Thursday, 2 July 2020

TV Show First Look #5

Sally4Ever (2018)

I was recently pootling around on the Rotten Tomatoes site and saw a list they had made of the best HBO shows. Despite being a British show, it was the first time I'd even heard of Sally4Ever, but I have generally liked the HBO shows I've seen before so that was enough for me to try it out. It's the brainchild of Julia Davis, apparently a well-known and regarded comedian here in the UK, and features Sally (Catherine Shepherd) who has lived a dull suburban life for ten years with her nebbish boyfriend David (Alex Macqueen). Clearly bored and unhappy in life, she finds herself drawn into a relationship with Emma (Davis), a charismatic women she first meets on the train. Before long they are living together, with David having been given the boot, and Emma is running riot over pretty much all aspects of Sally's life.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Overrated! #8

Destruction Derby (1995)
By: Reflections / Psygnosis Genre: Racing Players: 1-2 (via link-up) Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation First Day Score: 108
Also Available For: Saturn, PC

Unlike the poor old Saturn, the PS1 had a good few decent titles available at launch, including some that did a great job of showing off what the system could do. One of the more popular was Destruction Derby, a vehicular combat game developed right here in spiffing Blighty! Sadly, this was not enough to win my favour, and it wasn't even to do with my strong Sega allegiance as the Saturn got a version too! Indeed, as boring as it might be, I didn't like the game at the time, simply because I didn't enjoy playing it much. I was clearly in the minority though, for it was enthusiastically received by gamers of the time, many of them eager to impress all-comers with their fancy new consoles, and the series is fondly remembered today as well, so I thought it was high time I went back for another, perhaps less scornful look.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Top Five PC Engine Racing Games

Although it certainly didn't start as such, this has almost turned into one of the old 'comedy' Top Fives I used to do. The main reason for this was down to how difficult it turned out to be to even find five half-decent racing games for this usually-excellent system. I know the mighty PC Engine is hardly known for this genre - its legendary status is more to do with its outstanding shmups and platformers - but I still didn't think I've have as much trouble as I did. So, I guess you should probably instead consider this the Top Five Least Crap PC Engine Racing Games instead!

Special Note: This list does not include overheard/top-down racing games as they are different enough and numerous enough to have their own list.

5. Power Drift (1990)

If I'm honest, I've never been the biggest fan of Power Drift, at least compared to other Super Scaler games, and porting it to the Engine was ambitious, but it's actually not too bad. It does deviate from the arcade version a little in that it basically gives you a championship mode in place of the arcade mode, meaning you have to work your way through the courses rather than just choose any you like. It works quite well though, and it's technically quite impressive, all things considered. It does suffer from the same faults as the arcade version (or what I always perceived to be faults anyway) - namely, the undulating log sections of track often making it hard to see where you're going, and the large cars making it hard to overtake (or be overtaken). But that does at least mean it's a good conversion I guess, and it's pretty good fun to play now and then too. The graphics are probably about as good as you could expect too, although the music isn't so great, but this could easily have been a lot worse, as some of the other versions were.

Friday, 26 June 2020

New Arrival - C64 Mini!

Okay, this one isn't really an ultra-new arrival. In fact, if any evidence was needed of my apparently-unavoidable procrastinistic (is that a word?) tendencies, it's that this 'new' arrival was received from my lovely wife as a birthday gift - eleven months ago! Fear not, I have used it quite a bit; it's just the posting about it here part that I'm somewhat behind on, but better late than never?!

She actually bought if for me due to a mix-up. She thought she had heard me talking about the C64 a lot and bought if for me based on that. All I can think of is that she heard me talking about the N64 (she wouldn't know the difference), but whatever the reason, I am actually glad she made the mistake because, even if there was an N64 Mini, I've played most of the top games on that console extensively, whereas my Speccy allegiance in the 80's means I've played very few of the C64's most renowned titles. I had of course originally intended to rectify that issue here, but while I have played some well-known as well as some less-well-known games on Commodore's brown breadbin since then, I have not really done so to anywhere near the extent I had intended. Perhaps this mighty gift will be the catalyst?

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Film Review #115

Becky (2020)
Director: Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion Starring: Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale, Robert Maillet, Amanda Brugel

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 100 Minutes

Tagline: "There once was a little girl..."

New film releases have been somewhat thin on the ground this year for obvious reasons, so you would think any that do somehow make it out would be heralded far and wide. However, this one came out a few weeks ago (according to Wikipedia at least) and I haven't heard a single peep about it! Oh well, luckily I happened upon it anyway, and I quickly found a premise that appealed to me. It stars Joel McHale and Lulu Wilson as Jeff and Becky, a father and daughter attempting to reconnect after the death about one year earlier of their wife/mother, although this desire seems to be more Jeff's than Becky's who is upset, angry and still grieving. Jeff takes Becky to the family's lakeside cabin where he has also invited Kayla (Brugel), his new girlfriend, and her young son, for he has apparently decided a good way to reconnect with his daughter and help her get over her mother's death is to tell her he's planning to marry Kayla. This goes down about as well as you might expect and Becky legs it into the woodland surrounding the cabin.

