Monday, 29 May 2017

Film Review #99

A Walk in the Woods (2015)
Director: Zack Snyder Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Kristen Schaal, Nick Offerman, Mary Steenburgen, Emma Thompson

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 104 Minutes

Tagline: "When you push yourself to the edge, the real fun begins."


Bill Bryson has been travelling all over the world and, as detailed in his many superb travel books, has experienced all manner of wonders during his time in places like Africa, Australia, his native US, and all around Europe, so I suppose it's a little ironic that the only film about his travels (to the best of my knowledge) is based on perhaps the least exotic of them all. He is portrayed by Robert Redford and we catch up with him in New Hampshire where he has been living with his British wife Catherine (Thompson) for twenty years after a decade or so living in the UK. Now in his 60's he is effectively retired but also somewhat restless, and after a short stroll on the Appalachian Trail which passes near his home, he suddenly decides he wants to hike its entire length.

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.