Thursday, 25 May 2017

PC Engine Shmups #11

Metal Stoker (1991)
By: Face Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: ???,???
Also Available For: Nothing


Only five minutes ago (okay, a few months ago) I finally got around to playing Granada properly after all these years, declaring it in the subsequent review a highly original title, the likes of which I've seldom encountered. And now, such a short time later, I've found another extremely similar game, and one that was released the same year no less! I'm not sure who came up with the idea first - Wolf Team with their MD (and X68000) tank 'em up or Face with this Engine exclusive - but the similarities are more than a little surprising. I'm not sure if that includes the back-stories as Face's game was only released in Japan. The limited in-game text simply advises you to 'master the controls of the custom CS-05' and also casually mentions that your assignment is to 'clear the indicated zones under various conditions'. What this amounts to, however, is very similar to your objective in Granada - blow the crap out of everything that moves, and some things that don't too!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

First Look PSN #8

Alien Spidy by Enigma / Kalypso Media (2013) - PlayStation Network (PSN)

Spiders aren't anything new to the games world - I've reviewed one of my favourite examples at this very blog in fact - but I'm still surprised they don't feature in more. They do after all possess some unique abilities which are ideal for puzzley platform games, and that's exactly what this multi-format release from a few years back is. The featured arachnid is apparently an alien who has crash-landed on earth (as revealed in a few nice cut-scenes) but neither the slightly vague story nor Spidy's other-wordly origins really affect the gameplay which mostly involves skillful use of aforementioned talents. The stages are standard 2D side-scrolling affairs and it's your job simply to get Spidy to the end of each one which is mostly achieved by swinging around on webs.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Film Round-Up #19

Some could be forgiven for thinking me crazy for braving five Jennifer Aniston films back when I... umm, braved five of her films. I mean, she looks absolutely delightful, usually a bit nippy too (someone turn on the heating for the poor girl), she is a great comedic talent, and is a very decent actress when given the right material, but let's face it - few of her films are better than average. You may therefore think me certifiably insane for watching another five of them! Perhaps I am but what can I say? She definitely has a certain charm, or perhaps two certain charms (sorry!) but let's hope some of the films I chose this time are just as charming...

The Switch (2010)

If you're anything like me you may be wondering just what the rather vague title to this one alludes to. The answer to that can be found in the friendship between the two main characters, Kassie (Aniston) and Wally (Jason Bateman), long-time best friends. Their friendship is threatened, however, when Kassie decides she wants to have a baby via artificial insemination, and at her 'conception party' Wally drunkenly spills the sperm sample of her hand-picked donor, so decides to replace it personally. Sounds like a recipe for trouble (amongst other things - chortle!), although he doesn't even remember doing it the next day. It probably just sounds like another silly rom-com, and it does seem like one at times - the ending is super obvious right from the off, for example - but the premise does actually add something to the story rather than just being a gimmick and gives the stars the chance for a few more dramatic scenes as well as the more light-hearted stuff. It's hard not to question Kassie's decision as Wally does but it helps that both Aniston and Bateman are very likeable. Better than expected... 7/10

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Simulation Games #1

Pilotwings (1990)
By: Nintendo EAD Genre: Simulation Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES First Day Score: ???
Also Available For: Nothing


Despite playing the crap out of my SNES in my younger years I never really had that many games for it. One of the classics I kept meaning to get around to playing at the time, and in the intervening years as well, was Pilotwings but for one reason or another I didn't actually manage it until recently. Better late than never, I usually think in these cases, but I wasn't so sure here. Pilotwings was after all a flag-waving advert for the SNES's famed Mode 7, an early attempt at producing 3D graphics on home systems, and most early attempts at anything in games don't tend to age very well. Then again, F-Zero still kicks arse so hope remains while the company is good. It's also a game notable for it's almost total lack of violence. Okay, you can crash stuff but you can't shoot and certainly can't kill anything, with your objectives simply being to fly stuff well. I guess that makes Pilotwings a simulation game, albeit in a unashamedly arcadey way. It was a bit of a rare and precious gem all round for console gamers then.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Top Five Films For 2017

Deary me, I'm a bit late this year with my now-tradition look at the five films I'm most looking forward to over the coming year. So late, in fact, that one of them is already out (only just though, and I still haven't seen it) - oops! Well anyway, it's looking like a pretty good year, especially for comic/superhero fans with two DC efforts and three from Marvel. Will the DCEU finally be able to make up some ground on the relentless Marvel leviathan? There are also a few good (looking) sequels, remakes, and even some all-original films on the way. It should be an entertaining year for film fans anyway, with a lot to choose from. These are probably the five I'm most looking forward to seeing. What are your choices?

