Monday, 3 July 2017

Wizkid (Amiga)

I'm not sure if this game is really obscure. I think of it as one of the better-known Amiga games, but I've never actually seen anyone on the internet talking about it, and even the best-known Amiga games don't tend to have a lot of fame outside the UK. So I think it's safe. It's also a childhood favourite of mine, and it's pretty unique, too.

It's the sequel to a much-loved (though I never got into it) C64 shooting game called Wizball, and you play as Wizball's son, Wizkid. Like his dad, Wizkid is a floating orb with a face. He's tasked with defeating screens full of enemies by headbutting bricks in their general direction. If you run out of bricks on a screen, you move onto the next uncompleted screen, minus any power-ups you had. The power-ups on offer are a clown's nose (which lets you juggle bricks on top of your head) and dentures (which let you hold bricks in your mouth. There's also coloured notes that gradually fill spaces on a tune at the top of the screen. When the tune's filled, it rains money and the game completely changes.

First, you're taken to a shop, where you can buy an assortment of seemingly-random objects, like a newspaper, or some coloured glasses. All the items have uses somewhere, though a lot of them are very obscure (I think the developers must have realised this, since the game tells you when to use them). The big change comes with the exits from the shop screen, of which there are too: one that takes you back to being just a head, knocking bricks around, and another that gives you a body, letting you play the other half of the game.

That other half is a kind of simple adventure game taking place in the backgrounds of the head stages. Adventure games have a reputation for having their own logic at the best of times, but Wizkid takes this to extremes. For an example, I'll describe for you some things you can encounter in the first stage. You can ring a bell to summon a door, behind which hides an angry, barking dog. Post a newspaper in the door's letterbox and open it again, and the dog will be calmly sat on a toilet, reading, allowing you to go inside and solve a little weight/pressure pad puzzle. Alternatively, you could go do the well, where you'll find men's and women's toilets. In the women's toilets, you can sit on a toilet and make poo shoot out of a volcano, while in the men's toilets, you can flood the well by flushing a blocked urinal, or you can put a token in the condom machine, inflate the condom that comes out and use it to float away to a series of secret rooms.

And the whole game is full of weird nonsense like that. The point of the game is that you're trying to find a bunch of lost kittens to row a boat to the villain's castle and rescue your dad. I actually got to the "rowing the boat" part as a kid, though I never had enough kittens to get any further. There's one kitten on each stage, and they're hidden in different places, or sometimes you get them by clearing every screen in the head-only game.

Wizkid is a game I definitely recommend. There's nothing else like it, it's bizarre and funny and actually fun to play. Playing it now, though, it seems that I'm a lot worse at it than I was 20 years ago. Boo.


  1. This one is a bit of an oddity, for sure. Made by one of the most high profile developers in the world at the time, but it's them doing whatever the heck they want to rather than catering to the public. For me it's their magnum opus. A really beautiful—and completely bonkers—game. The only change I'd make is that I'd like to play it with analog controls.

    Here's my review from a handful of years ago:

    1. analogue controls would really add a lot to the head sections, but i think i'd add a save option too

    2. yes! although there is a hidden level select: