Friday, 27 November 2015

MSX Round-Up #2

They might be better known for the likes of Aleste, Gunhed, and Puyo Puyo but, like everyone else, Compile had to start somewhere. In their earliest days they favoured the Japanese 8-bit micros, eventually settling on MSX as their 'main' machine, and even this far back their focus was apparently on shoot 'em ups. One of the first was Final Justice, also one of the first games by designer, Satoshi 'Pac' Fujishima, and it was the first part of what would eventually became his trilogy - all shooters, all vertical-scrollers (kind of), and all available only on the MSX. Were there already signs of Compile's greatness this far back? Let's see :)

Final Justice (1985)

Hailing the arrival of both Pac and Compile was this, a simple shooter which, while technically a vertical-scroller, looks and plays more like a gallery shooter. Your ship is at the bottom and is armed with a pea-shooter cannon, various enemies approach from the top. Your job is simply to shoot or avoid them long enough to reach the boss. Defeat it and move to the next stage, of which there are supposedly 99 in total. Lord knows who could clear them all without cheating though! You only get one life for starters, although you do get a shield that can take a few hits. The enemies are all pretty basic and each type moves in a different way - some swoop around, some head straight for you, some meander unpredictably, etc. There are also white blocks which can, if you're quick, bestow upon you a shield-refill, shot power-up, or speed-up. Even with these, though, Final Justice is an extremely simple blaster which, while quite addictive, is also very repetitive. It's definitely interesting enough for Compile fans to take a peek at (it even has their little jingle) but it most likely won't hold your attention for very long... 5/10

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Indie Games News/Previews #8

Pang Adventures by DotEmu / Pastagames (2015) - PC, Android, iOS

Whichever of its many names you might know it by, I'm sure most gamers remember Pang. I suspect most liked it too, so it should come as most welcome news that an update/reboot is on the way! Yes that's right, continuing the trend of giving old favourites a new lick of paint, DotEmu and Pastagames have turned their attention to Mitchell Corp's 1989 classic balloon bursting harpoon 'em up. The last game in the series, the oddly-named Pang: Magical Michael for the Nintendo DS, dispensed with our usual heroes (the 'Buster Bros' of the game's American title) but they're now back and looking better than ever!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Top Five Star Trek Babes

Ah, good old Star Trek. Most people seem to either love it or hate it. I'm definitely in the former category, as long-time visitors to this page must already know, and there are many reasons that I like all its various incarnations. The epic and never-ending adventure of space exploration offers almost infinite possibilities and can incorporate near enough any genre as well, from emotional drama to kick-ass action, but another thing Star Trek has apparently become known for, chiefly by its male-dominated fan-base, is the lovely ladies that comprise parts of the various casts.

Of course, almost all of them are far more than just eye-candy. Their characters are just as complex as their male counterparts and are just as important as well, holding equal status and frequently being found in positions of authority, but only a fool would suggest they're not nice to look at. Well, for people of the relevant sexualities at least, and I don't think there's anything wrong with appreciating a lady's aesthetic qualities in addition to her less visually-obvious attributes. Accordingly, Trekkies (or Trekkers if you prefer) have many opinions on this subject, like most others, but here are my personal favourites from over the years:

5 - Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell)

Noticing Ms. Farrell's beauty is not something the producers of Deep Space Nine shied away from - her Trill character was ogled and chased by half the males on the station, human and alien alike, and the fact that she had a giant sentient slug living inside her which bestowed upon her the memories and experiences of its previous occupants (including several men) didn't seem to put most of them off either. I guess it's not hard to see why though. Not only is she clearly very attractive but she's also six foot tall, positively brimming with confidence, and is happy to flirt with just about anyone who shows her attention. Of course, it didn't hurt her case that she had a girl/girl 'moment' in a fourth season episode either!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Sega Super Scaler Games #4

OutRun (1986)
By: Sega Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 11,640,950
Also Available For: Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 2, Saturn, MegaDrive, Master System, PC Engine, Game Gear, Amiga, Atari ST, PC, MSX, MSX 2, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum (full releases), Dreamcast, Xbox, Game Boy Advance (as in-game bonus or on compilation)
Download For: Mobile

I've already featured OutRun here at Red Parsley a few times - how could I not? It's correctly regarded as an all-time great and one of gaming's most important titles, but it's also a game that's always been very important to me personally as well. As I detailed way back in one of my first ever posts here, it's basically the game that's single-handedly responsible for my love of gaming, and one that's accordingly remained close to the top of my favourites list ever since. I'm sure many others have as much affection for Yu Suzuki's classic as I do - it was such an amazing game for its time it can't have failed to captivate countless others who encountered it - but is the enduring adulation it receives based purely on nostalgia these days, or is it still as enjoyable to play as it always was?

