Saturday, 23 July 2016

Retro News - New 2D Sonic Speeds Our Way!

Sonic Mania by Sega & Others (2017) - PS4, Xbone, PC

I don't usually cover special game anniversaries here, I'm not all that bothered by them to be honest, but news reached me today of a special one. Or rather, one that was accompanied by some special news. The recipient of this grand gesture is the incomparable Sonic the Hedgehog who is now 25 years young, and that means, besides making me feel rather old, it's time to celebrate! Sega's chosen method of doing this is to release not one but two new games starring the Blue Blur. The first of these is a new 3D adventure codenamed Project Sonic 2017 which is due for release sometime that year for PS4, Xbone, and Nintendo's new system, the NX. Of much more interest to us is the other title.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Currently Playing...

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (2002)
By: Krome Studios / EA Studios Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Microsoft Xbox
Also Available For: PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC

Let's face it, as much fun as most of them were, the heyday of fuzzy animal game characters was definitely in the 16-bit era. By the time the PS2 and Xbox arrived with all their almost-realistic human characters and corresponding blood and violence, controlling a cute animal seemed a little childish didn't it? I guess that's down to personal preference but they certainly weren't seen as often. One of the more recent I've come across (outside of indie gaming) is this effort by Krome Studios which was actually the first part of a trilogy starring their feisty marsupial.

It's interesting that they've actually gone for an extinct animal for their game but the Australian setting in which he dwells immediately opens up a number of possibilities. The story is as silly as you might imagine and involves Boss Cass, an evil cassowary (a kind of bird if you didn't know) who wants to become the supreme ruler of Australia. This, he will apparently achieve, by activating 'the Dreamtime' for which he has stolen the five mystical talismans. While attempting this, Boss Cass traps all but one of the thylacines (Tasmanian tigers) in a portal to the Dreamtime before his plan is foiled and the talismans are scattered across Tasmania. Unfortunately, this still leaves the thylacines trapped, however.

Friday, 15 July 2016

First Look PSN #7

MicroBot by Naked Sky Entertainment / EA (2011) - PlayStation Network (PSN)

Exploring inside the human body in microscopic form isn't a particularly new concept for the gaming world but this latest effort by Naked Sky must surely be a contender for the most realistic attempt yet. You play as a teeny robot designed to fight infection, and are in fact the fourth generation of such a device. The previous three are still in the body and, after having apparently gone haywire, have caused a load of problems including many infections. The game takes the form of a twin-stick shooter with your job being to travel around the body destroying all of these ghastly viruses, curing diseases, and tracking down the pesky microscopic culprits themselves, which are found across five areas of the body which are each split into four procedurally generated stages.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Adult Games #8

Strip Fighter II (1993)
By: Games Express  Genre: Maze  Players: 1-5  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16  First Day Score: 388,100
Also Available For: X68000

It was only a few weeks past that I finally got around to looking at Street Fighter II properly here at Red Parsley, and not before time. It is of course a true classic which, as mentioned in its review, had an enormous influence on pretty much every other developer around at the time, and soon they were busy releasing similar-looking fighting games of their own. Unsurprisingly, these varied in quality a great deal and even included direct rip-offs and spoofs. Ticking all these boxes is Strip Fighter II. There is no Strip Fighter I - it was named purely to riff on Capcom's most popular and successful instalment in the long-running series, and it does this by injecting a bit of sauciness into proceedings (as if it wasn't obvious from the name!). So, after the worryingly-pornographic content of the last 'adult' game I looked at here, we're back in more familiar territory for this PC Engine release it seems, and that's fine by me.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Film Review #89

Robot & Frank (2012)
Director: Jake Schreier Starring: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Rachael Ma, Jeremy Strong, Jeremy Sisto

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 89 Minutes

Tagline: "Friendship doesn't have an off switch."

There have been a load of films about robots over the years. Most of them feature scary examples equipped with advanced A.I. that usually rise up against their idiotic human oppressors and smack us all up. Robot & Frank, however, is a little bit different. It's the début feature for both director, Jake Schreier, and writer, Christopher D. Ford, it's set in the near future, and focuses on just the one human. Frank (Langella) is a retired cat-burglar - a retirement forced upon him by old age and a failing memory. His son Hunter (Marsden), an attorney with a family of his own, has grown tired of checking up on him, so rather than put him into care, he instead buys him a robot 'butler' to look after him, improve his diet, and get him into a routine to help his memory. Frank, of course, has other ideas and resents the thought of his new 'death machine' waiting for a chance to 'murder him in his sleep'. Chortle!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Retro News - The N64 Shmup That Nearly Was!

