Distinctions: Only Licensed Atari 7800 Title with Voice Synthesis
A bird, a meteor, a chessboard, ice and the void of fun
An Interesting Swerve on "Breakout" Style Games
Aggravation Outweighs Fun
On the old website, I reviewed Jinks and it was more of a comedy piece than an actual review. It was funny as hell,
because it basically repeated the same trope of the reviewer being confused at everything that was happening because of the poorly thought out presentation of the game mixed with its overall weirdness. The story about a shrinking spaceship in an unknown world spelled out on the back of the box is absoulte bunk pulled out of the ass of some coked up Atari head. This is a ball and paddle game, lets not get stupid. Its similiar to Pong, Breakout, or Arkanoid... with a few key differences. I liked the old review, but I feel like Jinks was original enough to earn a legit verdict. Other games can be the butts of jokes. Jinks deserves some real ink before we mock it.
Graphics: The graphics in this game are bright and colorful, and there are four screens (called worlds because of cocaine) that offer different, loud color schemes. Pink, Fuchsia, Dark Green, etc. Some levels' ornate backgrounds make it hard to tell whats going on. But the look of the game is original, I will tell you that.
Sound: This game is the only licensed title to feature voice synthesis. Upon firing up the game, you hear "Welcome! Wooo! You can't catch me!" On my old TV set, this sounded like crazy people trying to talk with a mouthful of socks, but on my new set, its pretty clear. And, I like how weird the opening statement is, even though it has nothing to do with Jinks. Hell, maybe it does. It is hard to tell what Jinks thinks it is or what it wants to be. There are some neat little jingles between levels, but a majority of the audio is a dull zapper noise when your paddle strikes the ball. If the paddle and ball get stuck together, there is a loud, dull, "UHHHHHHHHHHH" that drones on and bothers other humans and pets... so much so, my wife even said "What's going on over there?" "Atari," I said. "Oh, OK."
Gameplay: : This is a spiritual spin off of breakout. We all like breakout. They keep remaking that game over and over again. You probably have at least one version of some brick busting game on your phone right now. Jinks succeeds in an area or two, but largely fails in one important area: Fun Factor. Imagine throwing one of those rubber super ball into a giant hallway and being told to control it. AND... you will be judged on how well you control it. That's not fun unless you are a crazy person or a small dog. Well... that's Jinks. Along these hallways that run left to right, there are piles or collections of bricks that we must bust. There problem is, the ball normally busts a few bricks and decides to take off towards Science Class, and you have to chase it with the paddle. There are obstacles in the way: things like moving drill bits and ying yang symbols that can shrink and destroy your paddle and chomping mouths that can eat your ball. You can choose the break all the bricks in a level... or you can just leave by positioning the ball through the end tunnel. That's a tough thing to do, by the way: getting the ball to do anything you want it to do. I tried sitting it in the corner and saying sweet nothings into its ear. No dice. Your paddle is flat on one side, and a shallow triangle on the other. You switch these positions with the fire button. The other fire button is a "Tilt" effect that shakes the board without penalty. I like where they were going with this, but I would have much preferred the simple paddle in Super Breakout, where the ball fires off at an angle, depending on where the ball hits it. The physics in Jinks seems off at times. Sometimes if the situation gets too hard to control, the ball disappears. Then you have to find it before it gets into trouble. They tried to get cute, and they failed.
Originality: : This was a nice swerve on the single screen brick busting puzzle game genre, and I've never seen it before or since... and that's because its sucks.
Value: : Once you clear a stage, there is what they call an interlude. The ball bounces on the screen and its up to you to select the next level. The numbers are near the top of the screen, the paddle is tiny, and this proves to be the biggest pain in the ass in the game. Each time you play a level, that level becomes more foreboding: playing level 1 for the 3rd time will be tougher than playing level 4 for the first time, for example. Slight agitations like this hurt the life expectancy of Jinks... and a few better decisions and some play testing could have helped the title quite a bit.
Overall: I concluded my Jinks review on the old site with "Jinks Stinks". I wasn't necessarily wrong, but I think Jinks has a value that I underestimated before. Bad games come in a couple of varieties. A game like Title Match Pro Wrestling has no value. There is no reason to ever play a game like that except you are a masochist, you have a review site and you like ripping sh*t games, or that was the last present your grandpa bought you before he was ran over by a steam roller. A game like Crack'ed is another situation altogether. Crack'ed is a bad game, sure... but it's such a unique game that you really need to experience it for yourself. AND... its so bad, that you may find some part of it charming. Jinks falls in that category. It's tantalizing with no real payoff, but its at least worth a looksie. And who knows, there is a small group of believers that love Jinks. You may be one of the nut jobs that do, too...but you won't see me at that meeting.
Video Game Critic: D
The Atari Times: 5 out of 10
Atari Gaming Headquarters: 4 out of 10
CV's Atari 7800 Panoramic Froo-Froo: 1.5 out of 5.0 (Terrible)
Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Mitch Orman, owner of The Atari 7800 Page for allowing the use of his
screenshots for this review.