Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Atari 5200 A-Z

Atari's VCS has gone down in legend now, but it was starting to look a bit old next to the ColecoVision and Intellivision. The 5200 was Atari's answer. Did it succeed? No, but that's more likely down to the 'great videogame crash'. It therefore didn't receive too many releases, so here I will be able to take a look at all of them. This is one of four posts to that end and features all games beginning with letters A through G:

Activision Decathlon, The (1983)

A bit of a Hyper Olympic rip-off in the eyes of some, this one, but it's not a bad effort, mainly due to how many events it has - an impressive ten. Some are similar, admittedly (100m and 400m), and it might wreck your joystick (waggle left and right to do stuff), but this is a decent multi-eventer for its time.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

TV Shows #27

Night Sky (2022)
Developed By: Holden Miller & Daniel C. Connolly
Starring: Sissy Spacek, J. K. Simmons, Chai Hansen, Adam Bartley, Julieta Zylberberg, Sonya Walger, Rocío Hernández, Kiah McKirnan, Angus O'Brien

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 55 Minutes per Episode (approx), 8 Episodes

New sci-fi shows always get my attention, but one starring J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek? Yes please! The former is always great, or in every role I've seen him in at least, and the latter has recently impressed me greatly in Castle Rock, so the prospect of the two of them leading the cast of a mysterious new sci-fi show was a splendid one. They are Franklin and Irene, an old married couple still masking grief over the sudden death of their son some years before, but who also share an amazing secret known, as far as they know, not to another soul. Namely, that lying hidden beneath their shed is a spooky device that allows them to visit... an alien planet - crikey! The planet in question is just a barren, rocky world with no discernable settlements and the atmosphere is assumed to be unbreathable for humans, but there is a nice viewing chamber that allows them to sit, relax and marvel at the sights beyond, including a spectacular spacey sky.

Friday, 13 January 2023

MSX Games #2

Mr. Ghost a.k.a. Yuurei-kun (1989)
By: System Sacom Genre: Action/Shooting (kind of) Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: MSX2 First Day Score: 21,250
Also Available For: Nothing

Ever since starting this blog, I have kept a list of games I want to play and review at some point. Many, I will probably never get around to, but some I'm happy to say I will. Mr. Ghost is unsurprisingly such a game; one that has lain dormant on my list for around 8 years, I estimate - jeepers! My interest in the MSX systems was recently reinvigorated though, and this was the first title I thought of. It looked quite simple from what I recalled of it, so I actually thought it was an MSX game, but it's a later release for the MSX2. It stars a floaty white fellow who probably has a proper name, but as far as I can tell from the story (which is told via various static cut-scenes, in Japanese of course), he woke up one day as a ghost and can't remember anything from before that. So for now at least, he is known as Mr. Ghost, and it's your job to help him venture forth to discover who and what he is. Or was, as the case may be.

Thursday, 5 January 2023

First Look PC #7

TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge by KT Racing / Nacon (2018) - PC

As much as I enjoy driving/racing games, there are two types I seldom seem to encounter - really fast examples, and motorcycle-based ones. A good while back on YouTube I happened upon a video of a racing game which was very evidently motorcycle-based and also one that looked very fast. This was enough for me to add it to my Steam wishlist and lo, before much longer I found it on sale (does anyone buy Steam games at full price?). Unusually for me (and probably most people), I immediately installed it and gave it a go. What I found was a game that looked just like the one in the video I had seen, but what that failed to portray, and what I forgot to consider, was the implications of a really fast motorcycle game, particularly one based around the Isle of Man TT course.

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Film Review #122

Bruised (2020)
Director: Halle Berry Starring: Halle Berry, Shamier Anderson, Adan Canto, Sheila Atim, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Valentina Shevchenko, Adriane Lenox

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 138 Minutes

Tagline: "From hero to zero and back to reality."

