The iPhone/iPad/Android HD conversion of Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk is released tomorrow. We've been fortunate enough to spend some time with none other than the famous Oliver Twins - creators of the iconic 1980s walking egg, as well as director of Prince of the Yolkfolk, Paul Ranson. So to get you in a suitably dizzy mood, here are 10 amazing facts that even we didn't know about our favourite oval hero. Prepare to be amazed:
1) He wasn't meant to be an egg
After the very loosely 'realistic' appearance of Codies' Super Robin Hood, Dizzy was meant to be a happy, smiling face that wasn't a realistic depiction of a man. He was then given arms and legs, but, due to his oval shape, people started referring to him in the office as an egg. So an egg he became.
Above: It has to be said, The Oliver Twins have the same smile as early Dizzy. Portraiture?
2) He bobs up and down for a reason
On Spectrum in particular, sprites can get lost on the screen when they overlap a coloured object, as the system can't handle drawing one colour on top of another one. If Dizzy stands, he would disappear into the background graphics. So he was animated with two frames, to make him bob up and down in the way that used to so appeal to everyone in my family. It's just so you can see where he is straight away. Amazingly, retro remakes by fans search for ways to replicate this annoying restriction... which is surely taking fandom to a whole new level.
Above: Man hours have been spent trying to make this happen. Crikey...
3) Fast Food was made in a weekend
According to Paul, the team wanted to release a box set of the first four Dizzy games, but there were already 'quattro' game packs on the market from Codemasters at £4.99. They wanted to release the Dizzy pack at £7.99, so, to solve the problem, instead of thinking about it over the weekend and deciding on the Monday, they went home and coded Fast Food Dizzy (an endearing arcade Pac-Man clone) in just two days. Job done, the pack went ahead, was subsequently purchased by a young lad named Justin Towell. The rest is history.
4) The 'one life' system of Treasure Island should never have been approved
Both of the Oliver Twins commented on Treasure Island's snorkel bug, and Andrew in particular said the game should never have been released with the quick fix solution. The problem? Right before the game was due to be mastered, the pair discovered the player could drop the snorkel underwater and then get stuck in a cycle of spawn/death until all three lives were gone. In lieu of spending time changing the inventory system or adding 'if' exceptions to the game, they took out the lives counter and made it a one-hit kill for poor ol' Dizzy.
Above: Snorkels let you breathe underwater indefinitely. Wait, don't try that at home...
5) Pogie the Fluffle would have Noel Gallagher's voice
Pogie the Fluffle has no voice. If he did have a voice, say The Oliver Twins, it would be like Noel Gallagher's. Er… of course it would.
6) The original artist on POTY drew the remake
This is awesome. The original artist for Prince of the Yolkfolk, Leigh Christian, was contacted by Paul Ranson, the game's director once the remake was given the go-ahead. Trouble was, Leigh was travelling the world at the time. So the game was drawn up in hotel rooms around the world, then sent over to be assembled. I told you it was awesome.
Above: HD Dizzy could not look any cuter than he does. Can we keep him? Huh? Huh? Can we?
7) There were more Mega Drive games planned
Andrew Oliver showed us the contents of a small brown cardboard box. And what treasures lie within! Mega Drive cartridges of Go, Dizzy, Go! And Dizzy The Adventurer (itself a reworking of Prince of the Yolkfolk). The latter even has a hidden message in the circuit board that says 'NOT QUITE SO BIG', which is someone's idea of a joke, according to Andrew. Perhaps concerning the size of the chips inside the cart? It would have gone on to be included in every cartridge had the game got the go-ahead.
Above: That's Go, Dizzy, Go on Mega Drive in my very hand. Amazing stuff
8) The pitch for iOS POTY borrowed graphics from a fan remake
When Paul Ranson decided it was time to do the remake for iOS, he had to pitch the idea to Codemasters. But without a solid demo to show, it would probably 'have ended up as pub talk'. So he put together a demo of the game as he imagined it, using graphics borrowed from a fan remake over at the Yolkfolk forums. Does the author know? 'Not yet' comes the reply. But he will be told in due course. Just goes to show – if you want something bad enough, you might just start a ball rolling somewhere…
Above: Evil zombie Dizzy! This is a screen from the new game, of course
9) The original game's boxart wasn't approved by the Oliver Twins
Take a look at this interesting interpretation of Dizzy from the cassette cover of the very first game. In the days before fax and email, the brief for the artwork was conveyed to the artist by telephone. He's an egg with red boots and red gloves, he explores caves, gets trapped – that sort of thing. But at least the dude came up with a good logo for the name – one that remains pretty much unchanged to this day.
10) And they didn't write the plot in the insert either
Andrew Oliver told me 'that wasn't the plot for Treasure Island' as I recount the game of cricket, wooden legs for wickets and walking the plank that adorned the cassette inlay for Treasure Island Dizzy. It wasn't until later games that a proper plot was considered during the design process, and with Andrew's confusion, it's entirely possible this classic example of British videogame fiction was written by some marketing type and shoehorned in.
Above: That bit about playing cricket with Long John Silver's spare legs? Not strictly canon
The reason Andrew's sure it was nothing to do with him? He hates cricket.