Dizzy: the Ultimate Cartoon Adventure
Antique Code Show Resident Evil is considered a classic by many. But did you know that the design of the first three games was popularised ten years prior by a little eggy wegg?
Dizzy was never actually conceived as an egg. His rotund form emerged merely as a way for Philip and Andrew Oliver to more easily spin the little fellow during his eight frames of airborne rotation animation. That's twice as many frames as the characters in the Mega Drive version of Mortal Kombat had. In your face, blast processing!
Dizzy's Amstrad CPC cassette cover
Despite all that, the egg-centric appearance of Dizzy stuck, and thus the "Yolkfolk" were born.
The game tasks you with hunting down and defeating the evil wizard Zaks - one of whose chief orders of business was to make it rain during the Sunday cricket - through a series of increasingly complicated lock-and-key-style item puzzles, and ultimately brewing together the ingredients for an athlete's foot potion, which just so happens to be the only thing in the world that can kill him.
I do love how the blurb in these games' inlays were seemingly written in the eleventh hour with the help of an enormous bag of weed.
The 'Take item A to location B to achieve C' structure required a lot of backtracking to lengthen the game's lifespan, but was no less enthralling in execution. The familiarity of Katmandu - sentient eggs and evil wizards were apparently quite commonplace in 1980s Nepal - was a welcome aspect of the game, letting one soak in the Oliver Twins' dark, slightly macabre design.
A common gaming trend of the era were points of no return, and Dizzy was littered with the buggers. Empowering items such as birdseed would vanish forever if left near a hazardous sprite; vital ingredients could be lost into bottomless pits or wedged between unreachable cracks in the scenery; Dizzy could die and then respawn in the same place as whatever beast had thwarted him, leading to a swift Manic Miner-style loss of all lives.
But the most heinous game-breaker of all was a notoriously fragile cloud bridge early in the game which would evaporate if you trod near the middle of it. No prior warnings, no "Woah, are you sure about this, Diz?". One single misstep, and the cloud would be whisked away, rendering the game unfinishable, unless you happened to be en route to Zaks' hideout with the completed concoction.
Merely design flaws on the programmers' parts, or another classic case of bird-flipping 8-bit sadism? Either way, Dizzy was a surprisingly tough game to crack with only three initial lives. Many enemies were completely random in their movements, so platforming was often literally a leap of faith.
Some of the later puzzles were real head scratchers - although not quite in the league of Monkey Island - so a lot of experimentation was required. I only actually managed to complete it using a teleportation poke. That's the archaic word for a cheat, for any younglings reading.
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"The original was coded on a CPC 6128 in the MAXAM assembler and then ported to the Spectrum using a special cable the Olivers had built for them. True cross platform development and all in their bedroom!"
Interesting that you mention that.
It is more than just a cable, it is a Z80 PIO hooked up to the bus on the speccy side, and the printer port on the amstrad side. I say is, because contrary to popular opinion, it is not lost. It is still sitting in a box in my private collection, where it has been for a long time. If I can find the driver software, I will have to dump it and create a schematic of the hardware.
On a related note, I must find my collection of master and sample tapes and dump them too.
If anyone wants me to, I can take some photos for verification purposes. It will take a few days though, need to get at the box in question. Hell, if ElReg wants to take a look and have a fondle of this one-off piece of hardware, get in touch.
Interesting article - thanks!
Comparing Dizzy to Resident Evil is a bit of stretch! :-)
Anyway - Dizzy was written some 25 years ago - by 2 teenage kids out of a bedroom. So whilst not perfect, it wasn't bad - esp. given the price of £1.99. We are still proud that the game is fondly remembered by so many.
The recent iPad/iPhone/Android game came about after Paul Ranson wrote it "on spec." - not even knowing if it would ever see the light of day. I think he did a great job considering the risk he took. The game was very successful and reviewed well - so it's highly likely there will be more.
Regarding the bugs - an update is due VERY shortly - it contains various improvements too.
BTW - if you want to know more about Dizzy or any of our other games - we collect all the info here... (our memories are no good for this stuff ;-) ) www.OliverTwins.com
All the best,
Philip Oliver (aka an Oliver Twin).
The Best thing about these games was....
...I could buy them from my local sweetshop and they were £1.99, and they were genuine!
Not so many publishers, etc trying to rip off the paying public.
Fantasy World Dizzy perhaps?
The best one in my opinion, and the third in the main series. One of the very first puzzles was giving stale bread to a rat and there was a painting of Treasure Island Dizzy in the first above-ground room.
Remember Panic Dizzy, you had to move a conveyor belt of shape holes such that they matched the shapes that were falling. Got ridiculously quick and impossible to finish!
Dizzy Prince of Yolkfolk on the PC, one of my first PC games, looked glorious in VGA!
A re-imagining of the Dizzy games, perhaps as an RPG using the Dirt3 engine would be great, Codemasters!