Genre: Platformer Developer: Supersonic Publisher: Codemasters Players: 1 Released: 1993
If like me you are a child of the ’80s then you’ll probably have been lulled to sleep with the sound of electronic screams and wails before waking up the next morning to find your grumpy and dishelved parents slumped in front of the TV clutching a cheap black keyboard, muttering under their breaths the type of words that would come in useful for you on the playground in the days to come. The main culprit for this was the independent software house Codemasters and its creation Dizzy, a happy little smiling egg with a knack for getting into sticky situations and a penchant for wearing boxing gloves.
Skip forward to the 16-bit generation and this time Codemasters’ titular hero, Cosmic Spacehead, hails from the planet Linoleum, rather then being forced out of a chicken’s rear. After crash landing on Earth and making a hasty exit back to his home world, he dreams of tickertape parades and awards for his discovery only to be met by skepticism from his fellow Linoliums. So, Cosmic decides that a return trip to the legendary planet with a camera is in order, to prove those doubting buggers wrong.
I’m sure his Eggy predecessor would be proud of this new spacey hero because it features all the fiendish, controller snapping, quirky Codemasters puzzles that made his series of games such a frustrating joy to play. The Gameplay is simple as you command Spacehead to look, give, talk, pick up or use various items in order to solve puzzles, which is where it gets complicated. At one point your path is blocked by a large green monster. Cue two hours of swearing at the game and wishing you had a BFG to dispatch the pesky one-eyed critter before the joy of suddenly realizing that you can pass him by being a kindly fellow and giving him a bright red balloon you acquired earlier in your travels, chuckling to yourself as he slowly rises and floats of into the distance (as a nice little touch, he appears on the overview map floating high over the city from then on). This is just one of the deliciously weird puzzles. Others see Cosmic trying to find an I.D. to compete in a bumper car contest and using futuristic transporter machines to makes himself glow through a dark section of the game.
To get to some areas Cosmic has to transverse a short platform section. However our diminutive alien is a little bit more fragile then his Hollywood counterparts and much to the player’s annoyance, he will die with the smallest bit of contact with his foes. Instead of tearing around these sections like every other platformer of the day the player would have you do, Cosmic Spacehead’s platform parts require a more restrained approach, watching the various nasties bobbing and wandering around before you leap.
One of the most impressive elements of this Codemasters outing is the gorgeous graphics that make the whole experience feel like a playable episode of The Jetsons. Despite being 2D, everything feels as lush and detailed as any 3D game you’d care to mention- although some of the graphics were scaled back a bit for the NES and Master System releases, which left the game on those consoles feeling a little flat. Cosmic Spacehead truly is a worthy successor to the Dizzy puzzle game title, introducing a new generation to the joy of endless nights of epic late night puzzle solving sessions.