I've never really been a big social media user, and the more time that passes, the less appeal I find in it, but there was a brief period a few years back when I even joined Instagram. My main reason for doing this was to follow various celebrities that I like and marvel at the delightful imagery they oft choose to share with us. One such celeb I followed was Halle Berry because... well, she's really hot and she went through a phase of posting some rather saucy pics such as this one (snigger!), but for much of the time I followed her, she was mainly posting pics and vids of her doing hardcore workouts and sparring sessions in MMA-type gear. I was slightly startled by this until I realised it might be for a film. A short period of research later and I found that it was indeed for a film, her directorial debut, no less, and in it she would be playing... an MMA fighter - gadzooks! Suffice to say, being something of a fan of both Halle Berry and fighty films, I was rather looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Arcade Platform Games #6

Karnov (1987)
By: Data East Genre: Platform/Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 84,590 (one credit)
Also Available For: NES, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

The gaming world has seen a lot of unusual characters over the years and this is one that stands out, to me at least, as being an overlooked example. I mean, he's a human which certainly isn't unusual, but he has very specifically been made as hailing from one of the Soviet Union's Central Asian republics. Not only that but he's a fire-breathing, ex-circus strongman. He has even been given a full name - Jinborov Karnovski, or Karnov for short. I wonder what prompted Data East to conjure this fellow up. I'm not even totally sure he's a good guy either. He appears in several later Data East games as a villainous character, and your objective with him here is find pieces of a lost treasure map so he can plunder the resultant booty. Perhaps he's stealing the ancient heirlooms of a long proud and honourable civilisation? Oh well, whatever possibly-nefarious motivation the muscle-bound brute has, it's your job to guide him through nine side-scrolling stages, each brimming with innocent locals trying to resist the interloper.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Top Five Systems I'd Love To Collect For... But Won't

Whether you're someone who just has a casual interest in the games of yesteryear or you're a hardcore 'full set' collector, one thing has been increasingly clear for years now - it's an expensive hobby! I sold much of my collection around 12-14 years ago and, like so many that have done the same, now regret it. At least part of the reason for this is that pretty much everything I sold is now worth about four times as much! Accordingly, for anyone who doesn't A), earn a lot, and B), have an understanding partner, collecting retro stuff is not particularly realistic these days.

Sadly, I do not earn a lot and nor do I have an understanding partner, so collecting old games is not something I have really pursued for many years now, aside from the ultra-cheap Xbox games I bought a few years back. I do still have some parts of my old collection, and I do still get the odd Master System game, but that's about it for me. I have often thought about collecting for a specific system though, and was recently thinking about which I would most like to collect for if money and partners were no object. More or less in order, here's what I came up with:

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

Film Review #121

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Director: Bryan Singer Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aaron McCusker, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 134 Minutes

Tagline: "The only thing more extraordinary than their music is his story"

I'm pretty old now but I'm not quite old enough to have been around for all of Queen's heyday. My earliest memory of them is seeing the video for 'I Want To Break Free' on whatever music show my dad used to watch, and while it confused me a little, I liked the song rather a lot. It soon became clear this catchy number wasn't their only classic, already-iconic song either. Looking back, it's still amazing that any one band could come up with so many distinctive, immediately-recognisable songs, and it almost doesn't sound silly to say that it was a privilege to have been around for at least a part of that. Their music endures, of course, probably as strongly as it ever has, and it seems strange that it has taken so long for a biopic to appear based on them and the force of nature that was the late, great Freddie Mercury. Finally, we got one back in 2018, but does it do justice to the legendary names and their remarkable journey together?

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

The Best of Arcade Flyers - Part 2

I'm sure I am not alone in my appreciation of game art, and we certainly got quite a lot to ogle back in the day, what with magazine adverts and the covers of the games themselves, but one major 'format' whose promotional artwork was seen far less often was that of the sacred arcade, birth place and home of many of the most revered and loved games for generations. Therefore, for this series of posts, I'll be showcasing a selection of what are in my opinion the flyers with the most appealing or eye-catching artwork rather than flyers for the best games themselves. The posts will be in alphabetical order - next up is 'A' and all associated games therein.

