Reviewer: Linda Barker
Unlike quite a lot of little girls I never wanted to be a fairy, I wanted to be a cute pixie with pointy ears and a green tunic. Since those distant days I've acquired the green tunic and years of pulling my ears has given them an almost imperceptible sharpness. When Grell & Falla appeared I thought my time had come, I was about to take on my rightful role as a green midget. But alack and alas, the only pixies here are baddies. I was just going to have to put my prejudices to one side and pretend to be a fairy who can't swim. (Pretty apt, eh Linda? Ed) Okay, okay, so I can't swim but that doesn't make me a fairy. Anyway, upwards and onwards as some groovy chap once said.
Grell's the dwarf, Falla's the fairy and the two of them meet down the local employment agency and decide to go into business together. They are taken on by a sorcerer as gardeners and set to work, ready to slope off in a few hours. But 'tis not to be for this is a magic garden, full of untimorous beasties left by the old owner - a nasty witch. Eek! It's a bit lucky then that there are two of them to sort the mess out, eh? Grell & Falla is not, as you might expect, a two-player game. Instead you move one character at a time and make sure the other one is safe out of harms way. Should Grell or Falla die then a message will appear on screen bidding the other to hurry to the scene of the accident and administer the kiss of life.
There are 50 levels here, so it's a biggie. (Oo-er! Ed) Oh, per-lease! You're assigned a different task on each level, you have to plant bulbs and turn the nasties into honest, hardworking creatures who will help the garden grow. You can also buy useful implements and the like at the garden centre. Coo, eh? The garden itself is a sideways-scrolling, platformy kind of affair. It's one of those places where you can't get lost, however hard you try. Y'see, if you were to cut out this game, you could roll it up into a freestanding circle. But you can't, so let's just pretend I didn't say that.
Grell and Falla have their own, erm, inimitable characteristics that make each of them dead useful to you. Grell can punch baddies 'til their faces are wreathed in docile grins and Falla can run and fly faster than a very fast thing in a hurry. Grell might be a bit dirty, but he's the biz when it comes to digging whereas Falla, being dead girly, doesn't like getting her hands dirty. Instead, she hovers around sprinkling fairy dust on the seeds.
Actually, Falla's a bit too speedy and Grell doesn't exactly crawl along. The two of them kept running on long after I'd stopped pressing the right buttons. (You mean inertia. Ed) Inertia? I thought that was when thing's didn't move at all. (Well you weren't. Ed) Oh, anyway - there's a high inertia factor and it's dead annoying. Y'see, Grell and Falla can't swim and whenever I tried to stop them at the banks of rivers, they refused. Instead of skidding to a halt, they just jumped in and lost vital energy. This didn't help when it came to converting baddies either. Rather than stopping just in front of them and giving them a good punch on the nose, old Grell just ran full-tilt into them. Result? A dead dwarf. Pshaw I Now I know that the easiest way to deal with this situation is to go slower and take things a bit easier, and I tried. I managed to get to grips with it all eventually, but I really had to concentrate on how fast I was waggling. (Which meant that I couldn't wallow in the cuteness of it all.)
CUTIE, OR WHAT?
Cutie, definitley cutie - there's no 'or what' about it matey. Grell & Falla is full of my favourite things, there are piles of flowers, handfuls of fairy dust, starburst spells, butterflies and ladybirds. What's more it's a complete riot of colour. The programmers really have gone to town on this one - the skies are blue, the grass is green, the rabbits (sorry - wabbits) are fluffy and the bees are buzzy. If it wasn't for that darn inertia this would be one fluffy-wuffy Megagame, as it is it just misses by the span of a ladybird's wings.
Label: Code Masters
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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