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Video Game / Dizzy

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Dizzy is a series of Action-Adventure games created by Andrew Nicholas Oliver and Philip Edward Oliver, also known as the Oliver Twins, and released by Codemasters in the UK during the mid 1980s to early 1990s. Most of the games were developed for the home computers systems of the time, though some (unlicensed) console ports were made.

The games concern the various adventures of Dizzy, a member of a race of egg-people called the Yolkfolk who live in a High Fantasy world of dragons, trolls and treetop villages. Most of his adventures involved saving his fellow Yolkfolk from peril or escaping a dangerous land.

To solve his various problems Dizzy picks up a variety of strange items and when he's found the proper place to use them, drops them again. As he can only carry a few items at a time, though, the player is frequently forced to walk from one side of the map to the other to get something useful.

Fantasy World Dizzy, the third game in the series, is famously adored by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw - if ironically and through a heavy dose of Nostalgia Filter. (He does a Let's Play of the game on his blog: Part 1, Part 2.) Stuart Ashen is a fan of Treasure Island Dizzy, the second game in the series, as he points out here.

    Games in this series 
The main games of the series are all adventure games:
  1. Dizzy – The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure (June, 1987)
  2. Treasure Island Dizzy (August, 1987)
  3. Fantasy World Dizzy (1989)
  4. Magicland Dizzy (1990)
  5. Spellbound Dizzy (1990)
  6. Fantastic Dizzy (1991)
  7. Dizzy Prince of the Yolkfolk (December, 1991) (released as Dizzy the Adventurer on the NES)
  8. Crystal Kingdom Dizzy (1992)
  9. Wonderland Dizzy (reworked version of Magicland; intended for 1993, but ultimately released online in 2015)
  10. Wonderful Dizzy (2020)

There were also spin-off games, featuring Dizzy but belonging to other genres:

  • Fast Food (December, 1987). A Maze Game.
  • Kwik Snax (November, 1990). A Maze Game, sequel to the above.
  • Dizzy Panic! (May, 1990). A Puzzle Game.
  • Bubble Dizzy (November, 1990). An unfortunate encounter with pirates leaves Dizzy literally underwater. Dizzy has to use bubbles to float back to the surface from the bottom of the sea.
  • Dizzy Down the Rapids (April, 1991). Essentially an obstacle course game. Dizzy rides barrels down the river and has to avoid various hazards.
  • Go! Dizzy Go!. A Maze Game. Only released on the compilations Quattro Arcade and The Excellent Dizzy Collection.

