Review: Spindizzy Worlds (SNES)

By Drew Wilson

Spindizzy Worlds is an isometric puzzle game featuring a spinning top that navigates various courses filled with hazards, switches, jumps, and obstacles. We take a look at the SNES port of this game to see if it is worth playing today.

The Spindizzy Worlds SNES port was released in 1993. It would be a game Activision published with absolutely no authorization from the creator and would be one of a few versions where royalties were delayed, prompting the creator to sue. In spite of the fact that this could be considered a bootlegged game, we decided to still take a look at this game for its playability.

You take control of an alien craft GERALD. Your mission is to survey and map various planets before they are destroyed.

What ensues is a choice of whether you want to try the EasyDizzy planet cluster or the Spindizzy cluster. The EasyDizzy cluster features fewer, but easy levels. It even features a tutorial level, showing you what different switches (and how to activate them, etc.) The isometric view can be rotated via the L and R trigger buttons, allowing players to see the level from different angles (revealing paths hidden by the default view from time to time).

The ultimate goal is to beat the planet at the center of the planet cluster and complete it. Completing the large planet means you complete the cluster – regardless if you have completed all of the smaller planets in the process.

In each level, you can encounter many different things. Ramps, for instance, allows you to jump over obstacles. Arrows pushes your craft in the direction they is pointing in (about the speed of you going as fast as you can go). Ice reduces your ability to control your craft (if you become trapped or you spend too much time on such blocks, your craft will self-destruct). Trampoline’s will allow you to bounce your craft along gaps without damage (however, if you land on solid ground too hard, you’ll destroy your craft). Pits cause your craft to disappear (it will reappear on the last square it touched, but at the cost of fuel). Elevators can allow your craft to move up or down various elevated areas safely (in some cases, they move so fast, they’ll allow you to take flight in short distances). Rock golem’s can block paths (though are often moved by hitting certain switched). Warps will allow you to go from one part of a level to another. There is lava that will destroy your craft. There are also objects that destroy your craft if you so much as touch them. In extremely rare cases, there are even false walls. In one level, there is electricity that blocks your path even. In addition to all of that, there are various aliens that roam the mazes from time to time. Getting into contact will kill them, but at the expense of fuel.

Not all things found on various levels are bad. There are various items that replenish your crafts fuel. There are large yellow floating gems and fixed flashing gems that replenish a fair amount of your craft’s fuel. There are also little round gems of various color that will replenish a smaller portion of fuel. Uniquely, there are red flags you can collect that grant you temporary immunity from alien contact (your craft will flash red in that instance). Red flags, like other item pick-ups, will recover fuel.

The two main things about this game are maintaining your fuel supply and completing the various worlds to advance. While you gradually lose fuel as you move around, the biggest drains on your fuel are alien contact, falling off of the playing surface, crashing your craft, and contacting killer blocks. The only thing I found in this game that killed you regardless of fuel level was the electric fields found on the last level of the Spindizzy! cluster.

One of the weaknesses I found with a lot of puzzle games is that there is one particular way you solve puzzles – whether it’s finding a switch, collecting all of the items, or simply reaching a particular point in a maze. The easy levels show you the basics, but the harder levels are simply a more complex version of the earlier levels with the same patterns over and over again. This game, surprisingly, does not fall into that. While you are shown virtually every element in the beginning screen and tutorial level, the puzzles continued to evolve, throwing unique challenges out at you. In spite of the numerous levels you can access, these the levels, overall, remain fresh and interesting. The only repetition is, sadly, the use of a “lobby” section. This became rather repetitive by the time you completed each level. Still, these “lobby” areas do attempt to offer variety in terms of looks and feel. So, the repetition was, at worst, mildly annoying.

The isometric feel of this game certainly takes time to feel comfortable with. Ideally, you just tilt your controller so that the movement controls aren’t as confusing. Still, I would have thought that allowing something like the up arrow to move GERALD up wouldn’t have been a bad design move anyway because most games on the SNES have you holding the controller a particular way with the controls behaving in one particular way.

I thought that the planet cluster concept of level selecting had both pros and cons. The pros are that you can basically spin the cluster around in every angle to select a level you thought might be worth attempting. The con is that you could skip a lot of levels and just drill your way to the center, avoiding a large portion of the game. What you had selected seemed a bit clunky because you try and select one particular planet only to have another in the way. It’s good that you could chart your own path through the game, but the selection method could have been improved upon.

Another con of this game is that there’s no real mechanism to show that you are on the advanced difficulty. Once you beat the game on normal mode, it challenges you to try the advanced mode before booting you to the start screen again. I found this element of the game particularly confusing.

While the game looks dead simple and very basic, there is a surprising amount of depth to this game. I really like how it is almost always throwing something new at you – whether that’s challenging you to make a jump with a short area to make your running start or dropping you in a maze full of killer blocks or even throwing mazes at you with false walls, there’s always something new to keep your interest all the way up to the end. Even if you take the rout of completing every single level, the game remains fresh. The only time it really gets repetitive is attempting the advanced difficulty. For that, I’d advise taking a break from the game and coming back to it in a month or two to attempt the advanced mode.

There are two endings in this game. Completing the game in normal mode will grant you the “planet is disintegrating” level ending where you just perch yourself on top of a ledge while the countdown timer reaches zero. If you beat the game in the advanced mode, you actually get a “full” ending which has a more involved ending sequence once the timer reaches zero.

Graphically, I found that this game was about average for a game of this era. There are games with better graphics by this time, but there are also games with worse graphics in this era as well. It sort of has a glorified NES graphics feel to it given that titles like Snake Rattle and Roll and Captain Skyhawk pulled off somewhat similar accomplishments. Still, the graphics are decent enough and make this game more than playable.

The audio was very well done in this game. There’s a very realistic “thud” for whenever GERALD lands on the ground without dying. The trampoline sounds were nicely done as well. There was only two sounds you could get from coming into contact with aliens – the “crashing” noise (which is simply a recycled sound effect from when you land too hard with GERALD) and a generic weird dying noise for every alien that doesn’t bounce up and down. That is probably the only con in this whole area of the game though. I have no complaints about the music. There’s a nice selection of them and each one has it’s own feel that provides a very nice ambiance to different levels. Well done in the music department.

Overall, this game was well done all around. I found it a very enjoyable experience and have played it multiple times over the years. If you are after a nice light, yet challenging puzzle game, I would certainly recommend this game.


Furthest point in game: Completed every level on the EasyDizzy and SpinDizzy cluster in the normal mode.

General gameplay: 22/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 80%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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