Monday, 8 April 2013

Obscure Retro Gems - Whizz (Super Nintendo)

Whizz is a quirky isometric platform game that was released in 1995 on the Amiga and PC, then later on the SNES (in 1996), and the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation (in 1997). There is supposedly an Amiga CD32 version. It is hard to find any trace of it online, yet people argue that it does exist and can even be downloaded. The version I am focusing on here is the Super Nintendo version. Released super late in the 16-bit console's lifespan, in 1996, it was overlooked by most SNES owners. But thanks to wonder of emulation, no game gets left behind. So I implore you to take Whizz for a spin and see what you missed out on first time around.

You begin each stage on a chequered board and must
 locate the end board to win

Whizz, the star of this madcap game, is a rabbit decked out in a waistcoat and top hat. He looks like a magician but is clearly based on both the white rabbit and Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, which is fitting seeing as he spends the entire game racing against the clock. The storyline is the usual platform game nonsense which starts with Whizz competing in a hot air balloon race against a rat that looks like Sherlock Holmes. The rat, being a cheating scumbag, sends a bird to peck Whizz's balloon, sending him crashing earthwards. See, nonsense! What ensues is a high speed dash through a selection of colourful cartoony stages such as floating forests, deserts, snow capped ice worlds and stages made up of playing cards.

Whizz can perform a tornado attack to 
shmush his enemies

Whizz can run, jump and perform a Tazmanian Devil (the Looney Tunes character, not the actual Australian marsupial) style tornado move that kills enemies, and his main goal is simply to reach the exit. Along the way, coloured blocks need to be collected to allow Whizz to spin-dash his way through the corresponding coloured walls, and many buttons will need to be pressed in order to start elevators or shift the platforms to allow access. Optional bonuses come in the form of flags, keys that open chests, diamonds and even rocket ships that can be launched at the tap of a nearby button.

Finding and launching the rockets reward the player
 with large score bonuses

The most useful collectable is the egg-timer, which awards you extra time, and boy are you going to need it. Although you will need to see off foes such as lizards, penguins and walking eggs using your spin-dash, the main enemy is time. The game gives you a strict time limit to reach the level exit, and with only a few egg-timers located on each stage, it leaves you no room for error. In fact, the game is exceptionally difficult and you will need to know a level off by heart in order to complete it with any time to spare. This is made even tougher by the fact that if you run out of lives on stage 1-3, choosing to continue starts you back at stage 1-1. This means it is a game best played via emulation, with the saving grace of save states.

There are (very) light puzzle elements involved too - 
but are very straightforward

Later levels take you to deserts, ice worlds, and even 
worlds made of playing cards

Don't let the difficulty level put you off though, as Whizz is pretty good fun, and a nice change from traditional 2D platformers. The graphics are very appealing and the music accompanying your rushed adventure - a delightful combination of slap bass, 4x4 beats, and 80's synths - will keep you smiling. Once you have gotten used to the controls and the viewpoint, you will have a blast zipping around the colourful isometric stages.

At the end of each stage all your bonus items are tallied up 
and Whizz continues in his balloon to the next stage