Dink SmallWood

aka: Dink SmallWood HD
Moby ID: 1921
Windows Specs
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Description official description

Play Dink Smallwood in this hack-and-slash style role-playing game. When Dink's world gets swarmed with monsters, the player must stand up and try to put a stop to it. The game can be controlled with a keyboard, joystick, or gamepad. Kill monsters, talk to people, and cast spells.

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Credits (Windows version)

17 People

Programming
Programming Consultant
Graphics / Artwork
Level Design & Story
Additional Level Design
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Cinematics Sound
Box & Manual Cover Art
Manual Editor
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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 72% (based on 18 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.7 out of 5 (based on 45 ratings with 3 reviews)

great funny bloody fun

The Good
The graphics are awesome. The gameplay is awesome. The humor is awesome. The character interaction is awesome. Everything about this game is awesome. Except for one small little detail.

The Bad
The AI is absoloutely horrible. The monsters don't even seem to care that you're there. They don't even react when you hit them. Also the level of gore might put some gamers off.

The Bottom Line
Despite the AI Dink Smallwood is an excellent game to be played by everyone but the squeamish.

Windows · by victor powicke (2) · 2000

Even free games should have better standards

The Good
Unfortunately, the only good thing I can say about this game is that it’s free, so you don’t lose anything if you choose to play it. You won’t even lose too much time, as the game itself is short, taking me only two days to finish. That would be a very bad thing if it had any redeeming qualities, but it becomes a good thing when it basically has none, as it at least makes it possible to put up with it all the way to the end, so you’ll be able to say that you finished one more game and then quickly move on.

The editor it comes with and the hundreds of “D-Mods” available should theoretically be another good thing, and it certainly was one of the reasons why I got curious about the game in the first place, but all it does in the end is prove once again that there are many creative people looking for ways to create. A quick look will tell you that some authors have gone to great lengths to make the most out of the available tools and I’m sure that some D-Mods have great stories and nice tricks up their sleeves, but I was too frustrated with the game’s limitations to give them a chance.

The Bad
When I say limitations, I’m certainly not talking about the things you’d expect simply due to how old the game actually is, considering the hardware constraints of the time. No, I’m talking about the fact that Dink Smallwood doesn’t even offer some very basic RPG elements, which would be required for both the game itself and any D-Mods. No matter how much work the authors put in, no matter how much they try to circumvent these issues, the fact remains that you can’t make a good scenario when you’re not provided with suitable tools.

For example, there’s no equipment! You only have the inventory screen, with one side for spells and one side for items, being allowed to select a single item from each side. That means that you can only equip one item at a time, which has troubling effects when that item’s not a weapon, as pressing the attack key will either use the item or, if the item can’t be used, result in an attack with nothing but your fists. This is particularly dreadful for melee characters, who may need other items the most but will be unable to use them during combat, and also makes the end of the original game even more difficult, as there are fights that more or less require a melee approach.

Past this, the difficult controls also need to be noted. You can’t control the character with the mouse, which isn’t a problem when you move but can be a serious one during fights, particularly when you want to aim a hit with a ranged weapon or spell. Such strikes will only go in the direction the character is currently facing, meaning that you’ll be missing a whole lot, especially when you’re facing fast enemies or large groups that are in the open, requiring you to keep moving in order to stay away from their attacks.

With this in mind, it can be said that “luckily” the enemies have next to no AI. Considering how tough some of them are and how difficult it is to make the main character fight properly, this makes them possible to defeat, but what can be said about a fight when the normal behavior of most enemies is to wander around more or less randomly, sometimes perhaps hitting each other when they meet, until you attack them? And how can combat be interesting once it starts when the lack of an AI is coupled with a lack of pathfinding, enemies trying to go straight for you and usually getting stuck in the first obstacle in their way? There simply can’t be a proper fight when this is what you have to work with!

To leave the generic issues, that also affect D-Mods, aside for a moment and focus only on the game itself, I must also point out that it lacks quantity as well as quality. You’ll see only a small number of character models for NPCs and an even smaller one for enemies. In fact, not counting the final boss, there are just five types of monsters, three of which are split into a few more subtypes by varying colors, sizes and the speed at which they move. And these monsters need to be defeated with an equally small number of weapons, two types of healing items, if you also count the nuts as a healing item, and perhaps a pair of boots, though if you want to use those you should keep in mind what I said above about being able to only equip one item at a time. Plus that the total number of spells is four, only three of which being usable in combat, only two of them actually being useful, and one of those being a secret!

Otherwise, the story’s certainly nothing to remember, not even as a joke or an attempt at a parody, and there are at least a couple of moments when you’ll be left wondering what to do next, because you’re given no real clues. This isn’t even saved by the supposedly humorous dialogues and comments, because those fell completely flat for me. Theoretically, I should respond pretty well to the type of humor used, but I think that “sir, your daughter is eating our God” was the only line from this game that got a laugh out of me…

The Bottom Line
While the original game is close to a decade and a half old, it has recently been ported to multiple platforms and a new version, called Dink Smallwood HD, has been released at the end of 2011. From what I see, the only notable difference, from a gameplay perspective, is the fact that you can now save anywhere, which is admittedly extremely useful. With a couple of notable exceptions, I don’t touch games that only allow you to save in certain locations, so this allowed me to finally give this game a try, as I remembered having a vague interest in it a few times in the past.

However, as you can see above, I ended up just being thankful that this game was so short, so I could finish it right away and then move on to something else. The lack of such basic elements, such as equipment slots, some sort of enemy AI and pathfinding and the ability to aim with the mouse, meant that I couldn’t stay interested enough to try D-Mods afterwards, giving up and uninstalling everything after spending some 30 minutes in one of the highest rated ones and noticing the same limitations.

From my point of view, this game has next to no redeeming qualities other than being free for so long. In fact, this is why it seems to come out as the third worst game I ever rated, though the other two certainly had more positive elements… Still, I think that even free games should have way better standards.

Windows · by Cavalary (11445) · 2012

freeware budget version of Zelda

The Good
This game is in many ways similar to good old Zelda on NES. It's an isometric action/adventure with some rpg elements. The gameplay is simple but fun. Walk around, beat monsters in the head with your sword and complete quests in order to gain equipment and experience. The main difference between Zelda and Dink is that Dink is filled with humor. This is not a serious quest for fame. This is a goofy quest for who-cares-what, and suits me fine. I usually have a hard time accepting the pompous feeling that most rpg's have. There's none of that here, I can assure you. Also, it's fun to punch the heads off the poor innocent little ducks. The best thing about this game, though, is that it is free for everyone to download since the developers have released it as freeware.

The Bad
This game is quite fun, in the beginning. After a while, though, it gets horribly repetitive. The graphics aren't very good. In fact, I didn't like the graphics at all. The story isn't very good and after a while you stop caring whether the silly little Dink survives or not. I didn't even finish the game. I lost interest completely halfway through. As a last point I think it's appropriate to issue a warning. Although I like the fact that the game is trying to be humorous, I don't like the actual humor. The game just isn't very funny, just awfully geeky.

The Bottom Line
If you're looking for a simple action/adventure this is worth checking out since it's free.

Windows · by Joakim Kihlman (231) · 2004

Discussion

Subject By Date
FreeDink Cantillon (76744) Jun 6, 2023
browser version Pseudo_Intellectual (66360) Apr 27, 2022
Dink Smallwood HD Cavalary (11445) Jan 26, 2012

Trivia

Windows version

The game was available in European stores through publisher Iridon Interactive, but did not get a retail release in the United States. It could be ordered from Robinson Technologies' website for $24.95, shipping included. Not much later, in 1999, it was released as freeware and can be obtained from the game's home page.

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  • MobyGames ID: 1921
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Ryan Prendiville.

Browser added by Cantillon. webOS added by Sciere. Macintosh, iPad, Android, iPhone added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Kalirion, Jeanne, Apogee IV, formercontrib, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger.

Game added July 13, 2000. Last modified September 29, 2023.