The Dink Network

Reply to Re: Crazy Old Tim Plays All the DMODs of 2006

If you don't have an account, just leave the password field blank.
Antispam: Enter Dink Smallwood's last name (surname) below.
Formatting: :) :( ;( :P ;) :D >( : :s :O evil cat blood
Bold font Italic font hyperlink Code tags
November 22nd 2014, 04:37 PM
Bard He/Him United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
231: A Very Dink Christmas (Unfinished) Author: MiloBones Release Date: April 9, 2006
"(Basically, there are a lot of grunting noises)"

Let's get one thing out of the way: "A Very Dink Christmas" is not a Christmas-themed DMOD. Christmas is mentioned just once, at the beginning, when a child is born on the holiday. After that, the story skips ahead at least ten years.

Hahaha you had a difficult birth.
The no-walls interiors are an intentional choice by the author, but I think they look weird.

Usually this project is fun, but sometimes I get really discouraged. Some DMODs are really tough to force my way through, and occasionally, that makes me feel bad. MiloBones is the author of "The Ants" and "Tile Puzzle," which demonstrate impressive creativity and ingenuity. "A Very Dink Christmas" has some of these qualities too, but it really isn't enjoyable to play.

The author agrees. In his own review, he calls the DMOD "an artistic project which obviously took a lot of time and effort but still sucks" and gave it a 0.0, saying that he should probably subtract another tenth of a point for bugs. He also wrote a walkthrough, and even that starts with some emphatic advice not to play the DMOD and to stop if you've started.

Milo is (obviously) too harsh on his DMOD. It does have some strong points. I'm afraid I have to agree with a lot of what he says, though. I couldn't recommend playing "Very Dink Christmas" if you want to have a good time playing a game, although you might enjoy seeing some of the cool ideas put into it.

You play as Dink Smallwood Jr. Dink Jr. (or DJ, as he is humorously known) never met his father, who left his mom before he was born. The story skips ahead 10 years after his birth. 10-year-old DJ decides that he's going to set out to find his father, presumably to make him come back to the family or something. Conveniently, DJ looks exactly like his father.

Y'know, scaling them down to this size almost works as a depiction of children. Authors often make them too small and it looks strange.

DJ soon meets Ridge, Wizard Martridge's father. From here, the plot is pretty difficult to understand (the author says that even he doesn't understand it). There's some kind of weird warp, and suddenly DJ is ten years older and Ridge has gone senile. We haven't actually gone forward in time. Nobody believes DJ about who his father is because he looks 20 years old, and everybody apparently knows that Dink Sr. is only 25 (This means that Dink was actually 15 when Dink Jr. was born, which is realistic enough, but might explain why he high-tailed it). Somebody tells Dink Jr. about an expensive magical artifact known as "the paternity test," which he can use to prove that Dink is his father (I admit, this is pretty funny) but the rest of the game seems to center around Dink chasing after the senile Ridge through a series of bizarre circumstances. There's more to the plot - something about a curse and DJ's grandfather? - but this is all I was really able to understand.

Some of the map screens are sparse even by my standards. An early area has a bunch of people just wandering around on a featureless, square, grassy island, which is plain bizarre. It's not as strange as what DJ has to do there - Ridge instructs him to "seek the pedophile." You find him in an underground (literally) tavern called - I swear I am not making this up - the "Tavern where [the] pedophile is." There is a sign and everything. The pedophile makes DJ prove himself by finding the "Four Transvestites." To figure out who's a transvestite and who isn't, DJ - who I'm pretty sure was ten years old a few minutes ago - must go around punching people and then offer them 5 gold to have sex with them, both men and women. Once he accomplishes this, DJ is sent off to talk to a man known as the necrophile, who hangs out in a cemetary full of dug-up graves. None of this has anything to do with anything else. I think it's supposed to be funny, but it's really just kind of strange and awful. I did laugh at the sequences that just had a black background and a bunch of grunting and animal noises. I'm not sure what was supposed to be going on, exactly, but there was some text describing it for the benefit of the deaf and people without speakers, and it made me laugh pretty hard.

This is not an inquiry I should ever like to make.

