When I was growing up (some might argue I still haven’t), my friends wanted to be astronauts or footballers. I wanted to be an egg.
I’m yolking, of course, but I did spend an inordinate amount of my childhood playing the Dizzy series of games on the ZX Spectrum (other computers and consoles were available). For the uninitiated, Dizzy is a walking, talking, somersaulting egg with boxing gloves and the sort of relentless optimism that would put Charlie Sheen to shame. Like Charlie Sheen, Dizzy lives in a fairytale land, where he spends his days solving item-based puzzles as he works out how to save his friends and family from whatever scrapes they’ve gotten themselves into this week.
Prince Of The Yolkfolk, the sixth game in the Dizzy series, was first released in December 1991, at the height of the egg’s popularity (A Dizzy eggs-plosion, if you will). Dizzy and long-term girlfriend Daisy are out picking cherries, when Daisy pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and Dizzy is captured by Rockwart the troll… all in a day’s work, really. As Dizzy, your aim is to find Daisy and wake her from her eternal slumber, and help a variety of bizarre characters – everyone from a talking lion to St Peter himself – along the way.
The core gameplay of Dizzy remains mercifully unaltered in this remake; you wander around picking up items, looking for the inevitable opportunities to use them and thus acquire other items to trigger the next part of the quest. You can still only carry three items at a time, which newcomers might find a little archaic, but this pushes you to think logically and plan ahead. There’s a certain satisfaction to be found in using the right item in the right place and finding a whole new path opened up to you.
As well as the puzzles, of course, there’s the jumping. Back in the 80s and 90s, Dizzy was little short of a grinning, rolling maniac. I spent more than a few hours of my life shouting at the television because Dizzy had decided to follow a successful jump by rolling into the water and drowning. In this remake, however, that’s less of a problem. His trademark somersault is still present and correct, but landing isn’t nearly as much of a problem as it used to be.
Not that the jumps are a walk in the park, mind; there are still several parts of this game which require the kind of precision platforming that Mario would shy away from. If you can get through the game without once falling through the clouds, please come and collect your reward from Den of Geek Towers (tell them I sent you).
The jumping isn’t the only aspect of the gameplay that’s been tweaked for the better. The original version of Prince Of The Yolkfolk gave the player just three lives (and no continues), which meant that every jump really did count. 21st century Dizzy has done away with the lives system altogether, meaning you’ll only ever get sent as far as the other side of the screen when you die.
There’s help on the puzzle side of the equation, too, with a new hint system, which sees your points total constantly counting down to zero. If it reaches zero, you receive advice for dealing with the next part of the puzzle. Fortunately, this counter is topped up by collecting stars and quest items, so you shouldn’t see it unless you really are stuck on a puzzle.
The controls have been given an overhaul for the touchscreen generation. No longer controlled using a Kempston joystick, Dizzy is shifted around the world with the help of arrow icons at the edges of the touch screen, which you can slide your finger over to get him to walk and jump. It may take some time to get used to, but for a game like this, where you’re not having to dodge enemies in a hurry, it works pretty well.
Other changes are less drastic. Character dialogue has been altered to fit in more with the child-friendly fairytale theme of the game. For example, the troll’s original “Oi! Get lost!” has become the more wordy “No one is allowed in ‘ere; this is my castle, now clear off you horrible little egg.” Death has also been given a few of the verbal mannerisms of a crusty sea captain, but the game still retains the charm and occasional cheeky humour of the original.
Of course, the most obvious change is in the visuals; Dizzy is now in glorious HD. The game’s original designer was brought back to update the designs, and the result is rather lovely. Looking at the game now, it does finally feel like “The ultimate cartoon adventure”.
Dizzy: Prince Of The Yolkfolk has clearly been made with a love and reverence for the original, and if you’ve never played Dizzy before, it’s an ideal place to start. It’s the shortest of the Dizzy games, none of the puzzles’ solutions are too obscure, and it all takes place in a bright, cheery world filled with fun characters.
If you’ve played Dizzy before, then this is sure to bring the memories flooding back; though there are changes, they’re mostly for the better, and they mean you can actually guarantee completing the game without help from a cheats cassette this time round.
While Codemasters are keeping their lips sealed about Dizzy’s future, this release is a promising step in the right direction, and one that should leave Yolkfolk old and new egg-cited for more.