Eggs aren't particularly exciting. All they seem to do is taste pretty bad. They can't do somersaults, they don't hang out with wizards, and they don't wear boxing gloves. Why would anyone want to create a saga of computer games based on the adventures of one of these things? Thankfully, the Oliver Twins1 decided to spend the majority of the late '80s and early '90s doing this, and millions of Spectrum, Amiga and Atari owners were incredibly grateful for their decision to do so, for this was how Dizzy the Egg was born.Dizzy was the most exciting egg of them all, for he could do somersaults, he did hang out with wizards and he did wear boxing gloves. For millions of Europeans and about six Americans, he was the god of computer games... or at least the egg version. He created a cult following of devoted gamers, with addicted players ranging from kids to slightly older kids. He had the fan base of Mario, Sonic and Lara Croft. But what was all the fuss about?
The Dizzy Games
In case you were deprived of the excellent Dizzy saga or have simply forgotten, the games Dizzy blessed with his presence included:
- Fast Food2
- Treasure Island Dizzy
- Fantasy World Dizzy
- Magic Land Dizzy3
- Dizzy Panic
- Dizzy Down The Rapids
- Spellbound Dizzy
- Dizzy Prince of the Yolkfolk
- Kwik Snax
- Bubble Dizzy
- Crystal Kingdom Dizzy
- The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy
The last two marked Dizzy's selling out and betrayal of his underground computing roots, as he whored himself to the console markets and started costing more than ten pounds sterling, which was the approximate price of a budget game around Dizzy's era. These games were released seemingly haphazardly on various formats, including the Spectrum, Amiga, Atari, PC, NES and Megadrive, by the computer software company Codemasters.
The Oliver Twins also produced several other Dizzy games that didn't quite work out. Dizzy the Adventurer (Nothing more than a revamped version of Dizzy Prince of the Yolkfolk), Go! Dizzy Go! and Wonderland Dizzy were all planned for NES release, but interference from evil alien bounty hunters meant that they weren't quite up to the expected quality of Dizzy games, so they were combined into the naff Excellent Dizzy Collection for the Sega Game Gear, which flopped. A spin-off game based on Dizzy's little buddy Pogie called Dreamworld Pogie also fell flat on its furry face. Several compilations were also released for the home computers listed above, but who cares?
Dizzy was famous for 2D adventure games (similar in appearance to the Rick Dangerous games) in which he would somersault around cutesy worlds, completing tasks and solving puzzles so he could progress further into the adventure, where he would be met with more tasks and puzzles. This simple yet revolutionary(ish) style was ripped off by Dizzy clones such as Seymour Goes to Hollywood, CJ'S Elephant Antics and Spike in Transylvania, all released by Codemasters4. They weren't as good.
As he leapt around like a mad egg looking for keys and jumping over wells (don't ask), Dizzy ran into a lot of trouble up against trolls, ghosts, giant rats, sharks, crabs... all the usual stuff. Rather than beat them down with his boxing gloves (which you presumed he wore them for), Dizzy would let them abuse him and smack him while he ran about finding stuff with which to bribe them. Thankfully, Dizzy was lucky enough to have an energy bar (in some of the games, anyway) and three lives per game, which made life a lot easier and more repetitive. He would lose lives by falling off clouds and walking into sharp things.
Dizzy's adventures would usually see him go to incredible lengths to rescue his idiot friends from his arch enemy, the evil wizard Zaks5. This nasty and unsociable character would get his thrills by turning Dizzy's pals into frogs, bushes, and ice cubes, and Dizzy would risk his little red boxing gloves trying to help them out. If he was successful, they would generally do something pretty ungrateful like fall asleep or give him a key or something. And that was more or less the plot.
The games that betrayed this formula were Fast Food (Dizzy chased hamburgers around shopping malls, Pacman-style), Dizzy Panic (Dizzy played with bricks, just like Klax), Dizzy down the Rapids (Dizzy exhibited his water fetish by riding a log down rivers), Kwik Snax (which was oddly similar to Pengo) and Bubble Dizzy (where the water fetish became an obsession and he had to scuba dive for pearls).
