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.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

TV Shows #21 - Part 1

Killing Eve Season One (2018)
Developed/Written By: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Starring: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Darren Boyd, Owen McDonnell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Sean Delaney, David Haig, Kim Bodnia, Susan Lynch

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 41-55 Minutes per Episode, 8 Episodes

With the exception of a handful of fondly-recalled classics I grew up with, I've never really been into British TV shows for some reason. For those who don't know me, this is slightly weird as I'm British. I suppose at least part of it is down to the main reason I watch films/shows - escapism. British shows, as good as some of them may be, often just remind me of the kind of stuff I'm trying to 'escape' from, so I usually steer clear just in case. On a different-though-related note, my wife has long been a fan of actress Sandra Oh, whose character she liked in Grey's Anatomy before she eventually got bored of the ultra-long-running show. Since a new show centred around Ms. Oh was nearing release, though, my better half was duly keen on watching it and invited me to join her. Upon doing so, however, I was mildly alarmed to find that it was a British show in which Ms. Oh was seemingly the 'token American' (or Canadian, as the case may be), but I had little choice but to try it anyway.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

First Look Xbox #2

Burnout Revenge by Criterion Games / Electronic Arts (2005) - Xbox

From the moment I played Burnout I loved it. It's exactly the kind of racing game I like. Happily for me, the sequel was even better. Both games contain among the fastest, most precise, and most intense racing action I've experienced in an arcade racer and I spent many hours going through all the races and competitions and attempting to better my times. Then the foul EA bought Criterion and, typically, they ruined just about everything I loved about the games. I played Takedown for about ten minutes and that was enough to know I didn't like it, so when I saw Revenge for a mere £2 a while back, even at that price I wasn't sure. I got it anyway in the end, to review here if nothing else, but I didn't expect to like it any more than Takedown. Expecting to dislike a game going in isn't the best idea I suppose but everything I had seen indicated a continuation of EA's nonsense, and indeed, when I finally got it going, an intense frown immediately developed as I realised I had been correct all along.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Game Gallery #7

Thunder Force 3 by Techno Soft (1990) - MegaDrive

It has been a looong time since I did one of these, which is a bit strange considering how many screenshots I usually grab when playing games for reviews. I might as well put some of them to use, surely? Yes I should, and so it shall be once more. To that end, bewildering absence notwithstanding, the Game Gallery is now back! Since the last one was for Thunder Force 2, for this return I thought it's immediate sequel and 'Finest MD Shmup' title-holder, Thunder Force III was a logical choice.

Click here for the full review of this fine game.

Special Note: As many of you will know, players can choose between the game's first five stages from the start. This gallery, however, will feature them in the 'correct' order, thus:

Title and 'Secret' Config Screens:

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Dizzy Series - Part 6

Kiwk Snax (1990)
By: Oliver Twins / Code Masters Genre: Maze Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: 9,262
Also Available For: Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC

Another Dizzy game, another great loading screen...
My good friend Luke and I used to regularly enjoy playing Fast Food all those many moons ago, despite its simple and repetitive nature. Maybe that was its appeal in those days, but little did I (we?) know that it actually got a sequel a few years later too, in the form of the slightly-annoyingly-named Kwik Snax. It's not one of those pesky 'data disc' sequels either - the basic mazey game style is similar but there are definitely a lots of differences between the two. I don't think Fast Food even had a backstory really, but Kwik Snax is apparently set in the 'Land of Personality' where Dizzy and the Yolkfolk are finishing their tour of Yolkland. Unfortunately they had an argument which woke Zaks the evil wizard, and his resultant spells sent all but Dizzy to the furthest reaches of the world! Luckily, this leaves Dizzy free to rescue their sorry arses and bitchslap Zaks while he's at it. If he feels like it.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Manga - A Beginner's Look #2

Do You Like Big Girls? (2014-Present)
Original Title: Ookii Onnanoko wa Suki desu ka?
By: Aizome, Goro (Story & Art)
Chapters: 39 (so far) Total Pages: 14-20 per chapter

