Dizzy iOS – Review



Title   Dizzy iOS - Review
Developer  DNA Interactive
Publisher  Codemasters
Platform  Mobile
Genre  Platform/adventure
Release Date  9th December, 2011

It’s an odd time to be a old-school gamer. On the negative side, modern gaming is a load of rubbery old bollocks, with every other game being a cover-based shooter or something equally tedious.  We’re also being fucked nearly constantly by software houses that have gone from being champions of the bedroom coder to huge, global corporations who want to sell you short, expensive games wrapped up in hours of cutscenes, with the last ten percent of the game cut out so that you can buy it a week later.  On the plus side, the oldies are the besties and the corporate cocksuckers that run gaming these days know that because we’re seeing a lot of our old favourites resurrected for a modern generation, albeit with mixed results.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the industry’s love of mascots. From Mario, Sonic and Zelda through Lara Croft and Snaaaaaaake to your modern day Master Chief and Marcus Fenix, publishers love a recognisable face and back in the 80s we had a different breed of gaming lead characters. From Willy (16 square pixels that represented wealth, greed, excess and penance) to Horace (a head with legs that went skiing), gamers have always gone gaga for a character they can recognise and one of the great stars of the 80s was Dizzy. A somersalting egg. That wore boxing gloves. Did I mention he was an egg? Some sort of boxing egg? What?

Dizzy was the creation of the Oliver Twins, precocious coding talents signed to the budget label, Codemasters. Now you’ll know Codemasters as the huge UK-based publisher behind the TOCA, DiRT and Overlord series but back in the mid-80s not many people would have had them pegged as the most likely to succeed, given that they were known for a very-mixed bag of ‘simulation’ games, a few average action titles and a couple of rubbish adventure games.

Their mediocre output was masked by the hilarious comments that adorned their game cases – a stream of outrageously optimistic claims from the company bosses who’d describe every title as being “FANTASTICALLY ADDICTIVE!!” and having “INCREDIBLE GRAPHICS!!!!” These claims were never that accurate, but at £1.99 per game, you could never stray too far wrong and the occasional sleeper hit would somehow make it out onto the shelves, keeping Codemasters afloat.

Then they hit gold with Dizzy, an ‘interactive cartoon adventure’ game which, in reality, was just a very colourful, solidly-programmed take on the arcade adventure genre. These games alway saw a main character traversing a 2D world, with minor platforming elements, solving increasingly obscure problems by picking up and using the right objects in the right locations. A good arcade adventure game would have a good mix of arcade playability and decent puzzles, whereas the runts of the genre would usually have piss-poor platforming while having nonsensical puzzles that were solved by trial and error. Dizzy, thankfully, was one of the good ones and the hype paid off. Dizzy was huge and spawned several sequels across plenty of formats as well as a number of spin-off titles.

His journey took him as far as the 16-bit era where he plied his trade on the Amiga and Atari ST with continued success, but as the 3D age was ushered in, Dizzy (and the whole of the arcade adventure genre) as we knew it, disappeared into obscurity. We live in the age of the remake though and just a few months ago the Twitterverse started to dribble out details of a return for the ovoid puzzle solver. Dizzy was coming back. YAY! On iOS and Android. BOO!

Dizzy: Prince of the Yolk Folk is a port of the 1991 Amiga game of the same name. The good news is that it looks nice enough, especially the hi-def iPad version, even if part of Dizzy’s charm was his simplified look back in the day. The hi-def Dizzy is a bit like watching Michael Bay give Optimus Prime lips.  The main concern with any iOS title is always going to be the controls and with that in mind, Dizzy POTYF features a very simplistic control system. At the left and right of the screen are large virtual buttons for walking in that direction and above each control is a button for performing Dizzy’s trademark somersault which is effectively a forward jump. Aside from that you have a context-sensitive action button which is used for picking up and dropping items and interacting with the game-world. The controls work but are far from ideal and feel quite awkward. To compensate, the game never really puts you in that much danger and is, compared to the 8-bit originals, an absolute piece of piss to play. Indeed, the only real problems occur when you drop an object in the wrong place and it becomes irretrievable – something that can happen pretty easily if you end up trying out various objects on the game’s less logical problems.

This is a very short, simple game that’s really just a shortsighted attempt to stoke up the nostalgia in an ageing fan-base, but Dizzy veterans are used to harder, more complex games from this series and so, at best, this is something that you may play if you’ve got kids and want to show them what it was like growing up in the eighties.  The final nail in the coffin for this ill-conceived port is the frankly horrible audio. The game’s tune, which has a habit of disappearing entirely if you jump out of the app, is a wholly inappropriate synth-prog-rock mess that has nothing to do with the cutesy tale of an adventurous egg who is looking to rescue Daisy (the female egg) from a castle or whatever the plot was trying to tell me before I started losing interest in it. Worse than that is the fact that the game has absolutely no spot effects at all. Aside from the music, the game is silent. No tippy-tappy footsteps or bouncy jumping sound. No speech from the characters in the game. Just cold silence. Some design decisions are inappropriate or lazy this is just fucking stupid.

Pros
  • It looks nice enough
  • It is pretty cheap
  • Has the original Codemasters logo on it
Cons
  • Controls are gash. Not unplayably so, but still enough to make you want to stop playing immediately
  • The sound is borderline offensive in its rubbishness
  • Incredibly short and easy
Summary

Dizzy's foray into the world of iOS isn't a spectacular failure but it's all just a bit sad. Like watching a once-great boxer getting defeated by bums or watching a Ray Liotta movie, it'll just remind you of better days whilst prodding you with the arrow of time that'll serve as a reminder that all good things will come to an end. Yeah, thanks for that Codemasters. All I wanted was a breezy Dizzy remake and now I'm depressed beyond tablets.


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3 Comments

  1. Lorna says:

    I loved Dizzy back in the day and spent far too long playing the various releases to death on the Speccy. As soon as I heard about this one, I went through that all too familiar gauntlet of emotions from “Fucking yes, Dizzy, finally!” to “Mobile gaming? Oh seriously, fuck off.” Massive shame that it is for mobile gaming devices, but then, given that they appear to have yanked down the difficulty and killed the sound, I may have thought twice anyway.

    All those Dizzy games were pretty decent and would make a lovely bundled release, revamped, for modern tech, although I’d prefer it on a proper handheld or as a cheapy arcade release. Never did complete Treasure Island Dizzy – bastard game.

  2. Tania says:

    Such a shame they’ve messed this one up. I would love this one and the other Dizzy games to come out on XBLA. But not if they’ve dumbed it down and screwed up the sound effects etc. Those games were an invaluable part of my childhood, I was devestated when Treasure Island Dizzy cassette got chewed up. *sigh* Now I’ve got an urge to play the Dizzy games on my Spectrum emulator again. ;)

  3. Edward says:

    Sounds a bit gash, as you’d say. Though, I’d probably be less annoyed with this as I never played the Dizzy games, and so never had the nostalgia or the disappointment associated with it.
    Still, great job there, Richie :)

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