I was a Sega kid growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Nintendo, but we were a Sega house. And in that house I was lucky enough to have quite a few games, usually acquired after much parental nagging. As I was young, games were almost always chosen based on the cover. Or perhaps, unbeknownst to me at the time, by price. Because of that, I ended up with an eclectic mix of games. Sure, I had some classics like Sonic 2, NBA Jam, and Mortal Kombat. But I also had others that were… not-so-classic.
Of all the games listed, Fantastic Dizzy is the only one I specifically remembering acquiring. I was with my parents at KB Toys and I somehow convinced them to buy me a new Sega game. I don’t quite remember how this one caught my eye, because a giant egg doesn’t exactly scream excitement, but it found its way into my hands. It was hard to discern what type of game it was, so my mom asked an employee. “It’s like Sonic,” the employee said. Well, that sounded right up my alley!
Saying the game “is like Sonic”, I discovered, is barbaric lie.
Fantastic Dizzy is the complete antithesis of Sonic. Where Sonic is a fast paced platformer, Fantastic Dizzy is, well, the opposite. Dizzy is slow and awkward. I mean, he is an egg. The game itself is somewhat of a puzzle game, but has adventuring aspects as well. Wikipedia has a laughably accurate description of the game, saying that it is “hard to qualify in a genre.”
Here is an amazing quote from Seb Holt’s walkthrough regarding the main character: “Dizzy has no special skills or abilities, save for his remarkable feats of somersaulting.” That is a description I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Dizzy is an egg that can somersault. Hold on to your butts.
You can imagine my disappointment popping in this game expecting Sonic. I was sorely disappointed. The Dizzy franchise appears to have had a following at one point, at least enough to spawn multiple incarnations. And there very well could be a decent game underneath my contempt, but I never really saw it as a child. Damn you random KB Toys employee for swindling my family.
Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude!
Looking back on Greendog, the game is sort of a stylistic mess. After crashing on a big wave, Greendog wakes up with a magical medallion stuck around his neck. This gives him the power to throw a magical disc, but also causes animals (and occasionally humans) to freak out. And as long as he wears the medallion, he cannot surf! He can still skateboard and roller blade, but for some reason surfboarding is out of the question. He must collect 6 Aztec treasures around the Caribbean to remove the medallion.
A silly plot is a silly plot so I don’t hold it against the game, but even the sprites are incredibly inconsistent. Greendog is very cartoonish by design, yet his girlfriend is a bombastic blonde who appears shockingly photorealistic next to him. Some animal enemies look like cartoon drawings, others look like photos from a textbook, and some transform between the two. It’s like they had a whole team of artists working on the game except none of them knew what aesthetic the game was going for.
But you know what, I really don’t care, because the game is goofy and fun. As a side-scrolling platformer, many of the levels are incredibly simplistic. We’re talking walking from left to right for the whole level simple. But somehow they managed to make it fun. Your one weapon, the magical disc, is limited only by how fast you can mash the buttons. Difficulty was at the right level for an elementary schooler like myself. Plus Greendog has some weird gyrocopter. Where did that even come from? It didn’t matter, because it was cool.
Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude! is an odd mess of a game, but it left me with fond memories.
Winter Olympic Games
This is the game that taught me that the Winter Olympics are boring. Oh, yeah, you think they are cool with all the downhill skiing and speed skating and luge-ing, but you are wrong. Sorry.
You don’t know true horror until you’ve played the freestyle moguls, otherwise known as bumpy hill simulator. Or perhaps you are more into bobsled, a.k.a. kill the Olympians-sled. Want to try your hand at ski-jumping? Dead again. Downhill? Maybe not dead, but you’re going to hit every post on the way down.
For a young kid, this game was hard! And the excitement of actually pulling off a jump or finishing a race did not make up for all the frustration beforehand. I don’t know what it says about American culture, but the only fun event was the biathlon (the one with the gun). I begrudgingly skied from shooting range to shooting range just for a hint of target practice. Just let me fire the gun already!
If there is one positive thing that stands out about Winter Olympic Games, it is the soundtrack. Boy did that music get you pumped up to fail miserably. If ever you need to get hyped, put on this game’s soundtrack. You’ll be ready to take on the world (or fall down a snowy hill trying).
Simpsons: Bart vs the Space Mutants
I would guess that Bart vs. the Space Mutants is the most famous game on my short list, but I had to mention it based on difficulty alone. This makes Winter Olympic Games look like a cake walk. Bart vs. the Space Mutants is probably the single hardest game I owned. I never made it past the first level!
For example, read this paragraph from a walkthrough by Brian P. Sulpher. Note that this is just one part of the first level:
Use the window ledge to leap onto the window on Mel’s door, jumping to the right to get a clear shot at the flowerpot on the ledge, followed by going right under the Zebloid to get the Krusty The Clown Icon for a 1-Up. Go down to the sidewalk, moving into the Toys ‘N Stuff to buy a Whistle and a Magnet, followed by using the window ledges here to get onto the window of the door, drilling the flowerpot with some red paint before going right past the blue Zebloids, grabbing an insurance Spray Can from the window ledge. Head right, ignoring the ball on the ground (though it can be used to hit the can of paint above, it is not necessary) to spray the trashcan before bouncing up to the window ledge above, leaping left (hitting the can of paint, taking care of the purple awning) to get onto the ledge where a flowerpot resides, so to spray it Bart must jump off the ledge and land on the window in the door, leaping up to spray said flowerpot.
I mean… what the fuck? How was anyone supposed to figure this out? When games are hard today, it’s because they are designed that way. You are usually taught how to solve problems or at the very least given some guidance. Bart vs. the Space Mutants is a relic from an era where games were hard because they were poorly designed. You shouldn’t need a walkthrough to beat the first level of a Simpsons game.
But alas… I will always remember it as that super hard game from my childhood that even now I probably couldn’t complete. It’s a memory that comes with a tinge of guilt. My parents spent hard earned money on a game that I never saw past the first level.