Released in 1996 for the SNES, Whizz is a Flair Software puzzle-platformer. In a tale apparently inspired by Alice in Wonderland, you play as a bunny in a very big hurry. Bounce through all the levels, collect a bunch of stuff, and then go riding off on your hot-air balloon into the metaphorical sunset.
Best time on Hard: Single-segment 0:16:10 by Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare on 2012-11-24.
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Thanks to everybody at SDA for continuing to provide a great place for me to submit my runs of obscure games! Mega thanks to __sdfg for verifying my last run and finding a bajillion minutes of improvement to my route! Seriously, like every improvement in this version is because of him. Door breaker skip, bump jump around lakes, 2-1 lake jumps, sled glitch, etc etc etc. I really appreciate all the constructive criticism and the continued help and support during the rerouting! I love this game and it deserved a better run than what I submitted before.
Whizz is a really neat game that I never would have even know about if I didn't find a great deal for it on ebay awhile back during a generic search for "SNES". I looked up a video of it and was immediately sold on it. Despite having the box and manual, I literally only learned what the plot was when I wrote the comments for my first run of this. For the record, it was on the first page of the manual, which explains why I never found it. <_< Anyways, here it is:
"Our furry friend Whizz, in his hot air balloon, is being chased around the mystical Worlds by his arch-enemy, Ratty. From the South Seas Beaches to the Frozen Arctic Waste, and from the Green Grassed Castle to Whizz's favorite Indoor World of Gamesville, the chase never ends!
After leaving his trusty balloon, Whizz needs to collect as many items as possible to help him reach the end of each stage of each of the Worlds."
Strangely, Ratty isn't anywhere to be seen in the SNES version and only briefly appears in the intro of the PSX version. The ending doesn't mention him either, so let's just assume the entire goal is to get some good exercise and then fly around in your balloon.
This game might look a bit confusing at first, but it is honestly a pretty simple game. Obviously, it is one of the few isometric platformers on the SNES. You can run in the four diagonal directions, jump, and attack by spinning. That's basically all you can do as far as movement is concerned. Running and jumping is pretty straightforward, but I guess I should mention that you cannot change direction in mid-air like you can in Solstice or other isometric platformers. You can only jump in the direction you're facing, so if you need to jump in a different direction than you're running, you need to make sure you fully change direction before jumping, otherwise you'll be very disappointed.
The spin attack is pretty interesting. It costs health to use and the frequency with which you can use it changes based on how much health you have. As you get to lower and lower health, you have to wait longer between each use. While you are spinning you cannot take damage, so it is very handy for getting past damaging obstacles (e.g. spike walls) or invulnerable enemies (like the stack of disks or beach ball) without taking too much damage. The spin attack is also used to break walls and kill enemies. It can even break health powerups!
The mushroom in the bottom right of the screen represents your health. The more full the mushroom is, the more health you have. Red mushrooms, red potions, and first aid kits all refill health whereas spin attacking, blue mushrooms, and poison bottles all drain health. Obviously getting hit by enemies also drains health. The bottom left shows score and flag count, both of which are irrelevant for a speed run. The upper left shows how much time is remaining and how many lives I have. The remaining time is pretty important. The time you have to complete each stage varies by stage and by difficulty. You can add more time by collecting hourglasses, and nothing will deduct time except for time itself...if that makes any sense. I play on hard difficulty, which gives me the lowest amount of time to complete each level. At first, I did this just because it was the most challenging. As I was routing this more, I realized that hard difficulty is actually the fastest difficulty because of some death abuse that becomes possible when your timer expires.
