Monday, 26 September 2016

Splendid Amiga Music #2

Okay, time for another embarrassing confession - I have never played the Secret of Monkey Island games... (silence, occasional tumbleweed)... Yes yes, I know, it's a shameful state of affairs. In my defence, I've never been a big PC gamer, I got into the Amiga really late, and I was never the biggest fan of point 'n' click games to begin with, but it's still unacceptable. Another chance for the mighty Red Parsley to avail me of my oversight for sure. I do, however, have the game's theme tune in my vast game music collection and, having just heard it again while writing a review, I felt compelled to post it here. So behold, for the nostalgic pleasure of the game's many fans, and to treat the ears of other ignorant oafs like me, it is thus:

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!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Film Review #91

Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)
Director: John Stockwell Starring: Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dave Bautista, Sara Malakul Lane, Gina Carano, Georges St-Pierre, Darren Shahlavi

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 90 Minutes

Tagline: "Without rules, without referees... the fight is to the death"

I've long been a fan of Kickboxer in all its cheesy 80's glory, and even a couple of its straight-to-video sequels (though definitely not all of them!), but even I wasn't sure what to make of the news that the series was getting a remake/reboot. Its story of a brother seeking revenge against an evil Muay Thai master for the crippling of his sibling was a reasonably engaging one but is it really a story that needs retelling? Most of its fans like the film for its action, as well as the scary Tong Po, not for its story, so it was a slightly odd decision to be sure. It would most likely need new actors too, so why not just put them in an all-new film? Perhaps a whole new series could be born. Oh well, the reasoning behind it doesn't really matter now I guess, it's here and who knows - it could be frickin' awesome so let's give it a chance.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

San Francisco's Gaming Gem - Part 2

Oops, it's now been almost exactly a year since I went to California which means I am long overdue with this post (no surprise there I guess!). Anyway, having already revealed the wonders of Musée Mécanique generally, I thought I'd also take a quick look at the five games I spent the most time playing there (besides skee ball of course, which is the greatest thing ever). Here they are:

Sprint 2 (1976)

I've long been a fan of the splendid Super Sprint so it was a real thrill to find this, the original Sprint (the '2' denotes a two-player version) lurking amongst the more modern machines. Naturally I gave it a go and quickly found it... rather tough going. As you can see, the cars are teeny things but steering them around the circuits isn't too tough. The black and white graphics are tidy and the controls are smooth enough. What makes it tough is its mandatory 4-speed transmission. It's not always easy to constantly shift up and down in any normal racing game but it's even tougher here with ultra-concentration needed to get around within sight of the other cars. I guess I'd get used to it after a while but... jeez, I made a mess of it on this occasion (my ranking was 'granny' - boo hoo)! It was still wonderful to even have the chance to play it at all though - there can't be too many of these machines left at all, never mind ones working this flawlessly, and it does still play really well considering how old it is.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Crap Games #10

The Spirit of Speed 1937 (2000)
By: Broadsword Interactive / Acclaim Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Sega Dreamcast
Also Available For: PC

One of my favourite genres on the Dreamcast was that of driving games. There were many superb examples with several available early on, and I bought all but one of them. The one I didn't get, and indeed had never even played until recently, was Spirit of Speed. This was mainly due to the rather harsh reception it was met by upon its release. Actually, that's putting it mildly - I don't think I've ever seen a racing game get so consistently, mercilessly savaged by magazines, websites, and players the world over! Despite this, it's still a title that has always rather intrigued me. Not too many games give you the opportunity to race in classic old 1930's speedsters like the ones found here after all. Whilst possibly somewhat restrictive, it's also a unique premise. Besides, it can't be that bad, surely?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Top Five Elements

I'm sure most of us at least remember the periodic table - no school chemistry class would be complete with it - but how much do you know about the many elements featured on it? Probably about the same as me, but I've been belatedly reading up recently and have learned lots of interesting stuff about them, not least that there are now some 118 of them! Here are five I found the most impressive :)

5 - Iridium

As well as sounding like something from Star Trek, Iridium is also among the rarest of all elements on earth. It's a shiny and very dense metal (the second densest of all elements, in fact), is resistant to nearly all corrosion, and is found most commonly in meteorites, which means the tiny amounts in Earth's crust likely arrived from the depths of the cosmos. Time to launch a mining expedition?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Film Round-Up #17

I'm sure most films fans who grew up around the time I did remember Kickboxer very well. Released soon after the much-heralded Bloodsport, it confirmed Jean Claude Van Damme's status as the most awesome action star to come along since Arnie. What many don't realise, however, is that it spawned a surprising number of sequels, most of which were straight-to-video efforts and none of which would be graced by JCVD. Rumour in the day was, he refused to star in any sequels for some reason (not just Kickboxer but any his film). How true that is I don't know but after catching the original again on Netflix a little while back, I decided to find out just how bad these sequels were. After all, it's long been known that straight-to-video sequels lacking the original star(s) are always bad, right? Let's find out (snigger)...

