Wednesday, 16 January 2019

PS4 Purchases #4

Okay, they weren't purchases this time, strictly speaking, for I was fortunate enough to receive two brand new PS4 games for Christmas this year, as bequeathed by my simply delightful family. I guess I was at least moderately good this year (chortle)!

Surviving Mars by Haemimont Games / Paradox Interactive (2018) - PS4

Historically, I've always been a bit turned off by strategy games, I'm ashamed to say. I do like spacey stuff though, so I added this game to my Amazon wishlist a while back in the hopes that it might persuade me to stop being such a lazy oaf and actually put some time/effort into one. I went for this one mainly due to the setting and premise which are certainly appealing - the player is charged with building and maintaining a domed city - or cities - on the slightly inhospitable Red Planet. Shades of The Martian, perhaps? Well, the game is apparently modelled on real martian data so it's certainly possible (eep!). I'll just have to hope it's beginner-friendly too, or I might have a tough time working out how to play it! I'm looking forward to giving it a try anyway. Watch out martians - mankind is here to ruin your planet too!

Monday, 14 January 2019

New Arrival - SNES Classic Mini

I suppose it's a bit ironic that, out of all these trendy 'mini' consoles that have been doing the rounds recently, the only one I've covered here at Red Parsley prior to its release has been the PS1 Classic... which has gone on to be the only one to receive almost universally bad reviews from critics and owners. It's a shame really, as it does look like a nice piece of kit. The mini consoles to have earned the most attention and many positive reviews, however, have been the Nintendo ones.

While admiring both from afar, I'm not sure I ever expected to own one of them, especially given the startling prices they had started fetching almost straight after their respective launches thanks to the dastardly scalpers. Happily, things seemed to calm down eventually, but even the fairly-reasonable £70 RRP was a little high for me at the end of a financially challenging year. As it turned out, I needn't have worried, for Santa Claus had a very jolly surprise in store for me (no, not that sort of surprise - groo!). Actually, there's a chance it might've been my wife rather than that porky, mince-pie-eating oaf, but it matters not. What matters is that my Christmas morning was made all the more joyful that it might otherwise have been when I discovered the very SNES Classic Mini pictured here under my tree!

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Film Review #106

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
Director: Desiree Akhavan Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, John Gallagher Jr, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Marin Ireland, Owen Campbell, Kerry Butler, Quinn Shephard, Emily Skeggs, Melanie Ehrlich, Jennifer Ehle

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 90 Minutes

Almost 20 years ago now I accidentally discovered an obscure indie film called But I'm a Cheerleader which starred Natasha Lyonne as a high school girl who was sent to a reparative therapy camp by her friends and family who all thought she was a lesbian, despite the fact that she had never shown any romantic or sexual interest in other girls. It was all very campy silly stuff but pretty funny and heartwarming too, and it's still an occasional guilty pleasure for me nowadays. It is mainly for this reason I took a particular interest in The Miseducation of Cameron Post which, adapted from Emily M. Danforth's 2012 novel, sounded like a more modern, and probably more dramatic take on the same subject - a subject which is even more relevant today than 20 years ago.

Friday, 4 January 2019

PC Engine SuperGrafx A-Z

When NEC unveiled their possibly-premature replacement for their super-awesome PC Engine, it had our attention immediately. It tantalised us from afar when we first saw it in gaming magazines of the day. It even intimidated us a little - this mean looking new machine even looked a bit like an actual engine! But something was clearly very wrong almost immediately as only six games were ever released for it before it went belly-up. So, here is a look at the entire PC Engine SuperGrafx software library:

1941: Counter Attack by Capcom (1991)

The second of Capcom's two SuperGrafx offerings (chronologically speaking) was this splendid vertical-scroller which was the third game in their 19XX series. The format remained the same of course - shoot down millions of enemy aircraft - but it was superbly done and gave a decent indication of the SG's abilities.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Well, another year has been and gone remarkably quickly, as they so often seem to these days, and if I have any regular visitors left, I'm sure you/they will have noticed that it has been an annoyingly-unproductive one here at Red Parsley. In fact, it has been the least productive year since I've been blogging. Yes, even counting my very first year waaay back in 2010! Wow, I guess that makes this my tenth year...

