Park Patrol, Amstrad CPC

Tony Ngo‘s classic Commmodore 64 game, Park Patrol, has a decent conversion on the Amstrad, courtesy of programmer Andrew Rogers and publisher Firebird Software. The Amstrad version was released in 1986 at a budget price (£1.99 if I remember correctly).

Park Patrol is a simple game, but is beautifully designed and absorbing to play. You basically play a park ranger who must collect litter found discarded in the river, and on the bank of said river, while at the same time avoiding contact with swimmers, logs, trees, and wildlife that are going about their business. You can jump into an inflatable dingy to paddle out onto the water, and also return to shore whenever you need to.

The main type of hazard you’ll encounter are turtles, which scurry about on land, but if they fall into the water and climb back out again they’ll turn into a faster, meaner green variety that will make life more difficult for you. You can rescue the turtles while they’re in the water for extra points, but you only have a short window of opportunity to do that. From the second level onward snakes in the water become the most pressing hazard as they move around quickly and erratically. If you collide with a floating log in the water you comically fly out of the dingy and into the drink.

Each level also has a timer in the form of an energy counter. If you fail to collect all the litter before the timer reaches zero you’ll lose a life, so there is some urgency to get down to the task in hand.

The higher the level: the more difficult it gets, with more hazards being introduced (like ants and quicksand). You can even customise the number of enemies you get on each level, or change the park ranger to be a girl if you prefer, which is cool.

The game does slow down a bit when there are quite a few things on-screen at the same time, and there are only five levels (the game cycles back to level one when you complete level five), so it is a bit limited, but it is at least customisable via the menu.

Park Patrol is a cute and jolly game that has translated well to the Amstrad and is highly recommended if you want to play something that is cute, non-violent and feel-good.

More: Park Patrol on Wikipedia

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