Hello Mr. Lion, Thanks For The Memories

When I was a kid, when all this was blocky, colourclashing fields, my favourite genre was the 2D platformer.  Not your Sonics (holding right and pressing jump is silly) and certainly not your Marios (jumping on your enemies is for manbabies) but the proper 2D platfomers: Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, Monty Mole, Dynamic Dan, Roller Coaster, Sir Fred.

And Dizzy.

So, when Codemasters starting teasing a new entry to the evergreen, but long forgotten series, I was probably one of the few people that wasn’t disappointed the guys were bringing back one of the classic adventures, even if it was onto the iPhone.

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[drop]I’m not one of these people that panics when they see virtual onscreen controls, for the most part they’re fine, so I was happy enough.

The screenshots told a strange story, though.  Over populated backgrounds fitted oddly with a plain (albeit slightly enhanced) lead character, the juxtaposition awkward and off-putting. And the chosen game, Prince of the Yolk Folk, is hardly the best example of the long running collection of games.

But, still, Dizzy, right?  Got to be good.

Well, no, not really.  Sure, there’s a brilliant rush of nostalgia as the game boots: screens, logos, press clippings all float gently towards you whilst the code spools into RAM, but then, the game starts, and it’s downhill quicker than the titular hero on a hill at Easter.

For starters, the graphics don’t work for me at all.  It’s even worse in motion, with Dizzy’s animation frames in single figures stuttery to say the least, made even more apparent as the couple of layers of parallax scenery scroll smoothly past.  There’s an odd disconnection between the visuals and the invisible mask that Dizzy can walk on, too, with him floating in the air a little sometimes and then sinking into grass at other times.

The platforming isn’t great, either.  The edges of the platforms aren’t well defined and Dizzy can’t jump up through higher platforms, causing him to fall frustratingly often through no real fault of the player – when this happens on the fifth or so time it goes beyond ‘retro authenticity’ and verges on ridiculous.

[drop2]It’s buggy, too.  It’s possible to get the game’s puzzles out of order, rendering the game uncompletable; the characters don’t repeat their conversations meaning you’ll need to remember everything you’re supposed to do and I found the objects I’d collected occasionally all laying on the ground after a vertical jump, as if Dizzy’s pockets were full of holes.

We’ll ignore the typos (“pick of the carpet”) because they don’t really matter, but there’s an odd lack of polish to the game that’s frustrating given the publisher.

This isn’t a little indie project, this is a big name brand – although obviously a retro one – and I personally think a little more could have been done.

The controls are fine, mind, and the improved inventory (you can tap to pick up and drop individual objects rather than just tapping ‘space’ to cycle) shows that this could have been good, but the game is incredibly short (about 30 minutes if you know what you’re doing) and given that Codemasters want to charge you twice for the iPad and iPhone versions, this isn’t a great experience.

Hopefully the next one will address these issues, but for now, I’m left wondering whether the original game was actually all that good after all.  There’s still some charm here, but it’s not as I remembered it.

You can buy the game from the App Store, here.

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15 Comments

  1. I think Codemasters spent too much time working on the F1 2011 patch to sort out all the bugs in Dizzy…. no wait…. forget that ;)

  2. Sounds incredibly frustrating & the sort of thing that could even put you off the original.

    Only suggestion i can make is to boot up the original on one of the original platforms (speccy would be my choice). Probably take a while longer than the iPhone version to boot though (& people complain about load times these days!)! :)

  3. Thanks for reminding me about Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy! My 2 favourite Spectrum games ever! (Apart from Elite obviously). I Had Dizzy too but could never get into it. I may have to hook up the old speccy soon though to give it a go. oh, and to hear the fax loading sounds too!

    • Elite needs to be turned in to a PS Mini. Now.

      • Fuck yes it does!

      • I can’t imagine trying to dock using only that silly little analogue nubbin… But I’d give it about a thousand bloody good tries.

      • Ahhh, Elite. Going back to where it all started.

      • Aaand there goes my productivity for the day!

      • don’t be silly mugsy, it’ll be weeks. ^_^

      • Oh god no. There’s only so many times I can slam into Lave Station before giving up and moving on to one of the sequels where I can use autopilot. Which only occasionally slammed me into a space station/planet.

  4. Codemasters seemed to have dropped the ball (or is it egg) recently with the slow but persistent drubbing down of titles.

    For many F1 2011 isn’t as good as 2010 (for me I have only just come into the series with 2011 so its great, but appreciate for many it isn’t as good as 2010) and then the announcement of Dirt Showdown, complete poles apart from where the Colin McRae and Dirt series started. If anything they have thrown away what was a brilliant title instead of building upon, tweaking and adding more content.

    Given the heritage of Codemasters I would have expected a lot more. Ok they aren’t going to be an EA or Ubisoft but they have some great IP that should be given the time and attention it deserves rather then looking for a quick buck!

  5. About 5 years back or so I managed to play all the dizzy games using an emulator on the PC. The games are exactly as they were with all the perfect charm and the best surprise of all was the ability to SAVE on the PC. That meant for the first time I could actually complete the games :-)

  6. Damn you old gamers, these platformers were lame anyways. It’s just random characters in strange, intimidating environments. At least with Mario and Sonic the developers managed to create cohesive worlds for themselves, with graphics that managed to look pretty :3

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