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Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk (Classic Game)

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1 Review

Manufacturer: Codemasters / Developer: Oliver Twins / Genre: Adventures & Role-playing / Release Year: 1991

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      15.11.2007 04:55
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      Produced by Codemasters (1991).

      The sixth Dizzy game is a bit of an oddball in the series, the final to be produced in the original budget format before ‘Fantastic Dizzy’ launched a larger, more complex and more expensive style and aimed it at game consoles. Based on exactly the same format as the previous year’s ‘Magicland Dizzy,’ right down to recycling the graphics and some of the ideas, ‘Prince of the Yolkfolk’ primarily acts as a parting gift to fans before the franchise spirals out of control and inevitably falls through its over-ambition.

      A great deal of thought was evidently put into this game’s production to make it as appealing as possible to the fans, and it’s easy to assume that much of its design, in particular its layout, was sculpted according to positive feedback and criticism of its predecessors. At the same time there’s really nothing new here that hasn’t been seen time and again in the Dizzy series: items must be picked up, carried around and exchanged or applied to solve problems, and the landscape is littered with dangers in the form of animals, monsters, spikes and water to impede Dizzy’s progress towards rescuing his girlfriend Daisy, who has once again been captured and imprisoned in a tower (this is really getting old now). The Yolkfolk all return with their amusingly stereotypical mannerisms, from hippie Dylan to senile Grand-Dizzy, and as with ‘Magicland’ there are numerous friendly characters to interact with along the way, which keeps the game from feeling lonely and isolated as its immediate precursor ‘Spellbound Dizzy’ tended to.

      The most significant change for this game, and the example most cited, is its much smaller size in terms of screens progressing left and right (and occasionally, up and down when steps or cliffs are involved). This seems to have been a deliberate decision to avoid the tedium of wasting shoe leather (or whatever Dizzy’s bright red boots are made from) wandering from one end of the game to the other and most likely dying in the process, as even the furthest extremes of the two opposing castles are easily navigated by jumping through the clouds or taking the more dangerous route along the ground. With this smaller size comes a corresponding shorter lifespan, as this is the Dizzy game it takes the shortest time to complete – this was perhaps part of the reason it was initially released only as a part of a compilation, before receiving the usual budget release from Codemasters some time later. That’s not to say it’s any less enjoyable, and the time that’s saved walking from one area to the next across a dull and repetitive landscape does indeed make for a more entertaining and less annoying playing experience.

      It’s easy to see this game as a direct sequel to ‘Magicland,’ and although the direct similarities are at first a little disappointing, this at least ensures that it benefits from the other’s high quality look and design (though personally I prefer the earlier game). The music is chirpy and somehow manages to sound original even this far into the series, and to save on costs and disk space there are once again no sound effects, for the last time ever. The designers are real veterans now and create a more natural, less static landscape that trumps the dull, square maps of the earlier releases and makes strolling through the wilderness areas a real pleasure rather than a chore, and the limited animations given to enemy sprites and interactive characters add a nice cartoon feel to the whole thing, particularly with the delighted, dancing Grim Reaper figure who remains eternally pleased for the lump of gold you provide him with for his services. In this way, ‘Prince of the Yolkfolk’ is perhaps the most advanced and perfected Dizzy game, but that would be to ignore the successes and styles of the older precursors to which it is entirely in debt.

      The Dizzy games were the classics of the platform adventure genre, and the opening of this game provides the most elementary crash course in how to go about it. Dizzy is trapped in an underground dungeon behind a locked door, with only a pile of dry leaves, a match and a jug of cold water lying around, all of which can conveniently be picked up and inserted into the noble egg’s three inventory slots. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that these initial objects should be placed in front of the door in the order of leaves, match, water to burn it down and then afford safe passage, but what may seem patronising to veterans works as the perfect training course for newcomers and younger players – that’s right, this game isn’t only for immature twenty-two year-olds with a nostalgia issue. The game is difficult to complete, as are all Dizzy games, but the deaths suffered feel more fair than some of the shock traps of the earlier games, and a degree of patience will see the players through on perhaps their fifth or six attempt (this is a complete guess, and it obviously depends on how much is accomplished each time, and how often the player decides it’s worth risking a casual, rather than strategic jump onto the fast-moving boat – it never is).

      ‘Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk’ is both a disappointing re-tread of ‘Magicland Dizzy’ and a superior update based on critical and personal feedback, but its position at the end of the line before the series was revamped makes it seem a little superfluous. It’s almost certainly the best Dizzy game for newcomers, with its more logical puzzle solutions, smaller size and reduction of annoying elements, but at the same time it doesn’t really offer anything new to those who have completed the similarly themed ‘Fantasy World Dizzy’ and ‘Magicland Dizzy’ of previous years, so it’s a bit of a shame that a new genre or setting wasn’t played around with, as has been the case with some of the others. The low-tech version (pictured on Dooyoo) has been replicated by the Dizzy fan site at http://www.yolkfolk.com/site/games.php?game_id=70 and is available to download for free, while more attractive and colourful versions were originally released for the Amiga, Atari and Spectrum, amongst other systems.

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