Thursday 18 October 2012

Magicland Dizzy Review (Amstrad)

The fourth game in the Dizzy series sees our hero thrown into a mystical fairy tale kingdom. Here the evil wizard Zaks has imprisoned Dizzy's friends and it is up to the intrepid egg to rescue everyone and return home. Much like the titles that precede it Magicland Dizzy is a platform puzzle adventure centred on the exploits of Dizzy the egg.

Puzzles are based heavily around various fairy stories. Depending on the player's knowledge of said tales completion of the tasks will either be relatively straight forward or more in the realms of teeth grinding obscurity.

Solving puzzles revolves around the series gameplay tradition of retrieving an object from an awkward place and taking it elsewhere. Dizzy can now carry three items at one time which reduces the need for backtracking. This allows for more complex puzzles and creates one of the most ingenious solutions in the series history (involving a sleeping friend and a shocking solution).

The platform aspect of the series retains the fine line between players needing to be a fair judge of how our egg shaped hero will role and just being ridiculously unforgiving. Most of the time death will be due to a miscalculation on the players behalf, but surviving certain sections, like taking a blind jump down a well without knowing what item you need, are more down to luck and memory tests than any form of real skill.

Looking back on Magicland Dizzy now, it is surprising to see that if anything, the game has actually improved with time. Graphically the Amstrad version of the title is simple but highly effective. Characters, objects and scenery are clearly drawn and coloured with a single colour against a black background. The simple design allows for the game to look as clear now as the day it first hit our screens.

Like many 8-bit titles it can be viewed as simplistic in terms of game mechanics and there is certainly not much in the way of true innovation. But the attention to detail and little touches really raise the game above the mass of pretenders. Things like having a bag of rubbish and an empty milk bottle outside the backdoor of the magical castle will raise a smile from all but the most cynical.

The game world itself is deceptively small, but even so there is a large amount of variation in the locations. Every area is interesting enough to make you wonder what is around the next corner and will have players pushing on until they have seen every last section.

In today's gaming culture of vast landscapes and millions of pixels on screen it is sometimes good to look back and see that the same feeling of adventure can be achieved with more simple tools. Magicland Dizzy’s gameplay is still strong enough to offer something to players and contains more charm per pixel than most of the bland, shiny fodder that stock the shelves of your local game shop. Far from being looked upon with rose tinted glasses the title is even more enjoyable now than it was all those years ago. For that more than anything else we whole-heartedly recommend it.


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