Thursday, 21 May 2015

First Look PSN #5

Dustforce by Hitbox Team / Capcom (2014) - PlayStation Network (PS3)

I've played a few environmentally-themed games in recent years but this one is probably the first that actually makes you do the menial labour yourself. Dustforce takes place within a world that has been tainted by 'dust and disorder', you see, and it's your job to cleanse its 50+ stages using one of the four selectable janitors. This is done simply by running over all the dirty areas (which only seem to be covered in leaves - surely not that big a deal?) which are dotted around all surfaces of the side-viewed, scrolling landscapes, including the walls and ceilings, and also by smacking up all the poor creatures living there. That means you'll need a fast and agile janitor and luckily all four of them are, to varying degrees. Time to get cracking with your trusty broom!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Film Round-Up #9

I think anyone around my age will have grown up during the heyday of the 'action movie star' era and, like me, these lucky (?) people almost certainly revelled in the brainless, unrealistic mayhem and sizeable body-count the various stars left in their wake. Whilst never reaching the heights of Arnie or Sly, one of my favourites was always Jean-Claude Van Damme. Like many, however, I've generally only seen his earlier films (as indicated by the Top Five I did a while ago), so I recently decided to fix that by catching up some of the lesser-known later entries on his filmography. Here are the first five I watched, with another five likely to come later!

Hard Target (1993)

Van Damme was the actor credited with bringing HK legend John Woo to Hollywood and this film was the fruit of their labour. It's set in New Orleans where a bunch of trigger-happy rich dudes spend their time hunting homeless men for sport. When the daughter (Yancy Butler) of one of them comes to town looking for her father, she bumps into Chance Boudreaux (JCVD), the most well-kempt homeless man in the history of the world. Of course, when he helps her look into her father's disappearance, they become the target of the next hunt, led by the obsessive Emil Fouchon (Lance Henriksen). Cue lots of running, shooting, kicking, and explosions (as well as a decent number of doves) as Emil and his snarling henchmen chase the stupidly-named Chance and Nat across Louisiana. The most interesting acting performance is by Henriksen and the best non-action scenes are those featuring him, but the lashings of action are of the standard you would expect from Mr. Woo - brash but stylish and entertaining. Hard Target is neither his nor JVCD's finest hour but it's a passable enough, if silly effort... 6/10

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Computer Platform Games #7

Frak! (1984)
By: Aardvark Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: BBC First Day Score: 10,600
Also Available For: Electron, C64

A little while back I took a look at the finest platform games with a prehistoric setting, and one that was up for consideration was Frak. That was until I realised it's not actually very prehistoric-ish at all. Besides starring a caveman called Trogg, there isn't much else that fits the necessary criteria. Trogg's job, you see, is to collect three keys on each of the three stages that make up the game. These consist of a few large and many smaller platforms which might look as though they've been arranged in a bit of a jumble, but they've actually been very deliberately placed to make it as tricky as possible to finish each stage by taking full advantage of Trogg's somewhat limited movement. He ambles around the screen slowly, jumps awkwardly, and can't fall more than about a nanometre without losing a life.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Arcade Shmups #22

DonPachi (1995)
By: Cave / Atlus Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 2,160,960
Also Available For: Saturn, PlayStation
Download For: PlayStation Network

I've now reviewed quite a few shmups over the years here at Red Parsley. Some of them have been very famous, others less so, and there are obviously tons of them I still have to visit at some point too. One whose name I probably hear more often than any other, though, is DonPachi. Actually, that's only almost true; it's usually DoDonPachi, this game's much revered sequel, that gamers rave on about, but as usual I prefer to look at the series in the right order. One thing I found myself wondering, however, was this: do all the ever-passionate shmup fanatics only seem to mention the sequel because this first game isn't much cop? To be honest, I doubted that before I even played - Cave are practically worshipped by most shmup fans after all - but I was still very interested to find out.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Favourite Speccy Loading Screens - Part 4

Oh, hello again. As some of you may well have noticed, I've recently been posting selections of my favourite Spectrum loading screens. Actually, I imagine rather a lot of you have noticed as they have turned out to be among my most popular posts for some time! I suppose visually-stimulating posts are always popular but, whatever the reason, I'm very pleased to now present the fourth part of the extensive gallery...