The wreck of a story is at least interesting enough to tolerate, though. The real problems of "A Very Dink Christmas" are that it's too hard and you're never really told what to do. All of the enemies are creative new spins on the Dink monsters. There's a bonca that becomes stronger and faster every time it kills a duck, a bonca that emits fireballs that revolve around it, a flaming pillbug, and a stone giant that makes holes in the ground where it attacks. Almost all of them are TOO DAMN HARD. Even if you get your stats as high as you can reasonably hope to have them, nearly all of these enemies can kill you in a damn hurry. After successfully fighting your way through a long series of screens filled with these enemies, ONE mistake will send you back over five minutes to that last save point. It is complete bullsh*t. I spent WAY too long trying to do this legitimately (for those of you who have played it, I made it one screen short of the stone giant boss) before I gave up and cheated up some ridiculous stats. Even then, it was easy to get killed due to some enemies with instant death gimmicks. Knowing that there isn't really an ending anyway, I gave up in frustration.

Another new enemy is this weird four-snake-head thing, which casts a spell to reduce your HP to 1 and then tries to drop deadly fairies on you. It moves extremely quickly toward you if you get close, so it must be defeated from a distance with magic.

Just after I started cheating, there's a boss that can only reasonably be beaten using a spell that, if you don't have a cheated magic stat, would take over a minute to charge. You have to use this spell several times to win. Yikes. What isn't explained to you is that whenever you damage this boss, you take damage as well. It's easy to die before figuring this out on your first try, which would set you back ages.

MiloBones just put every idea he could come up with into this thing without trying to explain any of it to the player. Some of it works. The spell I just mentioned creates stones that revolve quickly around DJ in a spiral pattern, doing huge damage to everything they hit. Another spell called the "spirit whip" has an interesting effect. You have to press the magic button and then a direction, and Dink Jr. will send out a whiplike line of three stars in that direction. If you're good with this, you can hit the enemy three times. It's interesting to have a spell that gives you range, but doesn't fly all the way across the screen. After playing for over 20 minutes, I realized that this spell has more than one effect. If you press the magic button twice, stars will revolve around DJ, damaging whatever they hit. You can then press a direction to send out a stronger "spirit whip." What I never discovered until I read the walkthrough was that there are even more functions to this spell. You can press magic THREE times, and acid rain spouts will circle DJ. You can press magic and then attack to send out a shower of stars. All of this really should have been explained to the player. Actually, some of these functions should just have been cut, since they aren't all useful anyway.

One of the forms of the "spirit whip" in action.

It's not just the magic that isn't adequately explained. There's a point where Dink turns into a copy of that weird snake-head boss, and you have to use the attack, which moves you forward, to bypass a cliff's hardness to continue. Yes, you HAVE to do this. I never would have known without a walkthrough, especially because the more obvious path forward has an invisible wall blocking you, which I assumed to be a bug. Playing AVDC is a frustrating, demoralizing experience.

The worst part is that I think it's the author's very negative attitude toward the mod that was the real problem. This stuff could be fixed. With some polish and rebalancing, this could have been a really neat DMOD, but MiloBones looked at what he created and could only see the worst of the worst.

Here's a shot from long after I gave up. There really are some interesting - though way too damn hard - enemies here.

232: Dink vs. Milder 2 (Demo) Author: Ciprian Oprisa (Cypry) Release Date: June 10, 2006
"Sounds pretty stupid, hope it'll work"

"A Very Dink Christmas" was the last DMOD ever to win the Download of the Month contest on The Dink Network. "Ed the SCV" was the first, way back in April of 2000. For the June contest, the only choices were "Dink vs. Milder 2" and "None." Voters decided to pick nothing at all rather than this DMOD, as "Mr. None" (as Redink1 put it) defeated Cypry's demo 10 votes to 7. There was one last DOTM the month after, in which Cypry was redeemed as his DinkC Editor (which I use myself for DMOD development) shut out Mr. None. The contest was quietly discontinued after that.

"Dink vs. Milder 2" isn't so bad that it deserved to get beaten out by nothing at all. Really, the result reflected less on the DMOD and more on how ridiculous it was to continue having Download of the Month contests in months where there was just one download. It wouldn't surprise me if people voted for "None" just to protest how silly it had become.

This is really more of a "re-do" than a sequel. The first part of the DMOD is nearly identical to its predecessor, right down to the same bad tiling of the wooden floors. Once again, Milder is a much worse jerk than he was in the original game and tries to force himself on Libby. Once again, Dink decides to become a knight so that he can challenge Milder to a duel. As before, Dink goes to kill a bonca to prove himself. At that point, things get weird.


