the most endearing quality about Dink Smallwood - and
there is more than one - is that it mirrors what we basically
seek in life: Even though most of us start off small, we do
want the world to sit up and take notice. However, if you are
getting the idea that Dink has goody-goody philosophical undertones,
you're barking up an entirely wrong tree. Released in 1998 by
RTSoft, it is now free to download and a candidate for the classic
a spoonful of Zelda, add a dash of Monkey Island
and a pinch of Diablo, and you have Dink Smallwood.
While it wasn't a runaway success, they did sell all their copies.
The development team, which consisted of of Seth Robinson, Justin
Martin, and Greg Smith, weren't interested in publishing any
more, so in 1999 - 17 October, to be exact - it was released
as freeware. The free version also included Dink Edit for players
to make their own modules and continue enjoying Dink's adventures
once they were done with the original game.
line is simple though fascinating. You must get into the skin
of Dink Smallwood, a young lad helping his mother look after
their pig farm. Dink, with slightly vulgar sense of humour,
is thrown into the unlikely mold of an adventurer when an accident
leaves him homeless and orphaned. Haunted by his hometown nemesis
Milder Flatstomp, who insists on showing him up and making fun
of his background, Dink must battle the odds and become a hero.
sets out from his village of Stoneybrook to live with his aunt
and uncle in Terris, but things turn out a bit more exciting
than he anticipated. Along the way he meets a few people and
plenty of monsters. He picks up quests, which basically consist
of killing monsters and other bad guys, and gets laughed at
for his swine-related background. As he proceeds he gets ample
opportunity to increase his skill as a warrior.
quests vary from something as inane as finding a lost duck and
collecting nuts from the forest to rescuing a little girl from
a sadistic ritual and saving a starving town. A sinister organization
called the Cast seem to be the bane of the Dink universe, and
most 'bad' things seem to be related to them. The quests must
be completed in a linear fashion, unfortunately. So if you get
stuck at one point, the chances are you are stuck for good.
But if you are sharp and use your skills well, who knows, even
the king might agree to see you and give you a special quest.
come in many shapes and sizes. You will come across gross boncas,
bony shape-shifters, overweight-caterpillar-like things, a dragon
or two, and even some belligerent ducks, among others. Of course,
killing them gets Dink points and these points add up to increase
his level. At each level increase, you get the option to beef
up Dink's Attack, Defense or Magic skills. In addition, you
also come across gold and potions from monsters and treasure
chests along the way. The gold is important, as you need to
painstakingly save up to buy your weapons and elixirs. A word
of warning: monsters keep re-spawning. However, there is a plus
side. By killing them again and again, you get points and treasure
way Dink must interact with a number of non-playing characters
(NPCs). What makes the game interesting is the choice you get
in determining the line of the conversation. The space bar gets
you a list of topics you can converse about. The right choice
puts you in the way of a quest; the wrong one could lead to
a meaningless dialogue punctuated with juvenile humour. There
is no audio as far as conversations go. You must read off the
screen, which is slightly annoying given the number of typos.
NPCs go a long way in making the game a delight. Starting with
a duck with attitude and Libby, a girl in Dink's village for
whom he has the hots (though he ends up hitting on almost anything
female as he goes along), Dink meets all sorts of other characters.
There is the abusive Uncle Jack, some interesting giant bookmaker
ducks who let Dink bet on duck fights, goblins who are not too
well-endowed in the 'upper storey', and of course a surprise
final boss 'monster' to end the game with.
and interaction is simple, and keyboard based. The arrow keys
move Dink about on the screen, up, down, as well as diagonal.
To pick up something, just make Dink walk through it. Apart
from gold and elixirs that Dink picks up, each town he goes
to has a shop or two that will sell things or buy stuff from
him at ridiculously low prices. Most of Dink's money is spent
on weapons. Swords, bows, and bombs are there for the taking
if he can afford them. You come across better and better - and
more expensive - weapons progressively. If he can't afford any
weapons, as is the case initially, Dink can use his fists.
aside, the Herb Boots are a quaint acquisition. They make Dink
walk faster and kick harder and faster, too. When he stands
still with the Boots on, it looks like he's dancing! Dink can
also learn spells. This depends on his Magic level, though.
While he gets fireball quite early, acid rain needs considerably
higher skill. The Herb Boots and magic combination is quite
potent. It helps Dink move considerably faster than most monsters
and, keeping well out of their way, he can chuck magic to wear
them down. Good news for the impatient types: to release pent-up
frustration, you may kick furniture, ducks, and also the NPCs
- with or without the Boots. However, when I felt it was time
to teach Uncle Jack a lesson, I found those Herb Boots really
are nothing to write home about when you compare them with other
games of the same time. The human figures are a bit of a joke,
and many of the animations repetitive. People also have the
annoying appearance of gliding ethereally through the landscape.
The music, however, is nice. It does grow on you, and the increased
tempo when something interesting happens adds to the excitement.
have been nice to be able to save the game anywhere, but unfortunately
you can do so only at special Save points. The other drawback
is that, fascinating though unraveling the story is, Dink's
main job is just: kill monster, pick up gold and move on for
more of the same. The time when you need to use your brains
most is to allot points to Attack, Defense or Magic. The typos
in the conversations are annoying, and some people might find
the humour slightly trying, too.
value of the game is virtually nil once you play it through.
However, the D-MODs allow players to build their own mods. Of
course, it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there are plenty
of D-MODS available for download from the Web.
you are interested in RPGs, Dink Smallwood is not one
you can ignore. It's addictive and its fascinating, without
having the slickness of, say, Diablo. It's just over 10MB to
download, and needs a mere 32MB RAM to play. While free to download,
here in Delhi you can still see the CD being sold for Rs 250
(US$ 6 approx.). Mac users, sorry, this is for Windows only.
it this evening, and I'll wager that you shake your head and
think, 'What's so great about this?' for the first quarter of
an hour you play it. Then it'll be time to go to work.
File size: 10.2MB
Windows 9x/2000/XP, 32MB RAM