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Water Shut Off Systems Treasure Island
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Developed and published by Codemasters in 1989.

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Possibly one of the most beloved video game characters to grace our 8-bit computer screens in the late 80’s and early 90’s, it’s difficult to imagine what the Oliver Twins were thinking of when they came up with the character of Dizzy. Who’d have thought that a bipedal egg wearing boxing gloves would be such a hit?

Despite being the second game in the series, Treasure Island Dizzy is the first that I’ve longplayed. I must confess that I was never particularly fond of the Dizzy games, which is why I’d put off doing a video of one for so long. However, the games always seemed to be extremely popular, so it was about time that I finally brought you a longplay from the classic Dizzy adventure series.

With the evil wizard Zaks defeated at the end of the first game, Dizzy is treated to a hero’s welcome and begins a well-earned break by taking a sea cruise. Dizzy takes part in an impromptu game of cricket and uses the captain’s peg-leg as a wicket, which promptly gets knocked overboard. Not being particularly pleased to find his leg now languishing at the bottom of the ocean, the captain orders Dizzy to walk the plank.

Adrift at sea, Dizzy finds himself washed up on the shores of a mysterious island. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, Dizzy must search to find a way off the island and to find a way back home.

First and foremost, Dizzy must scour the island to find parts that he can use to create a boat that will get him back to civilisation. Various items can be found in each of the individual game screens and these can be stored in Dizzy’s inventory by walking over the object and pressing the fire button. Dizzy can carry a maximum of three items at a time, so you must think carefully about what you want to carry with you.

The second objective of the game is to collect thirty gold coins with which Dizzy can buy his way off the island. Some of the coins are lying in plain site, whilst many are hidden behind parts of the scenery and can only be revealed by pressing fire while standing next to certain parts of the scenery. You’ll find coins hidden in the island’s undergrowth, behind the windows of tribal hut s and even inside the trunks of trees, deep in the island’s forest.

For me, finding the coins is one of the most frustrating things about the game. I certainly don’t mind a a good treasure hunt, but the coins hidden inside the tree and behind the safety rails are far to difficult to find. There’s simply no way to find them without hours of painstakingly combing each of the game’s screens.

The second turn-off for me is the unconventional inventory system. Rather than have slots that can be selected at will, it works rather like a carousel. An item to be picked up will always appear in the bottom-most slot first, while any other objects carried will rotate one position upwards; whatever was occupying the top inventory slot will be dropped on the ground. This isn’t a problem until you have to use the snorkel to go under water. There are coins and items to be collected at the bottom of the ocean and it’s all too easy to drop the snorkel by accident, upon which Dizzy drowns and you’re sent back to the beginning of the game.

Graphically, the game continues to bear the hallmarks of it’s Spectrum ancestry, something that remained with the series until later releases in 1992. Although the artwork is reasonably detailed, reliance on dark reds, browns and blacks means the game looks rather drab.

Fortunately, the game audio is much more entertaining, with Matt Gray delivering a couple of very funky tunes to help lift the mood.

I’m somewhat conflicted as to what I think about this game, as well as the Dizzy adventure games in general. On the one hand, I recognise the game’s significance as part of classic 8-bit gaming culture and that to not like the games could be seen as sacrilegious, but the pixel hunting needed to find the coins and the somewhat awkward inventory system just leaves me a little cold.

While I’m sure there are many fans of the games out there, I struggle to count myself as one of them.

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