Winter Camp (Commodore 64)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , ,

Summer Camp must have done pretty well, because within a year John Ferrari and Thalamus had a sequel ready. And when you've already been to Summer Camp, where do you go next? Of course... Winter Camp!

Yay! I win! That means I actually get to play more of the game...

Yes, Maximus Mouse returned... a good thing if you ask me, because for all Summer Camp was rock hard and perhaps not as enjoyable to play as it might have been with the odd gameplay tweak, there's no denying that Maximus was a very appealing character and he deserved another runout. Maybe the balance would be a little more forgiving this time around?

Maximus gets a chilly reception on his first day...

Maximus has found himself to be something of a hero after the events of Summer Camp, when he saved the day (and the opening ceremony) by locating the camp's missing Stars and Stripes flag. As a reward, he's been offered the post of Ranger at Camp Nice 'N' Icey - Winter Camp!

I knew that bears shit in the woods, but nobody told me they threw snowballs in them!

Excited about this though Maximus is, once he's completed his assessment (a level where he must skate off, Track and Field-style (i.e. waggling), against three opponents to prove his worth), he notices that the camp is in danger! It's up to him to save the day, and the camp, by progressing through a number of fun-filled levels.

I thought it was only Atari games where you played with paddles?

The danger comes from a large bird, which can be spotted at the top of the screen. It's flying towards a nearby mountain top... nothing too dangerous there, you might think, but there's a pebble balanced precariously on top of the mountain, and if the bird dislodges it, it'll cause an avalanche that will destroy the camp! Maximus has to get to that pebble before the bird can, and make the camp safe for all to enjoy.

What a strange looking Creature...

There are some really entertaining levels in this game. The second one, which sees you skating from left-to-right across a frozen lake or river, reminded me for some reason of Park Patrol... and that can never be a bad thing. Complete that, and you'll have to defeat some pesky snowball-throwing bears, that hide in trees and pelt you when they think you're not looking. This level plays a bit like Operation Wolf... again, no bad thing.

Going Loco, down in... oh, hang on, I'm miles away from there...

Other levels include rafting up the river (even more like Park Patrol), an irritating Master of the Lamps-style musical notes game, featuring a guest appearance by Clyde Radcliffe, a Black Thunder/Loco/Suicide Express-type joystick-waggling skiing level, a variation on downhill skiing where you're trapped in a snowball (!) and a Donkey Kong rip-off.

Oh bum, I've missed the extra time flags. I'll never do this level now.

As you probably recall (you should, it was just a couple of posts ago!), I quite liked Summer Camp as a cartoony game, but felt it was just a bit too difficult. Winter Camp is also difficult, but feels more enjoyable to play, and the variety between levels is a factor here. The fact that it's not just straightforward platforming all the way contributes to the fun, and each event is enjoyable despite the difficulty, although the actual level objectives can be a bit indistinct. And again, the cuteness is very endearing.

Ooh, he's a big fella. Or, she's a big lass. Not sure how you tell with birds.

For all its irritations, I think that John Ferrari just about nailed it with this one. It's not the best game ever, and not terribly original, but it's well thought-out and achieves probably everything it set out to achieve, from the cartoon look through to most of the levels being fun, stand-alone levels rather than just mini-games. Sadly, when doing my research, I discovered that John died in 1996. Thanks to the Commodore 64 community, though, his games still live on. I'm glad I finally got around to playing this one, although it's for The Human Race that I'll always remember his name...