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.