Codemasters is an independent British games developer - one of the very few to have been continuously in business since the 1980s.
Today it's best known for its Colin McRae Rally driving series, but its origins are rooted in budget home computer software for the 8-bit Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore 64.
The official mascot of this phase in the company's history was an anthropomorphic egg with red boxing gloves and red wellies, called Dizzy.
He starred in a series of puzzle-platform adventures built around fantasy settings, quirky humour, and lateral thinking. It’s a franchise with some pedigree and history, and a great many fans are eggs-tremely ("extremely") egg-cited ("pleased") to see it revived for the touchscreen generation.
This isn’t a brand new game, but a rebuild of the fourth game in the series, Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk. The visuals have been updated, along with the control scheme, and a few minor changes have been made to appease modern gaming sensibilities.
The premise is that Dizzy’s girlfriend Daisy has fallen asleep under a magic spell, and has been stashed away in a tower. Also, the cherry pie that Dizzy and Daisy had been planning on making has been sabotaged, because the cherries have been stolen. Finally, an angry troll has locked Dizzy up in an underground dungeon. The poor chap is having a really bad day.
The aim of the game is to resolve Dizzy’s troubles by exploring the map, interacting with the various characters, and answering riddles by matching them up with the appropriate objects. It’s a gentle pace of gaming, more Monkey Island than Super Mario, though Dizzy shares genetic material with both.
The first puzzle to solve makes for a clever introduction to the game’s mechanic - escaping from the dungeon. It involves using some dry leaves, matches, and a bucket of water.
We won’t spoil the solution for you, but suffice it to say that once you’ve figured it out you’re going to have a pretty strong idea of how the rest of the game will play, and whether you’re going to enjoy it.
The main concession to modernity is that the difficulty level has been significantly reduced. The original game gave you just three lives, which upped the stakes somewhat. Here, that’s been dropped in favour of infinite lives and respawning in the vicinity near where you died. It’s a small quibble, but it makes the presence of hazards in the game (and there are a couple) entirely redundant.
There was also a bug in the version we tested, letting you walk through a wall and sidestep a good third of the quest. Even without this bug, the game is pretty easy, and experienced players should be able to complete it in one sitting. Maybe our memory is playing tricks, but the original 8-bit versions were much harder than this.
Other than that, there’s much to enjoy about Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk. It’s a welcome revival, and proof that wit, charm, and well-made games will never become dated.
The graphics and sound are decently produced, and the control scheme is economical and unobstrusive, providing Dizzy and his setting with a modern gloss whilst still maintaining their original character.
If anything, it’s rather surprising that Codemasters hadn’t thought to do something like this sooner. It's sitting on a wealth of archive material that would make a perfect fit for the App Store, not least Fantasy Island Dizzy and Advanced Lawnmower Simulator.
Fingers crossed that one day soon those titles will get a remastering of their own.