A missing game from a franchise popular in the 1980s and early 1990s is being made available to play for the first time after it was found hidden in a dusty loft.
Wonderland Dizzy was originally developed for the NES console by twins Philip and Andrew Oliver in 1993 but it was never released by the publisher Codemasters.
Had it been launched, it would have formed the final part of a much-loved adventure game series which began in 1987 with the launch of Dizzy – The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure.
Instead the egg-shaped character bowed out in Crystal Kingdom Dizzy which was released in 1992, although some spin-off games, compilations and cover disc specials were produced for a couple more years.
Wonderland Dizzy's existence was raised during a retro gaming event in Blackpool in May when the brothers took along a map which they could not remember drawing.
It prompted Philip Oliver to hunt around in the loft of his home in Leamington Spa for more clues about the fate of the game. “We couldn't remember if it was a new game, whether it was finished and whether it would even run,” he says.
He eventually found a 3.5-inch floppy disk which had the words “Wonderland Dizzy. Nintendo source complete” written on it and, despite being in the loft for 22 years, he was surprised to find that it still worked.
The game reintroduces gamers to the egg-shaped character Dizzy and the rest of his “Yolkfolk” including girlfriend Daisy. It plays in an identical manner to previous games in the series with players asked to solve various puzzles by collecting items and combining them with other objects in order to progress.
But while the disk contained all of the source code and graphics for the game, it did not have the finished compiled game file. This meant the developers, who currently run Radiant Worlds which makes the Minecraft-esque game Sky Saga, had to find someone who could help recompile it.
Unable to complete the task himself because he didn't have the required - aging - equipment, Philip wrote to Andrew Joseph, owner of the Dizzy fan site Yolkfolk.com, who told him that he knew someone in Poland who could compile the game. A few days later enthusiast Lukasz Kur delivered a fully-working ROM image.
“We were amazed,” says Philip. “He had got it working and we were finally able to see the game up and running again through an emulator. But it was very hard and slightly buggy so we spoke to Lukasz and asked him if could fix some of the problems and add a fun mode with infinite lives.”
The find is significant for gamers, particularly those who enjoy playing older titles. There is huge interest in hunting down unpublished titles with many of them documented on the 18-year-old site Games That Weren't.
This find comes just three years after Philip and Andrew – aka The Oliver Twins – sought to raise £350,000 on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter to resurrect the franchise for a 21st century audience. They failed, having only amassed £24,605 from 774 backers with many gamers believing the amount asked for was too much.
In contrast, Wonderland Dizzy is being made available to play for free through a browser at wonderlanddizzy.com. There is also a competition within the game which will give players a chance to win a prize. A Dizzy Clock and other Dizzy items are being auctioned on eBay to raise money for the BBC charity Children in Need.
“We played this old game and slowly the memories re-emerged,” says Philip. “Andrew remembered how he programmed the rescuing of each of the Yolkfolk and I remembered added a Cheshire Cat. But we had to work out the puzzles all over again because we'd completely forgotten them.”
He says the game was based on a previous title, Magicland Dizzy, adding a mode to play as Daizy and a two-player mode which allowed Dizzy and Daisy to play as a tag team.
It would also appear that Codemasters is backing the release. “I had a conversation with Codemasters to inform them what we were doing and Frank Sagnier the new CEO was happy, saying it can do no harm to raise the profile of Dizzy and the goodwill of the community.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies