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.
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.
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.
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.