Dizzy was an egg with humanoid features, including arms, legs, a face and the capacity for speech. He smiled a lot for no real reason, sported massive eyes and suggestive eyebrows, and wore funky red hiking boots and boxing gloves. Occasionally, he donned an Indiana Jones style hat, but generally only on the more expensive of his games when he wanted to show off6. Nobody quite knows how Dizzy fit all of his vital organs into such a small oval-shape. Musically, Dizzy enjoyed annoyingly catchy muzak which would be repeated ad nauseum throughout his adventures, much to the chagrin of the player.
The Yolkfolk and Co
Dizzy lived in the Enchanted Forest, in a treehouse village which utilised a pretty nifty elevator system, which was great, but the keys used to activate the lifts were always getting lost. This village was the home of all of Dizzy's friends.
Dizzy's best mate was the wizard Theodore, but that was only because he could sponge off the wisely old man and get him to do spells and stuff for him. Some of his other homies included:
- Daisy - his ugly girlfriend
- Dylan - a hippy who wore flowers and said 'Man'
- Denzil - who was 'cool' and acted like the Fonz
- Grand-Dizzy - the village elder
- Dozy - who slept and slept and slept
- Dora - Dizzy's coy little sister
- Danny - his nephew from a neighbouring treehouse village
All of these guys were eggs, and collectively they were known (hilariously) as the Yolkfolk. They tended to get abducted by Zaks a lot.
Some non-egg friends of Dizzy were Blackheart the Pirate, Shamus the Leprechaun, Rockwart the Troll and Pogie the Fluffy, who was fluffy. Dizzy also had ties to royalty, namely the Princes Clumsy and Charming, who apparently had some very cruel parents. However, despite some of their impressive names, none of these guys could do much for themselves and Dizzy usually had to run around for miles to get their flying carpets or something. Dizzy also knew some shady characters such as Satan and a boat salesman.
Why Should I Play Dizzy Games?
The games are addictive and dead cute, despite their simplicity and often groan-out-loud poor humour ('EGGS-cellent' was used too many times). These games formed their own sub-culture, and were the saving grace of early '90s gaming. They have such an appeal that they are still highly playable today, even without fancy 3D effects or half-naked lead characters. They also gave a lot of sad pre-teens a reason for not going outside, but that's a different story.
If you've been raised on Tekken and Resident Evil, you definitely need to check out this saga, because they come from the Golden Age of gaming when computer games were actually fun and you didn't have to blow peoples' heads off or spend 56 hours playing to unlock extra costumes; you just had to pick up the joystick and play. However, if you remember how difficult it was to jump on that stupid shark's fin and stay on it, then you're probably not even reading this because you've already gone searching for downloadable Dizzy games.
What Has Become of that Egg?
Unfortunately, Dizzy isn't doing much these days. He went out with a bang in 1994 with The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy, which combined the greatest bits of Dizzy's adventures (along with some bits from Bubble Dizzy) to make the greatest adventure of his life. This was the first and only Dizzy game to be released in America. Unfortunately, the interest this game created was not to be capitalised on, as the saga ended with this release.
However, his legacy continues to this day, with Dizzy fans bastardising the egg's name by creating unofficial shareware games involving him, in between rambling on about how outrageous it is that Codemasters aren't making anymore Dizzy games. Codemasters are tight-mouthed on the subject of a Dizzy revival. The chances of a new Dizzy game are small at best.
Still, all is not lost. You can download full and free versions of the Dizzy games from Yolkfolk.com, which is the greatest Dizzy site around. Well, one of them, anyway. They have a huge collection of Dizzy games for all formats, along with some other juicy bits of Dizziness, and they're all up for the taking.
Do yourself a favour and go get those Dizzy games. Play them. You will love them. They're eggs-cellent!