Monday, 16 November 2015

TV Shows #7 - Part 2

Arrow Season Two (2013)
Developed By: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Manu Bennett, Katie Cassidy, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, Susanna Thompson, Colton Haynes, Caity Lotz, Summer Glau, Kevin Alejandro, Dylan Neal, Dylan Bruce, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Barrowman, Celina Jade, Audrey Marie Anderson, Michael Rowe

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 43 Minutes per Episode, 23 Episodes

Tagline: "His death was just the beginning."

Green Arrow has never been among DC's most popular characters but after a bit of a redesign, modified back-story, and the introduction of a few new characters in addition to reworked versions of the established ones, his adventures quickly proved to be ideally suited to the revitalised world of live-action TV shows. This show was of course Arrow and it was in fact the first such show of DC's assault on the currently-popular 'shared universe' approach to showcasing their roster of characters, although unlike Marvel, their version will be keeping the TV and cinema universes separate, and that makes Arrow its only occupant at this stage.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Platform/Puzzle Games #6

Squirbs (2015)
By: Team Indev Genre: Platform / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Nothing

A couple of months ago now I did a preview of a rather interesting-looking indie platformer I chanced upon known as Squirbs. Though not entirely unique, it featured an unusual game-mechanic as well as a rather peculiar main character, but it worked well and I enjoyed it a lot. I'm therefore very pleased to say the final game is now ready! Its star is called Squirb and, in his apparent foolish curiosity, he began fooling with a crystal he found which resulted in him breaking it. The many shards were spread over a wide area but also split Squirb himself into two. Your job is simply to recover all the shards, reconstruct the crystal, and (hopefully) return everything to normal. Sounds simple enough!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Cover-Art: PC Engine - Part 3

Despite the fact that they were supposed to be regular features, it has now been a somewhat unsettling two years since the last selection of 'Cover Art' comparisons here at Red Parsley. I guess I'm not too apologetic though - there's just so much stuff to cover, it's easy to get side-tracked! But these posts are good fun so I'm glad to present this third selection for the mighty PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16:

Ninja Spirit (1988)
This conversion of the arcade game of the same year actually features pretty similar covers for both main territories. Each is centred around a possibly-angry ninja aiming a sword at the viewer, although the Japanese ninja is apparently able to either shoot or absorb lightning with his, and each features a scary spirit of some sort lurking behind the ninja - an ogre on the Japanese cover and what looks like a werewolf on the U.S. one. As is often the case, the artwork of the latter is more cartoony and of a poorer standard, but I'm not sure I like the Japanese cover being partly taken up by a couple of screenshots. I guess this one's a draw then, all things considered.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Film Review #83

Avengers Assemble (2012)
Director: Joss Whedon Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 143 Minutes

Tagline: "Avengers... ASSEMBLE!"

I've watched a lot of films over the years. Their quality has obviously varied wildly but not too many of them have really strayed that far from whatever hope or expectation I might've had. Perhaps it's because, more often than not, the producers can't afford to really hype them up too much, and when they can I rarely pay too much attention to their blurb. However, I don't think I've ever known a film to be built up in quite the way Avengers was. Most blockbusters have to make do with intrusive adverts, giant posters and billboards all over town, fast food tie-ins, all that stuff. Avengers had five whole films to build it up! However intent one may be to ignore the latest all-encompassing promotional push, it's hard to ignore hype of that magnitude. Avengers then, as it was originally known, had a hell of a lot to live up to.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Game Boy Games #3

Wave Race (1992)
By: Nintendo EAD Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1-4 (via link) Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Nintendo Game Boy
Also Available For: Nothing

To many gamers, the Wave Race name means the N64 game, which is indeed fantastic and well worthy of such attention, but the series actually started elsewhere. On the humble Game Boy, no less, with this very game. Unsurprisingly, that means it didn't start out as a splooshy polygonal into-the-screen racing experience but rather as a humble overhead-viewed game and, very strangely, one that was not even released in Japan at all. The rather basic set-up involves something called the 'Personal Water Craft' (PWC) National Series competition which features "riders from all over the U.S.". Presumably that means people from those mysterious realms beyond the borders of North America are either not deemed to have the necessary skills to compete or are simply not welcome, and that's odd since many locations through the game are based outside the vast continent in question. Either way, you, as an American 'PWC' rider, actually have two competitions choose from.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Indie Games News/Previews #7

The 90's Arcade Racer by Nicalis, Inc. (201?) - PC, Mac, Wii U

Except this time it's not a gaming news post at all really - kind of the opposite actually. It was, you see, many moons past that 90's Arcade Racer first crossed my path and it was truly love at first sight. Racing games have long been one of my favourite genres, particularly arcade style ones, and many of my favourites are from the 90's, so as you might imagine, a game with a name like this sounded like a more than tantalising prospect. Better yet, judging by the screenshots and a demo video, it looked absolutely fantastic. Sounds too good to be true, right? Hopefully it won't end up being another case of an indie developer getting in over their head and bailing but it's already massively delayed.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Top Five Lottery Cars

