“ Release Year: 1993 „
Originally designed as an all-out parody of the Oliver Twins Dizzy platform adventure games, Phil Rustons Wibble World Giddy: Wibble Mania! proved to be just about the best Dizzy clone available for fans of the Codemasters releases. The game was a public domain release, attached to various Amiga magazine cover disks and bundled with numerous packages for the smallest of fees, allowing newcomers to experience the platform adventure puzzle-solver genre for the first time, and for experienced Dizzy fans to enjoy working their way through a fairly short but satisfying and well-meaning parody.
As explained on the title screen, the eponymous Giddy is an anthropomorphic egg (like Dizzy, but rounder) with a face, legs, hat and ridiculously big hands, presumably for holding the multitude of items picked up by the player on their journey. The player controls the bouncy egg across a series of screens, progress generally heading to the right but occasionally involving underground cave trips one level down, and a fair amount of retreading when new items are picked up for old problems. Progress is interrupted at key points by impassable objects such as a raging fire (pictured), a barricade and a Triceratops, and being restricted to a two-dimensional environment where he cant simply walk around the edge, Giddy must obtain and correctly use the correct items, in these cases a bucket of water, some dynamite and a Big Red Boot respectively. Other puzzles seem less pressing but are all integral to progress at some point, so taking the rubbish Atari ST system back to the hipster in the alleyway is rewarded with the gift of a sweaty sock that comes in useful later - Atari and Amiga rivalry often presented itself in independent games like these, which is an endless source of humour in a sort of nerdy way that Ive never really understood, but Ta! Have a sweaty sock is a great line in any case.
Giddy (I keep having to restrain myself from typing Dizzy) picks up items with the aid of the joysticks fire button, and stores them in an unseen inventory that can be accessed by pressing down (effectively, pulling backwards on the joystick) and scrolling left and right through text descriptions of each object before pressing fire to use the one selected. In some cases its safe to casually use the item right in front of the raving hippie or other obstacle, but the more dangerous situations require a greater degree of care and discretion. Progress is also hindered by the prevalence of enemies who cant be killed, in the form of generic and repeated snakes, aliens and penguins (depending on the setting), but like in Dizzy, their repeated movement patterns can soon be learnt and hopefully avoided. If Giddy is hit, his energy bar depletes, eventually causing him to burst in a yolky splatter and lose a life, slightly more gruesomely than ever happened to his mainstream predecessor. Part of the fun of the controls comes in Giddys inexhaustible tendency to bounce, and its common to see players boinging across less active screens in either a mistaken belief that theyll move faster than if they just walked, or perhaps just as entertainment to pass the time.
As well as brightly coloured objects, the game also offers a number of coins for Giddy to collect, all of which can be picked up just by walking over them. These are counted in the Dosh total at the top of the screen, and a new level of frustration is added when the player passes by shops boasting essential items for only thirty gold coins, when the player only has twenty-seven. Elusive coins will all be found in plain sight later on which requires extensive back-tracking, but theres nothing inherently impossible or unfair in this game as there is in some of the early Dizzy games, which featured hidden coins that all needed to be collected in order to win. The game is fairly limited and straightforward in scope, and although there are points at which a multitude of items are being carried, its all very linear and there are only a couple of red herrings. As an independently produced public domain game it isnt particularly big, and although it can take around an hour to complete, and seems to stretch far out in the distance, the game map is probably reasonably small at no more than forty screens (as a complete guess). The end is a complete anticlimax as Giddy walks through a door and the player is pretty much told thats all weve got, but Ruston allegedly released a sequel a year later, though I never came across that.
Phil Ruston also provides all of the bright and bold graphics for the game, and seems intent on beating the Dizzy graphic artists in making his character pass through every terrain imaginable. As the game is never meant to be taken very seriously, each five screens or so the scene will change abruptly from a suburban street to a desert, or the North Pole, or even the Moon where the Earth will be seen sitting far in the distance, only to return instantly when walking off the left side of the screen. While all of these cosmetic changes are clearly variations on exactly the same programming, which doesnt include much variation beyond some minimal upwards jumping through trees, it keeps the playing experience memorable and also provides a nice way for players to pace themselves and rate their own progress, reaching further each time. Allister Brimble, presumably just a bloke Ruston knows who can program music, rips off the theme from Fantasy World Dizzy completely and without apology, and as with all early Dizzy games there are no sound effects above this chirpy racket.
Game-centric Amiga magazine Amiga Power gave this fun and flimsy product an impressive 4 out of 5 stars, and although it severely lacks originality in basically ripping off the Dizzy franchise, its tastefully done, and has clearly been ruthlessly tested to ensure its bug-free and actually enjoyable to play. There are no alienating Dizzy jokes aimed solely at those who own the original games, and no real Dizzy references, making this easily approachable by anyone, but its fairly limited and repetitive playing style, as well as its brief length, keep it in firm second place to the masterful Dizzy series itself, which was at its peak by this point and soon fizzled out as no further games were released, leaving copies like this as the only real way for Dizzy junkies to get their fix. Compared to modern Dizzy clones on the internet this is still superior, as these newer versions are usually far more juvenile and full of bugs, ripping off the Dizzy sprites without even bothering to draw their own smiling egg with huge hands as Ruston does, and despite its creators modest, self-deprecating claim on the title screen that Giddy provides literally minutes of Wibbly action, its a great game that can be played again and still enjoyed, though not as often as the more in-depth Dizzy releases.