Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Golf Games #4

Everybody's Golf a.k.a. Hot Shots Golf (1997)
By: Camelot Software Planning / SCEI Genre: Sports Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation
Also Available For: Nothing

It's a bit of a spoiler but this is all ten characters!
As I've mentioned in previous posts, my favourite kind of golf game by far is the cartoony, arcadey type which those zany folks over in the Far East seem to do so well. There's quite a few of these around nowadays but the one which kick-started the whole craze was the first in a series which happily is still going strong today - the mighty Everybody's Golf! The original, like all subsequent instalments, was released exclusively on Sony hardware, in this case the original PlayStation where it was met with a reasonable reception without really setting the world alight. For some reason though, I was immediately taken with it despite having almost no interest in actual golf and not even being fully aware of the rules to begin with. I guess that's always been the secret of the success of the series though - easily accessible and full of charm! The series is a somewhat startling sixteen years old now though, so how does this début hold up after so many sequels?

Monday, 28 January 2013

Film Review #46

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Director: Marc Webb Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Chris Zylka, Irrfan Khan

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 136 Minutes

Tagline: "The untold story begins"

It doesn’t seem so long ago I watched Spider-Man 3 and, despite it being arguably the weakest of the series so far, it still left me eagerly awaiting the inevitable Spider-Man 4. It was soon duly announced and I was happy. Then, however, I heard all sorts of stories about cast and crew members pulling out of the project. Then, the next time I checked on its progress it had a new name, a new star, and a new director. Not only that but they were also calling it a 'reboot' of the series! How can such a recent and successful series be rebooted already? That's a question I found myself asking repeatedly, but whatever the real reasons behind it are, the result is 'The Amazing Spider-Man' which is supposedly very splendid. Being a fan of the previous series though, I was still rather sceptical.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Arcade Platform Games #3

Ghosts'n Goblins a.k.a. Makaimura (1985)
By: Capcom Genre: Platform/Fighting Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 43,400
Also Available For: Sharp X68000, NES, Game Boy Color, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Commodore 16, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

The adventures of Sir Arthur, the brave and noble knight of Demon World, have long since passed into legend and become known as some of the grandest in the world of Men. However, the latest in what is becoming an embarrassing series of confessions here at Red Parsley is that until very recently I'd never even played this, the original game in the series. Eeek! Time to rectify that I deem, and what better way than to try the original of the original! First though, it might be prudent to try honing my skills and reaction times, for even I already knew that Ghosts'n Goblins is a supremely difficult game, apparently one of the hardest ever, and that scares me. As much as I may like retro gaming, I've never been especially good at most types of games, so I find myself approaching this notoriously hardcore challenge with a great deal of caution. Gulp!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Overhead Run 'n' Gun Games #9

Alien Breed (1991)
By: Team 17 Genre: Run 'n' Gun Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga First Day Score: 71,800
Also Available For: CD32, PC

There was a period during the early 90's when being an Amiga gamer was nearly as great as being a console gamer with regards to arcade-style games (I know, hard to believe - hee hee!), and this was largely thanks to Team 17. Although not founded until 1990 - quite late for an Amiga developer - they made an immediate impact. Their releases were rarely very original but were almost always technically impressive and highly playable. One that remains among their most celebrated works is Alien Breed, an almost legendary overhead run 'n' gun blaster. It was reminiscent of many such games before it in concept and also took a good few cues from a certain sci-fi film, but was immediately successful nonetheless. This would indicate that it's very good but when I gave it a quick try in my younger days I found it annoying and flawed. It's reputation endures though, so maybe I judged it too quickly and too harshly. I shall now find out...

Friday, 18 January 2013

NES Shmups #3

Star Soldier (1986)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo NES First Day Score: 56,800
Also Available For: MSX, Game Boy Advance
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

There I was, all set to finally begin my long-awaited review of Super Star Soldier for the PC Engine only to discover at the last second that it actually has a prequel out there somewhere. Completist that I am, it was therefore obviously necessary to take a look at that game first! It was released initially just for the NES and MSX but as far as I can tell neither version has a back-story, so I'll assume it's just another 'evil aliens invade, must be kicked out' type affair. The aliens in question (if indeed they are aliens) are mostly small and swoop through the vertically-scrolling stages in formations of various types and speeds and it's your job to take out as many as possible with your not-especially-imposing fighter craft. There are a mighty impressive sixteen stages altogether, all of which are located in space and scroll over seemingly endless structures of some sort. Perhaps they are enemy bases, who knows? All I do know is, they are festooned with various shootable bits which are represented by different icons such as stars and skulls, each of which offers bonus points galore!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