Most of us dream of winning the lottery some day. The first thing many would do in my experience is leave their place of work (politely and considerately, giving ample notice I'm sure). Next up would probably be a luxury holiday which would most likely incorporate or be followed by a spending spree, and part of this would probably include a nice new car. I'm sure I'm not alone in giving some thought to the latter point in particular and, whilst there are literally hundreds of tempting options from all around the world, I think the five I would buy for myself would be these:

5 - BMW M3

I actually almost have one of these already (my current car is a BMW 320 M Sport) and it's also the only car on this list I've driven before (I did some powersliding in one at a track event), but it would still be one of my first post-winnings purchases. It would probably be my 'practical, everyday use' car - it has four doors, ample storage space, and isn't too low or wide to drive around town, but it still comes loaded with over 400 horse-power with which to see off any unruly challengers too.

Friday, 30 October 2015

First Look Master System #3

Sapo Xulé: Os Invasores do Brejo by Vic Tokai / Tectoy (1995) - Master System

As many of you no doubt already know, Sega's wonderful Master System was very popular in Brazil and lasted much longer there than in any other territory. It was still receiving new releases well into the middle of the 90's and some of them were localised as well. One of these was Psycho Fox, among my very favourite of all games on the system, which was reworked into this, the first of three MS games to be based on Sapo Xulé, a frog character from a series of Brazilian comic-books (the name translates as 'Smelly Feet Frog: Invaders of the Swamp' in case you're interested). Apparently he's popular too (and you would think so if he features in three games) but my wife has never even heard of him, and she's from Brazil! Oh well, popular or not, the point of this post was to see how different the game is to my beloved Psycho Fox, and after spending an afternoon playing it I can confirm the answer is... not very!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Scrolling Fighting Games #14

Crude Buster a.k.a. Two Crude Dudes (1990)
By: Data East Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 4,700 (one credit)
Also Available For: MegaDrive

The 'Dudeism' movement which fell upon the Western world, primarily the US, in the late 80's and early 90's was a dark time in our history. Everyone and everything was deemed superior simply if it acted and sounded dude-like and this led to many tragedies. The gaming world was one of the hardest-hit, with countless otherwise-decent games being infected, and one example that has always remained foremost in my mind is Crude Buster, renamed Two Crude Dudes in the land of hotdogs and many firearms. It stars two mercenaries, who are indeed 'dudes' of the highest order, who have been hired by the U.S. government to stop a terrorist organization known as 'Big Valley' who are attempting to take control of New York City... after having detonated a nuclear device there. Apparently the threat of the devastating fallout that has surely now contaminated the area doesn't seem to deter them either. Luckily, one of the many benefits of being a 'dude' is apparently an immunity to ionising radiation.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Star Trek #11

Voyager Favourite Episodes - Season Four

I mentioned in the last post in the series of features that season three of Voyager marked an upturn in the general quality of the episodes, but for some that time came a year later with this fourth season, and there was one big reason for that (or is that two big reasons?) - Seven of Nine. If reports are to be believed, ratings were flagging so the producers decided to add a new character to the show who could help pull in more viewers. But what approach did they take? That's right, they went for a young, gorgeous, blonde, female character with huge boobs, obviously!

It's easy to knock them for aiming squarely at the 'horny young male' audience but it was a move that apparently paid off - season four saw an immediate and sharp rise in the ratings (but definitely no 'rises' of any other kinds - snigger). But Seven wasn't all pouty lips, skin-tight outfits, and curvy bits - she quickly proved to be an interesting character as well as a... ummm, rather aesthetically pleasing one. Jeri Ryan's portrayal is consistently superb in my opinion, too, and the character's origins (i.e. terrifying Borg drone disconnected from the collective and rediscovering her humanity in an innocent, child-like way) made for some truly great episodes and many, many memorable scenes. Some of them come this season which is definitely the best yet for the number of top episodes and I really had a tough time narrowing it down to the five featured.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Indie Games News/Previews #6

Tower 57 by Pixwerk (2015) - PC/Mac

It's been a while since I looked at an overhead run 'n' gun game but one that recently came to my attention is this forthcoming indie release. It's a Kickstarter-funded title, set in a world where many of our citizens are holed up in self-sustaining Towers. One of these - Tower 57 - is allegedly planning an invasion so it's your job to find out what's going on and put a stop to it. The game isn't finished yet but it's not far off and will include six varied characters to choose from, each with their own special abilities, for you and possibly a friend to blast through the Tower with in single or two-player co-op modes. The Tower, being a tower and all, consists of multiple floors too, each with its own theme, so there's plenty of stuff to shoot up.