Pinkie logo Amiga Computing Gold Award

Yet another cutesy platformer, but is this one a little bit different than the rest? Jonathan Maddock is tickled pink as he enters the surreal egg-collecting world of Millennium's latest platform offering.

INTRODUCTION

In the past, some of the best game characters like Zool, Chuck Rock, Bub & Bob and James Pond have appeared on the Amiga, but where are today's stars? Zool has gone back to the Nth Dimension, Chuck has rocked off, Bub & Bob are somewhere over the rainbow and James Pond has flipped out!

The lack of decent characters is slightly worrying, but I think a solution to rectify this problem has been found. Millennium, a company already successful with the James Pond series of adventures, have invented a brand new platform character and Pinkie is his name.

With his home base set on the planet Purple, Pinkie is small in stature, owns a big heart, a bouncy walk, a huge appetite and perhaps the cheesiest grin you've ever seen in your life.

The actual game is a blend of hot and frenzied platform action, plus a good healthy dose of puzzles have been chucked in there for good measure. Millennium are hoping that Pinkie will do the business for them and hopefully become as big as his platform contemporaries.

STORYLINE

Pinkie makes plenty of happy jaunts to other planets in the solar system with the intent of exploring and meeting other beings. Pinkie's fist mission in this, his debut game, is to save the alien dinosaurs form extinction.

This is done by collecting the eggs and keeping them safe in his Pinkie pod. The eggs are yellow with blue spots and are extremely fragile. When the eggs hatch a fully formed baby dinosaur pops out. The eggs have been placed, unfortunately for Pinkie, in the most precarious of places throughout the galaxy.

If the hero of the game drops an egg it is likely to shatter. Once this happens, the baby dinosaur immediately extends its legs out until they reach the floor and then runs away. These highly mobile eggs cause Pinkie all manner of problems. If Pinkie does manage to collect all the eggs and save the dinosaur race, he will be handsomely rewarded by the King of the Pinkies.


 

FLASHBACK

There have been so many platformers similar to Pinkie that I could possibly list them all.

Titles like Zool 2 and Bubba 'n' Stix stand out in the mind because they've only just come and gone, but if I had to compare Pinkie to anything, I would have to delve into Millennium's back catalogue.

The James Pond series of games have delighted gamers the world over with their brilliant mix of platform action and teasing set of puzzles. The best out of the series was, undoubtedly the last one Millennium released.

James Pond 3 had better quality graphics than its predecessors and overall was a much more rounded and complete game, mainly due to its unmatched levels of gameplay and addiction.


 

SOUND

The music in Pinkie is pure unadulterated pop and so it should be. The games score will go down in the history books as just another cheesy platform tune, but Millennium have taken the concept of game music a step further.

The Cambridge-based company approached Station 2 Station, a music marketing company responsible for getting Mr Blobby to number two in the charts last Christmas and for working with top pop stars like Right Said Fred, to see whether licensing Pinkie to music would be a good idea.

The brief was not to produce a single from the game music, instead Millennium asked Station 2 Station to produce an original interpretation of a game "score".

Station 2 Station finished up with a 30-track single entitled "Play-it" and it features the vocal talents of Kelly Smith AKA Little Sister. CD32 owners will have the pleasure of having all 30 mixes of the same single and you, as the listener, will be able to make up your own favourite mix.

A1200 owners will just have to buy the single on its own when it hits the charts!

The sound effects, before I forget, are just standard noises and aren't worth shouting about, but they do the job adequately enough.

80%

 

GRAPHICS

The visuals in Millennium's platformer are superb and Pinkie really does look like a cartoon. This is partly down to the traditional animation pastel colour palette which really brings all the game characters to life.

Not surprisingly, Millennium have got plans to take their pink star from the monitor screen and place him on the TV screen in his own animated cartoon.

The main character jumps and prances around the screen and is very well animated, plus there are so many nice animated touches that it's obvious a lot of time and trouble has been spent on creating Pinkie.

The backgrounds differ from level to level and range from snowy wastes to alien worlds (complete with pulsating backdrops). The graphics are so good that Pinkie literally looks like a breath of fresh air in the otherwise dull and stale world of platformers.

