The final part of Bazaboy’s look back at Dizzy brings him right up to date.
There was of course one way to follow up a low point in the series and this was to create a high point with what I and many other fans consider one of the best Dizzy games created. With The Oliver Twins back on the job as designers, and developed once again by Big Red Software, 1991 Saw the second of three full Dizzy adventures. Dizzy VI, although the roman numerical was officially dropped at this point in the series and the game was solely known only as Dizzy Prince Of The Yolkfolk. Prince Of The Yolkfolk was a welcome step back from the previously epic sized Spellbound Dizzy. The number of screens involved in this game was considerably fewer than was included in Spellbound Dizzy and although this made for a much shorter game, it also made for a far more enjoyable gaming experience playing much more like the earlier Dizzy games.
Along with the size of the game returning to its roots, many of the simpler features from previous titles made a return, causing some to see this as a step back for the game series. The gameplay was as it had been throughout, but the lives and health bar from the previous few games was removed. Now that the player no longer had to worry so much about dying as doing so would just respawn Dizzy within the vicinity of his death the game became a more enjoyable experience for it. Sure it could still be infuriating, some of the platform jumping required pretty precise timing and figuring out some of the puzzles could be quite taxing, especially for a young mind, as most gamers had back then. Even the games story was much more of a simple affair, keeping the supporting cast to a minimum. It involved Dizzy and his main squeeze Daisy out collecting cherries to make a pie in an aim to cheer up Grand Dizzy. During this outing Daisy is egg-napped. I know, there is always one of the Yolkfolk going missing, but then again Dizzy would not be half the hero that he was if they did not. Dizzy quite simply had to head out and rescue Daisy. Dizzy Prince Of The Yolkfolk went a long way to show that Dizzy games did not have to be huge complicated affairs to make them enjoyable hits. The game was so popular that it would make its return in the future as you will find out later in the article.
In 1991 I was still the owner of a Spectrum and a Commodore 64 home computer. I had until this time had played all of the Dizzy games on the Spectrum, other than Spellbound Dizzy which I played on my Commodore. All of my home gaming up till this point had been done on one of these home computer platforms with my experience of console gaming being fairly limited to a few goes on a friends Nintendo system. In late 1991 however this changed when I decided to purchase a Sega Megadrive which over the next few years would become my preferred gaming medium. When it came to Dizzy games however I had become accustomed to them being most at home on the computers. Because of this the last thing I expected was for our egg-like hero to put in an appearance on a console, however that is exactly what happened. Released on NES, Master System, PC and Megadrive amongst others, The Oliver Twins and Codemasters developed and gave us Fantastic Dizzy, or The Fantastic Adventures Of Dizzy. Making the leap from home computer to gaming console was a natural step forward for the well established game series. Playing the game, it’s easy to see what the twins and Codemasters were attempting to do in bringing the established gameplay of the series to the console market by adding a little more action to the adventure.
Dizzys first foray onto gaming consoles managed to retain the base gameplay of the series as an adventure game. The tried and tested platform hopping and puzzle solving remained by finding and using items to exchange and use in certain areas to progress. You do get the feeling that while developing the game they were looking for ways to make it a little more exciting and action orientated compared to previous Dizzy games. This was done by first of all adding more hazards, mostly in the shape of creatures which would damage Dizzy upon contact. Yes, the damage bars were back. And so with the inclusion of these creatures it ensured that the players platform jumping skills were tested even further as some jumps not only had to be precise but well timed.
Another thing that was added so as to try and appeal to the more action orientated gamers on console was several mini-games. The majority of these mini games, which were woven into the gameplay, had already been seen by Dizzy fans as the spin off games from the Dizzy series. Bubble Dizzy made an appearance during the game as at one point Dizzy, going from one island to another underwater, would at points hop onto rising bubbles and floating to the surface. Castle Capers was another in which Dizzy using a crossbow would be tasked with hitting a certain number of trolls before they hit him using some side scrolling shooting action. There were also Mine carts, which Dizzy used to travel from one game point to another in a very Indiana Jones Style with our hero riding in the mine cart traveling at an ever increasing speed, while avoiding obstacles such as falling rocks. Depending on which console or computer you were playing on, Dizzy Down The Rapids also made a reappearance which again saw the egg floating down a river while being pursued.
Collecting stars scattered throughout the game world was another feature making a return. These actually served a purpose this time round in that to gain access to one of the final locations in the game the player had to collect all 100 or 250 stars, depending on which version of the game they were playing. Most of these stars were easily collectible as you made your way through the main adventure sections of the game, but some required numerous plays of the aforementioned mini-games to ensure that they were all collected. The game was fairly large in size, not Spellbound large but large enough to include both locations seen in previous Dizzy titles along with also adding some new ones. It also featured a full cast of sixteen characters introduced in various games from the series. The story once again saw the evil wizard Zaks casting a spell on the Yolkfolk along with kidnapping Daisy, she really was an egg with some terrible luck, leaving it once more up to Dizzy to rescue his friends and save the damsel in distress. Despite the game game being a worthy addition to the series, it would be one of only a couple of visits to the console market with the others being parts of Dizzy compilations mostly composed of existing or re-mastered versions of the games in the line.