Kickboxer (1989)

It seems like a long time ago that I first watched this but seeing it again recently was the catalyst for my renewed interest in JCVD films. He plays Kurt Sloane, the younger brother of world kickboxing champ, Eric (played by real-life champion, Dennis Alexio). Looking for a new challenge, they go to Thailand to fight the champion there, Tong Po (played by JCVD's buddy, Michel Qissi), who of course destroys Eric! Seeing his brother confined to a wheelchair, Kurt vows revenge and soon finds himself under the tutelage of famed trainer, Xian Chow, who teaches him the ways of Muay Thai (while his hottie niece, Mylee, provides recreation). I'm sure you can guess what comes next but Kickboxer was a more than decent couple of hours of training/fighting action which was great to see again. Much of the scenery is really nice and there are some superb scenes. Who could forget our hero's drunk dance leading to barroom brawl?! There aren't a great deal of fights but the ones that are here are nicely done. Van Damme looks about as good as he ever has too, and Tong Po makes for a highly intimidating bad guy. See if you can avoid cheering for 'Nok Su Kow' to take him out! ... 8/10

Monday, 5 September 2016

Arcade Shmups #24

Hotdog Storm (1996)
By: Marble Inc / Ace International Genre: Shooting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 483,360 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nothing

As I'm sure everyone in the world already knows, hot dogs are well lush. I eat them regularly. I even have special spicy crunchy sprinkles with which to garnish them. Mmmmm, I have some in the fridge right now actually, maybe I'll go have some. Yes, why not? Any time is a good time for hot dogs after all! Hmmm, anyway, sorry about that, I seem to have lost my train of thought. Something must've reminded me of hot dogs for some reason, but on with this review which is of... Hotdog Storm? Ohhh yeah, I remember now! Well, despite the mouth-watering distraction, this is a game that apparently has precious little to do with fast food, name (and awesome title screen image) notwithstanding. In fact, it's a totally bog-standard vertical-scroller. If it has a backstory I'll be a purple feathered ostrich if I know what it is, but it's a short game, featuring only five stages of action between you and... whatever victory promises.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Splendid MegaDrive Music #3

Gauntlet IV (1993)

There are several things this MegaDrive exclusive does to improve upon the already-splendid Gauntlet and one of them is its music. Neither the arcade version nor the mighty fine Speccy conversion on which I spent so much time featured any in-game music, but some cracking choons have been added to this MD version courtesy of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata.

They all have cool names like 'March in the Dark' and 'Adventures of Iron' and they really do add a lot to the game in my opinion. Some are like rousing battle anthems, others create a sense of mystery, but one of my favourites is one called 'Whisper of Phantom'. It takes a little while to get going but... check check check it out:

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!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Film Review #90

Straight Outta Compton (2015)
Director: F. Gary Gray Starring: Jason Mitchell, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Paul Giamatti, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr., R. Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 147 Minutes

Tagline: "The world's most dangerous times created the world's most dangerous group."

If like me you were around in the late 80's, surely you can't have failed to notice the rapid rise of gangsta rap? Even if you had no interest in this abrasive new musical style - and indeed, some even refused to class it as music at all - it soon reached such prevalence that you would hear it whether you wanted to or not. At the forefront of this rise were N.W.A - self proclaimed Niggaz With Attitudes - who pioneered so-called 'reality rap', and it went down a storm. Actually, a storm is a very apt metaphor as not only did N.W.A achieve almost overnight superstardom but their controversial lyrics and behaviour also attracted a great deal of negativity culminating in protests as well as attention from the law enforcement community. As with any meteoric rise, however, there was also the inevitable fall, and this biopic shows us both.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Cover Art: Sega Mark III - Part 2

I haven't posted as many cover-art comparisons as I would have liked here at Red Parsley yet, but even without having featured many systems (yet), I don't think many would argue that the one with the greatest differences in regional cover art must surely be Sega's Master System. Despite their dreadfulness, I have a certain affection for the covers our MS games had over here in the UK, but while doing the comparison posts it became clear that many of the Japanese Mark III games are quite superb. I therefore thought it might be swell to share what I believe to be all of them here with you splendid fellows. I've already posted Part One, and here are the rest of them which, I believe, constitutes every Mark III game officially released (as well as one unofficial title), with the exception of a handful of My Card games which didn't have cover art. Hope you like them!