There are plenty of things you can collect in this game, including several stage-specific items, but most of them don't matter for speed. Flags, gems, and rockets increase score, hourglasses add more time to the timer, first aid kits heal you and cure poison, poison bottles poison you, red potions heal you, and keys open locked wooden doors, treasures chests, and cages. The different colored cubes that I collect are called "door breakers". As you might suspect, these allow me to smash apart some doors that are blocking my path. The door breakers will always be one power level higher than your current door breaker power (which is shown in the bottom middle of the screen), so you can't just collect the highest power as soon as you want. The sequence, iirc, is ice, wood, cobblestone, brick, iron, and then something else. The manual claims the sequence is "ice, wood, brick, and iron" but that's missing a level. Anyways, I only need to collect ~2 levels of power in most stages; level 1-2 is the only level that requires collecting 5 or more power levels. Anyways, you can break any door as long as your power is matches or exceeds the door's material. i.e. I can break wooden doors if I have brick power. Pretty simple.
__sdfg found an incredibly broken bug that bypasses all of the door breaker collection for some levels: you can break any level door if your health is at the minimum. In level 1-2, for example, I only need to collect the ice door breaker, then lower my health to a minimum and I can break the following FOUR doors without any additional detours to collect breakers. This saves close to 30 seconds on just that level! Of course, it is impractical in some levels because playing the stage with minimum health is either not possible or requires treading so carefully to avoid death that it is faster to just grab the door breakers. I think I use it everywhere where it is feasible, though. Quick sidenote: you can also jump over some doors in this game without the required item. Example: the key door in 2-1, two of the walls in 4-2, etc. Just jump on an enemy that is near the door and jump over the door. It is a sprite just like everything else, so it doesn't have infinite height or anything silly like that. Convenient!
There are some minor movement tricks in this game and I'll try to make them clear but it's pretty hard to describe a lot of them:
-Damage boosting. Since most enemies move faster than Whizz and some enemies chase Whizz, it is sometimes beneficial to let an enemy just push you in the direction you want to go. Similarly, since changing direction takes time, it is a good idea to get an enemy to push you to the side while you are moving forward. Those are pretty tricky to do properly but it does save a bit of time. Beach balls (world 3) and red cones (world 2) are good candidates for damage boosting. As always, spinning while you are damage boosting conserves a bit of health.
-"Corner boosting". When you fall from a higher platform to a lower platform, I think you can get a speed boost if you jump or change direction right as you pass over the corner of the higher platform. I have definitely done some jumps that are way longer than normal by using this timing. Whenever you have to change direction on the next tile after a fall, it is best to change direction on the corner right before falling. Changing direction before falling gives me a minor speed boost and is actually faster than changing direction after landing. I try to do this in every possible situation, but it is very difficult to do it every time.
-Strafe jumping. Uh. Yea. This actually exists. It is actually possible to move very slightly to the side during a jump if you time it perfectly. I honestly still don't know how it is done, but I've done it many times by accident. I more or less tried to change direction at the same time as jumping. While this might seem useless, it can cut one elevator cycle off of 1-3 if you perfectly time a strafe jump after hitting the second golden switch. I opt to do a slightly different strategy for that elevator because the strafe jump is so unreliable. __sdfg pointed out there there is one pixel of the elevator that extends into the next row, but bumped into the corner next to it pushes Whizz onto one of three possible pixels; with some proper maneuvering it is possible to get the corner to bump you onto the same pixel that extends from the elevator, so I don't have to do any strafe jump at all.
-Bump jump? Never really came up with a name for this. Haha. So anyways, if more than half of your sprite is past the edge of the next row of tiles and you bump into a corner, it'll push you into the next row. If that corner happens to be kitty corner to a lower tile, you'll just fall into the hole and get stuck. Pretty lame. As it turns out, jumping prevents this. Pretty simple concept: jump, get bumped by the corner into the next row, land on solid ground instead of the hole. This is used allll over the run, but it especially saves time jumping around the lakes. Very handy technique.
