JINX, THE COURT JESTER, has entertained the royal family of the planet Ploog for years with his jokes, japes and juggling. Harbouring ambitions to be a famous magician, Jinx’s moment of destiny arrives one day when a band of villainous pirates kidnaps the royal family and casts an evil hex across the land. Using magical powers, Jinx’s journey will take him through the seven realms of Ploog, overcoming tricks and traps in his quest to save the kingdom.
Cast magical spells or use varied items to defeat enemies.
Explore colourful worlds, discover the kingdom’s hidden secrets and interact with a full cast of friendly characters.
Interview with Jason Allen, Designer
To what extent was your involvement with Jinx?
I was very heavily involved with Jinx – I originated the design. It was my first full game design as a lead designer, graduating from a lead level design position. It actually started out with the left over assets from TNT. They asked me what I could do with them. So I began from that standpoint. I concentrated solely on what was fun to do. If you watch a cartoon and you see all these creatures doing crazy things that usually make you giggle; that was my main emphasis – I wanted to recreate the pleasure of that feeling. I remember creating things like the ‘thrown hole’ in the pizza box and the electrified water as a means to stop your enemies – and I was laughing as I was thinking about them…
Hammerhead at that time had shrunk from somewhere in the region of 40 – 50 employees down to just about 7 or 8 of us. I did a fair portion of the initial level design too, before we employed some actual level designers. Somewhere around half to three quarters of the way through development I left to go and work at Warthog and Raoul Barnett – one of the ex-employees from the earlier days of Hammerhead and their precursor Traveller’s Tales (before John Burton moved to set up his own studio) came back to finish leading the design of the game.
Was Jinx a particularly difficult game to design?
Normally when you are given partial elements from an intellectual property and asked to create something new, the restrictions that impose can sometimes make it difficult to rework the content in a new direction. With Jinx I kept having all these wonderful ideas flowing through my head, it was a tremendous amount of fun. I remember thinking about the cannonball on the very first level and about how it’s more fun to allow the player to collect all the pieces rather than just have it positioned ready to fire. Then in turn, rather than waste the ball once fired, how you could use it again to open up the port cullis gate by dropping it on a ramp and hitting a pinball style spinner (I was heavily influenced by all those world champion domino guys who set up those crazy set pieces with rockets firing off etc, from just a single push on a black tile – how interconnected everything is).
There was another level that we didn’t get to do that was going to be connected to the cannonball after the ramp and port cullis. I wanted to set a room up that had these huge square columns, on top of which where a series of ramp paths the cannonball could roll down – these would be like pinball flappers, with archways and targets lighting up and scoring as you rolled through them. The columns were set up as a sliding tile puzzle; you had to arrange the columns to create a continuous path for the cannonball to roll across their tops. The challenge was like a memory game, in order to see the ramps you had to climb up to a high point in the room overlooking the tiles and figure out which columns to place adjacent to one another in order to work. Once you had the idea in mind, you then have to climb down the ladder and physically push the columns – but since you can’t see the tops at this point it becomes a bit of a memory game. The idea was simply to get the cannonball to the other side of the room where a fixed ramp would take it into the next room and so on.
I was really disappointed we didn’t get to implement this one, I had a feeling it would have been a lot of fun.
I also remember being influenced by Dragon’s lair for some of the rolling balls in a half pipe for the pirate levels.
Were there any concepts in the original design document that did not make it to the retail version?
Yes there were some concepts from the original design that were left out. I wanted to do a Vampire level, using bulbs of garlic as cluster bombs (big initial explosion as it hits then it fires out 8 cloves of garlic in a circular radius which then further explode), blessing water supplies and then damaging pipes to spray holy water around and then finally collecting and placing mirrors from all over the level to direct sunlight from the roof all the way down through this massive mansion into the basement where the ‘Master’s’ coffin was situated, destroying it in a blaze of sunlight… Unfortunately we didn’t get time to build neither the level nor code the specific elements that would allow all this to take place.
Do you have any other comments about Jinx?
I feel the initial concept of the game was a lot of fun and I knew at the time it would appeal to a lot of people. It happens sometimes during development that you ‘know’ intrinsically when something is right, Jinx was one of those titles.
I guess I wished we had the resources to do the game justice, we were only a very small team, it was very very late into PS1 development, most studios were already working on PS2 titles, so we didn’t get the marketing support perhaps the game deserved.
I feel the whole team worked really hard on the game, and we were all really proud of what we accomplished even with those resource constraints.
It’s funny but whenever I get asked about which game I’m most proud of today, it’s actually Jinx.