My Favourite Films - Part 5

Wowzers, super-busy 'holiday' period, then super-busy work, and topped off by an inconvenient period of illness, I'm amazed I got this series of posts finished at all! But here is the last selection of my favourite films. As you've probably noticed by now if you've been following the series, my taste in films is, as my good friend Luke would say, unique. No doubt many film fans would decry the absence of numerous cinematic masterpieces but the simple answer there is - I either haven't seen them yet (particularly some of the older ones) or I just didn't like them, at least not as much as the films I have included.

For example, some films that always populate 'Best Films of All-Time' lists such as Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Blade Runner, Spartacus, Raging Bull, Alien, etc... They're all great films, of course, but in the case of most of them, seeing them once was enough. In my opinion, a really great film is one that you want to watch again straight after seeing it as well as thrilling you the first time you see it. That's why I like the films I've included so much. If I'm ever bored, feeling down, or just want to relax, have a drink, and be entertained for a couple of hours, any of them will do the job admirably and have done countless times before, whether watching alone or with friends. So, for (possibly) the final time, here is my selection:

Contact (1997)

I don't normally take chances on a fledgling technology but I bought a DVD player before anyone else I knew. There were only about ten films available on the format at that time and one of the two I bought with my player was Contact, a decision based purely on the fact that it had seemed slightly science-fictiony. Luckily for me it also turned out to be rather good! The rarely-disappointing Jodie Foster stars as Ellie, fascinated by the stars since an early age as urged by her father, and working for SETI as an adult. She spends most of her time searching for extraterrestrial signals and eventually finds one, although its meaning is of course initially unclear. It might sound a bit boring, especially if you've no interest in science, but it's still a top-quality and nicely-paced film. Ms. Foster is great as usual, conveying her passion for her job (life) superbly, and she's got some great support too. I suspect my appreciation for it is partly down to my own interest in astronomy but so what!

Friday, 11 January 2013

My Favourite Films - Part 4

Hooray, the weekend is here again! Things have pretty chaotic in RKS Land of late, what with Christmas, New Year, and some friends who have been staying with us for the last few weeks. Their company has been splendid but sadly they are leaving this weekend. The upshot of this is more free time to spend bumbling around playing old games and writing stuff about them here! Before normal service is resumed though, there's this list of my favourite films to finish off. Here's the penultimate selection:

Kill Bill (2003-2004)

After an explosive start to his career, Tarantino had already impressed his own unique style of film-making upon the world when Kill Bill arrived and rewrote the rules even quicker! Making a 'roaring rampage of revenge' is hardly an original concept but letting this particular director loose in near enough any genre is likely to yield some interesting results, and so it was here from the moment we met 'The Bride' - on her back, pregnant, beaten... and shot in the head. The assailants are of course unseen and introduced one by one over the course of the film(s) along with some of their respective cronies, all of whom end up on the receiving end of The Bride's Blade of Justice. No, it's not a terribly realistic film but who cares when it's done as stylishly as this? I get the impression this is almost exactly the film QT was inventing in his head as he worked shift after shift in his pre-director career as a video store clerk and the result is a nerdgasm of epic proportions, but it's also an absolute riot!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

My Favourite Films - Part 3

Well, the festive season is well and truly over now and I'm back at work (not right now of course, that would be inappropriate use of company time!). Accordingly, I was correct, my demeanour has indeed gone downhill this week. Funny that, isn't it?! Oh well, least I've managed to distract myself for a while with another selection of fine film favourites. Behold:

Gladiator (2000)

