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Dink Smallwood
- Seth Robinson (RTSoft)
thumb1.jpg (17911 bytes)   Fun Factor 8
  Addiction Factor 5
  Interface/Gameplay 10
  Graphics 8
  Sound 8
  Multi-Player N/A
  Bonus/Penalty 7
  Overall Score 7.67
At a Glance:

Being an "old school" RPG addict of the Ultima rather than Zelda variety, I must admit I’ve always harbored a bit of prejudice against console-style role-playing games. With that said, I’m happy to say that RTSoft’s 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 don’t 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.

Game Setting:

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. You’ll also find and learn various forms of magic during the course of your travels.

Game Engine:

True to it’s 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 bird’s eye view of Dink’s exploits. The top-down scrolling action is very smooth and intuitive, especially if you play with a gamepad as the game was obviously designed. There’s a key for attacking, using/talking, throwing magic, and checking your inventory. There’s 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.

Game Environment

Dink Smallwood is a quick-moving, lighthearted, action-adventure RPG at it’s core, complete with swinging swords, rampaging monsters, silly jokes, and a musical score that sets an appropriate tone for the game. In fact, if there’s anything you don’t 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 Dink’s 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. It’s easy to step into and start playing, and once there Dink’s 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 you’re not the type who likes to laugh during his or her game-playing sessions.

Tips for Beginners:

Spellcasters are crucial to this game, and should start out with at least third level magic skill if possible. However, don’t 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 you’ve gained some experience. Speak to lots of people…. you never know what you may find….

 

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