Review by Pinchie McPinch

Reviewed: 08/28/06 | Updated: 05/15/08

Too much egg salad for one sitting

Dizzy is without a doubt the most famous sentient, puzzle-solving egg in computer gaming history. Conceived and born (or more correctly, laid) of the Oliver Twins in 1986, this hard-shelled egg had been kicking around for five years before his inevitable rise from the likes of the Commodore, Spectrum and Amstrad CPC to his richly-detailed and brightly-coloured platform on the later cartridge consoles. Fans who had followed his journey found an expansive game in which the heroic egg - clad only in his trademark boots, boxing gloves and hat - once again was forced to rescue his girlfriend and friends from the evil wizard Zaks. Newcomers to the series would discover that they had missed out on five years of classic gaming. Both groups, however, would be disappointed by the lack of a save feature. While it's true that no preceding Dizzy game had had a save function, this was primarily due to hardware limitations. At the time of release the ability to save your progress on a game cartridge was by no means uncommon, yet it was overlooked or decided against when it came to the cartridge release of Fantastic Dizzy, and that has a severe impact on the game.

Fantastic Dizzy brings a commonly-repeated theme from previous Dizzy games. As well as capturing Dizzy's girlfriend Daisy, the evil wizard Zaks has also paralysed, imprisoned or otherwise impaired some of Dizzy's friends (collectively known as the Yolkfolk). Denzil is in a block of ice (again) and Dora has been turned into a frog (again). Other members of the Yolkfolk have other problems, apparently unrelated to Zaks' tyranny. Grand Dizzy is sick in bed and requires a special medicine to be made, Dozy is - as you would expect from his name - fast asleep and can't readily be woken and Dylan can't find his pet Pogie. If they weren't so preoccupied with their own problems they would probably help you, so you'll need to make them happy if you want to get to Zaks and rescue Daisy from his evil clutches.

Once again Dizzy is thrust into a landscape filled with challenges and obstacles that must be overcome. Remaining faithful to the preceding games Dizzy can only carry three objects at a time as he makes his way across the 2D landscape, so it's not only important to carry the right items at the right time but also to remember exactly where you left that other item now that you know what it's for. The game map itself is much, much bigger than expected, and it thankfully eventually loops around so it isn't as dauntingly expansive as it seems at first. The huge drawback to its size is that the enormous amount of walking required of you means you have to repeatedly avoid or overcome the same traps and enemies over and over, which simply can't be done without failing some at least once.

Luckily this installment in the Dizzy collection doesn't run to the touch-enemy-and-die rule, as so many of its predecessors do. Dizzy has an energy gauge and multiple lives; an absolute necessity in such a huge puzzle adventure. Fortunately there are also pieces of fruit which can be eaten to regain lost energy and opportunities for five extra lives to be earned throughout the course of the game. Without these more forgiving aspects of this Dizzy game it would be impossible to succeed. Even as it is, the odds of completing this game are drastically against the player.

The sprawling map is split into various connecting sections. Dizzy starts in the Yolkfolk village, a collection of treehouses built on platforms in the heights of the forest. Through the game you'll pass through grasslands, a coastal city and its castle, a pirate ship, a cemetery, a deep mine system and Zaks' cloud castle. Each area is bright and colourful and has its own cute little musical ditty running in the background as you run and jump your way through scrounging for solutions to the puzzles that await you.

The classic run, jump and solve style isn't the only aspect to this Dizzy game, though. A handful of minigames must be successfully navigated and solved if you are to rescue Daisy, including a tricky mine-cart system game and an underwater bubble-riding game that will be familiar to fans of Bubble Dizzy. These provide blissful breaks from the single-minded majority of the game, which despite its humorous moments can grow tiring.

Successfully navigating these minigames is necessary if Dizzy is to collect all 250 stars scattered throughout the game. Without every last star Dizzy is unable to confront Zaks, who is surrounded by a magical shield. Thankfully Fantastic Dizzy doesn't adhere to the previous titles' sadistic habit of placing these items (stars, coins, whatever.. depending on the game) behind fences or hidden in walls, or the game cartridge would no doubt be responsible for a lot of broken windows, owing to the owners not bothering to open them before throwing the game outside.

So to the important part: What's in it for you? Well that depends on your gaming history. If you've played and enjoyed previous games then you'll find a warm familiar feeling present in Fantastic Dizzy. If you've never played a Dizzy game then you'll probably only find a very long and unforgiving puzzle/platformer game. I'd recommend you start with an earlier, more rationally-scaled game in the series before tackling this one.

If only they'd let you save...

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: Fantastic Dizzy (EU, 12/31/93)

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