Spellbound Dizzy originally appeared in time for Christmas 1991 on Codemasters’ Dizzy’s Excellent Adventures compilation, and CF said it was the best Dizzy game yet. The following summer, though, it was released in its own right and was much bigger: there were 105 rooms instead of 40, with many more things to collect and achieve. It’s that version which CF rated at 82%, and it’s the one we’ve been playing.
Commodore Format suggested more than once that its staff were baffled by the popularity of the ovoid one on the C64. They were good-natured enough adventures, sure. Some cute puzzles and likeable characters. But for the most part they were direct ports from the Spectrum, and sometimes bugged. Then there were the annoying pixel-perfect jumps you needed to perform, and the daft oversights like not being able to change the direction or height of your jumps. All that said, some people really did love these games – and Spellbound, in this form, was one of the better outings.
Dizzy’s friend Theo The Wizard has left his book of Really Powerful Spells lying in his laboratory. It’s open at a page titled A Really, Really, Powerful Spell (That Shouldn’t Be Read Out Loud). Dizzy reads the spell out loud by accident, the divvy, and it’s caused a catastrophe – he’s spirited all his Yolk Folk chums and Wizard Theo into the underworld. There’s only one thing for it – Dizzy reads the spell again and sends himself into the unknown to save his pals.
You already know what comes next. Dizzy flicks through the 100+ screens collecting and using the objects that he finds, avoiding traps, pressing switches and meeting folk who can help him rescue his friends. Credit where due: this game is massive. It’s a mapper’s paradise. And our hero has an energy bar which gets gradually depleted – inherited from Magicland Dizzy – avoiding the unfair sudden deaths you’d suffer in some of the earlier games. Progress! The tunes, too, are really nice.
But the SID chip is about the only part of the C64 that’s put to good use here: yup, it’s another Speccy port. Everything is dark and the characters Dizzy meets look very ZX. It’s a flat and not very inspiring landscape. Passwords or the option to save your game would have been good, too. The size of this adventure is a major plus in the abstract, but a lack of restart points make it a right old chore in reality.
It’s Dizzy, though, so you already know if you love it or hate it in spite of these things. The sixth installment would come in late 1992: Crystal Kingdom was blue skies and sunshine. It looked like a proper Commodore 64 game, and shows up efforts like this for what they are. And that’s dated, even by the standards of 1992. But we suspect that’s part of the charm for its fans. CF
CF SAID: “OK for a rainy Sunday afternoon in High Wycombe.”
WE SAY: It’s Dizzy, innit?