“ Manufacturer: Codemasters / Developer: Oliver Twins / Genre: Adventures & Role-playing / Release Year: 1990 „
Bubble Dizzy was one of the numerous spin off titles based on the Dizzy franchise. Whereas the traditional games were adventure/platform games, the spin-off games such as Bubble Dizzy, differentiated themselves by offering different gameplay.
The story behind Bubble Dizzy is a straightforward one. The egg-shaped prince of the yolkfolk has managed to get himself captured by pirates. Dizzy was taking a boat journey to visit his girlfriend, Daisy and present her with a glittering pearl necklace and realises the boat is actually Blackheart's pirate ship too late (he is an egg, not a rocket scientist). Forced to walk the plank, Dizzy sinks to the depths of a rocky ocean and has no choice but to try and make his way back to the surface.
A simple concept, Bubble Dizzy is based around a minigame in the little known "Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy". As such, this is a very basic game and very easy to play. Dizzy can move left and right or jump. Starting on the rocky ocean bottom Dizzy needs to hitch a ride on an air bubble. Air bubbles come in various sizes which give them advantages and disadvantages. Big bubbles rise slowly but take a long time to burst whereas the small bubbles rise very quickly but burst quickly too. This makes Bubble Dizzy a game of reflexes, judgement and timing. You must time your jumps from bubble to bubble perfectly to ensure a speedy ascent and loitering for too long leads to a speedy fall back to the bottom of the ocean.
The very nature of Bubble Dizzy is such that it is an equally rewarding and frustrating experience. When you make it to the surface you get a great deal of satisfaction but, particularly on the more difficult later levels, it can become incredibly frustrating as you fall back to the ocean bottom just inches from reaching the surface as a bubble burst from under you. There is much addiction but even more swearing to be found when playing this game.
The levels to Bubble Dizzy vary little in appearance. Each level has a variety of sea creatures such as crabs and sharks which upon contact, mean the speedier demise of our hero. All that really changes is the frequency and type of bubbles and the depth of the ocean you must ascend. There are occasional ledges that provide respite for Dizzy with the odd air tank and extra life but these are usually offset by a shark or too that mean you cannot wait for long.
Graphically, the screenshot above does not really do the game justice as it is obviously the Spectrum, rather than the Amiga version. The Amiga version is full of colour and as cartoon like as all the Dizzy games. Dizzy is a much more animated character in snorkel and mask and the game does have some nice little touches such as Dizzy floating upside down to the top of the ocean on death. The game does however, suffer from some bloody awful collision detection as you die even though you are sure nothing touched you. Sound is very limited to the point of non-existent. There is a rather annoying music score but you will be wanting to turn it off after two minutes.
Bubble Dizzy is very much a jittery game of reflexes and is good fun while it lasts although it's repetitive nature gives it limited longevity. The tight time limits on later levels make it a challenging game which fortunately, if offset by responsive controls. Something unheard of in a series of games were you usually press the jump button minutes before you want Dizzy to jump to avoid death. There is though, a high score system in place in which you get "oxygen points" for reaching the surface quickly. This does give some level of competition and adds a little replay value.
Although undoubtedly no more than an addictive little minigame, I would recommend Bubble Dizzy to anyone who likes a bit of retro arcade action. Bubble Dizzy is now available in the dubious status of abandonware, meaning the developers have chosen not to re-release it so someone else has for free (www.abandonia.com) in various formats including the PC and the Amiga version. If only for the nostalgia and intrigue, I recommend you give it a try.