Painful Moments in Gaming: Treasure Island Dizzy
Treasure Island Dizzy:
The year was 1989, I had a Commodore 64. Games like Outlaw, Double Dragon and Bubble Bobble frequented my tv screen. My favourite however was Treasure Isand Dizzy from Code Masters and the Oliver Twins.
The plot was basically, you're stuck on an island and want to get back to the 'yolkfolk' . Through a series of inventory based puzzles you build a boat and get off the island by paying the shopkeeper character 30 Gold coins (which you have collected throughout).
For those of you who are unaware, this was seen as the most difficult of the Dizzy Franchise, unlike the predecessor which you had 5 lives and the sequel which had 3, in Treasure Island Dizzy you had one life.
Consider that for a moment, one life.
One life, with no ability to save the game, it was all or nothing.
This also wasn't an easy game, you had to essentially memorise the side-scrolling map, often jumping blindly in to the next screen (screens updated on a screen by screen basis, so not dynamically side-scrolling) hoping to not hit the spike, while still landing on the platform short of the killer cage that you couldn't see when you initiated the jump. There was also an order to which things had to be completed, otherwise you would miss one of the essential Gold Coins.
The inventory system was also a nightmare: You pick one thing up you drop whatever is at the top of the list, if you are under water and the snorkel is at the top, bad luck you are dead and have to start from the begining.
If you jump too far and hit a spike you are dead and have to start from the beginning
If you do something in the wrong order and trigger a trap you are dead and have to start from the beginning
If you drop something on the keyboard you are dead and have to start from the beginning
If you have a moment without complete concentration you are dead and have to start from the beginning
My point is, in no other game i have played since, has life ever been so precious.
So back to that night in 1989, i had been playing the game for a couple of months solid and had uncovered all the coins and pretty much solved all the puzzles (no online guides back then), however the perfect run still eluded me.
This was the night however, when all those weeks of training would finally pay off.
My older cousin was visiting (to clarify he was an adult in his late 20's) and excitedly I had invited him to witness the magical completion of a great game.
The final scenes started to unwind, this was it, i had 29 Gold coins, had built the boat, all that was left to do was walk with the boat without falling in to the water, collect the 30th coin on the other side, pay the man and celebrate the completion of the game.
My cousin although not a gamer, was not completely removed from how they worked and was familiar with the 'Q' hotkey which instantly quit the game. He had previously teased me about this by pressing "W" key, yanno to frighten and horrify a child. So predictably once again as i approached the 30th Gold coin he began his taunt with "W" fakeouts when suddenly the unthinkable happened, he hit the "Q" key (apparently aiming for the 'W") and without warning or verification i was thrown back to the title screen.
At that moment I went from a nervous excited feeling of impending jubilation to instant pain. Pain is the most apt word, whether it was due to my younger sensitive emotions, that fact i hadn't realised the cruelties of the world yet, or that even in today's world i would still feel pain, but in that moment i felt absolute crushing pain, instantly crumbling to the floor crying. This then progressed to anger as i started to attack my older cousin screaming in a tear filled rage 'Why!?!"
I remember being promptly ushered to my bedroom by my mother, who couldn't understand my pain and had instantly decided I was at fault for 'creating a scene' . I of course tried to explain on the way up the stairs to my bedroom by listing the atrocities committed by my cousin, but was merely dismissed and led to the solitary confinement of my bedroom.
Alone, I sat, sobbing. I had been betrayed, betrayed in the worst way an 8 year old could be, an unrecognised achievement robbed from me and nobody understood the pain, nobody even tried to understand the pain.
Even writing this today it stirs dormant emotions and it amazes me the emotion games can stir. Gamings validity as an artform is constantly in question, however no other medium has ever resulted in so much emotion from me, as a game did on this day.
I never played Dizzy again....
Oh and my cousin has no memory of this...