Dink Smallwood

Dink plays a whole lot like a 1990s Zelda, being essentially a tongue-in-cheek adventure mixed with some light RPG elements. The game was initially sold for about twenty bucks online, but was ultimately released as freeware. As a result the game earned quite a considerable following, and there’s an active community surrounding the game even today.

Snap74_1You star as eager pig farmer Dink Smallwood, whose only dream is to become a respected adventurer. Your character has at his disposal some melee and ranged weapons plus several magical attacks that get unlocked extremely slowly as you go. Combat is as simple as mashing the attack button upclose, but unlike Zelda, you can’t keep enemies at bay by brandishing your sword or spells. This creates quite an annoying problem where you’ll constantly have to get extremely close, do a quickly attack, then run away.

Fights require lots of open terrain for this system to work, but the game frequently neglects this and crams you into tight enclosures full of bad guys with too little room to run around. This issue becomes most apparent in the Goblin Sanctuary or on the Edge of the World levels. Hit detection is yet another issue when using ranged weapons (arrows and spells sometimes whiz by enemies and don’t register). The game world, which gradually unlocks as you go through the story-essential quests, is depicted in a top-down, screen-by-screen manner. It’s nice enough, but accidentally bumping into the edge of the screen during a fight is easy, and doing so will reset your opponents’ hitpoints from the previous screen when you return.

With such awkward combat mechanics, fighting can be tricky early in the game (you literally start off with your bare fists), but it gets easier once you explore the world and find a sword and a stat-boosting potion or two. At the end of it I’ve felt more annoyed than anything else, but the game does have its share of good (and sometimes amusing) moments. And with a fairly broad fan base, finding third-party content isn’t that hard.

System Requirements: Pentium 100 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95

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