Monday, 22 July 2013

Dizzy Series - Part 2

Treasure Island Dizzy (1987)
By: Oliver Twins / Code Masters Genre: Arcade Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: >39,000
Also Available For: NES, CD32, Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Enterprise 64/128

Another great loading screen from the Oliver Twins...
Despite some of the less-than-pleasant things said about his début game, Dizzy still proved very popular among the many 8-bit micro users in the UK in the mid-to-late eighties and Code Masters, never ones to miss an opportunity, soon capitalised on this success by concocting the inevitable sequel, this time to appear on a much broader range of platforms. Even though there were now some fancy console and 16-bit incarnations of his adventure, however, it remained the trusty Speccy which hosted the most popular and arguably the best version. The Olivers sensibly changed little about the basic style of the game and merely moved Dizzy from the fairy-tale inspired world of the original to a deserted tropical island which, as hinted at by the title, was indeed home to much treasure. Dizzy's main objective, though, was simply to escape this new, dangerous land unscathed.

The famous opening screen of the game...
This was done in more-or-less the same way as before - by collecting the seemingly random items which are dotted around the game world and using them in the correct places. There are a few small differences this time though, as you might expect. Firstly, Dizzy can now hold up to three items at once which are held in the order in which he picks them up - pick up a fourth item and the item collected first will be dropped, so care must often be taken to carry them in the right order. Secondly, that aforementioned 'treasure' which takes the form of thirty golden coins. Some are cunningly hidden, others are just sitting out in the open (as above), but all must be collected to complete the game. Lastly, and most controversially, Dizzy's second adventure is quite a bit more unforgiving, chiefly due to the fact that he has only one life - make one mistake, just one mistimed jump at any point in the entire game, and it could be game over. Very harsh, Messrs Oliver and Oliver!

Larking about in the deserted tree village...
So yes, that does indeed make Treasure Island Dizzy a rather tough and oft-frustrating game, in case you were wondering. It is also, however, still frequently regarded as the best of Dizzy's adventures. How can that be? I'm not really sure to be honest. If it wasn't for the reduction in lives it would definitely be an easier game than the original - there are less things that can kill you for one thing. There are no spiders, birds, or bats lurking around (although some of the things that do exist here are only discovered once they actually have killed you!). It's not a very long game either - slightly smaller than the first game in fact, and it can be completed much quicker since Dizzy can now hold more items at once which means less back-tracking. It sounds like a step back then, rather than the pinnacle of what would become a long series, but there is definitely something very appealing about it all the same. Perhaps it's that slightly more laid-back tropical setting...

Safely underwater with the help of the 'snorkle'...
The standard of the delightful graphics here is about the same as before but there are some different locales including sandy beaches, the splendid tree village, and a few underwater sections as well. The black background returns too, which probably suited the first game, but here in this setting a blue sky wouldn't have been too much to ask would it? Even the Speccy has two shades of blue! That and the immense colour-clash with Dizzy himself are my only complaints regarding the graphics though, but the sound is again almost non-existent (there are actually even fewer effects here), and yet the game manages to play very splendidly anyway. The additions are welcome (except for the single life, possibly) and the game world is a very pleasant one to explore - even after making mistakes time and time again, I always kept coming back to it and, occasional swear words aside, I always enjoyed it too, which isn't always something I could say about the first game. So, smaller, more unfair, but still somehow better. It's no wonder Speccy fans had a love/hate relationship with Dizzy!

RKS Score: 8/10


  1. It's a stalwart of British gaming, that's for sure, but I'm not sure I have the time or patience these days to complete any Dizzy game! Great review Simon.

    Red Parsley, playing punishing spectrum adventure games so that you don't have to!

  2. Chortle! It sure is a pain having to play through some games but I enjoyed revisiting this one :)