An alien that is positively pink

Complete the sentence, Nation XII is to Gods as _____ is to Pinkie.

How about this one? Bomb the Bass is to Xenon II as _____ is to Pinkie.

Junior school logic puzzles aside, The Bitmap Brothers pioneered the shrewd trend for game developers to collaborate with established music artists to enhance their games with professional, studio quality soundtracks. Blend a thumpingly memorable score with slick graphics and you could even sell an ice-breaking game to Eskimos.

Incidentally the answer is ‘Little Sister’, otherwise known as 13 year old mini pop diva, Kelly Smith, who previously found fame with her single, Boys Company. Don’t wrinkle your nose and shrug at me like that; she was bigger than Elvis back then! Actually I’m as clueless as you are. According to her discography, she appears to have released three singles between 1993 and 1995 and then slipped between the stage floorboards never to be heard from again.

Snagged from the news section of CU Amiga issue 53 (July 1994)

A drastic departure from the edgy, experimental bands Mike Montgomery teamed up with, but let’s keep in mind that Pinkie, the joint venture of developers Data Design Interactive and Scott Williams Games was intended to be a mild-mannered, colourful platform jaunt aimed at 11-15 year old kids, so they would have dovetailed perfectly.

Through negotiation with music marketing moguls, Station 2 Station, who were also responsible for getting Mr Blobby and Right Said Fred into the charts (fear not, they’ve since been incarcerated for crimes against humanity), Kelly was drafted in to put her own unique spin on the game’s theme tune. The plan was to release it as a single in its own right through her ‘Message Music’ label, as well as serving as an additional interactive component of the CD32 version of the game. In fact, the game disk was set to feature a whopping thirty remixed iterations, coined a ‘thirty track single’, as though that were a rationally logical accepted phrase and in common usage somewhere on planet earth.

The music by Darren Wood is a real mixed bag. The in-game pop tune is a throw-away, plinky-plonky upbeat, chipper number, while the techno title screen track sounds like it was lifted straight out of Speedball II. It evokes images of grinding metal and competitive mental alertness, totally at odds with the leisurely, blithesome ambience of the experience that follows.

Playing as the eponymous goofy hero, Pinkie, your objective is to collect the mislaid dinosaur eggs and deposit them safely in your Pinkie Pod unicycle, thereby averting their extinction. This deceptively simple premise is complicated by the fact that you have no means of protecting yourself from enemy attack (well pestering really given it’s all very PG friendly fare, and the baddies merely inconvenience rather than harm you).

Naked you are supremely vulnerable. Safely tucked away inside your trusty pod you’re an unbreakable force to be reckoned with, especially once you to start purchasing bolt-on upgrades for it using your flower power currency. The equivalent of Robocod’s extendo-torso is a particularly amusing and practical throwback to Pinkie publisher, Millennium’s most accomplished Amiga hit.

Amiga Power declared the manual one of the most pathetic they’d clapped eyes on, in that it lays out the story well enough, yet doesn’t remotely begin to touch upon how to actually play the game. This is unforgivable seeing as the mechanics aren’t especially intuitive. Luckily EAB member, lilalurl, has drawn up a comprehensive tutorial to elucidate the finer details.

The good-natured, charming graphics courtesy of John Court are pixelated perfection, and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a top-billing SNES game of the time. Parallax scrolling has been nixed in favour of more subtle backdrops to ensure the action stays smooth, whilst showcasing an impressive 32 pastel-shaded colour palette.

Even as a gruff, rottweiler-chewing, iron bar bending adult (grrrrrr), I find the characters immensely endearing. The stylistic flair of Vectordean graphicians (the James Pond series dream team), Chris Sorrell, Leavon Archer and Sean Nicholls is infused throughout to delightful effect.

I really struggled to settle on an appropriate border colour for this montage.

Millennium were convinced Pinkie had a bright future ahead of him. He was destined to star in his own tie-in ‘toon, be ported to the SNES, Mega Genedrive (and two other unspecified systems aside from the Amiga forerunner), and even lavished with sequelitus given that the volume of concepts devised for the opener had expanded well beyond the scope of a single game.

In reality ’94 wasn’t a good year to introduce new platformers, especially not sickeningly cute ones designed to lure in a younger audience. Affection for the genre was waning and gamers were moving on to rival consoles and the PC as the Amiga technology stagnated whilst Commodore struggled to find a financial saviour.

In effect, Pinkie was released exclusively for floppy-based Amigas, and while it received mostly (Jonathan Nash’s assessment debarred) above average reviews, it wasn’t a runaway bestseller.

The CD32 edition was finished and sent to Amiga CD32 Gamer for review, yet save for the Polish revision of the manual, never saw the light of day. There’s also no evidence that Kelly’s single was ever released, unless someone out there has an old copy of Look-in or Smash Hits they could consult for confirmation. I thought as much.

Data Design Interactive (who were previously responsible for porting Robocod to the C64) soon left the Amiga for greener pastures, and went on to develop the “broken mess” (IGN’s words) that was to be a Zool rejuvenation project, yet morphed into Ninjabread Man, officially one of the worst rated games of all time.

DDI were one of the industry’s most prolific developers towards the end of their lifespan, though not remotely in a complementary way. They were hounded into receivership in 2012 by their critics following a torrential downpour of shovelware releases for the Wii.

Don’t you just love a happy ending? Hmmf.

4 thoughts on “An alien that is positively pink

  • June 7, 2016 at 10:05 am
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    Sounds awful. I can't wait to try it! Btw, what is "Junior School?" Is that just before you take your O-levels? (Everything I learned about the British school system I learned from Harry Potter.)

  • June 7, 2016 at 11:04 am
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    LOL. It should keep you entertained for all of two minutes. A shame really because it has a lot of potential. 'Limited' is the key word. I'd love to see someone get hold of the source code and turn it into something more challenging.

    I'll breakdown UK school attendance by age…

    Infant school – 4-7
    Junior school – 7-11
    Secondary/high/grammar school – 11-16
    College – 16-18

    O-levels are now known as GCSEs (general certificate of secondary education), and you'd take those at age 14-16. Some are mandatory, others optional.

    I had to take an '11+' exam to get into grammar school, but this has been scrapped now in most parts of the country as state run grammars disappear. It was was a massive deal at the time. My mum had me convinced I may as well jump off a cliff if I didn't pass. Strangely enough this is how I came by my first Amiga (a 500).

    No idea how this compares to HP-land. I've never been a fan.

  • June 8, 2016 at 9:17 pm
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    "Station 2 Station, who were also responsible for getting Mr Blobby and Right Said Fred into the charts (fear not, they've since been incarcerated for crimes against humanity)"

    WHAT!? You take that back!

    "I'm Too Sexy" was, and is, awesome!

  • June 9, 2016 at 10:58 am
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    Don't tell anyone, but I actually paid real, proper money for the cassette single from Woolies. Without checking I can remember the sleeve design – bright red capitalised letters on a bright yellow background. That was it, as simple as your average Spectrum tape game. 😀

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