Plots only serve to justify the rules of computer games. Yet occasionally the plot is so ludicrous that only an explanation of the rules makes any real sense. Spindizzy Worlds is one such game, suffering from the same tortured games' logic that puts shops in shoot-em-ups, but is beautifully playable because of it. So here are the rules (in full):
1. You control a probe called GERALD by remote.
2. GERALD looks and behaves like a spinning top.
3. The worlds of Spindizzy must be explored using GERALD.
4. While it explores, GERALD uses fuel continuously.
5.The game is over if GERALD runs out of fuel.
6. GERALD extracts fuel from diamonds by standing on them.
7. The worlds of Spindizzy are littered with diamonds.
8. GERALD can be destroyed by touching aliens, or by falling either too far or into space.
9. A destroyed GERALD is replaced at the cost of surplus fuel.
10. Spindizzy consists of 32 different planets.
11. The worlds of Spindizzy are full of mazes, ramps and puzzles.
12. Each Spindizzy planet has many different levels.
13. GERALD travels between worlds and levels via teleports.
14. The teleports are only accessible if GERALD has completed a number of tasks or solved a puzzle.
15. The game is won when all the worlds have been visited.
16. GERALD stands for: Geographical Environmental Reconnaissance And Land Mapping Device.
Controlling GERALD is tough. The surface of Spindizzy is shown form an isometric-3D perspective, so joystick commands must mentally be shifted through 45 degrees. To make the probe go in one direction turn the stick that way, to accelerate press fire. To stop, either reverse power or use the instant brake (spacebar).
On a level surface with solid edges control would be easy, but the worlds are packed with ramps, pyramids, bridges, moving platforms and gaping gulfs that have to be negotiated.
After selecting which world in the Spindizzy cluster you are going to start on, the probe is then beamed down. When you land there will be one of two tasks awaiting there for you: firstly, the puzzle of finding the correct series of triggers that open a teleport, and secondly a speed challenge to reach teleport before a time limit expires. Either way using the map feature pauses the game and gives you a chance to work out a successful strategy.
The timed runs are dangerous. Each world hangs in space, just the way bricks don't, and one slip can take GERALD over the edge. This destroys the probe and gallons of fuel is used to build another. Puzzle levels usually require that multiple tasks are completed, all in the right sequence. Finding the triggers and the order in which to active them, though, is down to trial and error.
Luckily GERALD does give clues. If he stands next to an object that has to be manipulated, then the activating factor is shown in his clue window. This tells you what has to be triggered, but not where it is or what has to be done to it. Then, once more you're off following the elimination trail.
The puzzles combine with the control of GERALD to make Spindizzy so playable. It's often all too obvious what has to be done, but it's the doing that proves difficult. Other worlds will have you roaming totally baffled as to what happens next. Solving these problems rewards you with another completed level for the saves disk and yet another even more fiendish poser staring you in the face.
Spindizzy Worlds has more strings to its bow than the straight
To make matters worse many of the worlds are accessible only after you've cleared planets on the periphery of the system. And you wouldn't want to go starting a new world with a badly damaged GERALD from a world that you can reach all ready.
Bigger Than a Very Big Thing
The whole game exudes bigness. The number of worlds in itself is almost daunting, but when the number of levels within each of them is considered then the brownie points start to roll in. A sense of the games size and complexity is felt when the first of the harder worlds is attempted. The map for a single level scrolls to four or five screens and they are all tied together by the puzzles. A switch in one corner activating a lift on the far side allows you to jump on to a trampoline over some lava in the centre...
The success of this puzzle-
The worlds stress the complexity of the apparently simple design. All sculpted out of similar blocks, every new world seems to have a surprise up its sleeve. The variety of surfaces, inclines, aliens, trampolines, lifts and other hazards, make control peculiar to each world. The worlds grow harder as you get nearer the heart of the Spindizzy system.
GERALD Grows Up
Fiendish puzzles, curious worlds and heaps of gameplay have been crammed inot the project. The result is a challenge that is both frustrating and addictive. Players growing skill in control of GERALD has been well judged in the increasing difficulty of worlds. The chance to replay levels is also refreshing, in these long-
Features have been added since the original made its mark on the Speccies, which enhance the game and use the Amiga to the full. It was a good concept then, but it had to wait for the Amiga before its potential could be fully exploited (the ST had flick screens not a scroll). Now GERALD's time has come, and it is time to really explore those Spindizzy Worlds.