Dizzy provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: All but one of the Yolkfolk: Dizzy, Daisy, Dora, Dylan, Denzil, Dozy... and Grand-Dizzy.
  • Androcles' Lion: A lion with a thorn in his paw appears in Prince of the Yolkfolk. He subverts the trope in that there's nothing he can do to help Dizzy in return for removing the thorn. The thorn, however, proves vital to Dizzy's success.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Bubble Dizzy's eponymous bubbles can somehow burst underwater.
  • Attract Mode: Prince of the Yolkfolk shows a standard demo mode if you wait a short time before starting the game.
  • Border-Occupying Decorations: Treasure Island Dizzy has a border. Outside the border are palm trees outside the border on the left and right, ground below the game window.
  • Border Patrol: The Harpy's Erie in Magicland. The Harpy is there purely to ensure that you don't go too high on the puffs of volcanic steam.
  • The Cameo: CJ, an elephant character from two Codemasters platform games, pops up in Crystal Kingdom Dizzy.
  • Catching Some Z's: Dozy frequently has Zs flying above him since he sleeps a lot.
  • Cephalothorax: All of the Yolkfolk are these.
  • Compilation Re-release: The Excellent Dizzy Collection on Game Gear contains Dizzy the Adventurer, Panic Dizzy, and Go! Dizzy Go!.
  • Cool Shades: Denzil wears them.
  • Crystal Ball: Zaks the wizard uses a crystal ball to spy on Dizzy and Daisy in Prince of the Yolkfolk.
  • Damsel in Distress: Daisy's usual role. To some extent, the rest of the Yolkfolk.
  • Egg Folk: The main character and his people are eggs known as yolk folk.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: In Fantastic Dizzy, Dizzy can't kill anything, but everything (even seemingly innocuous things like butterflies and drops of water) does damage to him.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Zaks the wizard, the villain of a few games.
  • Evil Twin: The Dizzy Doppleganger. In the Amiga games he's distinguished by having green gloves and boots and glowing red eyes.
  • Fan Sequel: Several. One has Dizzy as a contestant on Knightmare!
  • Fetch Quest: Most of the games revolved around carrying objects from one end of the map to the other.
    • A real pain in The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure where you could only carry one item at a time: Get the diamond, cross the entire map, cut the glass, cross the entire map again, get the dagger, cross the entire map yet again, cut the rope to release the raft....
    • Magicland Dizzy was a particular offender; the official helpline ("calls cost 36p per minute during off peak time") even recommended starting the game by fetching as many items as possible and dropping them in a central location for easy access; specifically in Prince Charming's throne room, which is more or less central.
    • In Spellbound Dizzy you need to be carrying rocks to access half the rooms. You have to have the right number for the room you want to access, you can't put them down or they smash... oh, but you have to put them down or you can't pick up anything else or exit the room. Roughly half the game is spent just going back and forth to get more rocks. ARG.
    • The Grand Finale of almost every single game usually involves a map-long Fetch Quest from one end to the other, usually as far as it's possible to go, and usually back again. (Magic Land, for example; go to Hades, get Wizardslayer Trident; traverse map to the top of the Ice Tower, use Trident, get Zaks' Ring; traverse map back to The Cracks Of Gehenna, throw Ring into lava. Then start hunting for the Last Lousy Diamond...)
  • The Ferryman: Prince of the Yolkfolk has a ferryman who doesn't actually take Dizzy through the river Styx, but he does ask for gold to let pass after he travels through it. Once Dizzy pays, he can pass and use the boat freely. The NES version makes him look less like a typical Charon-like ferryman, though.
  • Floating Continent: Rereleased versions of Treasure Island Dizzy featured "The Island in the Sky", which was low enough for Dizzy to be able to reach by pogo-stick.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Trolls are terrified of Pogie the Fluffle.
  • Gaiden Game: This series got some very odd spinoffs, including Fast Food (a sort of Pac-Man clone) and Dizzy Down The Rapids (a Toobin'' clone.)
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Treasure Island Dizzy in particular would sometimes misload, giving you mysterious floating scenery, jumbled music and holes in the floor. You could still walk around and explore, but would inevitably end up either freezing the game or falling through one of the holes and tumbling through the sky forever.
  • G-Rated Stoner: Dylan, who wears a floppy bucket hat and is always throwing up a peace sign. In Fantasy World Dizzy his opening line is "Hey man, like what's happening". When Yahtzee and Gabriel play Fantasy World Dizzy and get to his screen, Gabriel instantly says, "Yup, this is the stoner character, I knew it the second I saw his hat. I was like, 'Dylan, yeah, Bob Dylan, weed.'"
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Dizzy would eat fruit to recover from damage in Fantastic Dizzy.
  • Ice Palace: Two! In Magicland and Crystal Kingdom.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Dizzy kills Zaks this way using the (rather conveniently-themed) Wizardslayer Trident in Magicland Dizzy. However, since he has his soul sealed in a ring that's left behind after he vanishes, he doesn't truly die until you take the ring and throw it into a lava pit.
  • Interface Screw: You travel through the looking glass for a couple of screens in Magicland Dizzy, and the left-right controls promptly switch.
    • Similarly, in Fantasy World Dizzy there's an upside down world. Of course, if you're using a PC emulator, you can just Ctrl-Alt-Down your screen to flip it...
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Pervades throughout the series, but the strict FIFO system in Treasure Island Dizzy is particularly heinous. Especially as a bug in the system would occasionally make you drop two items at once...
    • One thing that caught players out often in Treasure Island Dizzy was accidentally removing the snorkel when cycling through their held items when underwater, which would cause instant death via Dizzy's Super Drowning Skills.
  • Joke Item: The "Sinclair Abuser Mag" in Treasure Island Dizzy is completely useless, although you get a points bonus if you drop it in the sea. This is a reference and a Take That! to Sinclair User magazine, which gave its predecessor game a poor review.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Addressed in Wonderful Dizzy, where in talking to another character Dizzy says their quirks are what make them who they are, like his kleptomania. Necessary though it is to make any progress in any of the games.
