overall have the appearance of being composed by a 12-year-old following a beginner's tutorial. They also lack the black grid shadows of the original game's graphics and end up looking subtly out of place compared to everything else on the map. The stills provide a sense of atmosphere during the early game, which would have made for a nice contrast to these red polygons.

Much like the original game, Mystery Island starts off strongly but eventually runs out of steam, and relies on forcing the player to read the developer's mind in regard to numerous esotericisms in order to progress. If you can stomach the irritation involved in outdated yet common and accepted game design tropes from 1998, you will find a somewhat lacklustre adventure that occasionally redeems itself with superb pre-rendered Bryce graphics and well-composed music, interspersed with the usual RTSoft humour. At least the credits look cool.
TopicPostsPosterLast Post
Mystery Island DMOD - Whats with the door and the balls on sticks?14dinknewbie99January 19th 2017, 02:01 PM
Mystery Island ratings and what you think.6HannibalMay 8th 2015, 12:55 PM
Mystery Island Camera Help10xxxnJuly 13th 2013, 08:35 PM
north pass2KungLeoJune 12th 2010, 04:58 PM
mystery island3KungLeoJune 4th 2010, 06:26 AM
Mystery Island part 139jricheyMarch 8th 2009, 08:56 AM
mystery island puke clean up3GerDink51December 25th 2008, 03:14 AM
Mystery Island12BoncaHunterNovember 14th 2008, 04:40 AM
mystery island2princekillmeMarch 24th 2008, 02:58 PM
MYSTERY ISLAND "SECRET WEAPON"6RoannenFebruary 21st 2008, 07:15 PM
burping tree in mystery island that leads to a healer????19mrsbroyles20February 9th 2008, 09:13 AM
Mystery Island ??5moonshadoFebruary 5th 2008, 06:45 AM
Mystery Island problem24rajeshAugust 17th 2007, 10:56 AM
pl help....mystery island2ankitAugust 14th 2007, 04:05 PM
after killing droid 127angel376June 27th 2007, 07:25 AM
Mystery Island4rajeshMay 21st 2007, 02:49 AM
ok i'm stuck in mystery island!4marysoilMay 19th 2007, 12:46 AM
destroying the cameras8BEASTMASTERMarch 23rd 2007, 12:01 PM
Mystery Island5PidixJune 7th 2004, 09:39 PM
Mystery Island Part II6CTCWApril 28th 2004, 09:57 AM
Mystery Island3DinkyJadeOctober 30th 2003, 12:05 PM
mystery island help5urthJune 14th 2003, 11:57 AM
Mystery Island help5Zero341May 27th 2003, 05:33 PM
Mystery Island hangs up at shark every time.2gvandyk2April 16th 2003, 12:24 PM