The arrival of a new year is a time for reflection though, and I have been giving the continuation of this very page a lot of thought since I last had to buy a calendar. To that end, as I've touched on before here in fact, I very much doubt I'll ever return to the 'glory days' where I averaged almost two posts every three days - it's rare if I even post twice in one week these days - and I have accepted this year that RP will never be what I had originally hoped. I simply don't have the time.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Early Driving Games #14

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge (1990)
By: Magnetic Fields Genre: Driving Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga
Also Available For: CD32, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

To a small percentage of people, a 'Lotus' may be a distinctive type of flower, while many more associate the word with speedy little British sports cars. Mention it to an Amiga or Atari ST fan though, and their eyes will likely immediately well up as they fondly remember one of the most beloved of all games for their treasured 16-bit home micro, and probably one of the finest racing games outside the arcades at the time of its original release. This came courtesy of Messrs Southern and Morris who comprised British developer, Magnetic Fields, and it was an instant smash hit, even making the Amiga and ST themselves more desirable to anyone who wasn't lucky enough to already own one of them. Despite being a MegaDrive owner at the time, I remember being suitably impressed myself, and I have fond memories of playing this splendid game.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

PS4 Purchases #3

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom by FDG Entertainment (2018) - PS4

Finally (tootle tootle)! It seems like I've been waiting forever for this one. I've posted about it twice before - once in 2015 and again in 2016 - but it was starting to seem like that release date would get pushed back forever, unto the end of days... !BUT THEN!... Lo, did I wander unto Amazon's US website and there it lay, the PS4 version, glistening like a mythical treasure amidst their more expected wares, bearing a release date of December 2018 and available for pre-order! This news was met with considerable excitement but, after a quick detour, I found there was sadly no corresponding listing on the UK site. Harumph! A hastily-undertaken investigation subsequently revealed, however, that the game was indeed finished and ready to be released as a download for both PS4 and Switch, with a tantalising physical release apparently bestowed only upon American owners of those consoles.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Master System A-Z

After gamers greeted the SG-1000 with resounding indifferece, Sega soon followed it up with the Master System, known as the Mark III in Japan, and it was wonderful. Here I will be taking a look at all of the games to grace its majesticness:

A is for...

Ace of Aces by Artech Digital Entertainment (1991)

An entirely uncelebrated home micro release from the mid-80's made for a strange MS conversion years later but it was better than nothing. Or was it? It's supposed to be a WWII sim that allows you to engage in dogfights as well as bomb Nazi subs and the like. Not a bad idea but somehow it was incredibly dull... (full review here)

Monday, 3 December 2018

Awesome Nature #21

Type: Mammal  Lives In: Central and South America  Conservation Status: Least Concern

Unlike a lot of awesome creatures I've warbled on about here, I have first-hand experience of these amusing rascals. I first saw one in Brazil: we had rented a villa near the beach and were eating at the outdoor table one evening when I saw one in a tree gathering fruits. I was excited to see it but that was nothing compared to my more recent encounter: I was on holiday with my wife in Mexico, staying at a resort this time, and I saw what looked like a coati from a distance. It later turned out the resort, and indeed that part of the world generally, was absolutely teeming with them! Everywhere we went in the resort, we would see them running around with their ringed tails sticking straight up in the air. They were usually in large family groups all at once too - outside our window digging for food with their long claws, running around the pool area looking for scraps, even invading the breakfast buffet hoping someone would share some fruit with them. This was something my wife and I did regularly during our time there and the little things were adorable, following us around, usually with youngsters in tow, squeaking constantly as they went. They have immediately become one of my very favourite animals!

Why It Is Awesome: They are squeaking cuties and they're everywhere!

Friday, 30 November 2018

Gaming Memories - Part 17

I think I've been into video games ever since I first discovered them back in the 80's thanks to OutRun, but if there was one period where I fell out of touch, it would've been around 1994-1995-ish. I still don't remember the reason for this - I don't think anything very dramatic was going on in my life at the time beyond my continuing to stew in the realisation that being an adult sucked - but whatever the reason, the result was I missed out on an important and eventful period of time.

This included the demise of some wonderful systems like the Amiga and PC Engine, the introduction and equally quick failure of fancy new systems like the Jaguar and 3DO, and even the polygon-filled 3D boom. Okay, I didn't miss all this stuff completely - I was kind of aware of most of it to varying degrees so I guess I was still following things, but there was one pivotal transition I have barely any memory of - the end of the 16-bit era and the introduction of their 32-bit replacements. The MegaDrive and SNES's final year saw some flashy and innovative games which wrung every last ounce of strength out of their ageing innards before the focus was shifted to the new systems. Relative newcomer Sony had been readying their almost-Nintendo machine, the PlayStation, while Sega had finally finished pissing about with the Mega CD, 32X, Nomad, Multi-Mega, and lord knows what else, and had their system ready too.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Film Round-Up #24

Like many, I grew up watching the James Bond films. Roger Moore was the man in the tuxedo during my younger years but of course the Connery-era films continued to receive frequent screenings on TV as well, and I loved them all. It has been a while since I saw most of them though, so I figured it might be a decent opportunity to watch them all through again. Uncharacteristically, however, I have not started at the beginning but rather at the end, so here's a look at the four films (so far) to feature Daniel Craig's version of the world's most famous super spy!