Nekkyuu Koshien...
Out Run...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Rail Shooters #1

Star Wars (1983)
By: Atari Inc. Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 70,979 (it's hard via emulation!)
Also Available For: Atari 2600, 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Apple Mac, Apple II, Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Electron, Enterprise 64

Atari's arcade heritage has always been impressive and has long been looked upon fondly by gamers who were around in their day. For most, their day was the early-to-mid-80's; a period that saw some truly wonderful games released, many of which bore Atari's proud name. Of them, one of the most memorable was undoubtedly Star Wars. Not only was it based on the insanely popular film whose sequels were still being gifted upon lucky movie fans the world over (having arrived between Empire and Return), but it was also something of a technical marvel and, even more remarkably for a licensed game, it was even rather good too! I would hope there's no need to detail the back-story here (although I do know a few people that haven't seen the Star Wars films), but suffice to say, Atari were sensible in basing their game on the exciting climax to the first film, namely the daring attack on the mighty Death Star.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Top Five Michael J. Fox Films

He may have sadly been absent from our screens for a good few years now due to the tragically-early onset of Parkinson's Disease, but the name of Michael J. Fox is still one resonates strongly with most film fans, especially ones who were around in the 80's. This, of course, is mainly due to the Back to the Future films, but he has starred in a surprising number of other films too. Here I've taken a look at what in my view are the best of them. Don't agree? Let's hear what your favourites are!

5. The Frighteners (1996)

This early Peter Jackson movie was sadly Michael's last big on-screen role, but was it one to remember? To be honest I think more people remember it due to Jackson's pre-LOTR involvement than MJF's these days but it's not a bad film and he is pretty good in it. He stars as Frank Bannister who is somehow able to see and communicate with ghosts. So of course, he tells them to haunt people, then sells his services as an exorcist! This is all well and good, but when the ghost of a serial killer starts offing locals, both living and dead, Frank must use his abilities to investigate and stop the evildoer. It was a film perhaps more notable for its special effects than anything else in its day but it definitely has more than just that going for it. As well as Mr. Fox, Star Trek alumni Jeffrey Combs is a standout as an eccentric FBI agent, as is Jake Busey, and we even get a cameo from R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket's hardcore drill sergeant). It has perhaps aged a bit now but it's still a fun romp and there are some interesting ideas here.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Memorable Gaming Moments #3

Test Drive Unlimited by Eden Games / Atari (2007) - PC

As a gamer, have you ever been in that situation where you don't really know what to play, or perhaps don't even necessarily feel like playing something, but are bored and/or feeling a bit down and need to cheer yourself up? Sure you have, everyone has, and I'm no different. There are a few games which I rely on during these times. Not many, mind you, but the one I've found myself returning to time and time again since I reviewed it last year is the awesome Test Drive Unlimited.

An open-world game it may be, but it still has structure and objectives. Thankfully, however, there are no real time-restrictions or limitations on when you should do this so one of my favourite antics has become thus: set off from my lovely home, smash into a few innocent road-users to get the attention of the local law enforcement authorities, and then spend as long as possible avoiding capture!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

INPUT Magazine - A Retrospective

Oh hey, RetroKingSimon here. Since I started Red Parsley I've been the only person ever to write or post anything here, but today I'm happy and proud to present Red Parsley's first ever guest writer - programmer, developer of Nebula Retro (a mobile game reviewed here a while back), and Facebook friend, John Blackburn, who has written this fantastic piece. Take it away John:

INPUT magazine was a computer programming course published as a partwork by Marshall Cavendish in 1984-5. INPUT must surely be one of the most advanced and impressive partworks ever published on any subject. With 52 editions adding up to 1600 pages, it's huge! And the quality of writing is superb throughout.

One of the first programs I ever wrote. Just a few lines of code produced a
beautiful sunset pattern complete with perspective lines. My grandma was
amazed art could come from "those numbers"!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Gravity Games #5

Thrust (1987)
By: Jeremy Smith / Superior Software Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: BBC Micro First Day Score: 28,850
Also Available For: Electron, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 16/64, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST

I don't think it is particularly unfair to say that the BBC was never really considered a 'proper' gaming system by most players of the day, but of the games it did host, one of the best known must surely be Thrust. It's a little odd since it isn't an exclusive, but it was originally made for Acorn's iconic micro prior to being ported to several other systems and it remains best known there as well. As you might have gathered from its inclusion in this series of features (as well as its name), Thrust is a gravity game not entirely dissimilar to the likes of Gravitar, and like Atari's classic, players find themselves in command of a small, roughly triangular vessel which is slowly falling towards the landscape below. Using it, your mission is to assist 'the resistance' in its fight against the evil Intergalactic Empire by collecting 'Klystron Pods' which are needed to power their 'battlegrade starships'.