I meant to post about this quite a while ago now and I thought I had, but it seems not - oops! Anyway, it's long lost game time again, this time for the N64 - a system many retro gamers bemoan for its lack of 'proper' shoot 'em ups. I imagine it may well cause many rankles among them, therefore, to hear that Sammy Corp were in the process of developing just such a title at the tail end of the 20th century.

As most of you are probably aware already, the original Viewpoint was an isometric shooter, developed by Aicom, published by Sammy, and released first for the Neo Geo and later receiving conversions for the PS1 and MegaDrive, but it seems Sammy later decided to release a sequel of sorts for Nintendo's 3D powerhouse as well. Appropriately enough they switched the titular perspective, making their game an into-the-screen blaster in addition to the original isometric. It sounds promising, I'm sure you agree; kind of like mixing the first game with Star Fox, and indeed it looks promising too - just check out the video below which shows the game in what seems to be a near-finished state which includes some epic-looking boss battles. Sadly, despite showing it off at Nintendo's Spaceworld expo in 1999, Sammy pulled the plug shortly thereafter due to what has been described as 'development issues', and that, as they say, was that.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

F-Zero Series - Part 9

Well, it's been a few years now since I last took a look at the F-Zero series here at Red Parsley, mainly because I've already covered every instalment, but I still enjoy playing each of them to one degree or another. The Nintendo 64 game is without question my favourite but few gamers would argue that it was the SNES original that had the biggest impact, and for those of us that grew up with it, every corner of every course is consigned to memory. Despite that, I still fancied revisiting them and thought it might be worth taking a closer look at all of them. Therefore, whether it stands to cause pangs of nostalgia, or perhaps even give new insight into a game you (somehow) knew little about, here are the courses of F-Zero...

Knight League - Mute City I

This much-visited location, presumably the location of the F-Zero league head-quarters, is the 'biggest city on all the Space Federation Planets' and is where each of the three leagues start. Its first course is obviously the simplest, featuring nothing trickier than a right-angle turn, a ramp which might send an inexperienced racer over the edge of the course, and a hairpin to round off the lap, but overall Mute City shouldn't cause any problems on even the highest difficulty level...

Friday, 24 June 2016

Wonder Boy Series - Part 1

Wonder Boy (1986)
By: Westone / Sega Genre: Platform / Action Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 83,140
Also Available For: Master System, SG-1000, Game Gear, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: Wii Virtual Console, Sony PSN

It has now been more than 6 years that I've been bumbling around with this blog, but all that time ago when I first started planning it, for some reason I intended to start by reviewing Wonder Boy. This is a bit odd since it's a game I've never really played properly. It was most likely with the intention of then reviewing the other Wonder Boy games afterwards, most of which I have played, and enjoyed very much, but whatever the reason, it has taken me all this time to get around to it. One thing I already knew about Wonder Boy's debut quest is that it involves the rescue of his precious girlfriend, Tina, who has been abducted by some evil monkey-spank known simply as King. Keen to regain her warm companionship, our impressively-crested hero sets out on a 'long and hazardous journey' in pursuit of the felonious King, and unfortunately the journey is indeed that, spanning some seven side-scrolling areas each split into four danger-filled rounds.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Film Round-Up #15

The Hobbit (2012 - 2014)
Directed By: Peter Jackson Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Manu Bennett, Sylvester McCoy, Billy Connolly, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis

Certificate: 15 Running Time: Approx 474 minutes

I am often asked what my favourite film of all time is. There are many contenders, but my answer lies with a series that has had a bigger emotional impact on me than any other. And that's what films are all about, right? Making you feel stuff, whether that's joy, sadness, fear, anger, or simply making your heart fill up like a balloon (to quote another of my favourite films) for no apparent reason. That's what happens when I watch The Lord of the Rings. I don't just sit there gawping at the TV - I actually feel invested in the adventure; in the characters, even the 'evil' ones. So, as I often find myself saying, if I'm allowed to choose a trilogy as my favourite 'film', it would have to be that one. Imagine how ecstatic I felt, therefore, to hear a few years back that we would have the chance to return to Middle Earth in the form of a new trilogy which was on the way too!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Cover Art: Sega Mark III - Part 1

I haven't posted as many cover-art comparisons as I would have liked here at Red Parsley yet, but even without having featured many systems (yet), I don't think many would argue that the one with the greatest differences in regional cover art must surely be Sega's Master System. Despite their dreadfulness, I have a certain affection for the covers our MS games had over here in the UK, but while doing the comparison posts it became clear that many of the Japanese Mark III games are quite superb. I therefore thought it might be swell to share what I believe to be all of them here with all of you splendid fellows. They aren't all great quality, sadly, but they're the best copies I could find. Here are the first 40 covers - the rest will follow in Part 2 of the post. Hope you like them!

