|At a Glance:
Being an "old school"
RPG addict of the Ultima rather than Zelda variety, I must admit Ive always harbored
a bit of prejudice against console-style role-playing games. With that said, Im
happy to say that RTSofts Dink Smallwood took me rather by surprise, proving itself
to be a satisfying little console-style RPG that kept me glued to my gamepad for many
hours of light-hearted play. For those who dont remember Zelda or the older Final
Fantasy games, Dink Smallwood is basically a top down arcade/console-style RPG that boasts
a characteristically simple interface, smooth-scrolling gameplay, and surprisingly rich
graphics and sound features, especially for an inexpensive shareware title.
Those who are looking for a beautiful, haunting, epic-scale plot should probably look
elsewhere for entertainment. Dink Smallwood (as you can probably guess by the name) is a
lighthearted fairy-tale story, which relies more heavily on humor rather than drama to
keep you entertained throughout the game. Dink is a pig-farming boy who is forced out of
his home due to unfortunate circumstances, and winds up playing the role of unlikely hero
as he strives to make a name for himself in the land.
Character Creation and Development:
There is no character creation in Dink Smallwood. You ARE Dink Smallwood, clever-minded
pipsqueak and unlikely hero. You start out as just a little Dink
with nothing but
your bare hands and an indignant attitude with which you must face a hostile land. Your
starting character has very low stats in three primary areas: Strength, Defense, and
Magic. Dink struggles mightily in the beginning with even the weakest of creatures, but
with each kill comes those oh-so-familiar experience points, and which subsequently
entitles you to higher levels and the choice of increasing each of your three primary
skills. Youll also find and learn various forms of magic during the course of your
True to its heritage, Dink Smallwood uses a simple but remarkably solid game
engine. All the action in this game takes place in the adventure screen, where you get a
birds eye view of Dinks exploits. The top-down scrolling action is very smooth
and intuitive, especially if you play with a gamepad as the game was obviously designed.
Theres a key for attacking, using/talking, throwing magic, and checking your
inventory. Theres a few other miscellaneous little abilities, but little more
complicated than the basic buttons/keystrokes. But rest assured there will be plenty for
you to do, as the game is filled with puzzles, monsters, and quests galore.
Dink Smallwood is a quick-moving, lighthearted, action-adventure RPG at its core,
complete with swinging swords, rampaging monsters, silly jokes, and a musical score that
sets an appropriate tone for the game. In fact, if theres anything you dont
particularly like about the game, or if you think you could honestly do better using the
same game engine, you can modify or create new environments using "DMOD"
software that comes free with the purchase of the Dink Smallwood title. There are several
Dink modules available for download already, making this a very good value. The one real
complaint I have with this game is the lack of a save-anywhere feature, though Dinks
solution to savegames is preferable to most other console games
you can save anytime
you want, but only in special locations.
The Good In summary:
As with any console-style RPG, simplicity of play is a major strong point according to
fans of this sort of game. Its easy to step into and start playing, and once there
Dinks wit and humor should be enough to keep you entertained for a good little
while. As mentioned before, sound and graphics are remarkably good for a shareware title.
The Bad In Summary:
As with any console-style RPG, simplicity of play is a major drawback according to
critics of this sort of game. Ultima VII it is not, and you should probably avoid the game
altogether if youre not the type who likes to laugh during his or her game-playing
Tips for Beginners:
Spellcasters are crucial to this game, and should start out with at least third level
magic skill if possible. However, dont get so caught up in magic that you neglect
other vital areas such as lockpicking and weapon skills. Specialize each character in one
weapon type when you can. Clear out as much of Upper Exile as you can at first, and if
anything proves too difficult, come back for it later when youve gained some
experience. Speak to lots of people
. you never know what you may find
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