Thursday, 18 October 2012

Dizzy! The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure Review (Amstrad)

Dizzy! The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure is the first title in what proved to be a long running series. This is where it all started with the original idea growing to be part of the blueprint for many games and genres to come. Here we see our hero, Dizzy, trying to find a number of items to make a potion and get rid of the dreaded wizard Zaks.

At this stage of the series the game is still based mainly in the platform genre with the adventure and puzzle elements taking a secondary role. Unlike in later titles, were he has a more generous inventory, Dizzy can carry only one item. This can become tiresome as objects are generally as far away as possible from where they need to be. This would not be so bothersome but most locations have two or three items to pick up. This means the player having to complete a number of journeys back and forth across the map.

The platforming itself is of a decent standard. There are few pixel perfect jump moments. But once you have the required understanding of how our hero leaps and rolls the jumps prove to be not much of a problem.

Unlike the Dizzy games that followed, this first title is absolutely jammed to overflowing with enemies. Any contact with the nasty creatures spells instant death. The spiders are easy to predict as they just move up and down but the birds, especially when two are on screen at once, pose a far greater threat as their flight patterns carry them across the whole screen.

Unfortunately the title contains a number of bugs that can make it impossible to finish. For instance, if players are too slow to catch the 'silver lining' of a cloud as it falls it will land in an unreachable position on the left hand side of a hut. Another instance occurs in the haunted forest where clouds cover a pit. Unless the player jumps between the clouds at the right time they will blow away leaving the pit impossible to get across. This is especially irritating as you must remember to jump at the right place every time you cross the pit.

The game also suffers from slowdown when rooms become cluttered with items and enemies and then speeding up dramatically at other times. This proves off putting given the tricky nature of the obstacles you need to negotiate. The environments themselves are functional if a little uninspired and comprise of platform stalwarts of such as a spooky castle, underground caves and a mountain region.

The puzzles are often obscure but the screens normally have a box at the top containing scrolling text. The text contains a hint such as "the ground seems hollow" or "the maiden has a broken heart" These hints turn what would be tricky puzzles into very simplistic ones and would benefit from taking a slightly more cryptic approach.

Dizzy may have been the game that started what turned out to be a long running and highly enjoyable series, but the first iteration of it simply lacks enough to make you want to see it through to the end. After a while the constant need to trudge back and forth from one side of the map to the other just becomes dull and repetitive. There is no doubting that the first Dizzy game represents a good idea, but it was the instalments that followed that really made the series fun.

6/10

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