Monday, 27 July 2015

Currently Playing...

Raiden Fighters by Seibu Kaihatsu (1996) - Arcade

Actually I'm a bit late with this one as I've now finished playing it (chuckle), but I was playing it as part of a small 'shmup league' over on Facebook. My participation in this score-based league is infrequent, owing partly to my rather slouchy nature but more to the sad fact that generally speaking I suck arse at video games. This is painful to acknowledge but it's also true for the most part - while I could quite easily run rings around some random bunghole, my limitations become immediately apparent when placed up against 'proper' hardcore gamers.

With this in mind it's probably a bit strange that I decided to participate in the league at this stage - the Raiden games are hardly renowned for their ease after all - but I've had a Raiden Legacy icon staring at me from my PC's desktop for a while now so I figured this was a good opportunity to put it to use. Raiden Legacy, you see, is a bargain-priced compilation of some (though not all) of the Raiden games, but luckily it does include Raiden Fighters which I can't seem to get working anywhere else (grrr!). I reviewed the original game some time ago here at Red Parsley and, while it's clearly a stylish and well-crafted shmup, it also made me much angrier than it should, so I was kind of expecting the same sort of thing from this sequel.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Arcade Fighting Games #4

Violence Fight (1989)
By: Taito Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 918,620
Also Available For: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC (all as part of compilations)

Quarrelling is a subject that comes up all too infrequently in the world of video games. As far as fighting games are concerned, relations between combatants have usually already moved far beyond the stage where quarrelling might have an impact, but the fighters in this Taito release are competing for that very reason. As the poorly-translated story tells us, Violence Fight takes place in the 1950's and features "Mafia, reckless drivers, and general businessmen", all of whom are vying for not only a substantial wad of cash, but also the prestigious title of "No.1 Quarreller"! If that doesn't whet your appetite and get you fired up to kick all manner of arses, I fear nothing will, and that's a shame as there is a new fighter on the block called 'Bat' who, along with his manager, 'Blinks', apparently "seek for the money eagerly". Better get ready to help them.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Indie Games News/Previews #4

Venture Kid by FDG Entertainment (2015) - PC

Several months back I took a quick look at an upcoming game by FDG Entertainment based on the ultra-awesome Wonder Boy. Impatient as I might be to play it, FDG are still working hard on that project so I will have to wait, but it seems at the same time they have been beavering away on another game, again based on a classic series of 8-bit platform adventures - Mega Man. However, while Monster Boy looks like being, for all intents and purposes, an HD remake of the great Wonder Boy III (which is certainly no bad thing), Venture Kid is a brand new game that merely takes its inspiration from Capcom's much-loved series. I just hope it's not as teeth-knashingly tough as those games are!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Awesome Nature #19

The Door to Hell
Type: Geologic Formation Located In: Turkmenistan Conservation Status: N/A

Our precious planet is an incredible place, crammed full of countless natural wonders, but every now and then we manage to create one ourselves by accident, and a great example is the Door to Hell. It can be found in the barren deserts of Turkmenistan and was originally an attempt by the Soviets to drill for oil, but instead of that the drill site collapsed into a crater where they found a large pocket of natural gas. Worried about poisoning some nearby villages they decided to burn it off, expecting the reserves to be spent within a few weeks. This, however, was over 40 years ago and the fiery pit, measuring 230 feet across and 65 feet deep, is still burning continuously to this day. Supposedly there are plans to fill it in though, so if this kind of thing piques your interest, visit it soon, but be careful - the heat also attracts camel spiders which can grow up to six inches long, look rather hellish themselves and can give you a painful bite!

Why It Is Awesome: Greatest name ever!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Currently Playing...

Test Drive Unlimited (2007)
By: Eden Games / Atari Genre: Driving Players: 1-Lots (online only) Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: PlayStation 2, PSP, Xbox 360

My apparent ambivalence towards the 'current' generations of gaming systems since the turn of the century (ish) has caused me to miss out on several 'new' subgenres of games, and one that I really shouldn't have neglected for so long is that of 'open world' driving games. Whilst perhaps not just mere driving games, strictly-speaking, I suppose it was the Grand Theft Auto series that popularised the style, but the first and (so far) only example I've played properly is Eden Games' evolution of the long-running Test Drive series.

