Commodore 64 cover art for Magicland Dizzy
|Developer(s)||Big Red Software
The Oliver Twins
Magicland Dizzy is a platform adventure game published in Europe in 1990 by Codemasters for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amiga platforms. By 1992 there were also DOS, Atari ST and Amstrad CPC versions available. It is the sixth game in the Dizzy series, and the fourth adventure-based Dizzy title. The story, set in a fantasy world called Magicland, follows on from the events of Fantasy World Dizzy, the previous adventure title. In Magicland Dizzy the player controls Dizzy, an egg-shaped character, who is trying to save six of his friends who have been placed under spells by the Evil Wizard Zaks.
The game was the first Dizzy game not to be developed entirely by Dizzy's creators, the Oliver Twins. Instead, whilst they were focusing on other projects, Magicland Dizzy was designed by Neal Vincent and coded by external developer Big Red Software. The Oliver Twins retained design-approval oversight.
The game is sometimes alternatively known by its development title, Dizzy 4, with the Roman numeral IV visible at the top of the game screen, behind the player's score. A prequel, Into Magicland, was released to promote the game and featured a new character that was never seen in any of the series games again. The game was widely acclaimed by critics across the platforms with scores typically in the 80-95% region. Criticism was leveled at its similarity to previous games in the series and the awkward inventory system. By November 1991 it was noted that the Dizzy games had sold more than half a million units across all platforms.
In Magicland Dizzy the player guides Dizzy, an egg-shaped character, through a large maze in an attempt to rescue his six friends who are held captive under the influence of various magic spells. The locations are all located in the titular "Magicland" and are fantastical in nature, many inspired by fairy tales. They include a field of standing stones called Weirdhenge, a witch's island and Prince Charming's castle. Movement from one screen to the next is enabled through flip-screen such that when Dizzy touches the outer edge of one screen he is transported to the next. The individual screens consist of platforms and ladders with Dizzy able to both walk and jump to navigate the maze and its obstacles. Dizzy can collect up to three items at once which are then used at specific locations to solve puzzles and advance through the game. At the start of the game the player has three lives and a health bar which can be replenished by finding and collecting diamonds scattered throughout the maze.
Plot and characters
The Evil Wizard Zaks, the primary antagonist of the series, who Dizzy defeated previously in Fantasy World Dizzy, has returned having "made certain arrangements against his premature demise". He has cast spells on six members of the Yolkfolk, egg-shaped friends and relations of Dizzy, and transported them to Magicland. At the beginning of the game Dizzy teleports himself to Magicland and must set about lifting the spells from his friends.
Following their introduction in Fantasy World Dizzy, this game again features the Yolkfolk. Each of them has had a spell cast upon them by Zaks: Dylan is transfigured into a thorny bush; Denzil is frozen in ice; Dozy is put into an enchanted and perhaps everlasting sleep; Dora is turned into a frog; Daisy is enlarged and imprisoned inside Zaks' Oubliette; and Grand-Dizzy trapped inside a magic mirror.
Throughout the game Dizzy meets and interacts with many of Magicland's inhabitants. These include the Queen of Hearts, the good witch Glenda and Prince Charming, along with various other creatures who can help or hinder Dizzy's progress. During the course of the game Dizzy comes across the legendary sword Excalibur and has the opportunity to awaken Sleeping Beauty.
Development and promotion
This was the first Dizzy game that was not fully designed and coded by the Oliver Twins, the creators of Dizzy. After Fantasy World Dizzy they had started working more closely with Codemasters, developing games for the American market where the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was quickly capturing a large audience. In order to continue the Dizzy series, which remained popular in Codemasters' home market, the Twins had to bring in others to do the majority of the design and coding. This gave them time to concentrate on their other projects. The coding of Magicland Dizzy was contracted out to Big Red Software.
In order to promote Magicland Dizzy, a five screen mini-adventure for the ZX Spectrum known as Into Magicland or unofficially Dizzy 3 and a half was given away with the January 1991 edition of Crash, a UK-based magazine. It featured Dizzy and his cousin Danny and is a prequel to the main game, ending with Dizzy teleporting to the first screen of Magicland Dizzy. This was the character Danny's only appearance in a Dizzy game.
Originally Magicland Dizzy was only available as part of a five-game Dizzy compilation called The Dizzy Collection which also featured Dizzy, Treasure Island Dizzy, Fantasy World Dizzy and Fast Food. The game was later released separately at a budget price.
Magicland Dizzy was met with a largely positive reception. Writing in Your Sinclair, Rich Pelley gave the Spectrum version a positive review, describing it as "addictive" and "a bit of a spanker". Crash described the Spectrum version of the game as "one of the best [Dizzy games] so far" and an "essential purchase". The gameplay was described as being very similar to the previous games in the series though the Crash review still praised the addictive nature of the game and the colourful graphics and sounds. Writing in Amstrad Action, Adam Waring described the Amstrad version of the game as a "challenge even to those who've completed all the other Dizzy games".
In their review of the Commodore 64 version of the game, Zzap! noted that the slower pace of the game compared to the Spectrum version made "exploration a bit tedious at times" but still praised the game overall. Your Sinclair's Rich Pelley described the game's "annoying menu system" as a minor negative point. In his review in Amstrad Action, Adam Waring noted that the background music "becomes annoying" and that "not as many gameplay enhancements" had been made compared to previous games in the series. In contrast, Stuart Campbell's review in Amiga Power described the Amiga version of the game as "the most accomplished game in the series so far" and noted that by November 1991 the Dizzy games had sold more than half a million units across all platforms. The ZX Spectrum version was voted the 12th best game of all time in a special issue of Your Sinclair magazine in 2004.
- "Data for Magicland Dizzy for Sinclair ZX81/Spectrum". GameFAQs. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
- "Data for Magicland Dizzy for Commodore 64". GameFAQs. Retrieved 17 Jun 2010.
- "Data for Dizzy: Magicland for Amiga". GameFAQs. Retrieved 17 Jun 2010.
- "Data for Magicland Dizzy for Amstrad CPC". GameFAQs. Retrieved 17 Jun 2010.
- "Data for Magicland Dizzy for Atari ST". GameFAQs. Retrieved 17 Jun 2010.
- "Data for Magicland Dizzy for PC DOS". GameFAQs. Retrieved 17 Jun 2010.
- "Dizzy 4 - Magicland Dizzy". Crash (Newsfield Publications Ltd) (83). December 1990. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Magicland Dizzy for Commodore 64". GameFAQs. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Magicland Dizzy". Zzap!64 (Europress) (69). Jan 1991. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Pelley, Rich (March 1991). "Magicland Dizzy". Your Sinclair (Future Publishing) (63). Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- The back story is given in the game instruction booklet
- "The Early Years". www.olivertwins.com. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
- Jones, Darran. "Dizzy's Eggshellent Adventures". Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (75): 48–55.
- "Dizzy 3 and a half Into Magicland". Crash (Newsfield Publications Ltd) (84). January 1991. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
- O'Connor, Alice (26 October 2015). "Eggscavated: Wonderland Dizzy Found And Freed". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- Waring, Adam (November 1991). "Magic Land Dizzy". Amstrad Action (Future Publishing) (64): 63. Retrieved 18 Jun 2010.
- Campbell, Stuart (November 1991). "Magicland Dizzy". Amiga Power (Future Publishing) (7). Retrieved 18 Jun 2010.
- "Top 50 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair (Imagine Publishing). November 2004.