Category Archives: Oliver Twins

It’s curtains for Dizzy at the National Videogame Arcade!

Dizzy 30th logo

Last Saturday, the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham, England saw an eggciting celebration of thirty years of a most eggcellent example of the very best of 8-bit home computer gaming – the Dizzy franchise!

Way back in 1987, the legendary Oliver Twins, two of England’s most prominent ‘bedroom coders’ who went on to become software publishers in their own right, remaining in the business right up to the present day, brought to life a tiny but fun cartoon character who was to become so popular that even today his name is known far and wide across the internet – that crazy little egg-shaped adventurer, Dizzy.

The Oliver Twins - then and now (courtesy The Oliver Twins)
The Oliver Twins – then and now (courtesy The Oliver Twins)

Philip and Andrew Oliver began to professionally develop computer games in their bedrooms while they were still at school, contributing their first type-in game to a magazine in 1983.  Starting with the Amstrad CPC664, which they also used to port their games to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, as a partnership named Complex Software they worked with software publishers Codemasters for a number of years following their first collaboration, Super Robin Hood, most notably creating the Dizzy series of games and many of Codemasters popular Simulator Series.

Later, they had their games converted to the Commodore 64 and other machines including, eventually, the 16-bit Atari ST, Amiga, and PC, and apart from their own games, the Oliver Twins were also responsible for porting a number of other prominent games to the Sega and Nintendo platforms, including Theme Park and Syndicate. At one point during the 1980s, it was reported that 7% of all UK games sales were attributable to the Oliver Twins.

Moving on from their bedroom coding days, in 1990 at the age of 22 they founded Interactive Studios which later became Blitz Games Studios. In October 2013, working with with long time friend and colleague Richard Smithies, they founded Radiant Worlds, based in Leamington Spa, UK.  Today they are often found at major hobbyist events in the UK retro gaming calendar, talking to fans about those heady days and the work they are doing today, such as SkySaga.

A bizzy day for Dizzy!
Talkin' 'bout Dizzy - The Oliver Twins
Talkin’ ’bout Dizzy – The Oliver Twins

Saturday’s special anniversary event, however, marking International Dizzy Day, was a singular and very busy occasion for a select group of the keenest of those keen to celebrate the birthday of their digital gaming pal Dizzy, and there was a buzzingly  full house in the lecture room at the National Videogame Arcade (NVA), which was not only the venue for this very special event organised by the Oliver Twins working with Chris Wilkins’ Retro Now! magazine and Fusion Retro Books, with the assistance of Andrew Joseph of the popular Dizzy fansite, but also the official launch of a unique exhibition hosted by the NVA and dedicated to Dizzy and the twins’ work – the ‘Dizzy Room‘.

Maps and more in the Dizzy Room
Maps and more in the Dizzy Room

The exhibition, which is on now and is expected to run till at least the end of this summer, is housed in its own dedicated room, which has been deliberately made reminiscent of the twins’ bedroom where they did so much of the early work that made them famous. And apart from many showcased souvenirs of Dizzy, visitors can also view many photographs and  game maps, as well as play actual Dizzy games on a variety of home computers and consoles.

Shall we play a game? Philip left) and Andrew Oliver in the Dizzy Room
Shall we play a game? Philip left) and Andrew Oliver in the Dizzy Room

Continue reading It’s curtains for Dizzy at the National Videogame Arcade!