My Head is Spinning

Aside from 8th April being the birthday of my best friend it was also International Dizzy Day, a day which marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Dizzy games, a series of games which were born upon on the 8-bit computers such as the ZX Spectrum, the Amstrad CPC and the Commodore 64 and had a popular following here in the UK (and later in Russia) but never really took off as the game consoles took over the home gaming market. The games were either puzzle solving adventure games where you would have to use your wits to solve a number of puzzles and skills to avoid a couple of physical puzzles, the first game was notorious for an incredibly annoying jump puzzle where you had to avoid a crack in a bridge or it’d fall down. The problem being if you did that it was game over as you couldn’t get out of the pit… retrospectively I think the puzzle would have been reset one you’d lost a life but that wasn’t the case then. Also only being able to carry one item did mean there was lots of going back and forth which after a while began to grate,

Here’s that annoying bridge:

The screenshots are from the Amstrad and C64 versions respectively.

The game was a success and was followed by an arcade game called Fast Food which was a maze game of Pac-Man ilk which while okay, is a bit non-descript.

Dizzy would return again for Treasure Island Dizzy which was a return to the adventure game format which would be the pattern for the majority of the games to follow and was the first to introduce the need to collect coins or diamonds which would become a running element of the series. There was a multiple item inventory which made the game take less time but was cursed with a one-life scenario which was down to an underwater sequence involving a snorkel which meant if you dropped it underwater you’d die and the programmers hadn’t thought of a good way to reset as your snorkel would be underwater…. in later games they would develop an energy system so if you dropped the item you’d have a small amount of time to pick it up again… It was a good game with many obstacles and a rather stupid set up of traps off-screen but those niggles aside it was a solid game. It was also the first to be released on 16-bit systems like the Amiga and Atari ST.

The third game Fantasy World Dizzy introduced us to Dizzy’s people the Yolkfolk and set a recurring plot of rescuing Dizzy’s Girlfriend. There were various new games up until 1992 which is when the Nintendo and Sega consoles took hold in the UK and the writing was on the wall for Dizzy with a final game called Fantastic Dizzy launched across multiple platforms and it was in a way a greatest hits package with many elements from previous games included, it was a good sign off for the series and that was the end of the official Dizzy series….

Unofficially things were a little different as the character starred in a large series of unauthorised game in the Russian Federation (all in Russian as well) which tended to be puzzle games and often very illogical in how the puzzles worked and the advent of the internet has lead to a large series of fan made games of various styles.

But the official Dizzy series front wasn’t dead, despite a failed kickstarter attempt to revive the series in 2015 news was on the horizon: a new Dizzy game was on its way. The game creators had come across a number of unfinished projects for NES one of which was a game called Wonderland Dizzy and it was finished and launched online. The game was a bit of a reworking of Magicland Dizzy but there are a number of differences, the main one being the option to play as Daisy instead of Dizzy.

International Dizzy Day held another surprise… yet another unmade game for the NES had been finished and made available online: Mystery World Dizzy which is a bit of a remake of Fantasy World Dizzy but again there are a number of differences to keep you on your toes.

For more information go to www.yolkfolk.com where you can find links to play Mystery World Dizzy and Wonderland Dizzy plus a mine of information on the series. You can also indulge in the many fan-made games which a true variety of material. The games by the controversial programmer “Granddad” are good and often have a twisted sense of logic and humour about them, but I would warn you that a few of his games contain adult content. There of course many more great games by others which are more traditional.

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