Game Over - Dizzy

Uploaded by RetroAhoy on 11.02.2012

Hello, this is RetroAhoy - and this is Game Over.
In this episode: 'Dizzy - The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure'. Perhaps the closest the 8-bit
home computers ever came to a mascot.
Dizzy was the brainchild of the Oliver Twins, namely brothers Philip and Andrew Oliver - who
took an interest in video game programming at a young age, and found success while still
in school. Their first published game would be 'Super
Robin Hood', developed for the Amstrad CPC with newly formed publisher Codemasters picking
up the title. Coincidentally, Codemasters also comprised
a pair of brothers - Richard and David Darling, who had previous experience developing for
Mastertronic. Codemasters would establish much of their
early reputation with their series of simulator games for the 8-bit home computers - the first
being the top-down 'BMX Simulator'. This would be followed up by ATV Simulator,
Professional Ski Simulator, and Grand Prix Simulator - the latter being developed by
the Oliver Twins, and eventually selling 250,000 copies in total.
The Oliver Twin's next game would be Dizzy - and thanks to their experience, and their
development tools such as graphics software, 'Panda Sprites' - Dizzy would boast impressive
graphics for its era. The titular character, Dizzy, was so named
for his acrobatic ability - rather than the simplistic jump animations seen before, the
egg-shaped hero would flip end-over-end whilst in mid-air, showcasing the sprite tools at
the Oliver Twin's disposal. Interestingly, Dizzy was never intended to
be an egg - simply a face with adjoined hands and feet - but the most common interpretation
stuck early on. The world in which the game was set was richly
detailed - assembled from repeated blocks, reducing memory requirements and speeding
level design, while still permitting impressively rendered areas for its time.
The plot was loosely explained in the cassette inlay - an evil wizard, Zaks, was the main
antagonist, and the only way to end his reign of terror was to assemble "The Avawiffovee
Potion". Comprising a leprechaun's wig, a cloud's silver
lining, a vampire dux feather and a flask of troll brew - it was your goal to assemble
these ingredients before facing the evil wizard. The world itself was populated with a whole
host of hazards, from killer birds, killer spiders, killer raindrops - and even killer
apples. Most of these hazards could be subverted with
the right object in-hand - raindrops yield to a plastic raincoat, spiders to insecticide,
and - oddly enough - bird seed will swiftly despatch any angry birds.
Unfortunately, you can only hold one object at any given time - and starting with only
3 lives, completing the game safely was a difficult task indeed.
Only the most perseverant will have completed the game legitimately, as knowledge of pit-falls
and blind alleys are required to finish your quest successfully.
Still, the game was rewarding enough even without completion - encountering previously
undiscovered screens and solving the game's puzzles was rewarding in its own right.
Dizzy was very well received by critics, and went on to become a best-seller - and so naturally
there were a number of sequels. The first - Treasure Island Dizzy, in 1987
- saw Dizzy marooned on a desert island - now with the ability to hold 3 items at once,
and to breathe underwater - at least with the right equipment.
It also leaned more towards a puzzle game than its predecessor, focusing on inventory
puzzles over simply avoiding enemies - and also marked the debut of the game onto the
16-bit systems. Fantasy World Dizzy was the third in the series
in 1989, with another change of theme - dragons, castles, that sort of thing - and an ease
in difficulty level, with multiple lives and reasonably avoidable hazards.
Magicland Dizzy was the fourth in 1990, sticking to the now well-established format, but with
a layer of well-rehearsed polish. It also marks the first Dizzy title that was
not fully designed and coded by the Oliver Twins - with Big Red Software taking that
role instead. Spellbound Dizzy was the fifth in the adventure
series, released in 1991 - and was followed by Dizzy Prince of the Yolkfolk and Fantastic
Dizzy in the same year, and finally the last of the Dizzy adventure games, Crystal Kingdom
Dizzy, in 1992. There were also a number of spin-off games
featuring the Dizzy characters, such as Fast Food in 1987 - a Pac-Man inspired maze game
in which the object was to hunt down errant food items whilst avoiding enemies.
Kwik Snax in 1990 was a later follow-up, with slightly different wrap-around mechanics and
larger sprites. Dizzy Panic! was a block-matching puzzler,
Bubble Dizzy was an underwater action game in which you ride bubbles to reach dry land,
and games such as Dizzy Down the Rapids and Go! Dizzy Go! offered similar challenges.
Also of note was the Seymour series - originally there was planned to be a Movieland Dizzy,
but there was some reluctance to move to a realistic setting, and thus the altogether
lumpier Seymour character was devised, first seen in Seymour At The Movies.
The advent of the 16-bit machines and their superior graphical abilities brought about
the end of Dizzy's simple formula; In the light of slick platformers such as Sonic The
Hedgehog, and lushly illustrated graphical adventure games such as The Secret of Monkey
Island, the cutesy appeal and blend of arcade and adventure that Dizzy offered had started
to wear a little thin. In 1993, the Oliver Twins left Codemasters
to work with other publishers, and would work with Domark and Acclaim, producing the Sega
Mega CD version of both Syndicate and Theme Park.
Today, they reside at the helm of Blitz Game Studios - responsible for titles such as Dead
To Rights: Retribution, Yoostar, and The Biggest Loser series of games.
Codemasters had built much of their early success on the Oliver Twin's work: but in
their absence they continued to thrive, and persist today, true to their simulation roots,
with titles such as the officially licensed Formula One games, and multi-discipline rally
series, Dirt. Dizzy is a memorable title for those introduced
to gaming through the 8-bit home computer systems; although the majority of the series'
success was confined to its home market in Europe.
Nevertheless, it's an influential 8-bit title, and one that no doubt had considerable influence
over games that followed, and likely laid the foundations for later puzzler-platformers,
such as 1993's Puggsy on the Amiga and Sega Mega Drive.
A remake of Dizzy: Prince of The Yolkfolk was released in December 2011, on both iOS
and Android platforms - a faithful remake of the original, and perhaps the beginning
of a revival of the Dizzy franchise.
It may have been simplistic, and some of the mechanics haven't stood the test of time too
well - but Dizzy had a charm all of its own, and harks back to an era of bedroom programmers,
back when all you needed to make a hit game was an 8-bit machine and a passion for programming.
Truly a mascot of the 8-bit home computers, the Dizzy series may not have been the most
innovative - but it remains one of the most fondly remembered.
This has been Dizzy, and this is Game Over. Thanks for watching - and be sure to join
me next time, for the first in a series of games that would do much to hone the edge
of the early days of 3D fighting games. Until then, farewell.