What's the deal with the "Lite" C64 version?

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What's the deal with the "Lite" C64 version?

Post by Joe » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:54 pm

I've been doing some analysis of the two versions lately. There's a problem with the 'full' version of Spellbound Dizzy on the C64 other than the slow screen redraw. If you do anything that requires Dizzy's sprite to face right (walk or jump in that direction), if you pay close attention you'll notice the game runs slow (relatively speaking...) I've actually tested a fix for this that worked, but still need to figure out the best place in memory for it so I can't release it yet. I'd also like to see if I can do anything about the slow screen redraw first. Anyway, here's a copy-paste from the Lemon 64 forum of me explaining some major technical differences about the two games, and some other observations:

"I've discovered some more information about these different versions.

First of all, a lot of websites that host the 'lite' and 'full' versions of the game have it around the wrong way. Smile

An interesting bug in the 'lite' version is one of the screens above ground containing a few clouds is effectively all cloud as far as the game engine is concerned - you can jump repeatedly through the sky. There's so many clouds on this screen though that usually you can't tell if you're standing on the lower most extents of one cloud, or the upper most of the other.

The biggest difference between the two games (apart from the fact they are effectively two different games!) is the way Dizzy is displayed. I noticed that actually, the 'lite' version doesn't have the slowdown that I observed in the full version when Dizzy faces right. The reason for this becomes apparent when you look at the sprites in memory.

In the 'full' version, you can see some of Dizzy's sprites (probably the forward facing ones) kicking around in $C000-FFFF, the active VIC2 bank. All the walking sprites are held near the bottom of memory, and are copied to 2 sprites near the start of the bank as required. I think even the sprites that are already held and accessible in the bank are copied to this 'mutable' sprite pair, rather than referenced via sprite pointer. As I've said, this is particularly slow when the sprites need flipped because the routine is poorly optimised.

In the 'lite' version, not only are all the sprites held in memory uncompressed facing both directions, but 3 hi-res sprites - that's right, 3 - are used to show Dizzy. The graphics don't take advantage of the type of detail 3 hi-res sprites can provide versus a hi-res overlay on a multi-colour sprite, so clearly the developer just wasn't aware of the technique. Needless to say, a large amount of memory is taken up by Dizzy's sprites.

Something else interesting in the 'lite' version is what one of the scrolls says. Pretty much every scroll in the game is advertising another Codemasters game, which is pretty cheeky in itself, considering the game has been drastically shortened for memory considerations. One though announces something along the lines of "Lemmings is out for the Archimedes! It's not a Codemasters game but it is the reason Dizzy V didn't come out in <some month>". I don't know what to make of that - it depends on what the truth behind the game's stunted development is. I can envisage two possible scenarios:

1 - The 'lite' game was the original attempt that fell behind and/or made naive decisions regarding memory usage. The Lemmings message was itself a naive joke that reveals something about the work attitude of the developer. The 'full' version of the game was either the same developer or a different developer's attempt at reworking the 'lite' project into something resembling the game released on the Spectrum and Amstrad, but by this point very little time was available.

2 - The 'full' version was the original attempt, but development fell behind/wasn't of a high enough standard, and the 'lite' version was a quick and temporary replacement to be released with the DEA compilation. The Lemmings message was a jibe towards the 'full' version's coder/team, who perhaps spent too long playing Lemmings while the C64 port of the game floundered?

I've no real basis for those two theories apart from what I've seen inside the two versions. I work in game dev myself and I know conditions and deadlines can sometimes be unworkable, and I'd always assumed that was the case here. It's just that Lemmings message that made me wonder..."

Now regarding my two theories - the RFW quote above shows I was somewhere close to the truth with both theories, but not quite right. I did mean to say that I wasn't sure whether the same programmer was involved in both the lite and full versions. On retrospect I think I was a bit harsh about some of the things I said regarding work attitude, but I was mainly trying to think about it from a C64 owner's point of view back in the day. There were no software patches, so people who bought the Dizzy's Excellent Adventures collection would have been stuck with the buggy Lite version. And presumably the Full version was released with very little polish too, as a result of the game effectively already being released. So with that in mind, the Lemmings joke seemed a bit cheeky to me - but who knows whether the developers actually did spend too long playing Lemmings (or generally procrastinating), or simply worked hard in difficult circumstances, and never saw any harm in that little joke? The 'lite' version should maybe be re-nicknamed the 'joke' version, as that's kind of what it is.

Having said all that, in my view the full version of Spellbound Dizzy is probably the worst of the adventure games bar Crystal Kingdom, simply because trades scale for detail and has too many frustrating chores for the player (i.e. the boulders) to really be enjoyable. So as others have said, there are some upsides to the 'joke' version :)

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Re: What's the deal with the "Lite" C64 version?

Post by themaster » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:51 am

really interesting and detailed analysis, joe. makes a lot of sense.

I'd guess the majority of c64 dizzy users (myself inculded), only ever saw the lite version as we had it on the compilation.


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Re: What's the deal with the "Lite" C64 version?

Post by MrGillespie » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:12 pm

Master, I purchased the full game when I released that the individual release wasn't the boxset version, which ironically should have had the exclusive to this set sticker as oppose to PotY.

I can't recall now if the compilation had four games on one cassette and one on one or if it was three tapes with two of the tapes having one game a side,

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