The Oliver Twins thought they’d lost Wonderland Dizzy more than 20 years ago, before Philip found a disk tucked away among all the clutter in his loft. The end result: A brand new Dizzy game, playable right now, for free!
It might be showing my age a bit, but growing up, I loved the Dizzy games – a classic series starring an animated egg. They were great fun – a sort of arcadey puzzle platformer adventure experience, with enough challenge to be interesting but not so difficult that a child couldn’t cope.
They got their start on the ZX Spectrum, but a bunch of titles were also developed for home consoles of the time – Wonderland Dizzy had been designed for the NES back in 1993 but never released.
The Oliver Twins (Andrew and Philip) were onstage at a British gaming event showing off various props they’d used in development when they discovered a map for the game. In a later conversation, the pair realised neither was sure about what had happened to the project – it had never been released, but had it even been finished?
Philip explains that during the decade between 1984 and 1994, the brothers produced 50 games – and that’s not counting different versions for different consoles.
If you actually multiply by platforms there’s an average of two or three that we personally produced. So it was over 100 different SKUs that we programmed personally, so it was very easy to sort of forget one or two!
It turns out that Wonderland Dizzy was actually part of the reason the Oliver Twins split with publisher Codemasters, and once they started their own studio, the game was quickly forgotten.
Happily, after hunting through his loft (crammed full of all sorts of things), Philip uncovered the disc he was searching for – a “nearly finished” build of the game, labelled “Wonderland Dizzy”. The disc didn’t feature the compiled game file, but did contain all the source code and graphics.
Polish Dizzy fan Łukasz Kur sat down with the code, converted the files into a working ROM image, and even fixed the bugs still lurking in the game, as well as adding a “Fun Mode” which gives gamers infinite lives.
Now, the Oliver Twins are working at Radiant Worlds on SkySaga, a new, free-to-play MMO inspired by Minecraft.
SkySaga just takes all of our attention and we’ve got a massively talented team here and if you think anything that might have been in a Dizzy next gen – SkySaga’s got a lot of spirit of that anyway. It’s kind of what we’re doing but it’s on a level like a hundred times what Dizzy could have ever been.
Until that’s released, you’ll have to keep yourself busy with this one: Wonderland Dizzy is free to play in your browser, or if you’d prefer a more authentic experience, it can be downloaded and played on an emulator.