Dateline : 29th November 2011


What better way to finish than with two real retro memories ? 2 for the price of 1 as RetroBear sinks his teeth in the BBC Micro, talks to four brightly coloured dragons and checks out the Vealery for clues……


Don't you remember how cool games likes these were when we were kids ?

When I look back on all the games that I have played in my lifetime, and there are a helluva lot of them, I am reminded of where it all began. It’s probably a toss up between the table top game Astro Wars or the Atari VCS game Space Invaders. I then come full circle and think of the last current gen game I played, and that either has to be Band Hero or PES 2011 on the PS3. In between that there has been a lot of time with Championship/Football Manager and not enough time with my C64 – and yes the Commodorathon is coming back.


One game I always will have fond memories of is perhaps one not from a usual source. Back in the day when I were a lad, my dad used to bring home one of the school computers. No he wasn’t a thief, he was teacher, and each and every school holiday me and my sister would be treated to the delight of “educational games”. These were as exciting as they sounded, because kids, there is nothing more exciting than learning when you are on your holidays. At least no one could say the BBC Micro on loan to us wasn’t being used for gaming purposes.


It's the newest member of the Loose Women panel.....and she send you back to the start of the game too


However there were two titles that really deserve a mention as a joint entry, homage to those funny summer days when everyone else was out playing and I was either trawling through Granny’s Garden or solving mysteries in Mallory Manor. The first is one of the best and most fondly remembered BBC titles whilst the latter allowed use for you own imagination as it allowed to you input your own ideas which then appeared in the game.


Let’s deal with Granny’s Garden first because anyone who knows anything about educational software should know this game. The game is set in The Kingdom Of Mountains where you have to rescue the King and Queen’s 6 children. Along the way your maths, logic and spelling would be tested as the Evil Witch would try to outfox your do-gooding attempts to save the day once again. It was a simple formula and rather surprisingly for an educational title, dare I say it, actually made learning fun. The colourful graphics more than made up for the very basic feel to the game. So successful was this that it ended up being ported to the Spectrum, Amstrad and C64 and even a few years ago ended up on Windows. It’s the one game anyone associates with the BBC Micros and IT lessons at primary school.


Normally I don't condone this sort of juvenile behaviour, but if you will allow people to edit fuctions in the game what do you expect ? Joking aside it is rather funny isn't it ?


Mallory Manor on the other hand was incredibly amusing. You played a policeman who had to go round a manor house, interviewing suspects, collecting evidence and deciphering clues in order to solve the murder. All seems rather dull, except that Mallory Manor allowed you to edit the text, changing the names of the rooms and also the characters. Now this should have been all rather amusing if you were 7 years old, however at the grand old age of 13-14 years old this game was still causing great mirth when I was at high school, and the prospect of encountering your classmate in the Beefery (I know, I still don’t get it after all these years) brought many a tear to the eye.


There is nothing dynamic about either game, there is nothing vaguely special or ground breaking either. They were just two titles that brought me a lot of fun at the time and a lot of memories looking back.


I waqs unable to find a screenshot for Mallory Manor, so here is the bumbling Inspector Clouseau to represent it instead


VERDICT : If you are feeling nostalgic, dig them out. If not, just leave your memories where they were and keep them that way


NOTES : Sadly I am unable to locate either of these games on Amazon or eBay.


UP NEXT : 30 days of highs and lows – it’s a retrospective of the journey we have been on.