“ Fast Food Dizzy „
Dizzy is one of my favourite video game characters of all time. I loved his adventure games on the old home computers back during the eighties/early nineties. His games combined platforming with exploration of hidden objects and puzzle solving which required the use of items and talking to characters. Aside from the classic adventure games Dizzy also featured in some spin off action like games. Unfortunately for us players most of the spin off games featuring Dizzy were pretty awful. I suspect Codemasters were just capitalising on the character's popularity by plonking him in games that wouldn't have sold otherwise.
Fast Food was the first spin off Dizzy game and as it turns out it was one of the better ones. Some people when commenting on the game have mentioned that it is similar to Pacman as it involves going around a maze collecting food. The twist on the idea is that Dizzy doesn't have to collect stationary pellets which pepper the maze floor. Instead the boxing glove wearing egg has to chase after junk food that is literally fast. The burgers, pizzas, shakes and chicken that reside in the mazes are constantly on the move so you'll need your running shoes to nab them.
Patrolling the maze as up to four enemies who will cost Dizzy a life should they touch him. Each enemy has their own personality and is introduced when the game loads up. One of them for example is dumb and just walks around aimlessly, another moves very fast and so on. To help Dizzy avoid these nuisances you can pick up power ups that randomly appear in the mazes. The effects of the power ups vary from giving Dizzy a quick boost of speed to making him invulnerable or killing all the bad guys on the screen.
You get four worlds to explore which are broken up into a number of levels. The worlds on offer are a Park, Shopping Centre, Toy Land and Graveyard/Egyptian tomb. After beating a few levels you get rewarded with an extra life and an amusing cut scene showing Dizzy escape from his pursuers (in one he flies away in a helicopter, in another he squashes an enemy with a steam roller and so on.) If you've played the original Fast Food on the 8 bit computers you will note that the Amiga version isn't just a straight forward remake with better graphics. They used the extra power of the machine to make the designs of the mazes more creative and the whole thing chugs along much smoother than the snail like original Fast Food on the Amstrad.
Overall I think Fast Food is worthy of three stars. It's nothing outstanding, but as a quick diversion is good fun. It's no worse than some of the cheap games you find for the I-Pod or Virtual console these days. In its various guises it was sold either as a budget title or as part of a collection so I wouldn't directly compare it to a full price game which I expect a higher standard from. After playing it I wish that real fast food would run away like the snacks featured in this game. If that were the case my waist line might be a touch slimmer!
The first hints of the successful licensed franchise that the Oliver Twins anthropomorphic egg Dizzy would never become came with Fast Food, released at the end of 1987. Essentially a quick, cheap and fairly unimpressive PacMan clone designed for a budget sale, the game was completely redesigned several years later to take advantage of the Amiga and Spectrums superior abilities, for inclusion on the Dizzy Collection compilation of all the early Dizzy games.
Despite the revised moniker (in the style of Star Wars: A New Hope), this game is completely unrelated to Codemasters primary series of Dizzy games, which were excellent and thoughtfully crafted puzzle adventure games released between 1986 and 1992. More of a sentimental tie-in for creators the Oliver Twins, Fast Food stars the title character of that series, an egg with a face, boxing glove hands and red boots, and situates him in the role of PacMan. The box art attempts to provide some sort of storyline for this scenario: presumably, the mad chef has noticed that Dizzy is an egg, and is determined to go to great lengths to catch him so he can cook him and feed him to people, rather than going down the street to buy six or more eggs from the corner shop, which would be too convoluted. Perhaps hes noticed Dizzys unusual size and seen it as a long-lasting solution for this egg detritus he seems to keep experiencing? Or is there something about the way Dizzy is running away, wearing clothes and having a face that has awakened the entrepreneur within the chef, and made him realise the potential of exhibiting The Amazing Panting Egg Man in a travelling circus along with the rest of the food around him that he doesnt seem to notice all has faces anyway? As with most early arcade style games such as this, the plot is irrelevant and merely distracts from the simple enjoyment of the silly game if you try to make any sense of it.
Much like PacMan (well alright, pretty much exactly like PacMan), Fast Food involves guiding Dizzy around the angular corridors of a maze, picking up all of the collectable objects and avoiding the monsters. The main difference is that the food Dizzy has to collect is can you guess from the title? always in motion, and has to be chased down. Unlike PacMan there is a limited quantity of food, rather than the abundance of pills on every available section of that other games mazes, and numerous items can be collected to aid or impede Dizzys progress. As I am only familiar with the updated 16-bit version released on the Dizzy collection, rather than the more primitive original release, I should note that the later version expanded the maze to cover more than one screen, as many versions of PacMan do, allowing for greater freedom as well as a greater challenge. The improved graphical abilities of this later version also allow the artists to render a number of different settings, depending on the difficulty level chosen by the player: easy mode is a literal hedge maze, complete with some nice wooden footpaths, bridges and water features, and the monsters evolve from mere squashy face things in the original version to full-bodied colourful ghoulies. Dont ask me why Dizzy has to chase down and catch the food at such risk to his own eggy life, I have no idea. Just enjoy the game for the brief life span it offers.
The controls of Fast Food will be immediately obvious to anyone who has ever played an arcade or home computer game before. Moving the joystick up, down, left or right moves Dizzy in those directions, and like PacMan his direction can only be changed once he hits a wall. The games music is the usual lazy and irritating jingly theme of the era, and the whole thing apparently took the Oliver Twins and their cohorts all of two weeks from start to finish. I would never have recommended that people buy this even on its original release, as more traditional PacMan clones are much better and the poorly contrived Dizzy interest is nothing more than a cheap promotional tool: according to Wikipedia, the game was originally designed to publicise Happy Eater restaurants (remember them?), before deals presumably fell flat once the chain realised how mediocre and pointless the game would be. Its an acceptable addition to Dizzy compilations merely for completeness sake, and because several Dizzy games could easily fit onto an Amiga floppy disk, but its nothing to write home about. Certainly nothing to write a review about twenty years later; that would be truly stupid.
Arcade style video game