Monday, 8 June 2020

First Look Arcade #2

Gee Bee by Namco (1978) - Arcade

My hunt for so-called 'brick-breaker' games has revealed many examples to me. I've not even heard of some, like this one which was released way back in 1978 - only two years after the progenitor itself, Breakout. Sadly for me, it's an arcade exclusive (not that there would've been much to convert it to anyway), and like many such games it uses a paddle to move the bat so I can't play/review it properly, but it seems pretty innovative for its day. It looks and plays a little more like a pinball game than a Breakout clone too. There are bumpers, channels at the side for the ball to fall down, a twirly thing and lights to turn on, etc, but there are also numerous bricks and not one but two paddles (one at the bottom of the screen, the other about halfway up), and the object at least appears to be to take out all the bricks. It's hard to say for sure as, 1) it's extremely hard to play the game with a control pad (even one with an analogue stick), and 2) the bricks seem to replenish themselves every now and then. It must be bloody hard though, even with the correct controller, as the ball gets really fast quite quickly, but it's definitely an interesting title, especially considering its age.

RKS Score: 3/5

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Sabbatical or Retirement?

It seems like forever ago but I started this blog almost exactly ten years ago now. As I've probably mentioned here at some point during that time, it was my wife's idea. She doesn't like videogames much, you see, and was fed up with me burbling on about them. I don't remember doing it that much but she suggested I start this blog anyway, and get my gaming fix that way instead of bothering her.

So that's exactly what I did, and it has occupied a sizeable slice of my free time ever since. In all that time, I have posted something at least once every calendar month, usually many times, but that's until now. As the few regular visitors here may have noticed, it has now been over three months since I've posted anything. That doesn't mean I have fallen victim to a certain virus pandemic that's doing the rounds, I'm happy to say, but it has been a cause of concern for me nonetheless.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Sonic the Hedgehog Series - Part 2

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
By: Ancient / Sega Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Master System First Day Score: ???,???
Also Available For: Mega Drive, Game Gear, Game Boy Advance (ports)
PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC (on compilations)

Download For: Android, iOS, Wii Virtual Console

The title screen is a bit duller than expected...

Despite being released soon after its MegaDrive big brother, and that I still owned my Master System at the time, for some reason I gave this port of the instantly-famous MD platformer a wide berth. Harsh in retrospect perhaps, but in those days flashy audio/visuals were as captivating as they have always been, before and since, so who could blame me for being taken in by the dazzling tour-de-force that was Sonic the Hedgehog MD? But yes, I still should've come back for this highly-rated version many moons ago, so I come before it now, humbled, and much less influenced by the flashy technical abilities of one system over another. I guess more than that stuff, though, the big question will be: can it possibly be as slick, stylish, and simply as much fun as that legendary MD version?

Monday, 24 February 2020

Atari Lynx A-Z

Developed years earlier by former Amiga designers who by then worked for American developer Epyx, the 16-bit Lynx was much more powerful than Nintendo's Game Boy, but that extra power and its colour screen came at a cost. It has some corking games though, and this listing will include all official releases. This is one of four parts and features all games beginning with letters O through R:

Pac-Land by Atari (1991)

Namco's pill-popping yellow pie-chart has received many sequels to his 1980 classic, and this is probably the best-loved of them all. Giving him arms and legs (and a hat) was a no-brainer and the platformer that he was given to run and jump through was a cracker. Happily, this Lynx version is nearly as good too.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Film Review #114

The very, very cool cover...
Ninja (2009)
Director: Isaac Florentine Starring: Scott Adkins, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Mika Hijii, Togo Igawa, Todd Jensen, Miles Anderson, Garrick Hagon,

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 83 Minutes

Tagline: "A silent warrior, a lethal mission"

I don't think there has ever been a time in human history when ninjas haven't been cool (except as far as anything to do with Google is concerned, of course) but their heyday, at least as far as films and videogames and stuff are concerned, was definitely the 80's. Perhaps in an attempt to renew their popularity, however, a small American studio called Nu Image conjured up this direct-to-video effort. It features Scott Adkins in one of his first lead roles as Casey Bowman, an American orphan who was adopted into a martial arts dojo in Japan. While there he adopts the way of bushido and earns the respect of his sensei, Master Takeda (Igawa). His dedication does not, however, earn the respect of the dojo's top student Masazuka (Ihara), who is jealous of the attention Casey receives from Takeda, and also from his hottie daughter Namiko (Hijii). And where jealousy exists, conflict is rarely far behind.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Retro News - Online Console!

There have been a number of attempts in recent years to launch new formats. Most of these sensibly don't try to take on the might of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, but instead devise more humble systems dealing primarily with indie and homebrew titles. These are about the only modern games I like so I often take an interest in these formats/services, but they don't usually last long, sadly.

