Two whole megs?
I am not going to make one egg pun this entire review. Set your expectations now.
The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy for the NES is a side-scrolling adventure and puzzle game. I owned the golden cartridge as a child and played it pretty frequently. However, at the time, the difficulty was more depressing than waiting for “Weird Al” to grow back his awesome mustache. (I’m not much of a “Weird Al” post ‘stache fan).
The storyline consists of an evil wizard who will stop at nothing to torment a family of eggs called “Yolkfolk.” It is up to one brave little egg named Dizzy to do a whole bunch of random shit to save his family and girlfriend. I don’t know about you guys, but this story really struck close to home for me…
Starting in a tree village, Dizzy must collect items to perform certain tasks and progress through the game. The items may seem completely random at first, but after many long sessions of mind-numbing mistakes and toil, the player will eventually learn what purpose each serves. For example, I kept being rammed by a triceratops, before finding the roasted chicken that I needed to throw at him. (Granted, that last sentence sounds like a Charlie Sheen quote.) The game is full of such seemingly random interactions.
The main characters in the game, whether good or bad, are all unique and have different needs. The true enemies of the game are more road blocks than anything else. They do not die, but rather move aside or give an item in return. This is a far cry from the countless typical platformer clones. The rest of the enemies are common, generic pests. Ants, dragonflies, rats, and spiders (more on the fucking spiders later) that cause damage if they touch Dizzy. The butterfly causes Dizzy’s controls to be reversed for a short time. None of them can be killed.
The player must navigate through certain levels in order to get to others. As the main goal of the game is scavenger hunting, the player needs to visit the same areas many times to run items back and forth. Sometimes, the player also has to play minigames in order to proceed.
Banana palm tree?
I have to hand it to the developers, though: the game is actually very well crafted. The in-game conditions range from day to dusk to night to rain. Dizzy’s facial expressions even change depending on several factors, including the weather (according to the manual, rain reminds him of his kidnapped girlfriend, so he frowns when it is raining). The music bubbles and flows perfectly with the different levels. For its time, the details are pretty incredible.
I hate Mondays.
Dizzy can jump. When jumping from platform to platform, your timing needs to be perfect, because the egg rolls out of control sometimes. One bad jump can lead to a nasty fall, making him “dizzy” for a moment and unable to move. Sorry to disappoint all who expected a more realistic interpretation of gravity and eggs in the game.
Alternate game-over screen for all you sick people.
The difficulty is by far the biggest pitfall of the game. At times, the game seems to do everything it can to ensure the player’s failure. Factors of any overly difficult game include: unavoidable enemies, countless trial-and-error deaths, very limited heath, and no save system. Dizzy has them all in spades. Curiosity will kill you in this game.
For example, I reached a nice-looking beach in the game and decided to see how Dizzy fares in the water. Since I saw items down there, I knew it was an accessible area. But walking into the water proved fatal, and the level of detail in Dizzy’s death was horrifying. As I tried to get out of the water, my damage skyrocketed. Dizzy then stopped and looked at me at, first in curiosity, then shock. Finally they made me watch Dizzy turn onto his back, FLOAT upside down, and bob for awhile before finally re-spawning. That is just sick. The developers are hell-bent on making sure you know that YOU KILLED DIZZY, and making you watch it happen.
Wait…is that an oxygen tank?! Right out of reach on the right side of the screen? Cruelty.
Little did I know that I needed flippers in order to swim to the oxygen tank and successfully navigate the treacherous waters. The game is full of trial and error. Lots of error. Years of watching that egg die has turned me into a monster.
You did this…you did this!
Believe it or not, spiders are the biggest hazard of the game. They dangle from various places and then retract, letting Dizzy pass. However, their movements are random. Each spider it subject to its own pattern. Meaning they will drop on the poor egg at any time. This makes the game pretty much a nightmare. They also cannot be killed. Rushing through these spiders will result in Dizzy taking damage fast. Luckily, there is a fruit that Dizzy can eat to restore health. But the fruit does not re-spawn. That’s right, folks: it’s gone forever after you eat it. Like my neighbor’s son.
Thankfully, the player starts the game with three lives. There’s also a minigame you can play to get extra lives, but even with these provisions, a save system is sorely missed. Some people may say that the game is not very difficult. I would agree for the first half of the game, since the fruit makes the game easy. However, after all the fruit is gone and the player is high on damage and low on lives, those stupid spiders are still just as unavoidable and deadly. From there, the game gets tough with no way to heal.
Pirates make me dizzy.
On top of everything else, the player also needs to collect 100 stars randomly scattered around the world in order to open the final boss’ lair. But I never got all 100 stars without…*ahem*…external means. It’s a miracle I got as far as I did without cheating. One day I decided I needed to beat this fucking game. So I dusted off my Game Genie and jammed it into the Dizzy slot.
That’s when I noticed it.
What’s “it”? It’ll take too long to get into it now. Look for my companion piece, called “The Game Genie Conspiracy,” coming soon to a GameCola near you.
Anyway, back to the action.
So, why is he an egg? Is it a good idea to have a reproductive component as a hero? I don’t think so. I mean, we don’t see copies of Super Sperm Bros. flying off the shelves (unless my uncle’s stash is running low). But making a protagonist out of an egg with boxing gloves is a stupid choice. Shat out by a chicken, cracked opened, and contents fried, an egg makes a lousy, horrible, and sad hero.
Moreover, do the Yolkfolk, you know, ever get fertilized? If they do, what would happen if Dizzy ever…hatched?
Now you know! Are you happy?! ARE YOU FUCKING HAPPY?!?!?!? Cannot be unseen. True story.
Will all that said, I did finally beat the game with the Game Genie. But I don’t feel bad about that. Dying to know why? It’s all in my companion piece, “The Game Genie Conspiracy.” Is it out yet? Have you checked it out yet?
By the way, the ending of the game is a soul-crushing single screen.
In a nutshell, or…an eggshell, (damn, I was so close), The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy is epic. It’s an extremely enjoyable adventure that stands true today as one of the better adventure puzzle platforms out there. The lack of a save system keeps it just out of the realm of perfection. However, this game is definitely worth playing. In fact, I condone using an emulator or Game Genie in order to beat The Fan-fucking-tastic Adventures of Dizzy. Go Dizzy, go!