-Powerup jumping. I noticed during my grinding of level 4-1 that sometimes when I jump onto some of the flags, Whizz would hesitate briefly when falling. I assumed that the game was letting me land on the powerups instead of falling straight through them, and after I remembered that I can buffer jumps I realized that I can actually jump off the top of these powerups! Unfortunately, it's not quite as great as it sounds. In fact, the only use we (read: __sdfg) found for this is in level 1-1. That happens to save close to 4 seconds (and it looks cool!), so I'm happy to use it. Haha. I do actually use this in 4-1 to grab a coin on a lower level and immediately jump back up to the high platform without landing first. I attempt this in 4-2 too, but miss. Anyways, that just saves some frames so it's no big deal.
I thiiink that covers all the basics of the game, so I can talk a bit about this run.
No problems here. Pretty standard level with a neat powerup jump off the only red potion in the game. :P
I had pretty bad luck losing my health at the start of this level. Sometimes I get damaged by the stack of disks more than other times, and more damage is better in this case. I then killed the plank too soon and had to spin into the wooden door a few times to drain my health fully. Lost a bit of time there.
I just missed the bump jump at the brick door and had to jump off the springpad. I also played it a bit safe against the final plank; it is possible to jump onto the very front corner and jump over the plank as he runs at you, but it very rarely works.
Overall about 2 seconds lost. Not too bad honestly.
This level goes quite well. I got the elevator skip AND the extra fancy balloon, so this level is a success. :D
This world doesn't go very well. It is definitely the weak point of the run. There's just a lot of minor slop throughout, and it starts from the very first jump. I missed the wooden platforms. :'( I also miss the first of the lake jumps, but I make a very nice recovery so it's all good. The rest of the level is pretty alright, except for my thumb deciding to run the wrong direction at the end.
This level was going really well until I forgot how to jump onto springpads. And then I forgot how to fall down holes covered by locked doors. Haha. Seriously, what was I standing on? I still think that jump into the hole was necessary because it lets me continue to move down-left when I exit the hole and that saves a good deal of time.
It's all ok though because of my magic sled. You can take this really far OoB but you can only trigger the goal (read: quickly) if you stay within a few rows. I even got an extra fancy balloon from this level!
You can go so far OoB that the level wraps a few times over and you end up at the goal again. Well actually, you fly through the goal like 3 more times but sometimes you actually hop off of the "sled" and can finish the level again! It's like 2 minutes longer than just ending the level straight away, but it's neat. I was hoping you could sled all the way into a different level, but that is not the case. :(
The platforming in this level is really difficult. I crushed this level real hard, though. I nailed the early platforms at 7:11 and got both bump jumps around the lake perfectly! I even got the REVERSE DAMAGE BOOST for a flashy and easy way to lose a handful of time.
This is the hardest level in the run, imo. In my old route I collect an hourglass from one of the landmines at the beginning. __sdfg was kind enough to remind me that it actually isn't needed if you are a jedi and run like hell through the level without making any mistakes. So...that's what I did. It is also important to keep really really high health throughout because the end of the level has an unavoidable poison (unless you use the no-health strat....in which case it's a 1-frame jump) and two pretty large and variable damage boosts. I kill only the enemies I absolutely must kill to prevent losing time.
This level features the first of two deaths in this route. I accidentally found out that if you die at some point after you hit the finish line, the game immediately fades away and cuts to the score tally screen. This cuts out the animation of Whizz running to his balloon and flying away. Poison is a very easy way to set this up, but you can also set it up with the timer if you plan it properly. In this level, it is convenient to use either method for death abuse. If I am really fast, I get to the surfboard with a few seconds to spare and can just drain my health to use the poison as a setup. In this run, I lost a sufficient amount of time from the beachball jump at the end so the timer was in a really great spot for a death. It can be done sooner but it is only a second or two faster (and sometimes you don't cross the finish line when you die...which is bad).
Oh hey, and an extra fancy surfboard!
