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Olli & Lissa: The Ghost of Shilmoore Castle

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Released: 1986

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Firebird

Developer: Ionis Software

Submitted by: Lee Tatlock

Olli and Lissa featured in a spooky little trilogy from Ionis Software with hugely cartoon graphics that where on part with anything pushed out by Codmasters. In this, the first of the trilogy, subtitled The Ghost of Shilmoore Castle you must, at the behest of an impatient little Scottish ghosty called Sir Humphrey, get the eight ingredients that make up a potion of invisibility. Being far too tame looking and with his home under threat of being sold and shipped to America, Sir Humphrey enlists the help of Olli and Lissa to mix said invisibility potion so he can scare the heck out of the prospective buyer. A suitably thin story: check! But is the game as weak as the tale that drives it? The simple answer to that question is no, hell no! This is one cracking little romp, let me count the ways:

Superb Graphics with real character not often found in games of this time, from Olli’s impatient foot tapping when he’s left to his own devices to Sir Humphreys equally impatient pacing as he waits for the ingredients to be mixed, this is all top notch stuff, and the gameplay may be frantic but it’s sublimely paced. First you have to wait for your instructions from Sir Humphrey who tells you which ingredient to go for through the medium of thought bubbles, then you must find the ingredient within a time limit, denoted by an energy bar at the bottom of the screen, and dodge many excellently drawn enemies to grab it and return it to Lissa who will mix it in her cauldron. It’s simple and addictive with a difficulty level that is perfectly judged. The sound is great and every bit of the castle and its grounds is bursting with detail and atmosphere; from suits of armour, to spooky woodlands it all looks gorgeous, sure there are only eight rooms (eight rooms, eight ingredients) but full advantage has been taken of each screen.

If you can’t already tell I can’t recommend this enough – go play it….now…well…go on then!