Bowling ranger in a haunted castle

Park Patrol (1986), developed and published by Activision for Amstrad CPC 464

No grand story here, just a simple arcade game about you being a park ranger, who has to keep the park clean. What the game boils down to is, that you control the ranger on boat and land, picking up trash and trying to avoid the wildlife. There's an energy counter ticking down, so you need to finish before it runs out or try to get back to the ranger's cabin to replenish your energy. For extra points, you can save drowning swimmers in the lake.

This is one of the games that hasn't aged too well. The rather unpleasant graphics aside, the gameplay is rather wonky with controls that feel a bit too sticky for a game like this. The relatively bad screen-scroll speed isn't helping much either. Neither is annoying music and sound effects.

One noteworthy aspect of the game is, that you can change the gender of the ranger and very freely adjust the difficulty of the 5 levels as much as you want by altering the amounts of wildlife you encounter. Other than that, this isn't a game I'd recommend anyone trying at least on Amstrad. The C64 version seems to be light years better at least as far Youtube videos are to go by. This probably was one of those times, CPC owners got shafted.

10th Frame (1986), developed by Access Software, published by U.S. Gold for Amstrad CPC 464

If you'd put a bowling game in front of me now, I doubt I'd play much of it. 10th Frame was altogether something else. We sunk hours to this one with friends, just swapping the joystick and trying to get the best possible score.

You can choose from 3 difficulty levels, Kids, Amateur or Pro, before starting the game. Kid level is pretty forgiving with the speed, hook and aiming, but the latter two need more actual precision. 10th Frame still is quite a playable game, with a small, or big, problem with the Speed/Hook meter requiring a bit too quick of reflexes. This might be an Amstrad conversion related issue though.

Still, it was a good game to play with friends and it still seems to work just as well as it ever did. I could see myself playing this round or two just for the fun of it with some mates during a get-together.

Olli & Lissa: The Ghost Shilmoore Castle (1987), developed by D&K Software Developments and Ionis Software International, published by Firebird Software for Amstrad CPC 464 

Now here's a game I wanted to like when I was a kid. I think it had a lot to do with the fact, that the game actually has pretty decent graphics. But it was a hard game and I never got far with it. And I really can't get far with it now either, as the game is insanely difficult, requiring perfect timing and precision.

Jumping over the enemies alone is a tale told in legends. Any jump has to be timed precisely so, that the oversized feet of Olli doesn't hit the enemy's face nor his heels even grace the backside of them. And once you jump, there's no controlling Olli or his trajectory. And I didn't even mention yet, that Olli is killed by the shortest of falls, so you need to be careful in where you jump or step. I almost forgot to mention, that there's also a timer running down, so you need to hurry up as well?

When I was a kid, I always thought the game was about rescuing Lissa, who was taken prisoner by the ghost of Sir Humphrey. You see, in the very first screen of the game, we see Lissa with Sir Humphrey and the ghost is asking you to get a lamp, that is on the same screen. After you've gotten it, Lissa gives Olli a big ol' kiss. And then Sir Humphrey asks more stuff.

But now I know, that Olli and Lissa are there to help Sir Humphrey, who is afraid his castle is taken to America by a millionaire. What the whole hassle is about is Olli and Lissa trying to help him create a potion that renders him invisible, as people are apparently only afraid of invisible ghosts.

Anyhow, another tick on the box of difficulty comes from the fact, that you need 8 items, in 8 different screens. And every time Sir Humphrey tasks you to go get a new item, you need to travel through all the screens to the new item and back again.

No wonder I never got further than the second item when I was a kid. I can't get any further now either. Shame really, as the game looks nice and the animation is pretty smooth as well. On a side note, I am glad I never saw the actual cover for this when I was a kid. That thing is horrible. Another note, after watching a C64 playthrough, I have a suspicion, that the Amstrad version is badly broken, thus almost unplayable. Oh, well.

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