About the Game:
I’d never actually heard of Fantastic Dizzy before this project, but it’s apparently a pretty popular title. In it, you play the titular Dizzy and guide him on his quest to save his girlfriend from the evil wizard. You’ll need to use your wits and platforming skills to solve puzzle and collect the 250 silver stars scattered across the world if you are to succeed! Also you’re an egg…
After being given some basic exposition (Your girlfriend was kidnapped kthxbye) you’re set off into the world with… no real idea of what you’re supposed to be doing. The objective of the game is to collect 250 silver star that have been hidden (and not so hidden) around the game world, and to do that you’ll need to collect various items and figure out what they’re used for. The game will give you a basic tutorial in your house to collect a couple star, grab a key, and open a door, but after that you’re left to your own devices.
With no way to actually attack, the gameplay boils down to figuring out how to use the items you find all while gathering stars and avoiding enemies. The problem is that the game’s main mechanic, the items, is not at all intuitive. For starters, you can only hold three items at a time, and there’s no way to choose which item you want to use. Instead you have to drop your current item and pick it up again in order to cycle your inventory over, as only the right-most item will every be active. Next, and most importantly, is that half the items don’t really make a lot of sense in regards to when and how to use them. Sure there’s easy ones like giving the wild beast the meat you find so he leaves, or dropping a bag of gold in front of a guard so he moves away from a door, but then you have things like a tiny stick that’s actually used as a bridge to cross a large spike pit or an elevator without a keyhole that you’re expected to use a key on!
This wouldn’t be horrible if you didn’t have to collect two-hundred and fifty of these stupid stars, without the ability to save and resume your progress.
On a positive note, Dizzy handles relatively well and you’ll never be able to blame your deaths on any sloppy controls here. In fact the platforming in Fantastic Dizzy is pretty good, it’s just a shame there’s not more of it. Mechanically, the game stays the same throughout, with everything boiling down to finding stars and figuring out how to use items.
Story / Value:
The story here really doesn’t matter, which means everything comes down to gameplay value. For me, this is a big issue, and maybe I’m just not enough of a creative thinker. The act of collecting 250 stars gets tedious pretty quickly when you don’t know what to do, and the game doesn’t do a good enough job of instructing you. As I understand it, older versions of Fantastic (Adventures of) Dizzy had only 100-150 stars, and were much more manageable.
Simple things could have made this game much less frustrating. Put a damn keyhole by that elevator! Don’t give me a “Stick”, give me “A long, sturdy branch that you could walk across”. Instead, my choices are either to try to figure the game out on my own which will result in me throwing the cartridge through a wall, or use a guide which basically reduces playing the game to following a long list of instructions.
Either way feels like a waste of my time.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
Fantastic Dizzy looks, well, fantastic. Sprites are crisp, environments are vibrant and varied and everything has a wonderful charm to it that almost invokes feelings of Yoshi’s Island. You’ll encounter everything from a treetop village, to a castle port town, to an underground mine, pirate ship, graveyard, etc. and they all look great.
Sound effects are lacking. They’re there, mostly, but don’t do much for the game, though they don’t detract either. The music is actually pretty, though, and it never gets too repetitive.
Jumping around and solving some puzzle and even some of the gathering had a fun feel to it. This was mostly due to the game’s solid controls and brief-but-good platforming areas. Unfortunately, beyond that, the game quickly becomes tedious and frustrating thanks to unclear puzzle solutions, inability to save your game and boring pacing.
Actually this game felt a lot like Toki Tori, and I had a lot of the same complaints with that game as well…