Commodore User1st December 1987
Published in Commodore User #52
Jinks was produced by Rainbow Arts, a software house I've never heard of before because they're German.
The Germans are good at building cars and making up words with lots of letters in them. But after playing Jinks for what seems like three centuries. I advise them to give up writing computer games immediately and take up yodelling.
Jinks is one of the most annoying, frustrating and inanely difficult games I've played since melting down my Vic-20. It's a mixture of Breakout and ping-pong all rolled into one with some graphics added. The net effect of all this is a load of mind-numbing bouncing noises - and nothing much else.The scenario, which has absolutely nothing to do with the game, goes something like this. On second thoughts, why bother? The aim of the game is simply to pilot a pingpong ball from one end of a level to the other, using a three-sided bat. Pressing fire flips the bat so that you can bounce off the horizontal side or the two angled sides.
There are lots of bricks and things to hit as you go. Some of them will disappear thereby adding to your points tally, whilst others will just get in the way, making the ball bounce back in the direction you don't want to go.
To make matters worse, both the bat and the ball are subject to a gravitational pull. The bat moves up and down, and from side to side. But if you move it upwards, it will sink down of its own accord. So it's not the easiest of things to control. In fact, it's annoyingly cumbersome and difficult - a bit like stirring a pot of porridge.
You'll bump into various curious moving nasties as you progress from left to right. Say hello to one of these boys and your bat halves in size. Do it again and the game's over. To gain extra lives and your rightful bat size, you must bounce the ball onto various flashing objects as you proceed. Since these appear mostly at the top of the screen and the ball doesn't bounce that high very often, you've got problems.
Fortunately, you can set the level of ball speed and gravitational pull at the beginning of the level. Set them to slow/weak and you can have a nap for a few hours. With both at peak levels, the game approaches the realms of the interesting. Added to the increased speed, you get increased nasties, with some of them actually crawling around at the bottom of the screen.
Complete the first level and you're sent bouncing to the interlude screen, and yet more bouncing. Here's what the interlude screen looks like. It's blank except for four numbers, 1 to 4, which appear at the top of the screen. Bounce your ball onto any of these numbers and you go to that level. From this you'll gather the game has four levels for bouncing in.
Not to be too harsh on the game, the levels are graphically reasonable. The nasties aren't badly done either and the scrolling is very smooth. There's a little bit of digitised speech at the beginning and a reasonable tune.
The only problem, at it's not a minor one, is that playability is catastrophic. There's no real aim, there's nothing strategic to do, no real speed of reaction or skill involved. You just bounce midnlessly from one level to the next. It wears you out, and it's all for nothing. I think I'll go for a lie down now.