5. Alien Covenant (May)

The franchise remains a treasured one for many but the Alien series been through the wringer a bit over the years. It's still only the first two films that are really good isn't it? I rather liked Prometheus too, personally, but many didn't so I imagine this sequel may well be approached with caution by them. I'm looking forward to it though, especially as it sees Ridley Scott's return to the series for the first time since the original, waaay back in 1979. It looks quite similar to that classic too, except it mostly takes place on terra firma: brave explorer finds room full of eggs, face-hugger says good morning, alien bursts out of chest, many others get picked off one-by-one, etc. I can't imagine too many were expecting much else though, and as long as it's done well I'm confident it will be spiffing. (see official trailer here)

Friday, 21 April 2017

1,000th Post!

I've been writing and posting here at Red Parsley for a long time now - about seven years in fact. A lot more has happened in this seven years than most of the seven years that preceded them, mainly on account of being married which has been my 'relationship status' for eight years now. My wife struggles to tolerate my interest in gaming, even when it doesn't involve the expense of buying all the latest consoles and games, most of which I have very limited interest in. It was, however, rather ironically my wife who suggested I start this blog.


I can't even remember why now - it can't have been because I bored her with game talk or hogged the TV playing all my old classics - it's very unlikely I would've gotten away with that! Oh well, whatever made her suggest it, I did indeed start this very blog all the way back in 2010. I doubt she expected it to last very long; I'm not sure I did either to be honest - I've got a history of getting really into something only to lose interest just as quickly - but here I am still going all this time later.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Film Review #98

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition (2016)
Director: Zack Snyder Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 181 Minutes

Tagline: "Who will win?"


Despite my undeniable appreciation of the masses of superhero films we've had in recent years (or most of them), I've put off watching this one for a while now. This is mainly on account of the DC fanboys who I've learned are among the whiniest, most immature group of fans I've encountered. Okay, I guess not all of them, but many of them are apparently unable to tolerate the consistently poor reviews and feedback received by this highly-anticipated meeting of their two most treasured characters. Many blamed Rotten Tomatoes for their supposed 'Marvel bias' (despite the fact that they're merely a review aggregator and don't actually review films themselves), and these and their many other tantrums on social media soon became so overwhelming that they overshadowed the film itself for me.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Too Old For Retro?

So, I was walking along the other day, as I often am, when I went past a retirement home. Peering momentarily through the window revealed a sight familiar at many such establishments - a variety of old people sitting in big comfy chairs watching whatever nonsensical bullcrap happens to be on the television at the time which may or may not be numbing them to all of life's ills and easing their passage out of our world, or possibly even compelling them to hasten their departures.

An old person...
Nothing unusual there I agree but it did remind me of a discussion I once had with my best buddy Luke. He postulated, and I agreed, that the world of video games, even just the ones we would call 'retro' nowadays, contains so many titles that, short of winning the lottery or something else equally improbable, we simply won't have time to play most of them, perhaps ever. There might be one golden opportunity to do so, however, and that is when we retire. At the time we had the conversation, Luke and I were confident that we would still be very much into retro gaming by the time we reach our retirement age, which is likely to be around the 70 mark by then, and that we would relish the opportunity to spend our days catching up on old classics, but my recent epiphany while out walking made me question that. I mean, will we really still care about playing old games then? We will be getting on for the year 2045 by then and who knows what wonders may be around?

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Puzzle Games #22

Quarth a.k.a. Block Hole (1990)
By: Konami Genre: Shooting / Puzzle Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: MSX2 First Day Score: ???,???
Also Available For: Arcade, Game Boy, NES, X68000, NEC PC-9801, Master System (unofficial)
Download For: Wii Virtual Console


Near enough every game over the years has been fairly recognisable as belonging to one particular genre or another but there have also been quite a few hybrids too. That is, games that result from the fusion of two or more often very different genres. Some of these have been pretty weird but I can't think of many stranger unions than a block falling puzzler and a shoot 'em up, but that's exactly what we have here courtesy of Konami! No doubt there is some peculiar back-story intended to explain the weird set-up but since most versions of the game were Japanese exclusives (all but arcade and Game Boy I believe), it's hard to say. All I can tell you is, it places you in control of a somewhat bulky blue spacecraft located at the bottom of the screen (you actually get to choose between four craft but it makes no difference) which apparently achieves flight by way of an angel attached to either side!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Film Review #97

Jack Reacher (2012)
Director: Christopher McQuarrie Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Jai Courtney, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall, Joseph Sikora

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 130 Minutes

Tagline: "The law has limits. He does not.