85%

 

OPINION83%

Pinkie is a cracking little platformer. It looks beautiful with its pastel coloured graphics, it has a nice and cheesy poptastic soundtrack and even the gameplay differs from its competitors as it's heavily puzzle-based. The animation of the characters, including the hero, is very accomplished and well presented. The end-of-level guardians are especially worth checking out, due to the sheer gargantuan size of them.

Pinkie, as a concept, isn't anything different and doesn't contain any new surprises, but as a game on its own works remarkably well. I don't think I've seen a platformer cuter than this one and I imagine Pinkie, as a character, will be a huge success.

The game is obviously going to appeal to the 11-16 age group, mainly because that's exactly who the game was designed for. Older gamers might want to take a look, but may prefer something with a little more substance.

Pinkie is a harmless little platformer that won't hurt anybody.



Rosa Zeiten?

Pinkie logo

Millennium kündigte sein neues Plattform-Alien auf Messen und in Presse-mitteilungen vollmundig als den Unterhaltsamsten Hüpfer aller Zeiten an - doch große Versprechungen provozieren große Enttäuschungen...

Dabei hätte dieses außerirdische Gegenstück zu Paulchen Panther schon rein optisch alle Voraussetzungen gehabt, um im Gedränge der Plattform-Stars angenehm aufzufallen: Mit seinem unwiderstehlichen Hundeblick stiehlt Pinkie jedem Klempner oder Turbo-Igel locker die Schau.

Auch sein Spielkonzept ist grundsätzlich ganz solide, aber eben nicht mehr. Um in der ersten Genre-Garnitur mitmischen zu können, hätte es zumindest mehr Farbe und vor allem weniger Ruckelscrolling und unfaire Stellen gebraucht.

Erst mal erinnern Pinkies Abenteuer an die seines Nintendo-Kollegen "Mario", denn von einer frei begehbaren Oberwelt aus startet man in rund 60 Plattform-Levels.

Durch fünf zu beginn anwählbare Welten (Eis, Lava, Organo, Höhle oder Wasser) soll das rosarote Alien laufen bzw. hüpfen, um versteckte Dino-Eier aufzuspüren und in seinem Gefährt, einem High-Tech-Einrad mit dem sinnigen Namen Pinkie-Pod zu verstauen.

Zwar sind einzelne Abschnitte ohnehin auch mal zu Fuß zu durchqueren, doch lohnt es schon, in Pod-Tools wie eine Steinfaust, Schwimmflügel oder eine Sprungfeder zu investieren. Denn in seinem Vehikel ist Pinkie gegen alle Feinde (Robbis, Bienen, etc) immun, zudem garantiert der eingebaute Expandersitz mit Teleskoparm auch problemloses Erreichen höherer Plattform-Regionen.

Ähnlich wie beim brandaktuellen CD-Titel "Bubble & Squeak" soll also auch hier die Zusammenarbeit mit einem Partner (in diesem Fall das Pinkie-Pod) für Abwechslung im Gameplay sorgen, während man sich über verschlungene Wanderwege, durch Schwimm- oder Flugabschnitte qüalt.

Doch will der Funke trotz einiger origineller Sammelextras, witziger Endgegner und versteckter Geheimkammern nicht recht zünden, was zum größten Teil wohl an Schlampereien im konkreten Design-Detail liegt.

So geht schon bei einmaligen Feindkontakt eines der anfänglich fünf Leben flöten, und auch sein treues Gefährt ist man zu Beginn ziemlich schnell los - das Nachfolgemodell gibt's aber natürlich in der Oberwelt...

Genau diese Wanderung zwischen den Welten killt jedoch viel vom Spielspaß, denn Pinkie unterstützt keine Zweitfloppy, geschweige denn eine Festplatte: Bei den gebotenen Nachlade- und Diskwechsel-Orgien sieht man bald nur noch rot statt rosa!

Das "Ruckeling" ist auch so eine Sache, die wenig detaillierte Grafik eine weitere, und die dürftigen Animationen der Sprites schon wieder eine.

Ob fetzige Musikstücke, passende Sound-FX und eine ordentliche Steuerung diese Scharten auswetzen können, darf somit bezweifelt werden - aber vielleicht heißt es ja wenigstens bei der kommenden CD-Version mit Intro und 256 Farben "Think Pink"?