Let me back up a little bit. Things actually get weird even earlier than that. The dialogue in this DMOD is kind of strange. Part of that is because Cypry's English (he's from Romania) isn't perfect, and some sentences are so messy that characters end up saying practically the opposite of what they obviously mean. Another thing that bothered me is the way the characters openly discuss DMODs. Now, I've generally had a positive view of all the fourth wall breaking - I don't see how you can tolerate DMODs if you don't. But I balked when Dink asked his mom about his father and she said this:

There are many theories about your father
Some DMOD authors pretend he's dead
some others, that he was a great hero, but he dissapeared
and some others that he was kidnapped

It's not bad as a summary of some of the different ways authors have treated the issue of Dink's dad, but it was pretty damn weird coming out of the mouth of Dink's mom in the middle of what had been a serious conversation. This isn't a typical fourth wall joke. These characters clearly know all about DMODs, and somehow this is okay with them. They don't ask, "hey author, how come you're making bad stuff happen to us?" It's a particularly strange thing to do in a DMOD that dispenses with the usual continuity anyway, and therefore doesn't have to acknowledge anything from other DMODs. I found myself in the unusual position of taking the story more seriously than the author did.

Let's get back to that screenshot. Dink punches the bonca a couple of times, it explodes, and he finds himself in this crazy "time tunnel." Martridge suddenly busts open a giant crate of radioactive weapons-grade exposition all over the place. In a long conversation, he tells Dink that he's from 10 years in the future, he went back in time to save Dink from the exploding bonca, Milder has aligned himself with the goblins and overthrown the kingdom, and now Milder is a Dark Wizard as well as being King Milder I. I couldn't stop myself from laughing derisively; this is the silliest plot I have ever read, and it makes no sense. But, y'know, whatever. What I can't understand is why Cypry would reuse the opening from his earlier mod when this one has such a different premise and it takes such a monumental stretch to get from one plot to the other. The jolt from jumping tracks is enough to make your head spin until it twists clean off.

This DMOD has pigeons instead of ducks. Once, I hit one of them with a fireball and a damage of "0" displayed. This is the first time I've ever seen the game display 0 damage.

The demo is surprisingly substantial. It took me 40 minutes to finish it. Most of what you have to do is kind of monotonous, going back and forth to perform errands across screens that look quite similar and mostly feature the same couple of enemies, but it's not bad. There are no weapons, but you can acquire a pair of herb boots and the fireball spell, which is all you really need to fight the enemies here. There's a big maze just before the end of the DMOD, but you're given a map at the start. It makes perfect sense in the story, because you're sent to the maze by a character who's on your side and would know the layout, but from a gameplay perspective, it's kind of odd.

What's the point of building a maze and telling the player exactly what path to follow? I don't get it.

Dink infiltrates the goblin-oppressed city of Milderburg, but the "end of demo" message comes up before he ever gets the chance to confront his psychotic old nemesis (How crazy is Milder? He's stopping all traffic in an effort to find and kill Dink Smallwood - who has been missing for TEN YEARS).

There were a couple of bits of dialogue that I quite enjoyed. In order to get a bomb you need to reach the herb boots, you ask a bartender for some reason. I found the resulting exchange pretty funny:

Dink: I want to buy a bomb
Bartender: This is a bar. We sell drinks
Dink: I don't know, but I have a feeling that you have a bomb
Bartender: Ok, let's pretend I have a bomb
Bartender: how much would you offer for it?

I love this. Dink is really only asking because the option was there in the choice menu! "This is a bar. We sell drinks." Hilarious.

Ooh, are we going to play Hot Potato? What fun.

And then there's a guy running some kind of lab in the outdoors. He's all like, damn, you found my secret lab! When Dink says anybody could have found him, he says that nobody did until Dink. Dink asks him what he's working on, and when he says that's a secret, Dink astutely points out that so was the lab until he found it.

Hey Dan, I think Cypry is calling you old.

There's an unusual save system in this DMOD. You can save from the escape menu, but it doesn't work on some screens (mostly screens with battles). This is the first DMOD that uses the new version 1.08 function "set_save_game_info," which allows you to change the line of text for a save game (you know, the one that usually just tells you what level you were). It's used here to store your location.

I happened to catch a glimpse of a review that made it sound like the mod had a potentially tough riddle, so I laughed out loud when I saw this.

The DOTM debacle was obviously enough to convince Cypry that a full version was not worth the trouble. Somebody actually tried to argue at the time that, hey, at least his DMOD didn't lose to nothing in a landslide, which is the saddest attempt at encouragement I've ever seen.