However, the latest example I've found is an interesting one. It's called PICO-8 and is described by its creators as a 'fantasy console'. That doesn't mean it only exists in your mind though. According to the blurb on their website, it's "like a regular console, but without the inconvenience of actual hardware". Many gamers, especially ones that collect and/or play retro stuff, are rather fond of physical consoles and games of course, and certainly wouldn't find them an inconvenience, but I get what they mean and it still sounded very intriguing to me.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

MegaDrive Shmups #10

Gley Lancer (1992)
By: NCS Corp / Masaya Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 310,500
Also Available For: Nothing Download For: Wii Virtual Console

The mighty Mega Drive was a very stonking console for shooter fans as we all know, and happily most of them found a way to Western shores too, but there were a few allegedly decent ones that didn't. The one that always intrigued me the most is probably Gley Lancer. Being the victim of an incorrectly-translated name isn't the most notable thing about it nowadays though. Like many MD games, and indeed like many games generally from the days of retro-ness, it unfortunately now commands such a high price that it's not enormously realistic for normal people to buy it. Of course, no game that changes hands for triple or even quadruple figures among collectors is worth such a sum to a humble gamer. All we want to do is play games, not ogle their sealed cases. Luckily, there a few other avenues available for retroheads and shooter fans, and it is via one of these that I have recently been playing the game for the first time in many moons.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Film Review #113

Ad Astra (2019)
Director: James Gray Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, Donnie Keshawarz, Sean Blakemore

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 124 Minutes

Tagline: "The Answers We Seek Are Just Outside Our Reach"

It's a good time right now to be a sci-fi fan. There are several great TV shows on the go and high-profile films seem to be popping up more regularly than I can last remember. One particular example I've been waiting patiently-but-eagerly for is Ad Astra. It's an original story written by director James Gray along with Ethan Gross and is set in our planet's near future. It's a time when we've developed sufficiently advanced technology, in particular a new propulsion type, to have explored and colonised our solar system, but no further. The existence of alien life is still a question that remains unanswered and one man in particular is obsessed with finding an answer - famed astronaut H. Clifford McBride (Jones) who, 29 years prior to the events of the film, is sent by SpaceCom (U.S. Space Command) to Neptune in command of the Lima Project with the job of finding out if anyone else is out there.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

PS4 Purchases #8

If anyone still visits here, they may remember a post I made almost exactly a year ago detailing five games my good friend Luke had recommended to me. One of them I already had in my Good Old Games library, a review of which will be arriving soon, but the others all required expenditure on my part. Two of them I still haven't gotten around to buying (hopefully soon!) but there are two I have purchased. And so, it is with medium levels of pleasure I present them to you thus:

Rise of the Tomb Raider by Crystal Dynamics (2016)

Even though when I spoke to Luke recently he had forgotten which Tomb Raider game he included in his recommendations, it was this one, although it wouldn't have mattered to me much anyway as I haven't played any since the 1996 original! Happily, this one was at a pleasingly low price with Amazon (a mere £15) so I snapped it up pretty sharpish, and was looking forward to giving it a try. When I finally got around to playing it, I unsurprisingly found that the series has moved on somewhat since the original. Lara's boobs are now boob-shaped, and a much more realistic size too, and they move through some spectacular locales along with their owner. Indeed, I was ultra-impressed with the delightful scenery graphics, even if Lara's ass did prove a little distracting, but aside from these wonderful graphics I'm still a bit unsure about the actual game. It seems to be more linear than I had expected, and apparently consists of periods of running in between numerous QTE-type bits. I thought the days of QTE's were long gone! Oh well, it matters not as Boromir might say, it's worth playing anyway for those graphics.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Arcade A-Z

As much as I love arcade games, and a good few of my fondest childhood/teenage memories are of amusement arcades, there's no way in the world I'll ever have time to cover all arcade games ever made. That would be ultra-unrealistic, even for my standards. Therefore, for these listings I will try to feature most of the main games as well as some less well-known titles, including a few Japan-only games that aren't too language-heavy, but I will obviously miss a lot too.

Left out on purpose will be the scores of Japanese mahjong games and anything similar. Also, while I've played a lot of arcade games in person, it's not very realistic to expect me to have played all of them in their native environment. Games for this list will therefore be mostly played via emulation, so I will also be leaving out games I can't get running on an emulator, and also ones that can't realistically be played (such as ones that need a machine-specific control method).

That will still leave hundreds, probably thousands of games for me to cover here though, so I'd better get started. Next up is:

O is for...

Ocean Hunter, The by Sega (1998)

I am lucky enough to have played this one for real but it's not common, perhaps due to its size. It's a Model 3-powered light gun game pitting you against all the terrors of the deep and more besides - basically House of the Dead but underwater - and the cab comes equipped with a big screen and two mounted guns.