  • Knockback: Things that don't kill Dizzy will often push him back, like the butterflies in Fantastic Dizzy.
  • Kryptonite-Proof Suit: In Wonderful Dizzy, he needs to splash the witch with water. It doesn't work because she knows about her weakness and wears heavy weather gear at all times. This requires him to come up with an alternate plan.
  • Last Lousy Point: Even if you solve all the puzzles, most of the games require you to find thirty gold coins, or magic diamonds, or cherries, or something to get the real ending. You're required to use the pick up command on everything in sight to find some of them, which could be hidden behind a completely innocuous roof shingle or patch of grass.
    • Done rather insidiously in a few games where the tokens you need are also what refill your life bar, so you probably won't be picking them up if you're at 100% health.
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: Wonderland Dizzy has a hot lava pool which looks like regular water, just dark red. It kills the playable character in the same way as water, too.
  • Life Meter: Later games give Dizzy a life bar that drain super fast.
  • Metroidvania: A surprisingly early example being less about combat and more about jumping around a platform world to find secrets and solve inventory puzzles.
  • Minecart Madness: Fantastic Dizzy has a section in which you ride a minecart and have to not get hit by oncoming obstacles or dead ends while collecting stars.
  • Mini-Game: Dizzy Down the Rapids and Bubble Dizzy were made into minigame sequences in Fantastic Dizzy.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Dylan's entire characterization.
  • Oddball in the Series: Fast Food, not so much for the Genre Shift (other arcade spin-offs would follow) as for the setting: while all other Dizzy games are set in a fantasy world, Fast Food takes place in more modern environments like a shopping centre and a toy land, and has Dizzy getting chased around by four monsters who never show up in any later games.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: In the early games anything dangerous was automatically lethal to Dizzy. Later games gave him a life bar but it went down really fast.
    • The second game, Treasure Island Dizzy, was foul with this. You're a One Hit Point Wonder with one life— anything dangerous is instant End Of Game, including passing over the background torches without the Fireproof Suit and of course, those wretched cage traps hidden off-screen in the trees.
  • Parental Bonus: In Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, Dizzy's girlfriend Daisy complains that he "messed up" her bedroom. Then once you get in there, you find a whip...
  • Portable Hole: You can pick one up, but as soon as you pick it up - and store it in your bag - there's a hole in your bag, so everything falls out of it. Including the hole.
  • Product Placement: Some of the little scrolls hung in the early games give you background lore. Some are just plugs for other Spectrum games.
  • Promoted to Playable: Daisy becomes a playable character in Dizzy Down the Rapids. She's also playable in Wonderland Dizzy.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The jester in Prince of the Yolkfolk speaks exclusively in rhymes, which even Dizzy picks up.
  • Rhyming Wizardry: In Fantastic Dizzy, the puzzle to give Dizzy extra lives reads thusly:
    Hocus pocus
    Busy wizzy
    Conjure up
    Another Dizzy
  • Scoring Points: In the first two games. Abandoned thereafter due to their complete redundancy.
  • Shout-Out: Various, ranging from the works of J. Milton Hayes, to the rest of the Codemasters library (the first game has the laser gun from the Oliver Twins' previous game Ghost Hunters), to pretty much every Fairy Tale ever written.
    • Magic Land Dizzy alone has puzzles that reference Pac-Man, the Billy Goats Gruff, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, Aladdin, the legend of King Arthur, the Pied Piper of Hamlin, the Frog Prince, the Wizard of Oz, Sleeping Beauty and probably at least one more that's been forgotten.
  • Sleepyhead: Dozy's often seeing sleeping. It's in the name, and when he wakes up, he usually doesn't say anything interesting anyway.
  • Solid Clouds: Sky areas in Prince of the Yolkfolk have clouds for Dizzy to stand on, though he has to keep jumping to stay on them.
  • Standard Hero Reward: The king in Prince of the Yolkfolk offers the hand of his daughter to Dizzy, but he denies it as he's on a quest to wake up his true love Daisy. He gets knighted into Sir Dizzy the Adventurer instead.
  • Status Line: The fact the subsequent sequels are, in fact, Numbered Sequels can only be known by checking the stats line at the top of the screen. It also lists the number of lives left and the score.
  • Stylistic Suck: Wonderful Dizzy has Spectrum-style colorbleed on his sprite when Dizzy walks by something in the background with a different color scheme than him. It's even pointed out as a magical property of wearing the ruby slippers.
  • Super Drowning Skills: In almost all mainline games. Treasure Island Dizzy introduced a snorkel, which sort of helps. Unless you accidentally drop it underwater, of course. Spellbound Dizzy and Fantastic Dizzy avert the trope (the latter — except the few water bodies that act as Bottomless Pits).
  • Traveling-Pipe Bulge: Spellbound Dizzy.
  • Unwinnable by Design:
    • There's a trap in the ground in The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure which you have to jump over to avoid triggering. Set it off, and an uncrossable chasm opens. It is impossible to reset the trap, even by deliberately dying, and the only way to get out of the chasm is to stand on the potion bottle - which, at the end of the game, will contain the potion you need to defeat Zaks - so your hopes of winning end there and then.
    • If you're playing Fantasy World Dizzy and you are just about to rescue Daisy, make sure you pick up the coin under the cage first. If not, the cage will make it forever unreachable.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In Fantasy World Dizzy, if you interact with Dozy a second time Dizzy will kick him and his chair into the water, and depending on which version you're playing he'll either stay floating in place or drift offscreen.
  • Waddling Head: Dizzy and the rest of the Yolk Folk.
  • Walk the Plank: Bubble Dizzy begins with Dizzy being forced to walk the plank off a pirate ship. He catches the edge of the plank, but falls in after a pirate jumps on his hand a few times.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Wonderful Dizzy is basically an interactive, moderately self-aware version of The Wizard of Oz. Even down to all the characters being based off Dizzy's Yolkfolk friends to the And You Were There ending.
  • A Winner Is You: From the ending of the first game: