Monday, 11 November 2019

PS4 Purchases #7

In typical fashion, I'm almost two years late with this one, for the games featured herein were actually received as Christmas gifts... the year before last! Oops! The fact that I've owned them for nearly as long as my PS4 itself, however, shouldn't be a reflection of the esteem in which I hold them - they are of course both valued and appreciated parts of my collection. Here's a quick look at each of them:

Yonder: The Could Catcher Chronicles by Prideful Sloth (2017)

Like several of my PS4 games, this is one that was originally on my Steam wishlist, but the temptation of a physical copy was too strong. The game itself is a 3D adventure or perhaps an action RPG which ultimately charges you with ridding your land of an ominous shroud known as the Murk, but there are millions of quests that you can undertake too. There are some modern gameplay traits I'm not yet very familiar with, such as crafting, but the game world is a very appealing one filled with amusing animals amongst other things. I spent quite a while playing this during the Christmas break upon which I received it and eventually got stuck thanks to my old-fashioned gaming mind, but I keep meaning to come back to this lovely game. The package itself isn't great though - the case contains a disc and nothing else.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Film Review #111

Anna (2019)
Director: Luc Besson Starring: Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Helen Mirren, Eric Godon

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 118 Minutes

Tagline: "Never make the weapon the target."

Basing an ass-kicking film or show around a female vigilante or assassin seems to be all the rage at the moment but Luc Besson has been wise to their potential for many moons now. His latest effort is perhaps his most blatant since La Femme Nikita back in 1990 and, like that iconic film, is named after its main character. As with the French junkie, despite being blessed with favourable aesthetic qualities, Anna (Luss) has not thus far enjoyed a life of glamour and riches. She lives a somewhat downtrodden life in a stinky apartment in Russia with her abusive dick of a criminal boyfriend, but when his latest scheme backfires she finds herself needing to leave town. Before she can do that, a shady guy called Alex (Evans), apparently a KGB agent, gives her a choice - work for them or else, basically! Shockingly, she accepts their offer of gainful employment upon learning she need only survive for five years before being freed from any obligations with a clean record. All she has to do is take out whomever they tell her to.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Steam / GOG Downloads #6

Bibou (2016)
By: André Bertaglia Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Nothing

Whether you love Steam or hate it for some reason, no one can deny that it offers an incredible variety of games, including many obscure retro-flavoured titles that are very often cheap. One such title that caught my eye some time ago was Bibou by Portuguese coder André Bertaglia, and it was available for less than the price of a Cadbury's Creme Egg! You can probably see why it caught my eye too - those bright, chunky, pixelly graphics which are either awesome or ghastly depending on your outlook. I thought they looked pretty awesome so I decided to forego my daily chocolate egg and took a chance on this strange looking title instead.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Unreleased Games #1

Space Fantasy Zone (1991)
By: NEC Avenue / Sega Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 CD First Day Score: 35,800
Also Available For: Nothing

I probably won't be doing many of these because, to be honest, most unreleased games went unreleased for a reason, but this is one I have been very keen to try out for many years of men, and there are two reasons for this: Space Harrier and Fantasy Zone. The former was a genuine gaming landmark, both technically and with regards to its unique into-the-screen gameplay, while the latter series was and still is beloved by Sega fans the world over for its cute, colourful graphics and addictive side-scrolling action. Both games feature hyper amounts of shooting and both take place within the same game 'universe' so combining the two seems like a no-brainer, and that's exactly what we have here. It was surprisingly not Sega who were responsible though, with NEC Avenue handling things, and the promising hybrid was heralded for release exclusively on the PC Engine's fancy CD-ROM unit. But then, to the sorrow of all, it was cancelled.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Neo Geo A-Z

SNK probably weren't really renowned as the biggest arcade company around in the late 80's, so when then unveiled their own console it was a surprise to many. Their monstrous 2D powerhouse was way out of the price range of most gamers too, and that's even more the case now for collectors, but it has some cracking games that hold up well today. Here I will take a look at all of them. Up next is:

N is for...

Nam-1975 by SNK (1990)

One of the very first Neo Geo games was this mighty fine into-the-screen shooter which pits you (and an optional friend) as American soldiers against what I assume must be the entire Viet Cong army, including millions of soldiers as well as plenty of support vehicles. Good fun for one or two players, and addictive too.