Casino Royale (2006)

The first film for a new James Bond is always going to attract a lot of attention. Even more intriguingly in this case, it would be the first proper adaptation of Ian Flaming's first Bond novel. It begins just as Bond is earning his 00 status. Soon after, he inadvertently thwarts a dastardly plan by Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), an evil terrorist-funding banker. In an attempt to recoup his sizeable losses, Le Chiffre sets up a high stakes poker tournament - a tournament in which Bond is entered with instructions to win, or at least stop Le Chiffre from winning, with help from Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). That doesn't mean the film is one long poker game though - we visit Uganda and Madagascar, then the Bahamas before arriving in Montenegro for the tourney, and also take in the sights of Venice too. Of course, Bond also finds time for some recreation by bedding Solange (Caterina Murino), a bad guy's wife, and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Retro News - PS1 Classic Lineup!

I don't usually cover stuff like this here but, having missed out on many PS1 games at the time due to my fierce Sega allegiance, this latest 'mini' console release is one that I have at least a bit of interest in. It was initially announced a few weeks ago accompanied by few details. Apparently the dinky console would come with a pair of original (non analogue) controllers for two-player splendidness, and twenty original PS1 games would be loaded onto it but, no more info was forthcoming.

Actually, that's not true - a few of the bundled titles were divulged at the time of the announcement but a majority remained a mystery. That is, until now (tootle tootle)! Indeed, the full line-up has now been unveiled and the reaction has been... somewhat mixed. I imagine most interested parties will have compiled wish-lists in their heads over the intervening weeks and I'm no different, but I figured I'd take a look at the official selection.

This 'look' will naturally be from the perspective of someone who has never been a big Sony gamer, and certainly not a fanboy (i.e. me), so it will probably be inane drivel unfit for the eyes of even a comatose marrow farmer, but that's okay since no one visits here nowadays anyway (guffaw/cry). Nonetheless, here is a look at the lucky few titles which will be split into three sections - the games included in all regions, the games only included with the console's Western release, and the games that only the Japanese players will get, and I thought I'd follow it up with my own picks.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Arcade Platform Games #5

Pac-Land (1984)
By: Namco Genre: Platform Players: 1-2 (alternate) Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 33,620
Also Available For: PC Engine, X68000, Lynx, NES, Amiga, Atari ST, MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum Download For: iOS, Wii Virtual Console

My many regular visits to the local beachside arcades I was fortunate enough to live close to during my youth yielded many delights but one game I always looked forward to was Pac-Land, the first game to star the yellow muncher since his curious mutation, perhaps the result of exposure to radiation of some sort, which bestowed upon him a brand new set of limbs the likes of which most of us take for granted. Thanks to these limbs he is apparently able to finally escape the confines of the endless mazes that comprised his earlier games. What's the first thing you would do in his position? That's right - go for a run and test out those gangly protrusions! Unfortunately for him, however, those pesky ghosts have also found a way to liberate themselves and set out in hot pursuit, aiming to spitefully ruin Pac-Man's fun.

Friday, 5 October 2018

They Might Be Giants - Chiptuned!

Most things I post here at Red Parsley will only be of interest to a small number of people, but even with that in mind the subject of this particular post really will be of limited appeal. For the tiny core of people with the right combination of interests, however, it will be a truly wondrous post worthy of wine, women and song!

Before we get to that, let me just say, I've been a fan of They Might Be Giants for many years now - nearly 30 years in fact, ever since an old friend made me a tape of their first two albums back in our school days (don't worry - I bought the originals soon afterwards) - and they've pretty much been my favourite band ever since.

Yes, I know in more recent years they've made several educational albums for the kiddies, but their 'proper' albums are still among the few music albums I actually look forward to the release of these days (for yes indeed, they are still going strong). One of their most popular albums remains Flood released in 1990 which contains 'Birdhouse in your Soul', still probably their best known song.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Film Review #105

Red Sparrow (2018)
Director: Francis Lawrence Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 140 Minutes

Tagline: "The road to forgiveness begins with betrayal."

It has been a while since I watched a decent spy thriller so I was looking forward to seeing this one, even more so with the usually-reliable Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role. The fact that it's based on a novel by Jason Matthews, a former CIA agent himself no less, only adds to its credentials. I guess novels don't always make the best movies but it should at least mean there's a decent story here. It has to do with 'Sparrows', the product of an SVR (formerly the KGB) programme of so-called 'sexpionage' operatives trained to seduce and gain the trust of targets with a view to exploiting them, usually by divulging compromising information or items. Lawrence is Dominika Egorova, a celebrated Russian ballerina who uses her earnings to support her ill mother. When she suffers a career-ending injury (mid-performance no less), however, it looks as though both of them are destined for destitution.