I'd never heard of the Jack Reacher books I must confess but there is apparently a whole series of them (some 21 so far). They are centred around the titular character who was a Major in the US Army Military Police Corp until he suddenly quit, instead choosing to live on the road as a drifter, taking odd jobs when and where necessary, and occasionally helping out in suspicious or dangerous situations. This is the first such film to be based on those books and stars Tom Cruise as the hero in question who is called upon by James Barr (Sikora), a former US Army sniper who has supposedly just shot and killed five people on a peaceful riverside in Pittsburgh. However, although he knows of Barr from his time in the army, Reacher isn't friends with him, isn't sure why he has been requested, and has no interest in clearing him.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Splendid MegaDrive Music #5

Thunder Force 2 (1989)

My new job sadly doesn't leave me as much spare time as my last one did, and that in turn means I have less time to do blog stuff, but one of the perks is that I can listen to music all day. Naturally I've therefore spent much of this time listening to stonking game soundtracks, and one that I find myself returning to often is Thunder Force 2, probably the most neglected installment of the celebrated Thunder Force series. Tomomi Ohtani's synth-rock soundtrack contains lots of great choons but I think my favourite is the one that accompanies the first side-scrolling stage. It's called 'A Ray of Hope' (in the X68000 version at least - the MD's tracks don't have names) and is quite awesome. Check it check it! :)

(full Thunder Force 2 review here)



Special Note: I didn't record this great tune myself, I'm just an admirer, so all credit to, firstly the original composer, and secondly the YouTube user who uploaded it!
 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Single Screen Platform Games #15

Baluba-Louk No Densetsu (1986)
By: Able Corp Genre: Platform Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: ???,??? (one credit)
Also Available For: NES


Since starting this feature, all the way back near the time I started the blog itself no less, I've been surprised by just how many candidates are out there. There are still at least ten more I intend to cover eventually, so it's perhaps a bit odd that I've opted to take a look at this little-known mid-80's example next. The reason it's odd is because it's not strictly speaking a single-screen platformer at all! That is to say, its many stages are not confined only to the size of a single screen - each one is actually nearly two screens wide and scrolls accordingly - but they play very much like the typical single-screen plaformers I, and perhaps you, know and love, so it's still well worth covering here if you ask me.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

TV Shows #14

The Grand Tour Season One (2016)
Developed By: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, Andy Wilman Starring: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, Mike Skinner

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 44-71 Minutes per Episode, 13 Episodes


I can't imagine there are too many TV shows that have been as divisive as Top Gear. To many, the show was infantile nonsense at best, and hosted by three ageing cretins who should know better. Controversy has never been far away from the immature antics of James May, Richard Hammond, and particularly Jeremy Clarkson, with some even throwing labels such as 'racist', 'homophobic', and 'sexist' in their direction. Conversely, however, the show also had a great many fans who adored the troublesome trio responsible for it, and I was one of them. I almost feel like I should apologise for that, what with the misdemeanours (alleged) of its stars. I don't actually like them that much outside the confines of the Top Gear format, and I don't even like some of the things they say/do on the show either, but I can't pretend I don't find them amusing much of the time.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Memorable Bosses #1

Dobkeratops
Games: R-Type Series

The first appearance of the fearsome creature...

I don't usually place the greatest emphasis on bosses in my reviews but, while they may only be small parts of much larger games, many stay with us much longer than the stages they block exit from, so I thought it might make a spiffing new series of posts to take a look at some of them in more detail. Many horrifying abominations were considered but what better place to start than with arguably the most famous and memorable boss of them all, certainly from the vast world of shoot 'em ups - the ghastly Dobkeratops. Some won't know his name but pretty much everyone who played video games in the mid-to-late 80's will know him by appearance. His likeness did after all adorn pretty much all adverts, flyers, and cover art for the ultra-popular shooter, so it would've been hard not to!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Speccy Homebrew Games #1

Gloop Troops (2010)
By: Little Shop of Pixels Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: 22,500
Also Available For: iOS


When I gave the wonderful mobile game I Am Level a good going over last year its Speccy-style graphics and presentation made me realise something. For most of the time I have been running Red Parsley, I've covered a few doujin games here and there as well as a number of indie/download titles for PC and PSN, but I don't think I've played a single homebrew game for the Spectrum in that time, much less reviewed one. This is odd since the continuing passion shown by these talented, dedicated gamers never fails to impress, and the Speccy is of course one of my favourite systems too. So it's about time I started taking a look of some of them, and the first one I've chosen is Gloop Troops which was released back in 2010 by Little Shop of Pixels (also known as Andrew Oakley and Simon Franco). I can't recall where I first saw it now but it clearly did something to catch my eye.