An excerpt from

8-Bit on a Budget

Kieren Hawken


Publisher: Codemasters

Year: 1987

Developers: The Oliver Twins

Featured System: Amstrad CPC

Also released for: ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64

What more can be said about Dizzy? It’s the game that set the Oliver Twins on the road to stardom and success and created a character that is still beloved to this day. But it’s not so well known that ol’ Dizzy didn’t get off to the greatest start in life. Codemasters were against even publishing it at first and the initial poor sales of the game prompted David Darling to turn up to work wearing a T-Shirt saying “I told you so!” But after the game eventually entered the charts and stayed there for no less than six successive months, the Oliver Twins were ultimately proved right. I hope they made their boss eat his shirt! The game that started it all for the charismatic egg, Dizzy is a sprawling flick-screen puzzle orientated arcade adventure that pretty much started a whole new genre that Codemasters would become synonymous with. The only way to complete the game was by finding the right objects and using them in the correct places. The puzzles ranged from simple to downright fiendish making Dizzy a game that was very approachable in the beginning but challenging in the longer term, a perfect mix. The original game still holds up well today with its attractive graphics, bouncy music and long term appeal. Ok, some of the sequels perfected the formula even further but if you’ve never experienced a Dizzy game before then you really should be starting at the very beginning. How do you like your eggs in the morning? I like mine pixelated! 

  • In issue 9 of Retro Gamer magazine Dizzy was voted the 47th best game of all time.
  • There have been over 20 different games featuring Dizzy since he first debuted in 1987.
  • The Oliver Twins said in an interview that Dizzy wasn’t supposed to be an egg at all but just a face with hands and feet. They then accepted that everyone thought he was an egg and decided to go with that.


The Wild Bunch

Publisher: Firebird Silver

Year: 1984

Developers: Kevin Smith

Featured System: ZX Spectrum

Also released for: Amstrad CPC

Originally released in 1985 as part of Firebird Software’s Silver branded budget range, The Wild Bunch represents my earliest memory of playing a Wild West themed video game. Not only that, it was also one of the first games I bought for my Speccy just after I received it for Christmas, having already played the game on my friend Kris’ computer (who had since moved away) and wanting it for myself. This title really made me feel like I had been transported into a Hollywood western, something I didn’t feel again until playing Red Dead Redemption on the Xbox 360 some 40 years later! The Wild Bunch is a highly original combination between a text adventure, strategy game and arcade game that sees you framed for a murder you didn’t commit. With the local Sherriff on your tail you must search the local towns for clues and try to track down the real killer before it’s too late! There are many locations that feature different ways to interact with the game; the bar serves drinks for health, the shop sells ammo for your gun and the telegraph office gives you clues to your assailant’s identity. The real fun comes in the form of the first person gun fights however, where the quickest man to the draw lives to see another day! Graphics are fairly average really, although I love the gun fights, and there are some nice little pieces of music that help set up each scene nicely. The Wild Bunch is possibly the closest you’ll ever come to being Clint Eastwood without leaving the safety of your keyboard!

Did you know?

  • A homebrew version of the game for the Commodore 64 was released in 2009 by Psytronik Software.
  • This was one of the very first titles to be published on Firebird’s pioneering Silver budget range.
  • The Wild Bunch is heavily based on the popular film of the same name but isn’t an official licence.