Dieser Fassung hätte man jedenfalls eine rosarote Testbrille beilegen müssen, um uns von ihren Hit-Qualitäten zu überzeugen. (rl)



Pinkie logo

Pinkie! No! as Little Sister sang.

Everyone's out to rip you off. The sinister corporation behind AMIGA POWER, for example, which compels us to carry enormous 'house ads' for their 'other' magazines, implying to you, our readers, some sort of AMIGA POWER seal of approval. In fact, we don't even read these 'other' magazines. If something's worth reading, we'll tell you about it without any kind of prompting from our evil mega-global corporate paymasters.

Similarly, software publishers don't play it straight. Recently there's been an alarming tendency either to hold back review copies until the game has gone on sale (as Team 17 have done with Kingpin and ATR, for example) or just not to send us review copies at all, as happened with Vital Light, Akira and, yes, Pinkie.

Were we all stupid people we could put this down to a regrettable oversight, but we suspect it's because the companies want to sell off as much of their stock as possible before our REVIEWS THAT ARE ALWAYS RIGHT point out THE TRUTH. Do not buy a game until we've reviewed it. We implore you. For the sake of your souls.

AHEM
Pinkie, then. Cursed with the worst instruction manual since that of Populous, it turns out after about an hour's hard work to be a commendably large, excitingly complicated, endearingly characterized, chicken socket fridging tedious platform game.

Eggs are hidden on the levels and you have to drive around in your car and find the eggs and put them in your car and drive to the exit and buy items to upgrade your car and fight end-of-level monsters and go to the next planet and if you lose your car you have to buy another one and so go back a few planets and collect more point bonuses and lives and ugh ugh ugh.

The impressive bits are the car (it can do everything from 'swim' to 'extend' like the suit in Robocod), the eggs (if you drop them, they hatch and make a run for it) and the way that everything in a level affects everything else (so if, for example, you leave your car lying around, while you're off on the other side of the planet chasing an egg a monster's going to push it off a cliff).

The unimpressive bits are the mind-numbing tedium (the empty levels make getting lost pathetically easy), the scrappy collision detection, the way that when you're in your car you're invincible so you just drive everywhere right up to the point where you have to jump out and pick up an egg whereupon (thanks to the inability to see beyond the boundaries of the screen and the scrappy collision detection) you get killed by a passing monster and have now lost your car (it being on a ledge unreachable without itself) but have to make your way back through the levels to the depot manually rather than (say) automatically restarting at that point, the Kangaroo Court-catalogue mechanics, the mind-numbing tedium and the way it's made me so furious I can't think of anything clever to write and have instead had to do yet another bald, single-sentence list of faults and annoy Steve the Prod Ed.

We had in the end to go and buy Pinkie, and so have experienced in full the misery of owning a feeble and worthless game. We pass on the benefits of this miserable experience to you. HEED OUR WORDS.


VITAMIN PINK

Pinkie
Pinkie runs!

Pinkie
Pinkie jumps!

Pinkie
Pinkie puffs!

Pinkie
And pants!

Pinkie
Pinkie... oh God. (Slump.)



Pinkie logo

Last issue we introduced you to a true superstar, with more marketing behind him than Levi's. Tony Dillon is fairly famous, so who better to play with Millennium's Pinkie?

If you look at some of the most successful games of all time, a lot of their prosperity can only be attributed to their star character. Would Nintendo have made such a name for themselves were it not for the charm of a certain short Italian plumber? Would Gremlin have led the CD32 market if their Space Ninja from the N'th Dimension hadn't been quite as zippy? Millennium themselves know the value of a good character, as their James Pond series of games has quite clearly proved. This should give some indication to the point behind Pinkie - the short pathetic alien with a big heart who could prove to be the cutest sprite ever to emerge from a copy of Deluxe Paint IV.

CHARGE CARD
Pinkie is a sweet little alien who has been charged by his king to travel around the galaxy, righting wrongs as he goes and collecting intergalactic space chickens, as yet unhatched, along the way. This unusual plot leads into an interesting blend of puzzle and platform games, which might seem a little too sweet and cuddly for most older readers, but the younger contingent will doubtlessly be hooked.

