Friday, 17 August 2018

Top Five Jennifers

Being something of a film fan (as well as certain types of TV shows) I noticed some time ago the surprising proliferation of actresses named Jennifer, going as far back as the 80's and perhaps beyond. I don't know too many Jennifers in real life - none, actually - so this struck me as a strange coincidence. Nonetheless, such is their prevalence I have occasionally given some thought to which of the many examples were my favourite. Behold, therefore, the fruits of my pointless musings:

5. Jennifer Carpenter

This is a Jennifer I have only recently discovered after watching Dexter all the way through, and her character of 'Deb' is easily one of the best in the show, even outshining Michael C. Hall's titular serial killer himself on numerous occasions. The talented actress brings many qualities to the character but, as fans of the show will already know very well, her most memorable moments are unquestionably thanks to her outrageous potty mouth! It's entirely possible that she's the sweariest character I've even witnessed in any TV show or film, which is quite an achievement when you think about it. Since then she has popped up here and there, mainly on the small screen and notably in the lead female role on the short-lived TV version of Limitless. Here's hoping we see more of her soon though.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

First Look PS1 #1

Akuji the Heartless by Crystal Dynamics / Eidos Interactive (1998) - PlayStation

It has been a while since I played a Tomb Raider-style adventure so I thought I'd have a quick look at this one. There are no English hotties with enormous boobs here though - instead I found myself in control of a scary voodoo dude who rather unkindly has his heart ripped out on his wedding day. That must've put a dampener on proceedings! He has one chance for happiness - traverse the realms of hell collecting souls. Gather enough he will be freed - probably just in time to save his better half too. This is where things become more familiar as our presumably-undead hero runs and leaps around the gloomy world that makes up the game's three main areas. I've only explored the first one so far which is rather dark and spooky, but it doesn't look as bad as one might expect hell to look. There are no rivers of lava or tortured souls to torment you anyway!

Friday, 10 August 2018

Computer Shmups #6

Fire Track (1987)
By: Aardvark Software / Electric Dreams Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: BBC Micro First Day Score: 98,380
Also Available For: Electron, Commodore 64


Not the most beautiful title screen ever...
While the BBC Micro might not be known in the retro community for shoot 'em ups (it's not really the first system to come to mind as far as gaming is concerned generally, I suppose), it did play host to a few, and one of the better known examples is probably Firetrack. It was programmed by Nick "Orlando" Pelling - known for Frak! among others - and takes the form of a spacey vertical scroller somewhat akin to the likes of Star Force. You, in command of a sleek attack craft, are charged with taking down eight mining colonies in the asteroid belt which have broken away from Earth. The ungrateful rapscallions certainly seem to have formidable defence capabilities for mere colonists though, with fleets of attack craft determined to put you down, as well, presumably, as any other Earth scum who pass by.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

TV Shows #17

Big Little Lies Season One (2017)
Developed By: David E. Kelley Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, James Tupper, Jeffrey Nordling, Kathryn Newton, Iain Armitage, Darby Camp

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 52-58 Minutes per Episode, 7 Episodes

Tagline: "A perfect life is a perfect lie."


As I mentioned in a recent review, some shows are able to secure my interest in the simplest of ways - a twelve-ish word synopsis was all it took with the example in question. Pretty much the opposite is true of Big Little Lies, however. That tagline is semi-intriguing but the synopsis didn't sound too enticing to me. It talks about lives of 'success, affluence and privilege' being undone by 'lies, secrets, rivalries, and deception'. It just sounds like a soap opera, and hearing rich people complain about their drama is rarely the most appealing of prospects, even if it is based on a best-selling novel (by Liane Moriarty). Ordinarily I might've even passed it by altogether. That is, until I saw the cast which is pretty remarkable for a mere TV show.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Indie Games News/Previews #11

Cathedral by Decemberborn Interactive (2018) - PC

A few years ago I saw a new indie game featured somewhere which caught my eye. A small amount of investigation revealed it was an NES-inspired arcade adventure called Cathedral and was soon to be released on PC via Steam and the like. Further news, however, was not forthcoming, and then, a game that should not have been forgotten was lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for three and a half years, the game passed out of all knowledge. But lo, by the will of some craft, whether fair or foul, I recently found myself mournfully recalling this game and decided to look it up once again, only to find that it not only still exists but is soon to be released!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

PS4 Purchase #1

Sonic Mania by PagodaWest Games / Headcannon / Sega (2018)

I don't usually warble on about new games I've bought here, partly because most of them are just retro-flavoured indie download titles from Steam or Good Old Games these days, but I've decided I will do with my PS4 purchases. This is mainly because I like the PS4 and the support it is receiving from many indie developers, and having physical copies of the games in question makes me feel warm and fuzzy too.

