There are no words to describe the sense of satisfaction I’m feeling right now. Why? Because I’ve just completed a computer game I began 20 years ago.
Back in 1988 I received an 8-bit home computer for my 10th birthday. Apart from the Atari console that had spectacularly blown up while playing pong, it was the first games machine of my own.
Soon I was down the shops slowly bankrupting my parents with ransom demands to the repeated value of £1.99 – hand over the cash or never see your smiling little boy again.
Some games were good – like Feud – and some games were great – like Werewolves of London – but only a few cassettes made it into the realm of legendary games.
Ask people of a certain age who Dizzy was and they’ll grin fondly in remembrance of the daddy of all modern gaming icons.
Before Mario and Sonic, but well after the white block that went ‘blip’, Dizzy the egg was having a whole series of memorable adventures on the Amstrad, Spectrum and Commodore computers.
The brainchild of the Oliver Twins, the crude little oval sprite transported kids to magical worlds where evil wizards needed to be defeated, lands to be freed, and apples avoided.
I really dug Dizzy’s first game – Dizzy: The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure – which was released by Code Masters in 1988 – but the problem I found was that it was too hard.
Well, too hard for me.
When I grew up I put aside childish things; among them the hope that one distant day I would complete Dizzy and be able to say that I did.
Until earlier this month, when I installed a Commodore 64 emulator.
If you haven’t tried one, I really must recommend it. I went with WinVice and after a bit of trial and error learning how to get games running, I was well and truly in retro-geek land.
Maniac Mansion, Jet Set Willey, IK+ – all the best titles from the early days of computer games are once again at my disposal.
And Dizzy the egg. Though I do find it sweetly ironic that I have a cracked version of the game to thank for that:)
Playing the game, my memory was jogged on how hard it was actually control the character. He rolls more times than a drunk down an elevator.
And there are bugs, causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth if you die in the wrong place and find yourself unable to avoid the same fate ad nauseam.
But no passwords or save facilities – making the game an unforgiving taskmaster that will force you to start right from the beginning if you don’t do things absolutely right.
In short it’s hard, and frustrating – but addictive and ultimately rewarding.
Especially if it’s taken two decades to get to the end.