Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk
AndroidAlso available on iPad and iPhone
As a child, this reviewer was one of Dizzy's biggest fans - buying every game featuring the fearless egg on the day of release, I could never get too much of the platform adventure fun. Dizzy went on to star in more than ten games on the 8 and 16 bit platforms and then quickly fell out of favour as graphics moved into three dimensions and bits became less and less important.
Despite a vibrant fan community that campaigned for a return for the franchise and even dozens of fan-made games, Codemasters continually refused to bring Dizzy back. However, this all changed with a surprise announcement in November that a remake of Prince of the Yolkfolk was to be released on mobile platforms.
It's easy to see why POTY was chosen for remake treatment - it's one of the smaller games of the franchise and pulls all of the things that fans liked into a smaller-than-usual package that would appeal to both those who grew up with the original games and new mobile gamers. The update is a great step forward graphically - maybe not as gorgeous as some of the more sumptuous mobile games we've seen of late, but the cartoon sprites and hand drawn backgrounds are both modern and recognizably Dizzy. The game is now a scrolling platformer rather than being split into screens; this works for the most part but one of the nice things about the original is that each area was well framed whereas they all now just blend into the whole.
Codies have also dispensed with energy and lives for this release. Die and you'll find yourself dropped back to safety with no real penalty - this removes some of the peril and has the unfortunate effect of making the game far easier than it was. We now have three slots in which to save progress which helps turn a game that could take a couple of hours to complete into something well suited to bite-size sessions. There is also a novel new hint system based around the collection of stars - there is a countdown that, when expired will give you a pointer for your next step. The counter is replenished by collecting stars, the idea being to complete the game using as few hints as possible resulting in a larger final score.
All of these tweaks to the formula are both a blessing and a curse - they help with the translation to mobile gaming, but the new 'dieing' mechanic removes the game's peril and makes careful play a thing of the past. The touch screen controls are pretty good and once you're used to the two-handed play they become second nature. The only real issue is with the placing of the 'vertical' jump control which feels pretty unintuitive and leads to more than a few unintentional missed jumps.
The game itself is a proper blast from the past. Old-fashioned storytelling and game mechanics feel somewhat out of place in modern gaming and it could be that the simplicity of the puzzles and the map traversal may be a little too undemanding for a modern audience. Indeed the traipsing back and forth across the map carrying items from one end to the other can become a bit tiresome and to these eyes is more an attempt to artificially add longevity without any real thought. This is a criticism of the game itself rather than the update.
It was often claimed that Dizzy would struggle to fit into modern gaming, and those concerns appear valid in POTY. The Dizzy games were perfectly aimed at a much less mature gaming world. At a time where gaming benefited from simplicity of ideas the Yolkfolk were perfect foil, but things have moved on. We'd love to see a proper modern take on Dizzy and Prince of the Yolkfolk is a great reminder of both the things we loved and the things we'd overlooked. We can't help but admit that we were more than a little disappointed that our favourite eggs return was to mobile phones - there has been a real, nearly successful, attempt to update the controls to suit touchscreens but the small trade-offs really make us wish for something more tangible to control our on-screen antics.
The game isn't devoid of technical gremlins - there were a couple of times on the Galaxy SII that saw the game abruptly drop back to phone's home screen and there was a moment where dropping an item in the wrong place actually ended up triggering a puzzle as solved in another location. On the whole though these issues were few and far between.
Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk is a decent game. Nostalgia, as it often has a habit of doing, adds a layer of a disappointment, but this isn't the fault of the update but more the underlying game. POTY was never the strongest game of the franchise - that honour would go to one of the original 'Oliver Twins' trilogy; most likely the fiendish but brilliant Treasure Island Dizzy, but it IS a good and simple introduction to new gamers. When removing our rose-tinted goggles, the rest of us will be left a little underwhelmed but also positive that Dizzy is back, and that could mean we see a whole new adventure very soon...