Friday, 4 October 2019

TV Shows #22

Homecoming Season One (2018)
Developed By: Eli Horowitz & Micah Bloomberg
Starring: Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James, Shea Whigham, Alex Karpovsky, Sissy Spacek, Alex Karpovsky

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 24-37 Minutes per Episode, 10 Episodes

I'm sure most of us have seen plenty of films and TV shows over the years that were based on books or video games or other stuff, but we now apparently have a show based on a podcast. Being the old-fashioned buffoon I am, I've never actually listened to a podcast in my life so I'm not totally sure how to approach a TV show based on one, but the creators of the podcast in question - Messrs Horowitz and Bloomberg - also handled its development for TV, so it should at least remain faithful to the source material. The source material in question involves Homecoming Transitional Support Center, a live-in facility run by the Geist Group intended to help traumatised soldiers readjust to civilian life. Most of them seem reasonably able-bodied and sound-of-mind to me so I'm not totally sure what traumas have so afflicted them, but they are there (voluntarily) all the same.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Star Control - Part 10

Generally I need little excuse to burble on about the Star Control series - it is one of my favourite of all game series' after all, particularly the skillish second game - but I've already taken detailed looks at the various spacecraft, the story, and of course reviewed the actual game and its prequel, so what else is there? Why yes that's right, I could take a look at the many alien races themselves!

Seldom have I played a game with such a varied, eclectic roster of species, and while many are perhaps not terribly realistic or even a bit gimmicky (a bit like pro wrestling was around the same time, in fact), they are appealing and memorable all the same. There are quite a few as well though, so I'll split this into several parts. This will be the first of two posts featuring the less-friendly half of the roster...

Spoiler Warning! - It's probably not really worth mentioning for a 25-year-old game but just in case - the following post will likely contain some small spoilers relating to Star Control 2 and the story found in its main game, so proceed with caution if you've yet to play through it! (assuming you plan to) :)

This is probably fan-made artwork so credit where it's due...

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Visual Novels #2

Sakura Swim Club (1999)
By: Winged Cloud Genre: Visual Novel Players: 1 Difficulty: N/A
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Nothing

It was a cold, stormy night, many moons past. Panic-stricken beetles scurried to take refuge beneath errant leaves, themselves being battered by the large globules of clear water that plummeted from the hazy sky. Observing this chaos safely from within the confines of a nearby residential structure was a portly oaf named RetroKingSimon who had just unexpectedly taken advantage of the latest splendid deal offered by Humble Bundle which was themed around visual novels. For eons did these novels lay dormant in the darkest corners of his computer's storage device. And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend, legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the novels passed out of all knowledge.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Film Review #110

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
Director: Quentin Tarantino Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Luke Perry, Julia Butters, Damian Lewis

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 161 Minutes

Tagline: "The 9th Film from Quentin Tarantino."

Not so long ago, the impending release of a new film by Quentin Tarantino was met with fevered excitement and expectation from his many loyal fans, as well as film fans generally, but that doesn't seem to be so much the case these days. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, for example, his very latest release, hasn't received as much hype or anticipation as some of his past releases, from my perspective at least. Perhaps that is just my mistaken impression though, and I suppose it doesn't matter much anyway - it is here, and I for one have been very much awaiting what amounts to the penultimate QT release in the history of the universe. Assuming, that is, he sticks to his word and only makes ten films. That will make it even sadder if it sucks donkey balls, but with a cast like this, how can it?

Sunday, 15 September 2019

PC Engine A-Z

A collaboration between NEC and Hudson Soft might not have seemed like the most obvious choice but the result was one of the finest consoles ever made, and one which has justifiably gone down in gaming legend. It become home to a decent number of games too, and for this listing I will attempt to feature all of them:

D is for...

