A frustrating adventure platforming game with an even more frustrating inventory system that will constantly have you pulling your hair out, not only because it’s difficult, but also because it requires constant backtracking and remembering where you set down object X for puzzle Y. And yet, it’s still one of the most charming, fun, challenging, and addictive adventure games you’ll ever play.
Available For: Amiga, CD32, NES (reviewed), PC, Game Gear, Genesis
Developer(s): The Oliver twins
Release Date: 1991
Rating: NR (I’d personally give it an Everyone rating)
Archetype(s): Adventure, Hardcore, Platformer
Back before I ever got a chance to try Maniac Mansion, King’s Quest, Monkey Island, or anything of the more well known classic adventure games, I played Dizzy. And man did it fucking irritate me. Dizzy is one of those games that initially entices you with its graphics, sounds, and animation quality overall, then floors you with all kinds of unbelievable bullshit.
What kind of bullshit? Well for starters, the inventory system. See, you only have three buttons in this game: pause, jump, and item swap. Pause and jump are obvious, but how does the item swap function work? Well, you only have three inventory spots. Yes, three. And for a game this massive, that’s fucking ridiculous. Anytime you have three items and you want one more, you hit the item swap button in front of the fourth item and the first item in your inventory is dropped, bumping the second to first, the third to second, and the one you just picked up to third.
This becomes highly irritating for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, this is also how you use items. So for example, there’s one part where this carnivorous plant is growing, so you have to use this weed killer to take it down (what is this Resident Evil). So you swap, swap, swa-there we go! And suddenly the plant meets its demise. You can’t just select which object you want to use and since there’s only an inventory of three items at a given time, you’re often having to keep track of where you left certain objects for when you find certain puzzles later, meaning there’s a lot of backtracking.
This wouldn’t be so bad if it were a more modern game. See, you have a life bar and lives…and no continues, password system, or save function. Sure, you can work around this with save states on an emulator, but I played this back in the NES days, soooooo…yeah. I mention modern gaming because with modern gaming there would most likely be autosaves, no lives system, and a fast travel system.
If it were set up more like that it would definitely be more fun. Of course, some might say this is part of the charm of the game. Allow me to explain that retardation for a second. Adventure gaming was only just getting its foothold around this time. Having an inventory of only three at a time meant constant inventory management, foresight, and good memory in that you HAD to remember where you put shit for later.
Multiple playthroughs are often necessary to beat the game because then you KNOW where certain objects are used and if they’re worth picking up so early in the game. Now, you may be wondering why there’s a life bar. Well see, lots and lots and LOTS of things can damage and/or kill you in this game. Anything from wild animals to bugs to drops of water to swimming without a snorkel and much more can take your little oval ass out in a new york minute.
There are also a bunch of minigames that can take you out too and you HAVE to participate in them. Now, these minigames are fun, but that’s besides the point. This is a LONG ass game. Even if you know exactly where to go and what to do, you could be playing this game for hours before you beat it. And again, no passwords, no saves, no continues. Yeah, fucking brutal.
You can also get hurt from fall damage, which is a major pain in the ass because THE FIRST AREA is Satan’s motherfucking treehouse. Seriously, it’s like 10 screens high or so. You can get hurt even just from falling from a high height within ONE screen, so count yourself dead if it’s multiple screens. Another pain in the ass is the elevator key system.
See, at the start of the game, everyones’ elevators are locked up. This is a problem because without unlocking these elevators, not only can you not get to other areas of the asshole treehouse, but you also can’t get to the other eggs who’ve been frozen, put into eternal slumber, or whatever the fuck by some asshole wizard. Yeah, from what I remember of the story, some jackass wizard put a curse on all the eggs and stole away your girlfriend to his dark palace in the sky.
That’s about all I remember of the plot and really, that’s about all you need, given you probably won’t get that far in your first 10 tries. In modern times, this game is hard to recommend, but if you’re looking for something more nostalgic and you have a bit of patience, I’d highly recommend this title. It’s fun, challenging, and downright frustrating at times, but all around highly enjoyable.