I CRUSHED this level. This is my fastest time ever through this stage...by like 3 seconds. No real mistakes to speak of. Nice new route too. :)
I'm always scared when I play this stage because the beachballs in the low-health portion of this route are pretty dangerous. More importantly though, the bouncy castle at 11:05 can despawn sometimes (along with the bottom ship entrance) so when you run across the sand bridge you are stuck and have to just wait for the timer to expire. No idea what causes it but jumping on/killing the crab before that seems to lower the chances of it happening. Weird.
It is possible to speed up the beachball at the end by jumping above it and back to safety while it is turning around. If you're lucky you've live. If you're luckier it'll actually work and the beachball will roll quickly away. It only saves a bit of time and is stupid hard to do so I didn't bother.
The great equilizer. This stage is an absolute nightmare. Really good luck can turn a mediocre run into something exceptional, but slightly bad luck can kill a run. My previous run had incredible luck (missed two slot spins at the least costly points and didn't miss a single hi-lo draw), which is why that was such a good time. I had many attempts get here and then get crushed by bad RNG on the slots. This run has luck that is just as good as my previous run, which is unreal!
The way this world works is that there are a few minigames you have to win to proceed. The two luck-based games are slots and high/low. Slots are simple: you insert a coin and then spin. If you get three red dots, a bridge will appear. Else, you need to insert another coin. There are always three coins available for each slot machine, and you will always win within 3 spins. High/low is a bit trickier to understand at first. I knew the concept obviously, but didn't know how the game did it. All you need to do is guess if the next card is higher/lower by standing on the hi/lo button. The button needs to be down as the card is drawn, otherwise the game won't recognize your guess. Also misleading is the fact that it is an incomplete deck of cards. It uses A, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, and K, so your odds are a lot more misleading than it seems for numbers like 4, 7, and 8. A is low, btw.
In this level, I miss one hi-lo draw (damn you, 2!) and one slot pull. Winning the slots on the first and second spins for both machines is really really rare. In fact, I've never seen that in all of my practice. I've gotten a 1/3 win a few times, and a 3/1, and 2/2, but never 1/2. Pretty awesome! Unfortunately, I promptly throw away my good fortune by missing the rook skip. This is the single biggest mistake in the entire run, costing around 5 seconds. :'( I'm so bad.
This route has a lot of minor improvements over my old route, but the major improvement is at the end. I skip the last door breaker (which was never needed in the first place...) and the last hourglass, so the timer is actually really tight. In fact, if I don't get really good luck from the minigames I will die before I reach the end of the level. It's really rare to have this much time leftover. Additionally, I skip the first aid kit after I get poisoned so I need high health again. It would save time in the level to do the low-health strat and skip door breakers, but to survive the poison at the end I need something like 5 health drops from the remaining 8 or so enemies. I don't remember exactly how many it takes, but the odds of success are exceptionally low. It would save a few seconds but I wasn't going to risk it considering the godly luck I had.
This is a cool level. I jump over two doors and then smash the other doors with the low-health hax. I also get a first-try slots and another 1-miss hi-lo (seriously go away, 2!). Pretty unreal! This is another level with an extremely tight timer. I finish the level with a really low 2 on the timer and I got almost perfect luck. Scary! Pretty nice end to the run.
This improves my old run by 1:58! Almost every single level has gone through a serious route revision, incorporating some extremely finicky jumps and risky strats. I wasn't expecting to hit this many of the tricks in a run AND get good luck, tbh. It'd be possible to bring this run down to maybe 15:55 with the same good fortune and without making any mistakes (and using the riskier strats in some levels like 4-1 and 3-1), but it's so easy to miss most of these that I don't think that will ever happen. I certainly won't try until another major skip is found (get on it, __sdfg!). I'm really happy that I was able to get the time so low because Whizz definitely deserves it.
I'll leave you all with some words of wisdom from my brother:
<Brother>: what the heck is whizz
PJ: great game
<Brother>: looks awful
PJ: no way
<Brother>: how do you even find these
<Brother>: what is your health
<Brother>: I don't see where you hax things
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