I therefore wasn't sure how I would be 'thrust' into the action but the game actually starts at an airport. Here, you can select your character from a queue of people waiting to board a flight to Hawaii, and it is here that the game is based. On the island of O'ahu to be precise, which is where your plane lands. From the airport you'll need to hire a car (I went for a nippy Lotus Exige), then find some more permanent wheels as well as somewhere to live by driving to the nearby car dealer and estate agent respectively. Fortunately you start with a reasonable sum in the bank - just enough to buy a cheap car and basic place - and then you have the whole island to explore at your own pace, and it's a pretty big place...

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Scrolling Fighting Games #13

Streets of Rage a.k.a. Bare Knuckle (1991)
By: Sega Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 143,200
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear
Download For: Wii Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS

The Sega vs Nintendo war was an awesome time to be a gamer. Each move by one was met by a swift counter move from the other and they were always trying to outdo each other. One of Nintendo's was to secure conversion rights to the popular Capcom arcade game, Final Fight. With Sega unable to give MegaDrive-owning FF fans their own conversion, what did they do instead? Yes that's right, they just made their own version and called it... Streets of Rage! Unsurprisingly it has a great deal in common with the adventures of Haggar and Co, not least its selection of three courageous heroes - in this case ex-coppers - who have vowed to cleanse their city of the crime that's been poisoning it. The method they've chosen for doing this isn't startlingly original either, and involves punching and kicking the piss out of anything and anyone that comes into range of their extremities.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Top Five Scary Australian Creatures

Though it may not be the biggest country in the world, Australia is still a very large place; sufficiently large, in fact, to pretty much be classed as an entire continent by itself. It's way bigger than Europe, for example, and it has also been separated from the other main landmasses for close to 100 million years. This isolation had led to a great deal of bio-diversity. For some reason, perhaps coincidentally, this has resulted in the mighty country playing host to some of the world's scariest and most deadly creatures! Putting aside the obvious choices such as crocs and great white sharks (which are easier to avoid, at least) here are the five that freak me out the most :(

5 - Funnel Web Spider

Almost everyone is scared of spiders (even the 'tough guys' who try to convince people they find them 'cute') and one of the least pleasant in the Land Dahn Unda, not to mention most famous, is this fellow. There are several species, all of which are venomous and have large fangs capable of biting through a fingernail or shoe. They do at least do you the courtesy of adopting a 'warning posture' before striking, which is handy... assuming you even see them. Fortunately there are anti-venoms available; otherwise this scary scurrier would be higher on the list!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Indie Games News/Previews #3

Squirbs by Team Indev (2015) - PC

I've long had a weakness for those platform games with cute/weird characters so this upcoming indie title caught my eye easily enough, but I quickly noticed another thing that makes it stand out - you don't control just one cute/weird character but two simultaneously! The main character, you see, is the Squirb of the title whose world has been split into two, both of which contain copies of him. Your job is to search the 125+ stages for fragments of a magical stone which will return the world to normal, but you do this by controlling both Squirbs in both worlds at the same time by way of a split-screen view, with the simple controls (left, right, jump) moving both Squirbs in the same way.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Quest To Like a Football Game #2

Microprose Soccer a.k.a. Keith van Eron's Pro Soccer (1988)
By: Sensible Software / Microprose  Genre: Sport  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Commodore 64  First Day Score: Won 2-0 :)
Also Available For: Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

For the first part of this feature I decided to look at probably the oldest football game that I actually remember seeing/hearing about first-hand, but for this instalment I've gone for a slightly more recent one. It's a game I had also heard much about (though not played), and I've never heard anything but glowing praise for it, so I was slightly more hopeful this time that my quest would bear some fruit. A strength of Match Day was its great presentation and that was the first thing that struck me about Microprose Soccer too. As well as allowing you to change several aspects of the gameplay there are even two different styles available - the normal 11-a-side game that most of the world enjoys and the 6-a-side indoor game that was popular in the US around the time of the game's release.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Top Five Psycho Fox Characters

Nintendo fan-boys can keep their infernal plumber and puffy pink pillow; one of the finest 8-bit platformers in my opinion has always been Vic Tokai's fantastic multi-animal adventure, Psycho Fox. Its graphics and music are among the mighty Master System's finest and the stages are full of appealing features and alternate routes giving it fantastic replay value. One reason I like it so much, though, is the ability to switch between different animals with their own specialities. Some are more useful than others but all add something to the game and help make it one of the most enjoyable platformers I've played. Here are the characters in order of usefulness:

5 - Hippo

This portly fellow is probably the most amusing of the selectable characters (and the happiest - look at that broad smile!) but he's also the one you're almost certain to use the least. He's the only one who can punch down walls but you won't encounter them very often and even when you do there's usually an alternate route. Other than that talent, he's much slower than the other characters, making him near useless on stage three, and his jumping ability is pretty woeful too. The fat one you like more because of his warm personality than what he brings to the team...