In typical Red Parsley fashion, I've got a bit of catching up to do as I already have 12 or 13 games, but I thought I'd start with this one which arrived from Amazon today. I think I'm right in saying it's the first game I've ever pre-ordered in my life too. I've bought loads of titles on the days of their launch over the years but I never really felt compelled to actually pre-order any. I have been very keen to play Sonic Mania though, and resisted the temptation of buying it on Steam in the hopes that a physical copy might be released for... well, something I own. And since I accidentally ended up with a PS4, it seemed like the best candidate. Much to my delight, shortly afterward I found out that this was indeed destined to happen. Not only that but it was to be a special version called Sonic Mania Plus too!

Friday, 13 July 2018

Crap Games #11

Bimini Run (1990)
By: Microsmiths / Nuvision Entertainment Genre: Racing / Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 23,660
Also Available For: Nothing


Not very bright but quite a nice title screen...
There aren't too many speedboat-based games around so a good few MegaDrive owners took an interest in this one leading up to its early-90's release. Sadly, however, it didn't fare too well with reviewers of the time and has barely been mentioned by anyone since. It popped back in my head recently while watching Dexter though (he takes his boat to Bimini at one point which is apparently a district of the Bahamas), so I thought it would be an opportune time to feature it here. But did it deserve such... apathy? Well, I had a quick go a couple of years ago and I thought it was dreadful, but playing it again now, in more detail this time, it's actually not that bad. The backstory certainly makes it seem promising - we're in real Miami Vice territory here. I'm not sure if the Hawaiian shirt-clad protagonist is a cop actually, but there's plenty of chasing bad guys and secret hideaways and all that.

Monday, 9 July 2018

New Arrival - PlayStation 4

By jingo, here's a post I never expected to be writing! Those who know me will know of my general disdain for modern gaming, especially the so-called 'consoles' which barely even are consoles these days, requiring an astounding amount of 'updating' and other such nonsense. Trying to play a game on one is even more ridiculous with sometimes hours of downloading, patches, updates, and installations required to get them running. Then of course you find that a ton of stuff has been left out, most likely on purpose to make future 'updates' seem worthwhile, and that half of the stuff that is there has to be bought separately!

Here it is, being watched by Luca, my ferocious guard cat...
Good heavens above, it drives me up the wall but many seem to lap it up - gaming is probably more popular today than ever before so I'm certainly in the minority (what else is new!). That doesn't alter the fact that, with the exception of the hyper-splendid (and ever-expanding) world of indie games, I have pretty much completely failed to embrace any new system since the mighty Dreamcast. I did get a PlayStation 3 quite late on, but that was primarily for its Blu-Ray and later Netflix abilities which have together accounted for probably around 95% of its use, but I had no plans whatsoever to get a PS4 or Xbone. I already had virtually no interest in them but I had also heard from Facebook friends that they were supposedly even worse than their predecessors in terms of all the faffing about (updates, etc).

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Flicky Flicks Round 4

Oh hey, how's it going? Yes, amazingly we are back again! Not only that but it only took us three months this time (as opposed to a year with the last round), although it looks as though we've lost Dave (Grumpy McUnt) in that time who, despite keenly nominating a film for this round, completely failed to even watch any of them never mind write any reviews! Never mind good sir, we understand. Even Chip, the de facto leader of Flicky Flicks didn't manage to get half of his reviews written either.

Nevertheless, puffing along like an asthmatic bulldog though we may be, we have now (for the most part) finished the latest round which was, as chosen by Pinbot who was once again victorious, based on the films of Sigourney Weaver. These covered a wide range of genres as well as decades and were also of varying quality, but here are the films we plumped for. As always, the winner will be ceremoniously revealed (by way of tootles) at the end of the exhaustive post!

Alien (1979)
Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto

Nominated By: Neptune King of the Sea Running Time: 117 Minutes


When the crew of the cargo ship Nostromo are woken from stasis by 'Mother', their huge ship's computer, they are forced to investigate the planet the caught its attention. It appears rocky and barren but is transmitting a signal. The subsequent investigation ends when a crab-like creatures attaches itself to a crew member and, unknown to the crew, implants a larval alien creature which is soon hunting the rest of the crew as it grows ever larger and more lethal...

Friday, 15 June 2018

How Much? Turning Racing Games Into Reality

Well, kind of. Racing games have pretty much always been among the most popular of all games, and examples over the years have featured vehicles of all sorts of different shapes and types. Many of the most iconic of these are of course mental track cars like the F1 and LMP types (Continental Circus, WEC Le Mans, Winning Run, etc) which few of us will even have the chance to get run over by never mind drive for ourselves. Many others are not even real (Road Blasters, Daytona USA, Ridge Racer, Burnout, etc) so it doesn't matter how much we might want them.

Some, though, are real, so if you really wanted to, the potential is there to live out your fantasies and recreate your favourite game in real life! In a more realistic and responsible manner, naturally, but still, it's not beyond reason that some of us could be able to drive or even own one of our favourite cars from our favourite game of yesteryear. I decided, therefore, to see just how realistic this might be by looking at a handful of examples along with the price potential buyers might expect to pay.