Looking at the screenshots dotted around this page, you could be mistaken for thinking that Pinkie was just another platform game. What a still screenshot, or even a short demo can't show you is the overall puzzle element of the game.

As I've already said, the aim for each level is to collect the eggs that are placed around. There are three on each level, but you can usually get away with only collecting two of them, although as the game goes on you will be called upon to collect more and more.

The eggs are placed in the strangest of positions, and most of the problems posed by the game are based around actually finding your way to the eggs and then finding your way back to the Pinkie pod.

The levels are absolutely huge, and you are often called to trek all the way around them to pick up the final egg. If that wasn't enough, there are more than enough nasties crawling around the worlds to really slow you down in your tracks.

Most of the monsters such as the Trumpet Monster - which is a strange dumpy thing, not completely dissimilar to an onion, with a trumpet horn sticking from the top of its body - are shortsighted or stupid, because they tend to meander around following their own paths and generally leaving you alone. Some are far more malign, however, such as the faces that peer from the walls in the Alien World, which suddenly leap out at Pinkie and chase him all over the level until you manager to lose them. Let's face it. Pinkie's got it all against him.

USELESS THING
The strangest thing, however, is the fact that Pinkie is almost completely defenceless. He doesn't carry any weapons, can't move particularly fast, is very easily hurt and tires very quickly (something you'll spot if you run him for more than a few seconds, and watch him pant heavily afterward). In fact, when a writer from sister magazine NMS, who just happened to be walking by while I was playing the game, spotted Pinkie being chased by a small blob of green jelly, all he could say was: "That's the most pathetic superhero I have ever seen.".

But you see, the whole attraction of Pinkie as a character is that it is so very, very vulnerable. You don't want to send him into battle. You want to take him home and cuddle him into sleep. According to Millennium's PR guy Keith Smith, that is. In a way he has a point, Pinkie is very sweet, and to watch him racing off with grim determination, or the pleased look on his face when he chucks an egg into the Pinkie pod is hilarious to watch.

But what is this Pinkie Pod I keep talking about? Do you really want to know? Well, the Pinkie Pod is the strange contraption that Pinkie travels around in most of the time. He can drive around in it at high speed, elevate the passenger bit to enormous heights, a la James Pond in Robocod, pressing the fire button makes a fist shoot from the front of the pod and he can also use it to keep his eggs in.

It grows flippers if it's underwater and is completely invincible. It surely has to be one of the most versatile vehicles ever seen in a computer game, but then when you see all the puzzles you come up against in the game, then you'll understand why it needs to be.

AAAH!
Pinkie is a marvelous looking game. Just these screenshots should be enough to make you go 'Aaaah!', and you haven't seen him move yet! A long time and a lot of effort has been spent on creating the ultimate lovable cartoon character, and I really think that Millennium might have pulled it off. Some people might find the amount of cuteness rather sickening, but the little guy is perfect for the age range that he's being pitched at (and not a year older!).

On the sonic front, things couldn't be more different. Take a cute game and what do you think you should add to it in the way of sound? How about a thumping techno track from Station 2 Station. OK, so the idea might not fit particularly comfortably, but when you put it all together, it works!

Pinkie is a very young game, and anyone over the age of about fifteen will probably get very bored with it quite quickly. Platform game fanatics will find it too slow to be fully enjoyable, and would be better spending their money on something like Pond 3. it isn't a bad game at all, and in places it is extremely original, but the young age range limits the overall appeal. For kids, Pinkie is a great game. Older readers might want to look elsewhere.


LOW FAT SPREAD

Like James Pond 3 and Super Mario Worlds before, the four worlds of Pinkie all contain a dynamic map, that grows as you progress through the game. At the start of each level, all you can see is the entrance to the shop and the path to the first level.
When you complete the first level and return in the map, up to three other levels will appear, with the paths to them unveiling themselves in an explosive. This continues all the way through the world until you find your way back to the end-of-level guardian himself.
Also like James Pond 3, there are many different ways to work your way through a level, so if you come across a screen you just can't seem to cross through, then there is always another way around.