Despite his outing on consoles in 1991, home computers would once again be home for what was to be the final core Dizzy game in 1992. The creators of the egg-like hero and the games he starred in, The Oliver Twins, again had little to do with the title. However Codemasters developed and released Crystal Kingdom Dizzy. For the final game Codemasters were at least knowledgeable about what made the Dizzy games such a success, ensuring the series ended with a game that was just as enjoyable as most of the others. There were again no huge changes to the gameplay, but then again there had not really been any major changes from game to game within the series from the beginning and quite rightly so. Codemasters were fully aware of what the fans enjoyed, so why change what worked.
There was one thing which did change however, and it was a huge thing. The story did not involve any of the Yolkfolk having a spell cast on them, being kidnapped or even sent to the Underworld. I know, a shocking sensation right? Instead Dizzy was on the hunt for the stolen treasure of the Yolkfolk which took the shape of some mystical crystals – now the title of the game makes some sense. One big thing which should be mentioned when it came the final game was that Codemasters made Crystal Kingdom Dizzy the first full price game in the collection. Before this game, all of the titles in the Dizzy collection retailed for no more than £2.99 which was the given price for a budget game back then, with full price games retailing at around £9.99 (if only games were still that cheap nowadays). Maybe this was the reason the Dizzy games died off, with Codemasters expecting gamers to pay such a high price for a game which was not a great deal different from the previous Dizzy games which were available for a fraction of the price. This could have been the case or, more likely, maybe it was just time for Codemasters to move onto other things.
Although Crystal Kingdom Dizzy was to be the final Dizzy game, it was not the final release when it came to the games. In 1992, 93 and 94, compilations were released comprising both games from the core series along with the spin off games and even a few re-mastered or renamed versions of some of the existing games. Along with these compilations there were also a handful of short Dizzy games, much like the aforementioned Dizzy 3.5, which were included on cover tapes or discs with select gaming magazines between 1986-94, including Christmas and Easter specials. Dizzy was in fact so popular that other game developers went as far copying and creating parodies of the game, most notably Giddy.
Wibble World Giddy was created and released on Amiga Powers cover Disc and it starred a bouncing egg, with the only major difference being Giddy did not wear boxing gloves, instead he had oversized hands. The game even went so far as to spawn its own sequels, Giddy 2 and Giddy 3. The closest thing to other Dizzy games were the plethora of fan created titles which were created and released for free over the Internet. Both The Oliver Twins and Codemasters seemed to be okay with this so long as the games created by fans were non-profit. In 2006 a game engine was created by a third party which gave fans the ability to create their own Dizzy games in the same style as they were portrayed on the Spectrum. It was called Dizzy AGE and found on their website are over fifty fan made games available to play for free.
As for any new official and original Dizzy games, both Codemasters and The Oliver Twins, who each own 50% of the intellectual property, have admitted that there is every possibility of that happening should it feel right. The twins themselves have been quoted as to say “if he were to ever make another appearance it would have to be something special, he would have to compete with the likes of Jak And Daxter and Ratchet and Clank and those types of games require big budgets and many months of development. If there’s a publisher willing to commit that kind of investment then they can definitely count us in”. Around this time the creators also expressed their interest in re-releasing existing Dizzy games for handheld devices and phones.
Late last year, this is exactly what happened when teasers and preview trailers began appearing, hinting at the return of Dizzy. Many fans, myself included, were left wondering what we were in for. Would it be a brand new game or a new HD release of one of the previous titles? Was it, much as I was hoping, going to be released on the two big consoles as titles on both the Xbox Marketplace and the PSN Store? Or would it be something else completely? We did not have to wait too long to have these questions answered when it was announced that it would be the 1991 title Dizzy Prince Of The Yolkfolk which would be receiving a high definition re-release. And much like The Oliver Twins had hinted at, they would be taking the game series onto a handheld medium in the shape of the smartphone. The game was initially released on the iPhone and other iOS devices, followed by Android devices not long after.
This new version of Prince Of The Yolkfolk was in effect the exact same game. It included the same characters, the same puzzles and even the same play area within the game. The only real difference was that on these modern smartphones Dizzy looked better than any other game in the series to date. The game not only included the same content as the original, but also played precisely as it had the first time around. You remember all those pixel perfect jumps that were required while playing the original game? well those same jumps were also required with the new version. Those wishing for a new Dizzy game may have been a little disappointed, but there was no need to be.
The fact that the game was a carbon copy, other than when it came to the looks, worked in the games favour. For fans such as myself playing the game brought back memories aplenty of how much fun the Dizzy games were to play. Even twenty years on I found myself enjoying and even remembering the majority of the game, showing how much of an effect the game series had on my young self back then. The one downside was that even now I recalled how to solve the majority of the games puzzles and as a result my first play through didn’t take very long at all and therefore left me wanting for more. So now knowing that they could re-release updated versions of the games, along with the fact they know the fan-base was still there, we can but hope that Codemasters and The Oliver Twins recognise this and see fit to create further HD versions of other games from the series or, as some fans may be wishing, bring Dizzy back in a new game, either also on smartphones or ideally on console. Whatever the future may hold for the small, smiling, bouncy, iconic egg-like game character, we can rest assured that he has a concrete place in gaming history.
If you missed them, check out part one and part two of this look back at Dizzy through the ages.