Ferrari F40
As seen in... Turbo OutRun & Crazy Cars III (amongst others)


A jaw-dropping revelation when it first appeared and still widely regarded as one of the best supercars ever made, Ferrari's celebration of itself (it was designed to celebrate their 40th anniversary) was immediately iconic. It was therefore not an enormous surprise to see it represented in the world of gaming soon after its real unveiling. The first game I remember seeing it in was Sega's splendid Turbo OutRun but it was also featured prominently in Titus's home computer release, Crazy Cars 2, although in this case most gamers quickly realised its inclusion was the only good thing about the frankly rather awful game.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Steam / GOG Downloads #5

Venture Kid (2018)
By: FDG Entertainment Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Android, iOS


Almost three years ago now I had a look at a spiffing new retro-style platformer from those splendid folk at FDG. I can't quite believe it has been that long actually but happily the game has not disappeared into oblivion in that time as one might have feared and is now complete and available to buy! As mentioned all those long years ago, it's a platform-shooter inspired by some of the finest 80's examples of the type such as Mega Man. Perhaps unsurprisingly it is also therefore based, from a technical point of view, on the system on which many of these games appeared - the NES. That should already give you a good idea of what it's like, even if you haven't looked into it previously, and it also gives it a lot to live up to. The NES games were among the most beloved of the era after all!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Wifey's Watches #1

Once Upon a Time (2011 - Present)

I must admit to having misgivings about this show prior to seeing it, simply due to its premise. All the fairy tale stuff just seemed a bit too childish for my liking, even with the interesting twist they've put on it - namely, that the characters taken from the various fairy tales and folk stories have been robbed of their memories, transported to our real life present-day world, and left to live new, unchanging lives in a fictional town in Maine called Storybrooke. All this is of course part of a dastardly plot by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parrilla) who used a powerful curse obtained from Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). About the only person in the town unaffected by all this magical tomfoolery is Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), a newly arrived bail-bonds person who, along with her son, must break the evil queen's spell, return everyone's memories, and generally save the day.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Arcade Shmups #25

Plus Alpha (1989)
By: Jaleco Genre: Shooting Players: 1-2 (alternate) Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 254,500 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nothing


It's unusual for me to find a shoot 'em up I've never heard of, what with them being one of my favourite genres and all, but here's one from Jaleco which popped onto my radar only recently thanks to the RGF Shmup League. It wasn't very popular with those guys as I recall, but I quite liked the look of it so... let's take a look! Lord only knows if it has a back-story - I assume so judging by the title screen film reel which shows a few stills of stuff happening - but it was released in Japan only as I understand it, and converted to no home systems, so it's likely I'm far from the only one who has never heard of it, and detailed info on the game and/or its background appears to be rather on the scarce side!

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Retro News - Psyvariar Returns!

Psyvariar Delta by Dispatch Games (2018) - PS4, Switch

Well, kind of. Most shooter fans will no doubt recall the year 2000 excitedly, for it was the hallowed year Success Corporation unleashed the mighty Psyvariar on Japan's arcades (who remembers those places?). A few years later it was ported to the PS2 and also received a sequel, but that was all we saw of the series. Now, however, it's set to return to thrill and/or vex another generation of gamers! Sadly it's not a brand new sequel/reboot as I'd hoped and is instead a port of Psyvariar Revision, an updated version of the original, but it's better than nothing. Switch and PS4 owners will be the lucky recipients from this summer when it's scheduled to arrive, all guns blazing, and this time is seems gamers in the oft-neglected Western Hemisphere will have the chance to buy it without resorting to a 'grey' import too (chortle). There's no word yet on any possible new features, which will hopefully include new game modes and/or even some new stages, but I'm sure fans will be lining up to buy this regardless. Well, the digital download equivalent anyway. Unless it gets a physical release. Which would be nice. Anyway, just a quick shout out to you bullet-hell aficionados - start counting the days if you haven't already! (unless you're an Xbox owner - tee hee!)

Thursday, 3 May 2018

TV Shows #16 - Part 2

Wayward Pines Season Two (2016)
Developed By: Chad Hodge Starring: Jason Patric, Nimrat Kaur, Josh Helman, Tom Stevens, Kacey Rohl, Hope Davis, Djimon Hounsou, Charlie Tahan, Shannyn Sossamon, Tim Griffin, Melissa Leo, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 42-44 Minutes per Episode, 10 Episodes

Tagline: "Who shall inherit the earth?"


Even though the first season was expected to be the only season, and despite it ending with what could be considered a (fairly) satisfactory conclusion, a second season of Wayward Pines did nonetheless stagger into view eventually. As we discovered around the middle of the first season, the shocking truth mentioned by Sheriff Pope was indeed 'worse than anything we could imagine', or worse than the poor old residents of the town could imagine at least - namely, that it's now the year 4028 and the human race is all but extinct, having evolved (or devolved?) into snarling carnivores with sharp claws and fangs known as 'abbies' (short for aberrations) who now run rampant over, presumably, the entire planet.