There are so many Dizzy games that I could probably review one of them a day and be kept busy for a full year now. He's the little egg that, from a humble graphic adventure on the rubber-keyed Spectrum back in 1987, has grown to epitomise the golden age of graphic adventuring. And with good reason because, apart from a few ill-received spin-off titles back in the day, Dizzy has kept squarely to a prescribed format. Dizzy's available on every machine from the Amstrad to the Nintendo (yes, he made it Stateside many years ago!) to the Evercade, and he means only one thing. And that's a trip into a cutesy, colourful, platform game world where Dizzy is tasked with bringing certain objects to certain characters.
Now, I guess, for Dizzy fans, this type of adventuring never gets old. But, ahem, "Wonderful" Dizzy? You might briefly wonder if he's getting an exaggerated sense of his own importance in his twilight years in this, apparently his 'last' adventure. But he's not, he's still the same helpful hero of his previous outings; he's only "wonderful" in the sense that this particular quest is set in the land of Oz. No, not Australia, that Oz where The Wizard lives... The same land from that movie with Judy Garland, that movie that starts in black and white and has a bunch of characters singing about "The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz"?
Yes, that's right. In fact, this Dizzy adventure is the story of the Wizard of Oz. It's Dizzy superimposed onto the Wizard of Oz. Dizzy takes the Judy Garland role, and is tasked with scuttling around the game area on a quest for the items that all the familiar characters (scarecrow, tin man, lion and witches) need. And, well, despite being a very colourful number on a machine that famously suffers from colour clash, it's all pretty lovely to look at.
It comes from the same 'dream team' who programmed Crystal Kingdom Dizzy 2017 and, if you were around to witness the release of that little number three years ago, you may well recall the plethora of 10/10 review scores that that earlier game received. Wonderful Dizzy uses the same game engine (and, really, why wouldn't it? You don't mess with a winning formula!), and has the same small visuals, spanking introduction and boppy music on interrupt. By which I mean, it's all new, and it's all different, but it sticks to the same tried-and-tested formula that'll instantly endear it to all those who raved about Crystal Kingdom. And, as we know, that was pretty much everyone.
Perhaps the most surprising thing is how well the Wizard of Oz theme actually suits Dizzy. Dizzy's personality has developed considerably since those halcyon days of olde and he has been having 'conversations' with the different characters he met on his adventures for many years now. Wonderful Dizzy, however, as the eighth in the (Spectrum) Dizzy series, is now able to do something that you rarely see outside of long-running TV shows and movies... It can elevate these conversations with in-jokes, nods to previous installments and even have a few sly digs at the hardware it's running on. Wonderful Dizzy has been written with its tongue firmly in its cheek, and non-English players probably won't pick up on much of it, but there's a real character to this latest offering. It's a thoroughly modern game, and Dizzy fans are going to love it.
As you might have guessed, Wonderful Dizzy is a 128K only game. There are hundreds of sprites, and hundreds of locations to visit, all of which are gorgeously designed. Dizzy has an energy meter which is drained by collisions with the various nasties that inhabit the platforms, although these do seem to be fewer in number and less deadlier in design than in some previous games. The world is also very open, and almost all locations available to visit as soon as the game starts. Yes, yes, it's all de rigueur for longtime Dizzy fans, but it does mean you can get a reasonable distance into it, even on your very first try. Practically the only way you can be instantly killed is by falling into water, so be careful when judging jumps.
And so in conclusion. Well, each Dizzy game on the Speccy seems to have been better than the last, but with Crystal Kingdom Dizzy 2017 most people, myself included, really thought the apex had been reached. Wonderful Dizzy is, I have to admit it, at least as good if not better. So, rather than just slap it with another 100%, I'll revise Crystal Kingdom Dizzy 2017 down to 95% and give this 97%. Then, if yet another adventure starring the Eggy hero hits the Spectrum market in 2024, I'll at least have three percent scope to play with. And before you all remind me that Wonderful Dizzy proclaims itself Dizzy's last, well, I personally don't believe that when Dizzy says goodbye to the yellow brick road, that that will be it. Elton John's been proclaiming the same for at least twenty years now... and he's still touring again next year.