Genres: Ecchi, Romance, School, Sports, Harem, Seinen

I guess it's probably not too hard to see why this particular manga caught my eye, but upon further investigation I found that the 'big girls' of the title does not refer to their chest regions but to their statures generally. The main character, Tachibana Souta, is a fairly normal schoolboy except he's a bit on the short side. This is something he finds mighty irksome, especially in light of the fact that his 'big' sister, Kaoru, is a tremendously lofty six-and-a-half foot! Putting this considerable height to her advantage, she is one of six members of her college's volleyball team. Unfortunately, their manager is in hospital long-term, recuperating from an illness, so who do they rope into becoming their stand-in manager? Yes that's right - Souta! Of course, what they call 'manager' ends up meaning 'lackey', but it's not all bad as he also finds himself surrounded by his sister's equally lofty, and not-aethetically-unpleasant teammates, all of whom, in a stunningly unexpected plot-twist, find Souta completely irresistable!

Monday, 5 August 2019

PS4 Purchases #6

Axiom Verge by Thomas Happ Games (2015)

It's slightly startling to think about how long ago this was released as it still almost seems like a current release in my (peculiar) mind, but it has nonetheless been on my wanted list the whole time - first on Steam, then the physical PS4 version on Amazon which is of course the one I finally bought this past week. I was going to get the standard version which was available for the bargain sum of ten sheets. It is, however, bereft of any bells and whistles as you might well expect, unlike the fancy 'Multiverse Edition' which I thought cost significantly more. But soon after receiving my purchase, I found that the lovelier special edition was only fifteen nicker, so of course I swiftly returned the normal version and ordered the special one instead which, as you can see, also arrived promptly!

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Film Review #109

It has a great poster/cover at least...
Peppermint (2018)
Director: Pierre Morel Starring: Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr., Juan Pablo Raba, Tyson Ritter, Jeff Hephner

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 102 Minutes

Tagline: "The system failed. She won't."

Meet Riley North. She's a middle-aged banker from Los Angeles where she lives with husband Chris (Hephner) and 10-year old daughter Carly. They aren't doing terribly well financially, but they're getting by. For their daughter's birthday they take her to a local carnival. In the midst of this family evening out, however, a drive-by shooting results in the tragic death of Chris and Carly. The injured Riley is able to identify the shooters but they escape justice due to their connections and the corrupt officials handling the trial. Incredulous, devastated, enraged, she is taken away, then disappears. When she returns five years later, however, certain members of the criminal underworld and law-enforcement community formerly involved with her case begin meeting brutal ends. Is isn't too long before the rozzers start remembering stuff and recognise a pattern, but can they do anything about it? Or given the type of people getting killed, will they do anything about it?

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Indie Games News/Previews #14

Savior by Starsoft (2020?) - PC, Consoles (TBD)

There are so many superb looking indie games around these days it's hard to keep track. The latest one to catch my eye is Savior (known previously as Into the Rift) which is currently being developed by Starsoft, a small studio made up of veterans of both the game and movie industries. It's a 2D side-scroller and is being touted as an 'open world platformer', and while it clearly takes influence from several genres, there does seem to be an extensive amount of platforming. Splendidly, this isn't just bog-standard running/jumping action either - one of the numerous notable things about the game is the main character's parkour-inspired movements, as can be seen in the pics and trailer here. Look as she flips and leaps all over the place, dodging enemies and scaling the terrain!

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

PSP Games #2

Platypus (2006)
By: Anthony Flack / MumboJumbo Genre: Shooting  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Sony PSP  First Day Score: 107,745
Also Available For: PC, Mac, XBox 360, Many mobile phones (all downloads)

It has been a while since I looked at a PSP game here (seven years, apparently - jeepers!), so to mark my return I thought I'd take a look at this eye-catching (and rather strangely-named) title by Anthony Flack, an indie game designer from New Zealand. One might assume from its name that it's a curious platformer or maybe a puzzle game or something like that, but no, it's actually a horizontal shmup set in a lovely peaceful land known as Mungola. Sadly, the loveliness of this country is being threatened by those pesky oafs from the neighbouring Colossatropolis which has become so overcrowded that its people have begun taking over Mungola, destroying the peace, using up precious resources, and probably leaving their rubbish all over the place too.