Despite being a rather hyped, big-name release, I knew little about this film when it was first released. Then, my good friend Luke suggested we go to watch it at the cinema. I was reluctant as I'd already decided I didn't like it. But then I saw it and... crikey, feed me to the lions if it wasn't one of the finest films I'd ever seen! Russell Crowe is of course exceptional as betrayed Roman general, Maximus, but the quality of the rest of the acting is also remarkable. Arguably even more impressive is the sense of spectacle and atmosphere created by Ridley Scott's faultless direction and the rousing soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Gladiator did more than just win awards and entertain countless millions though - it reinvigorated a long-stagnant genre which made most of the many subsequent offerings possible including the likes of Troy, King Arthur, 300, Kingdom of Heaven, and even Game of Thrones. "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?" I certainly am, enormously, every time I watch it... (Top Five Moments here)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

My Favourite Films - Part 2

Hello there, I hope you're all enjoying the new year as much as I am so far! This upbeat attitude may have disappeared by next week as I'm still on festive leave from work... for a few more days. Until then, however, I'll continue to spend my free time as I have for the last few days - watching lots of films! Even more than usual in fact, with this series of posts in mind, obviously. To that end, here are my next selections:

Star Wars (1977 - 1983)

Much like the LOTR films in the last post, I tend to regard the Star Wars films collectively as 'old trilogy' and 'new trilogy' and, without getting into another lengthy 'old vs new' debate, it's definitely that of the former I'm including here. And how could anyone around my age not count these films among their favourites? I watched the copies my dad had recorded from the TV probably a hundred times during my youth and never got bored of them. Thinking about it, it's hard to really pinpoint what makes their appeal so enduring; I suppose they just have a perfect blend of spacey action, adventure, comedy, fantasy, and drama, not to mention a hot babe! If I had to pick a favourite of the three, I'd probably go for Return of the Jedi (no, not just because of scantily-clad Leia, although that doesn't hurt), but all three of the original trilogy were and remain tremendously enjoyable no matter how many times I see them.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

My Favourite Films - Part 1

I doubt that too many visitors here at Red Parsley have been dropping by since the very start of the blog, but any who have may remember I started it off by posting lists of my very favourite games. However, as much as I may love video games, specifically ones of a 'retroish' nature, they're not the only things I love.

Indeed, I've been an avid fan of films since probably around the same time as I discovered video games - the mid 80's - and this is, initially at least, largely thanks to my dad who's always had a sizeable collection of videos and then DVD's for me to watch at my leisure. I've therefore been planning to make a list of my favourites for some time, and since the 'holiday season' is upon us, now is as good a time as any!

Only because I seem to watch many more films at this time of year than any other though, so I guess I'm in a 'filmy' mood at the moment. Must be the time off work I suppose. Anyway, as with the game lists from all those 500-odd posts ago, the lists are not in a precise order, they're more a general grouping of my faves, but I guess you could call them roughly organised. Here's the first:

The Lord of the Rings (2001 - 2003)

Call it cheating if you want but I generally count the LOTR films as one looong film, and what a film it is! From the moment it was announced it was said the books couldn't even be filmed. The many Tolkien fans around the world feared the worst, but even the most optimistic of movie-goers surely couldn't have expected anything approaching the film(s) that finally did appear? There are faults, sure - the sense of scale is sometimes a bit lacking for one thing (cough*Rohan*cough), but expectations were shattered nonetheless and we were soon surprised to find approaching eleven hours of the most amazing cinema ever created. The story is well known to most already of course, but the roles were perfectly cast and the sheer effort the production team went to to bring their vision to realisation is truly jaw-dropping. If I was forced to choose between the three 'chapters', I'd probably go for Fellowship as my favourite, but they're all so amazing it's really pointless choosing. In my humble opinion the finest cinematic achievement of all-time.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Arcade Racing Games #3

Konami GT a.k.a. Konami RF2 - Red Fighter (1985)
By: Konami Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 6,090
Also Available For: Nothing

Is this a racing game or a body-building game?
One of the most appealing things about going to an arcade for me has always been playing the kinds of games that can't be played anywhere else. A great example of that is racing games. Even the most basic machines have a steering wheel and gear-stick but when I find a full-size simulator machine, it's like a moth to a flame! Accordingly, I've played quite a few of them over the years and had many in mind for this series of features at Red Parsley. One that I didn't have in mind, however, was Konami GT. The main reason for this is because a week ago I hadn't heard of it. Having recently spotted it though, I required little persuasion to give it a try, and soon found... not really what I was expecting. Konami GT, you see, fancies itself as a Le Mans style circuit racer, at least judging by the original arcade flyer, but that may have been somewhat ambitious for its time...