Written by  :  Nowhere Girl (3260)
Written on  :  Nov 04, 2012
Platform  :  Amiga
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars
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The beginning of an end

The Good

The graphics are very nice - sometimes even too sweet, but always lush and quite detailed. From the purely visual standpoint probably the best screens are the treehouse interiors at level 1 and the crystal castle in the final level. I played the Amiga version, which had the best graphics. Atari ST version is very similar, but doesn't have the sweet shaded sky, only a cyan background with details such as silhouettes of trees. Other versions, made for 8-bit computers, were visually much worse.
The story is interesting enough and division of the game into levels - untypical for Dizzy adventure games - allows a credible transition between dissimilar worlds (1 - the Yolkfolk village, 2 - forest, dock and pirate ship, 3 - tropical island and mine, 4 - maze and castle).

The Bad

The graphics are nice, yet different from previous Dizzy games (especially the "classic" style established in 16-bit versions of "Magicland Dizzy" and "Prince of the Yolkfolk") - more cartoon-like. It takes time to get used to them if you know the previous games well.
As usual, the game can be hard. The Dizzy adventure series is usually classified as adventure-platform mixed genre, so it's not just reacting quickly like in mouse-based adventure games - it sometimes requires very precise jumps, avoiding hazards and generally walking a lot. However, the game foresees cheating and allows to enter a cheat code very easily - now, in the age of the Web, finding the codes is a piece of cake. It tones down the difficulty level, allows completing the game even if you make lots of mistakes, but one part always remains difficult: the maze. After every error Dizzy freezes for a while, rubbing his aching shell. The time limit in the maze is so tight that you can make at most four errors and successfully avoiding contact with hazards (bats, spikes...) isn't easy. I don't want to criticise it too much - anyway, that's how adventure/action games should be made - but the maze is hard enough to get frustrating. And it's even more difficult when played with an emulator - the keys are quite strange and it's easy to mistake them, especially to mistake two kinds of upward movement: jumping and climbing. In the maze a good, quick combination of these movements is crucial, especially when using the ladder.
In terms of number of items used, the game is clearly smaller than the epic "Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy" - however, playing it takes surprisingly long. The Winfellow Amiga emulator isn't very fast, the game takes some time to load, but definitely the most time is "wasted" walking back and forth. It is surprising since every level in itself isn't so big, and yet walking around them takes so much time - "Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy" can actually be completed in less time.
I always felt it's a pity there never was a DOS version of the game. Codemasters always cared about making their games accessible for owners of different computers and consoles - the games had their versions for pretty much every popular machine: PC, Amiga, Commodore, Spectrum, NES... you name it, you got it. However, which game would "get" which versions was quite random. A few games never had their PC versions, including "Treasure Island Dizzy" (at least until the introduction of the fan-made Dizzy AGE remake) and this game. Winfellow isn't easy to use, in my opinion it's even harder than "raw" DOSbox without a "frontend" - and DOSbox with a "frontend" (D-Fend, D-Fend Reloaded or other programs) is a pure pleasure to use - the program does all the hard work for you.

The Bottom Line

"Crystal Kingdom Dizzy" was the last game in the Dizzy adventure series and the only one in which the Oliver Twins, creators of Dizzy, had very little involvement. Therefore it is clearly different from the other games. I don't mean it's bad - it's a fun game, but it feels different when you are used to previous games. The graphics are different - the human characters, animals such as bird or fish... - however, probably the best example of the difference is to compare two machines: the lift operating machine in the DOS and Genesis version of "Fantastic Adventures" and the electricity generator in the Amiga and Atari ST version of "Crystal Kingdom Dizzy" - the latter is much more cartoony, seems made for younger players.
A very minor difference is Dizzy's movement - Dizzy now jumps slightly higher and flips three times. A big difference if the level system, absent in other Dizzy adventure games. Yet another difference - no objects to collect, you can only collect some bonuses for points. Dizzy games typically required collecting several minor items to be able to move on in the end - 30 coins in "Fantasy World Dizzy", 20 cherries in "Prince of the Yolkfolk", stars (100 or 250 depending on the version) in "Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy". This feature, which actually made the game harder (some objects were hidden quite well or hard to access) is gone in "Crystal Kingdom Dizzy".
Unfortunately, the game was the beginning of an end and maybe that's what makes it feel even more different. Bad marketing decisions - a sudden price increase, moving even more towards the console market and announcing the quite small "Prince of the Yolkfolk" as part of a game pack, but then releasing it as a standalone game - had a negative influence on game sales. This made an impression that fans lost interest in Dizzy and so after "Crystal Kingdom Dizzy", "Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy" (actually, which game was earlier depends on the version...) and bonus re-releases the series was discontinued.
To close the story: there were even petitions to resume the series, but for many years they had no effect. The smartphone remake of "Prince of the Yolkfolk" seems much too late to attract new players (and won't attract even some "old" Dizzy fans who simply don't have sophisticated mobile phones). I would rather say that over the years the relatively small, but surprisingly loyal Dizzy fan base took over the series and the number of Dizzy fan games is much higher compared to the original games. It grew even more after the introduction of the Dizzy AGE engine, which allowed even people with very little knowledge about programming to give it a try as a game author. The circle could be completed after "Crystal Kingdom Dizzy" is remade for Dizzy AGE as well...