Grell and Fella

by Allister Brimble, Chris Graham, Peter J. Ranson, R. Fred Williams, Shan Savage
Code Masters Ltd
Sinclair User Issue 125, Jul 1992   page(s) 30,31

Label: Code Masters
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Ed Lawrence

Grell and Fella are garden bound odd-jobbers with a difference, thus we had to get the most experienced muck raker on the Crew to sort them out... Ed Laurence pulled out his little trowel and got digging.

Seeing as one of these characters is a dwarf and the other a fairy you might be forgiven for thinking that their odd-job experience would be restricted to mining or cleaning more dishes than any other washing up liquid, but that is where this duo depart from the norm. Grell and Fella are in fact currently employed as magical gardeners in a fantasy kingdom. Their employer is a benevolent sorcerer who has recently come into a plot of land after kicking an evil witch off the premises and now he wants his garden cleaned up.

Unfortunately, what should have been a couple of days hard digging combined with a few good rain spells has been turned into a full-scale battle by the hordes of evil garden creatures left behind by the witch.

Playing both Grell and Fella it is your job to traverse the platform terraces of the garden, turning evil creatures into friendly ones (by hitting them or shooting them with a variety of stars and fairy dust), whilst simultaneously planting pretty flowers and creepers to make it all look nice.

The job is made somewhat easier by both Grell and Fella's intuitive grasp of magic. Grell can only cast offensive spells, although these come in very handy, whilst Fella has a wide magical repertoire at her disposal. Soil quality is improved with Fella Fairy Dust spell and her deluge incantation is just the job for watering thirsty seeds. Unfortunately, the chums have rather poor memories, and every time they use a spell, they also lose one charge, eventually they forget the spells altogether. More charges can be purchased at the Garden Centre though (conveniently situated at the foot of the garden itself), but our heroes must first earn enough money (in the form of pebbles) to buy them!

The object of the game is clear up the entire garden, making all the animals happy and good and leaving the ground a sculptured masterpiece of flower and vines. Of course, Grell and Fella earn money for this, but exactly how much depends on how quickly and efficiently the job gets done. Earn enough and the pair can retire in peace... botch the job and they are doomed to an eternity of spadework.

Grell and Fella must be the world's first gardening simulator! The plot and game objective are certainly as bizarre as they come, so it's slightly disappointing when the game loads up and you discover it's really just another platform collect 'em up. Nevertheless the graphics are colourful and detailed, though this does result in some colour clash which can make it difficult to see where your character is at times. There is also very little sound to speak of, though what is available is of reasonable quality.

Gameplay definitely needs getting used to, and even then it'll never be completely satisfactory. The main sprites seem to be either glued to the spot or hopping mad with very little control, all over the place. The design and concept of Grell and Fella is entertaining and makes for an interesting game, however difficulties in controlling each character and suspect collision detection - there are times when your shots pass through enemies harmlessly, and others when a killer bunny miles away starts draining your energy slightly mar it.

In theory, Grell and Fella should have been a strategic platformer with lots to do and some teasing puzzles. In practice however it has turned out to be a mite frustrating to play but still an interesting title for the price.

I love the idea behind this game, Ed's right... It must qualify as the world's first gardening simulator. Control is annoying and sprite detection somewhat dodgy but not to the extent that the game is unplayable. Without these problems Grell and Fella could have been § most spectacular title, but even with them I still think it's worth a look.

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Graphics: 78%
Sound: 64%
Playability: 72%
Lastability: 76%
Overall: 73%

Summary: In concept, Grell and Fella sounds great, but in the flesh it can seem to be an ugly beast. On the downside graphics are colourful but a little confusing and control can get frightfully annoying at times. On the plus side the storyline is original and there are lots of things to do and implements to do them with, along with plenty of power-ups and a nice friendly shop keeper. Not really my choice of game but a title that does deserve some notice.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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