For the past month, the Shed has been the scene of many arguments concerning little Dizzy. Jon's against him, I'm slightly for him, Andy couldn't care less and various other Future people keep popping in and offering us their views. It seems that everybody has their Dizzy opinion (except for Andy) and I'll be glad when this latest release is on the shelves and no longer the Shed's main topic of conversation. Honestly, tempers really are getting rather frayed at the edges.
Only the other day Jon and Adam (from Amstrad Action) got into a tizzy with one another and started an elastic band fight. This soon escalated into a full-scale Dizzy war with other people coming along and taking sides. It was awful, Andy and I had to hide underneath our desks 'til they ran out of 'laccy bands. I'm sorry, but like a quiet Shed!
The cause of all this excitement is now safely snuggled up in the Shed +3, the programmer travelled 90 miles just to bring it to us! Yep, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy has arrived, and I bet you're just dying to know what it's like. Well, in away, it's not really worth me telling you is it? If you hate Dizzy then you're not going to believe me if I were to tell you how excellent this game is. On the other hand, if you're a die-hard Dizzy fan you've probably already put in an order and there's no way you're going to take any notice if I should start ranting on about how awful the whole Dizzy thing is.
IF IT AIN'T BROKE...
But don't worry, I'm not going to enthuse and I'm not going to rant. What I am going to try and do is work out why this Dizzy game is £9.99 whereas all the others were £3.99 and whether or not worth it. The first point to get of the way is that old moan that the anti-Dizzy contingent always put forward - the fact that all the arcade-adventure type Dizzy games are exactly the same. Well, of course they are! That's what makes them so darn popular. Each Dizzy game sells more than the last one and the earlier games are still selling by the cartload. People like formulae, they know exactly what they want from Dizzy and they always get it, The Codies have got the right idea - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Every Dizzy game is exactly the same in the way that something like Just William books or any school stories are the same. You always get the same characters, although ocassionally a newcomer might appear for a while. The plot is always broadly the same, it's the old good triumphs over evil story over and over again. But so what? Dizzy is a strong character who acts in a certain way, he wouldn't really be at home in any other kind of game. Dizzy in a Street Fighter 2 scenario would be as ridiculous as Bob Monkhouse as the new Dr Who, Dizzy games are all written along the same lines for a reason, not out of laziness
Like all Dizzy games, this one's got a nice little storyline. Everybody in Dizzyland is happily enjoying a nice sunny day. Everybody that is apart from Grand Dizzy, he knows that the treasures of the Prophet Zeffar have been stolen from the Ice Palace and that soon, according to some ancient scrolls, a curse will fall upon the land. It's obviously up to Dizzy to wander across the land solving puzzles, somersaulting over nasties, using objects, picking up points and collecting some important treasures.
Dizzy's main objective is to return old Zeffar's sacred objects to their shrine in the ice Palace. It's true Crystal Kingdom Dizzy does look and play exactly like every other Dizzy game, but I don't mind that. I like the way Dizzy moves and somersaults and I like the way I can never solve the puzzles - it's a solid and dependable part of my life! But most of all, I love the way that Dizzy fans so obviously enjoy these games. I love the maps they draw and the tips they send in. In fact, I think that I could have easily been a Dizzy fan myself.
But! What I don't like is the price tag. This game isn't radically, or even slightly, different to any of the previous Dizzy games. Dizzy fans are going to buy this one, but it's going to cost them six quid more than usual and boost CodeMasters' profits. Crystal Kingdom Dizzy would have been a mid-eighties score, but that price tag really does knock the score down.
We all live in a fantasy world sometimes but it would appear that Codemasters' fantasy world is Big Al's nightmare. You see the big guy hates eggs with a vengeance. He can't stand the sight or smell of them and the only thing he'll eat containing eggs are cakes! That's why the rest of us made him review Crystal Kingdom Dizzy... He's not eggs-actly biased is he?
Bluuch! Egg-land! Ok, Dizzy may be cute, he may be popular, he may even be a nice guy but lets face it he's an egg. In this adventure he's got to save Dizzyland from a flood of biblical proportions which is threatening to engulf the land of animated poultry produce because of the legend of the Ice Palace.
The legend of the Ice Palace, as written in the scrolls of the Yolkfolk, claims that if the treasures of the prophet Zeffar are ever removed from their home then the Palace will start to melt and good old Dizzyland will make like Atlantis and disappear under water (hopefully not boiling water or we all know what would happen!).
And so the game begins. The first thing you have to do is actually get Grand Dizzy to cough up the story and this takes place in the Yolkfolk village. There you must reconcile your differences with Daisy, help Dora cook some cakes, satisfy CJ's appetite and help Dylan and Denzil in various ways. In fact it's business as usual in Yolkville as Dizzy plays the part of repair man, policeman, Samaritan, judge, jury and meals on wheels deliverer.
In the second level there's some jolly sea japes as Dizzy gets bed and board upon a pirate ship bound in the general direction of the ice palace. Unfortunately Captain Blackheart is as nasty as his name suggests and after all Dizzy's efforts to repair the dastardly devil's ship he dumps the poor lad on a desert island to rot in solitude. But Dizzy is no rotten egg as we all know and if you're lucky (and smart) you'll pick up some treasure here and find some means of getting off the island and on to the Ice Palace. Once there the fun really begins!
Dizzy VII is a delightful game. You get to interact with almost every character you meet and this means virtually every Dizzy character to date (ok, minus one or two!) Each character has a story to tell and each level has plenty of places to explore, some interesting - like the Surf Shack - some run of the mill - like Dora kitchen. As usual attention to detail and humour have been applied vigorously and you'll always want to get the job done because it's rewarding.
Graphically Crystal Kingdom is the equal of any other Dizzy adventure game. I was hoping for an improvement but a reasonably high standard had been achieved for previous games so I suppose Codies decided to stick to a working formula. The soundtrack is actually one of the best I've heard on a Dizzy game yet, much better in my opinion to the 16 bit machines' soundtrack which seems a little disjointed from gameplay.
I must admit I was also hoping for a more manoeuverable main sprite but Dizzy's bouncy controls also remain essentially unchanged. This can lead to somewhat frustrating gameplay, but only occasionally, usually when you're moving too fast or are too careless. In general control is good and picking up or putting down objects is easily carried out.
In the final analysis, playing and enjoying this game is not about whether you like eggs or - not it's really about whether you like this particular little egg. Dizzy VII will definitely appeal to collectors and people who have enjoyed all his past escapades. For these people I probably don't even need to recommend it, they'll buy it anyway. If you do fall into this category but are wondering about the high comparative price, let me tell you it's worth it. However if you're not a fan then don't go spending all this money on something which is essentially the same as all the rest, albeit larger, longer and more modern.
Price: £11.99 Tape
Reviewer: Big Al Dykes
ED LAURENCE: A little long in the tooth but tremendous fun nonetheless. There are plenty of traditional puzzles and this game appears to be longer and more detailed than previous Dizzy offerings.
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