The nincompoops. They have clearly sweated over Flink for months. The graphics are delightful - Psygnosis at their best, with pretty scenery and lovingly animated characters. (We were particularly amused by the expression of terror on Flink's face as he runs out of control down really steep hills). It is packed with ideas. Not all of them are successful and most are simply plundered from other games, but at least there are some. The spell-casting system adds an extra dimension, for example, and you can pick up stunned baddies and hurl them at other baddies, as with the Koopas in Super Mario World. The music is, sadly, from the beat-box of Beelzebub (Steve's line), but that is only to be expected. There are some cracking end-of-world bosses. And there are loads of secret bits to discover. Basically, a determined effort has been made to create something special, something that can be sold to you, the game-buying public, without the crisis of conscience which must surely accompany the release of so many platform games.
Why, then, does Flink, your character, react to the controls like a cretin? When you press left or right he walks forward arthritically slow for a few seconds before suddenly lurching up to speed, frequently plummeting from the platform to his death or crashing into a monster. A child of three could spot how feeble an attempt to simulate inertia this is, so why did it escape Psygnosis's team of playtesters? Furthermore, Flink has a frustrating tendency to slip through the edges of platforms when he should clearly have landed squarely on them. Neither of these flaws is enough to seriously compromise the game, and you do almost become blind to them eventually, but to take so much care over everything else while messing up something as fundamental and straightforward as the way your character walks about is criminal.
Flink begins, innovatively, in a Forest World™. You run along from left to right, kill some baddies using the erratic and much-hated (by me) but traditional jumping-on-their-heads system, and collect power-ups, and that is largely it. But things soon liven up with the arrival of fire-breathing monsters, rotating platform-wheels, showers of falling leaves which you have got to jump on, and forced scrolling levels (more of which later).
There are some mildly entertaining puzzles, too, involving dropping rocks on see-saws to catapult yourself into the air, and tossing other rocks onto platforms so that the weight causes them to sink within reach. And later there is a tremendously exciting bit where you have got to try to escape from a herd of stampeding boars by heaving yet more rocks into their path. Flink hardly heralds the arrival of a brave new era of platform technology, but at least it makes the effort, and it is never dull.
It is also tautly structured. There are four worlds, each divided into several levels. These are further chopped up into short sub-levels, with the result that no one section lasts for more than a minute or two. And, as there are plenty of baddies all over the place, the game feels pacy and action-packed.
Further examples of inept design do rear their distasteful heads, though. Those forced-scrolling levels, for example. The idea of forced scrolling is to keep you moving, to make you think fast, to deny the chance to stand around getting your breath back. Flink, however, uses it to slow your progress. You jump onto a platform and find it sinking into the water beneath your feet. If you do not jump off quickly, you will die. Except there is nothing to jump onto because the next platform has not scrolled onto the screen yet. You were, in fact, supposed to wait it to do so before jumping onto the first platform. Ridiculous.
Even worse are the occasional bits where you will see a barrel floating temptingly in the water. The waves are making it bob up and down - so much so, in fact, that it keeps disappearing off the bottom of the screen and reappearing again. So you jump onto it. But - oh no - as soon as the barrel disappears off the screen and your character follows it across the level's arbitrarily-chosen cut-off point, you die. Preposterous.
Some cracking end-of-world
But Flink rallies bravely with lots of nice bits. The bosses look excellent, with special CD32 rotating bits, although they are rather routine to actually kill, and one of them makes the scrolling slow down to a judder. I was deeply touches by the baddies who run around with bags on their backs with spell ingredients poking out of them. If you kill the baddie he drops the ingredient, which is much nice than having it simply appear from nowhere.
The continues system seems just about right, too. There are no passwords, but you can choose between three or five continues, or practice mode. In the case of the latter you can continue as many times as you want, but you won't be able to tackle the final boss and complete the game. What this does mean, though, is that if you want to play the game through to the end you will have to do it in one sitting - a save facility might have been slightly more convenient.
It is fun, then. But how long will it last? Hmm, I would not really like to say. Although it is big, it is not all that hard (and particularly clever), and I'd seen pretty much the whole thing by the end of my first day's play. What is more, I was getting ever so slightly bored of jumping around the Tree World, and having apples fall on my head. And the controls were starting to get on my nerves again. And 98% of it we have already seen elsewhere. (Just wait till you get to the Runaway Mine Cart™ level. No, really.)
Flink is good, then. But there are annoying bits. And it is not very original And it is not entirely clear why it will only work on the CD32.