Friday, 1 May 2015

Film Round-Up #8

Recent months here in RKS-Land have been somewhat frustrating from a blogging point of view. Well, from several points of view actually. Work has been very busy and my laptop hard drive spluttered to a halt which left my blogging in a similar state of inactivity. In order to address both of these issues, I've subsequently been watching quite a few films lately; enough, in fact, to start doing a few 'themed' Round-Ups starting with this one. Behold, therefore, a selection of five sci-fi films I've recently watched (or endured, in some cases):

Skyline (2010)

Though it may be bereft of big star names, the promotional stuff for this one still made it look at least promising. Glowy blue lights? Giant spaceships over cities vacuuming up humans? Huge grotesque aliens systematically 'harvesting' all life on earth? Only a colossal oaf could stuff up a premise like that, surely? Sadly, the team behind it managed just that, although I'm not really sure how. The small cast might not be household names but they aren't untalented, and the special effects are superb (which shouldn't be surprising given the directors, Colin and Greg Strause, are former special effects artists) but it's just not... very good. The story focuses on a small group of friends in one apartment block in LA who wake up after a party to find big spaceships everywhere and scary aliens taking out anyone stupid enough to be seen by them, but that's about it. There are no explanations, just 90-odd minutes of running around the building being scared. I suppose there's a mild curiosity to see how things pan out but the film doesn't even have the courtesy of having a proper ending. I guess that was to allow for the forthcoming sequel... 4/10

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Almost 3D Shmups #2

Luna Crabs (1983)
By: M J Estcourt / Micromega Genre: Shooting Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum  First Day Score: 560
Also Available For: Nothing

As any student of science knows, the moon has long been suspected of harbouring some type of scary, malevolent horde of creatures. Having somehow concealed them-selves from our acutely cautious gaze, they've been there all this time, waiting, biding their time. But no longer! Having crawled from their lairs en masse, they are now on the move, but what exactly are they? Lord save us, they're crabs! This is actually not the set-up for this 16k Speccy game - the real back-story sets the action on an unnamed Saturnian moon (which kind of negates the whole 'luna' thing) where some research team has stumbled upon the rather aggressive crustaceans who are apparently in residence there. Does mean we're playing the part of the evil invading interloper? Quite possibly, but I think I like my own back-story more anyway.

Friday, 24 April 2015

PSN Downloads #5

Fatal Inertia EX (2008)
By: Koei Genre: Racing Players: 1-8 (online) Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation 3
Also Available For: Xbox 360

For a while now, the main question amongst gamers when it comes to futuristic 'hover craft' racers has simply been... F-Zero or Wipeout? My personal allegiance is very well known in these parts but there are a few examples that aren't part of either series. One recent example is this one made by KOEI, initially released for the Xbox 360 before a slightly spruced-up conversion was bestowed upon us lucky PS3 owners, and it was one I was eager to try out. It has a short introduction which mentions something about you being invited to participate in the 'cutthroat motorsport' of the title where 'only exceptional pilots will survive'. You are of course given an 'advanced prototype' with which to do this, and there are Single Player, Multiplayer, and Garage modes available to choose from.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Film Review #77

Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
Director: James Wan Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Djimon Hounsou, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, Tony Jaa

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 137 Minutes

Tagline: "Vengeance hits home."

As anyone who has visited Red Parsley much over the years must know already, I've been a big fan of the Fast & Furious series since the very first instalment (seems a looong time ago now). Sadly, however, tragedy has befallen the F&F family since the last film with the untimely death of Paul Walker, and this seventh film is famously his last appearance on screen. That in itself more or less guaranteed a big box office take, although I guess the previous films haven't exactly flopped - aside from the third film, each instalment has steadily earnt more and more money, and most fans would say they've also been getting better and better too (with an exception or two). Does this latest, most anticipated part of the ongoing saga continue that trend? It certainly looked like it would judging by the trailer, so I had high hopes.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Rise From Your Grave - Resurrecting my old Speccy +3

As were the words famously spoken by Zeus at the start of Altered Beast, and they were the words I thought of once again just a couple of nights ago. As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, I recently undertook an arduous-but-productive expedition into the mysterious depths of my old bedroom and the attic of my parents house. This resulted in the retrieval of my old gaming magazines, as detailed here in the previous post, but something else I unearthed - and one of the things I was actually looking for - was my old Spectrum +3, and happily I found it.