Daichi-kun Crisis - Do Natural by Salio (1989) - Japan

A few minutes spent with this strange game was enough to explain its obscurity. It seems to be some sort or farming game where you plant seeds across the overhead scrolling game-world while repelling invaders, but it's not super-intuitive and seems rather repetitive too. Cute characters add to the appeal though.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Top Five Stars

Stars are pretty mental when you stop to think about it - they are basically giant, constantly-exploding nuclear bombs that hang around for billions or even trillions of years - crikey! Just watch a video of a 'coronal mass ejection' to witness the scale of their fury, and that's just our thoroughly average, non-spectacular star. There are billions more out there, most of which we know little about, but some are very well known. Here's a brief look at some of the most noteworthy examples:

5... Canopus

Unfortunately, only those oafs in the southern hemisphere get to see Canopus but I included it anyway as I like its name. It's a white supergiant and is very very bright - over 10,000 times brighter than the sun, in fact, and is also a source of x-rays which means it's spooky too. It's also a bit of a loner in galactic terms, and is not part of any stellar groups. I can relate to that...

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Sega Super Scaler Games #5 - Part 2

After Burner II (1987)
By: Sega Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 1,343,580
Also Available For: PlayStation 2, Nintendo 3DS, MegaDrive, PC Engine

When I was younger there were a good many things that confused me. Many of these are unsuitable for discussion here but some that are included: Why do frogs throats bulge so much? Why did some cars make that whistling sound as they drive along? Why do electricity pylons crackle when it rains? What would happen if you drilled all the way through the earth's crust into the mantle? All these things and many more questions of varying importance pootled around in the perpetually-distracted mind of my youth, but one thing that puzzled me like no other was this: What the frickin' frack was After Burner 2 all about? Game sequels, and indeed sequels generally, didn't often deviate from the originals that much but you could usually tell them apart, especially if you were actually trying to, but what was the difference between After Burner and After Burner 2? Only the Lord on high knew this hallowed secret, surely?

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Star Trek #14

Voyager Favourite Episodes - Season Seven

Great Scott, it sure has been a while since I did one of these! If fact, it has been so long I've had to rewatch the whole of Voyager's seventh season in order to make my selections! As I now recall, it was a pretty good final season for Janeway and Co too, though the fifth season remains the best I think. Nonetheless, I had to leave out a couple of episodes I really like in addition to the ploppier offerings.

B'Elanna and Tom prepare for the race...
Unsurprisingly, we start the season with the conclusion to Unimatrix Zero, a two-parter about a virtual reality place where Borg get to hang out as individuals. In another splendid Seven episode, she finds her life is at risk when her cortical implants start to malfunction. We also get to be dazzled by Tuvok's investigative skills following some mysterious attacks on ex-Maquis members of the crew, while the Doctor is kidnapped and forced to work in a poorly-equipped hospital. We also get an interesting episode where Tom and B'Elanna enter the new Delta Flyer in a space race (look at their fancy race suits!). Must be tempting to just shoot everyone in front of you though! The bumbling Lieutenant Barclay also returns, albeit in holographic (and less bumbly) form, to party with the crew and help get them home. Or does he? And in a rather amusing episode, the Doctor gets Seven all hot and bothered when he gets uploaded into her implants and makes her horny (snigger!).

Friday, 6 September 2019

First Look NES #3

Kira Kira Star Night by Riki (2013) - Famicom/PC

Although the NES/Famicom serves as inspiration for many indie games these days, it doesn't seem to get too much in the way of homebrew releases itself. This one caught my eye a while back though, due to its dazzling graphics and pleasing accompanying artwork. That isn't enormously surprising upon learning its creator, Riki, is a manga artist! Indeed, his talent in that field serves to make KKSN a visual treat filled with neon backgrounds and sharp sprites. Well, I say 'sprites' as in plural but there's only one really - the main character, a young girl known as Fami-chan. Further investigations reveal a game of early 80's simplicity which tasks you, as Fami-chan, with collecting as many stars as possible. These drop from the top of the screen or zip into view from the sides and you simply have to run/jump around the totally flat auto-scrolling stages collecting as many of them as you can.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

More Milestones Fall at Red Parsley!

Times have been hard here at Red Parsley for many moons now. Long gone are the days when I could rustle up 4 or 5 posts a week, getting thousands of visitors a day in the process. A lack of time and dibilitating bouts of depression and/or laziness have conspired to greatly reduce the number of posts here. I believe I've mentioned all this before though, and as Pop always says - never backward, always forwards. So wearily I continue to trudge forth in a perpetually despondent haze.

Apparently going unnnoticed during this mournful period were two landmarks here at Red Parsley of the type I would previously have planned for and marked with grand celebratory posts of appropriate jolliness. These two landmarks were: posting my 500th full game review, and achieving 1,000,000 pageviews.