The original Eighties Dizzy was the story of an egg searching for the ingredients for a magical potion and starred an egg-shaped character of the same name. Oddly, when you consider Dizzy appeared on the vast majority of 8-bit formats, its egg-shaped hero became almost synonymous with the Spectrum. Wed in much in the same way as Mario to the SNES, or Repton to the BBC, Dizzy was almost crazily popular. It was more than just "another graphic adventure"; it was a game that just seemed to get all of its elements "right".
In the Eighties the world was also a smaller place and, rather fascinatingly, it wasn't just the English that was going gaga over this Prince of the Yolkfolk. Courtesy of a thriving black market in Spectrums behind the iron curtain, Russian geeks also grew to love him.
Fast-forward 30 odd years and you'll find there are more English and Russian Dizzy games available than you can ever hope to play in your lifetime. Indeed, there's even an annual competition to design the best new Dizzy game. And, this year, with contributions from all over the world, Dizzy In The Dungeons, won it.
So, importantly, is it any good? Well, as you can imagine, being released for Windows PCs - rather than packed into the average 48K most of the Dizzy classics had to content themselves with - does give Dizzy an injection of superior graphics and sound. But what's nice is that the core dynamics of the original games remain the same. Dizzy In The Dungeons retains the platforms, objects, puzzles and that oh-just-a-little-bit-uncomfortable jump feature that we all remember.
There isn't a lot of backstory and there's no cauldron or evil Zaks to defeat. All the instructions tell you are that you must help Dizzy and the Yolkfolk escape their dungeon prison.
Now, the majority of Dizzy adventures I've played before were flick-screen affairs, so you may initially find this smooth-scrolling Dizzy game somewhat unusual. It starts by setting you a single puzzle, which, once completed, will allow you to escape the small prison room in which you are trapped. The solution is remarkably simple but not readily apparent, which is a feature of many of the puzzles to come. So a word of warning: don't do as I did and head over to YouTube to watch a quick video to see if Dizzy In The Dungeons is worth downloading. Believe me, it is - and unless you're careful you'll end up spoiling this first puzzle for yourself if you do.
The scrolling is incredibly smooth and an extremely nice effect is that if Dizzy builds up some extra speed when falling in a certain direction, the screen allows this and then slowly catches up with him to keep him centre-screen. This kind of effect, which likely takes more memory than the entire code that powers many Dizzy games, makes this game stand out as a truly professional release.
There are other nice touches too - you move around with the arrow keys but all getting and dropping of objects is handled by an intuitive menu system. Pressing ENTER picks up an object and immediately selects a menu with "Exit And Don't Drop" selected, so a 'double-click' on ENTER picks up any object. Using an object, you hit ENTER, bring up the menu, select the object you want to use and hit ENTER again. Difficult to go wrong there.
Which makes it all the more astonishing that Dizzy In The Dungeons is all the work of a single die-hard Dizzy fan - David O' Flynn - who has been working on it for over seven years. In fact, if you ever had even a passing interest in Dizzy back in the day, it would be a crime to miss such an impressive game, produced with no Kickstarter backing and being given away for absolutely nothing. It can be downloaded from http://www.yolkfolk.com/site/games.php?game_id=180