Saturday, 20 June 2015

First Look PlayStation 3 #3

Motorcycle Club by Kylotonn / BigBen Interactive (2015) - PlayStation 3

All those open-world driving games that have been appearing lately have been rather cool, so when I saw this game advertised recently I immediately thought it would be a motorcycle equivalent. You know, kind of like Test Drive Unlimited or something but with biker gangs? But alas it is not. It's actually little more than a bog-standard racing game featuring open-road circuits (though no regular traffic), with the only innovation coming in the form of the three different types of bikes available. These are Superbikes, Roadsters, and the Custom bikes (big spluttery Harley-type things). The twist is, you can switch between them while racing. That's right, simply pressing the relevant button will somehow switch your bike 'on the fly' with no discernible loss of speed!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Adult Games #5

Lady Killer (1993)
By: Yanyaka / Mitchell Corporation Genre: Action / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 155,700 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nothing

The distinct lack of originality I've found while looking into these so-called 'adult' games thus far has been... not entirely unexpected to be honest, but here I may have found one that's had at least a little effort put into it. You play the part of a diver called Gonta and it's his job, quite simply, to de-robe a succession of lovely ladies! Well, reveal their splendour in pictorial form at least, and he does this by... ummm... diving into them. Allow me to explain in more detail. First you must choose a lady. There are six available who apparently reside in various cities across the world. Choosing one sees our hero fly to that destination where he's met by a series of single screen stages. Each initially features a watery silhouette of your chosen lady which is revealed by the aforementioned diving. Yes, it's as weird as it sounds.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Film Review #79

Need For Speed (2014)
Director: Scott Waugh Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Scott Mescudi, Imogen Poots, Ramón Rodríguez, Michael Keaton, Harrison Gilbertson

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 130 Minutes

Tagline: "For honour. For love. For redemption."

After suffering the horror of Street Fighter: The Movie (which even the lovely Kylie in a skintight outfit couldn't make watchable), ever have I been wary of any films that have anything to do with videogames. Due to my appreciation of mental cars and films featuring them, however, I found it difficult to avoid this effort based on the long-running (and now 20 year old) series of EA games. To be honest, I'm surprised it took some-one this long to conjure up an NFS-based film, but the long wait certainly can't have been down to its plot-development. Besides featuring cars, it has little to do with the game series which itself has gone through many iterations, and is instead best described as a 'revenge road-trip movie'. Or alternatively, a flimsy excuse to show lots of mental cars being driven mentally.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Mobile Games #9

Bullet Pea (2014)
By: Team Popo Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Android
Also Available For: iOS, Windows Phone

I have tried playing a few platform games on my phone over the years and they are rarely enjoyable. As is often the case with such games, this is usually down to the pesky controls, so I wasn't particularly optimistic about Bullet Pea when I first discovered it. Its crisp, Amiga-esque graphics persuaded me to take the risk though, and it quickly turned out to be a rather interesting game. How could any game not be, starring a sentient, bipedal pea? Further research reveals that this pea, who shall be known as Mike for the purposes of this review, was formerly a constituent part of Professor Peabrain's dinner but, upon seeing him transform into the 'unspeakable megalomaniac', Doctor Thunder, opted to abruptly evolve, growing legs (and a face) in the process.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Extra Special New Arrival!

I don't buy as many games as I used to these days but when I do I rarely mention it anywhere online. Some people, of course, need only the teeniest excuse to warble on about the smallest addition to their collection, with some even going to the effort of making 'unboxing vidoes' (which have always made me chortle), but every now and then there comes an extra special purchase which is actually worth heralding. For me it came in the form of a Holy Grail of sorts - a game I've wanted ever since I saw it in magazines of the time but never got around to buying.