It was more or less exactly where I left it actually - in the attic, safely sealed in a big box along with all the cables and bits and pieces as well as a load of tape games. After cautiously opening the box in case of spiders or other scary creatures and finding none, I began sorting through everything in preparation for actually seeing if it still worked. This presented me with a problem though - how the devil do you get a computer like this working on a modern TV? As it turned out, this was easier than I thought (after consulting the instructions for my TV, naturally), and splendidly I soon saw the distinctive opening menu offered by Alan Sugar's fancy revamped Speccy models. Further progress, however, was cut short by the pesky keyboard which was apparently no longer working. Unwilling to admit defeat, this meant I had to do something I very rarely do - actually try to fix it.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Early Driving Games #11

Vroom (1991)
By: Lankhor Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Atari ST First Day Score: 12,370
Also Available For: Amiga

These days F1 games seem to be limited to whichever one has the official FIA license but in the 16-bit era they were much more common. This one was released by French developer, Lankhor, in 1991 for the ST and Amiga and looks much like many others that were around at the time - that is to say, decidedly average. For some reason, though, I had a sneaking suspicion it might actually surprise me, so, after a bit of hassle trying to find a version that actually worked, I spent some time finding out. There are Demonstration and Training options which are probably worth checking out quickly, but there are two main play modes - Arcade and Racing - to choose from on the rather limited menu screen, and it was the former I tried first.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Film Review #76

Wedding Crashers (2005)
Director: David Dobkin Starring: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Bradley Cooper, Jane Seymour, Keir O'Donnell

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 119 Minutes

Tagline: "Life's a party. Crash it."

Any film that has the word 'wedding' in its title is generally one to be avoided in my experience. A narrow-minded view, perhaps, but most of them do tend to be somewhat generic, predictable rom-coms with little in the way of charm. This Wilson/Vaughn vehicle, however, could be one of the few exceptions to that rule, and a big part of the reason for that is down to it starring Wilson and Vaughn. They play John and Jeremy respectively, who are divorce mediators as well as long-time friends who are gearing up for their favourite time of year - the wedding season - a period they spend crashing weddings posing as distant relatives or old friends of someone-or-other. I suppose the lashings of free food and booze would be a big attraction to any party lover, but their main motivation for their favourite past time is to take advantage of the loved-up state of the various female guests.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Favourite Speccy Loading Screens - Part 3

Oh, hello again. As some of you may well have noticed, I've recently been posting selections of my favourite Spectrum loading screens. Actually, I imagine rather a lot of you have noticed as they have turned out to be among my most popular posts for some time! I suppose visually-stimulating posts are always popular but, whatever the reason, I'm very pleased to now present the third part of the extensive gallery...

Monday, 30 March 2015

Currently Playing...

Neo Turf Masters by Nazca Corporation (1996) - Neo Geo

I try to cover a decent range of games and systems here at Red Parsley but I really don't feature enough Neo Geo games - it is after all regarded by many as the ultimate hardcore gamers' machine - so, only a few nights past, I decided it was high time I looked at another of its fine titles. This was not, however, Neo Turf Masters which, as long-time readers may be aware, I've already reviewed!

When gamers visit the Neo Geo it's most often for one of its fine fighting games or shmups, but the game I've spent most time with is this one. I'm probably the only gamer in the world that can say that but I don't care, I have always been very keen on arcadey golf games and, aside from the mighty Everybody's Golf series, this one has long been my favourite.

That makes it easy to get distracted by it when I'm meant to be looking into some new titles to review! It features Match Play and Stroke Play options for one or two players, four decent, similar-looking courses based in USA, Japan, Australia, and Germany to explore, and six golfers to do it with - but this stuff is all par for the course with golf games really (pun definitely intended - chuckle!).

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Puzzle Games #18

Be Ball a.k.a. Chew-Man-Fu (1990)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Puzzle / Maze Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: 232,810
Also Available For: Nothing
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Puzzle games can often be among the stranger titles hosted by their respective systems and this PCE release by Hudson is definitely no exception. A brief perusal of the American instructions (Be Ball is the Japanese version) reveals that 'the people have been deprived of their favourite foods - fried rice and egg rolls - by the evil Chew Man Fu'. To what end? Your guess is as good as mine, but luckily 'two feisty twin sisters' named LaLa and LingLing have bravely stepped up to 'turn the tables on the wrong-doers'. Jolly good then! Of course, as you probably already guessed, this is done by... moving four coloured balls around. Obviously. Each stage, you see, features four different coloured balls and four plates of matching colours. Your job is simply to move each ball to the corresponding plate before moving to the next. This may not be as easy as it sounds, however, especially when you learn that there are supposedly a somewhat bewildering 550 stages to battle through.