Oliver Twins release Dizzy game thought lost for 22 years
No yolk, they'd forgotten they'd made it.
The Oliver Twins have today announced the release of a brand new Dizzy game, although it may not be the series revival fans were hoping for.
At a special event at The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge to mark the launch of a Kickstarter fund for a book celebrating their careers as game developers, brothers Andrew and Phillip Oliver revealed the immediate release of Wonderland Dizzy, a game that had been thought lost for 22 years.
Fans won't have to shell out for Wonderland Dizzy though; it's free for all to play right now in browsers and is the first game in the Dizzy series to give players control over another member of the Yolkfolk - Dizzy's girlfriend Daisy.
Wonderland Dizzy was discovered five months ago, after the twins accidently stumbled across a map for the game in a box of props they'd brought along with them to Play Blackpool, where they were hosting a talk about their early work. After the talk, the brothers discussed the game and realized that they couldn't remember if it had even been finished. This led Philip to search his loft where he found, amongst all the clutter, a disc bearing the Wonderland Dizzy name.
"Sadly the finished compiled game file wasn't there, but all the source code and graphics were," Philip told Eurogamer.
After writing to Andrew Joseph of Dizzy fan site Yolkfolk.com, the twins were put in touch with a Polish Dizzy fan named Lukasz Kur, who managed to convert the files into a working ROM image.
Lukasz also took the time to fix a few bugs and add a 'Fun Mode', which grants the player infinite lives - played in classic mode the game can be very difficult to beat.
But how is it possible to forget a game you've made, especially one that features your most beloved creation? "During the space of '84 to '93 we produced 50 games." Philip explained.
"That's not counting different platforms. 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 wasn't just a lapse in memory that contributed to the loss of Wonderland though. The game was originally intended to be a full price release but Codemasters' marketing department decided it wasn't prepared to publish it.
"Like gamblers you try to forget the bad stuff and quite frankly we were very, very upset by it", Philip remembers. "We did fall out with Codemasters big time over several unreleased games, that being one of them."
It was this period that signaled the end of The Oliver Twins working relationship with Codemasters. After they left to start their own studio, Wonderland Dizzy was consigned to the loft and its existence slowly faded from their memories.
Thankfully, the bad blood is all in the past and Codies were happy to give this new release their blessing. "Because they wanted to release the Dizzy iPhone game a few years ago, we put an agreement in place at that time that any new games could be released - that we could release new games. That said I still went and had a meeting out of courtesy and told them. So it's all fine and actually Frank Sagnier (Codemasters' new CEO) was very happy about it."
The Twins teased the release of Wonderland Dizzy last month with a cryptic tweet that lead some fans to believe a brand new game for modern machines was in the works. For those fans this retro release may come as a bit of a disappointment, so we asked Philip what the chances would be of a proper new release.
"Probably quite slim, which is not want you want to hear as a Dizzy fan! We're busy working on SkySaga." (the free-to-play Minecraft-inspired MMO the Twins are currently producing with their company Radiant Worlds). "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 - SkySagas 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."
The Oliver Twins previously tried to resurrect the Dizzy franchise on modern computers via a Kickstarter campaign for a game called Dizzy Returns but they admitted defeat after only raising £24,605 - over £325,000 shy of the £350,000 target.
You can find out more about the discovery and history of Wonderland, and how it went from source code to playable game in this video by the Oliver Twins.