Action Fighter...
After Burner...

Monday, 13 June 2016

Mental Cars Round-Up #1

Everyone loves mental cars. Even if you never get to own one (most of us); even if you never get to drive one (some of us); they're still great to look at pictures of or watch on TV shows like Top Gear. In recent years we've been treated to some of the most insane examples yet. For this first post on the subject, I thought I'd take a look at some of the best to come from the USA. It is the land of excess after all!

Saleen S7

Although they aren't that well known this side of the Atlantic, I had of course still heard of Saleen, mainly because of their awesome Mustangs and other reworked versions of other company's cars. The S7, however - the first all original car Saleen made - only recently came to my attention and the first thing that struck me about it was its amazing looks. Just look at it - it almost looks like one of those sports-prototype racers! It has the performance to match the looks too - the twin-turbo version has a 7.0L V8 producing 750 HP that sends it all the way to 248mph! Check out the highly-limited cherry red version of it too, it looks even better.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

SNES Shmups #5

Super Aleste a.k.a. Space Megaforce (1992)
By: Compile / Toho Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES First Day Score: 4,440,470
Also Available For: Nothing

I've liked shmups pretty much ever since I've liked video games. One of the first I really got into was a vertical-scroller called Power Strike and it was my favourite for a long time. So much so, in fact, that it wasn't until quite a few years later that I found a similar game I liked as much. That game was, believe it or not, Super Aleste which, as it turned out even more years later, was a sequel (of sorts) to my old friend Power Strike which I had discovered was better known to some as... Aleste! Indeed, like the first entry in the series, this SNES-exclusive came with an alternative name too, this time for American gamers who know it as Space Megaforce (why do they so often choose such generic names?) but for me it was the first Aleste game to (knowingly) grace my bedroom and it was... pretty good! I guess I'm getting a bit ahead of myself now though, this is supposed to be a review after all!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Retro News - Another New Wonder Boy Game!

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap by Lizardcube / DotEmu (2016) - PC

As some of you might know, having covered it twice already (here and here), I have been awaiting FDG Entertainment's update/reboot of the great Wonder Boy with much enthusiasm. It is based on and expands upon the epic third game in the series, The Dragon's Trap, and it really is looking wonderful. However, it now appears that FDG were not the only ones with the idea, for as recently revealed after a teaser countdown, there's another new Wonder Boy game on the way too! This one, developed by Lizardcube and published by those fine folk over at DotEmu, is apparently a direct remake rather than a new adventure based on the original, but that's just fine with me.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Film Review #88

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Director: Shane Black Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, Paul Bettany

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 125 Minutes

Tagline: "Even heroes fall."

I think it's safe to say the first Iron Man film was rather well received and is still widely regarded as one of the best of all MCU films, while the second, though not matching the greatness of the first, was still a pretty darn good film. Both of them, however, were effectively intended to build up to the release of The Avengers. This third film was the first MCU movie to be released after that great ensemble effort, however, and while it is itself part of the build up the second Avengers film, the expectations were now sky-high. Could it possibly live up to them? The trailer certainly looked very promising and I think everyone just assumed without question that it would another superbly-entertaining adventure for Tony and friends, myself included.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Retro News - Classic Game, New Conversion!

The Spectrum was my main source of gaming for so long that it's really hard to pick one single favourite game for it, but one title that has always been up there is Head Over Heels. It was originally made for the Speccy and remains associated with the system more than any other despite being converted to many other formats of the day. There was a fancy remake for the PC a good few years ago now (available here if you're interested) but it's the conversions for the older systems that I've been looking at. One was for the MSX and that version, like many others, looks very much like the original, but now there's a version for the mighty MSX2 as well.

It arrives courtesy of FX Software, a Spanish homebrew developer I believe (I haven't really been able to find much info on him/them) who have already remade Batman, the spiritual predecessor of this game. This latest project has been followed with much interest by the MSX community and recently came to my attention as well, simply because it's Head Over Heels. And Head Over Heels is well awesome. But it also looks like a really nice version of Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond's wonderful game. The latter's lovely monochrome graphics were positively brimming with creativity and character and suited the Speccy perfectly but, as alluded to earlier, most of the other versions were not really adapted to utilise that system's strengths and were instead very close to the Speccy version. Some had the odd splash of colour here and there while others were seemingly direct ports, and consequently, despite being universally adored, it's not really a game that's been regarded as much of a looker.