Sunday, 18 December 2022

One-on-One Fighting Games #3

Body Blows (1993)
By: Team 17 Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga First Day Score: Too low to embarrass myself with
Also Available For: Amiga 1200, PC

I don't think there can be too much doubt about the huge impact that Capcom's mighty Street Fighter II had on the gaming world. One of the most obvious examples of this, besides the fact that it shifted a crapload of SNESs, was the arrival of many similar games on virtually every system around at the time. Team 17, already the darlings of the Amiga world, therefore needed little motivation to throw their hat in the ring, and the result was Body Blows. As with a few other Amiga games, however, you could initially be forgiven for thinking that it's little more than a tech demo, for there is virtually no set-up of any kind here. Fighting games are seldom ones to have deep storylines or anything like that but even SFII had a bit of background with the ghastly Shadaloo organisation and resultant world fighting tournament and all that stuff.

Monday, 12 December 2022

Film Round-Up #39

Planet of the Apes Trilogy (2011 - 2017)
Directed By: Rupert Wyatt / Matt Reeves Starring: Andy Serkis, James Franco, Toby Kebbell, Jason Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Gary Oldman, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Karin Konoval, Nick Thurston, Judy Greer, Brian Cox, Keri Russell, Terry Notary, Amiah Miller, Tom Felton, Steve Zahn, Sara Canning, Michael Adamthwaite

Certificate: 12 Running Time: Approx 375 minutes

Like many around my age, I suspect, I grew up with Planet of the Apes movies on TV now and then, particularly the first one starting Charlton Heston. I don't think I realised it at the time but there were actually five films in that series, and following those there were two TV series', neither of which lasted long, and of course Tim Burton's remake in 2001 which I never got around to watching for some reason. THEN!! News arose of a reboot. Is that what the movie-going public wanted? If you're going to reboot a franchise like this though, why not really reboot it? What's the most popular way of doing that these days? Yes that's right, an origin story! This is actually an ultra-skillish premise. I'm not an expert on the franchise but I'm not sure the original series of films ever explained how our poor planet came to be overrun by talking chest-beaters, did it? So, let's find out.

Friday, 9 December 2022

Sega SG-1000 Round-Up #7

It's been far too long since I last visited Sega's splendid début console, thanks in the most part to my oafishness, but finally I have returned after checking out another selection of titles. The games were selected largely at random but fortunately they represent a decent range of styles and mostly include games I haven't played before. Here is how I got on with my latest five choices:

Hyper Sports (1985)

I was surprised to find this famous multi-event sports title in the SG's library since Konami have rarely given much support to Sega over the years. It turns out it's rather different to the arcade version and many of its conversions though, instead bearing resemblance only to the MSX version. Accordingly it has just the four events - diving, long horse, trampoline, horizontal bar - and... well, they're not easy, at least for me. Only the d-pad and one action button are used so the controls are at least simple but no matter how much I wiggle my d-pad (snigger?) I can't seem to make the guy move very quickly. Maybe I don't have a suitable pad for a game like this, maybe I'm just crap. You can't choose events either - they are in a set order and you have to reach a qualification score to advance to the next. I just about managed to squeak through the first time around though, and it's clear the game is pretty good fun at first, though it soon gets repetitive. It's therefore a shame it lost some events. The graphics are okay though, virtually identical to the MSX version, in fact, and there aren't really any alternatives on the SG anyway... 6/10

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Hack 'n' Slash Games #4

The Legendary Axe (1988)
By: Victor Musical Industries Genre: Platform/Fighting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: ???,???
Also Available For: Nothing

Many of the PC Engine's first run of games press the nostalgia button firmly for old oafs like me as, at the end of the 80s, they were featured heavily in the import sections of magazines such as C&VG, making us all covet them accordingly. One example that I remember well and also wanted to play quite badly was The Legendary Axe. This might be because its name reminded me of Golden Axe, of which I was a fan, but unlike that game it's actually more of a platformer. Since you use an axe, however, and indeed the game is named after it, I thought I would include it in my somewhat neglected 'hack 'n' slash' feature instead. It wasn't until long after I played Sega's classic that I finally got to give it a go either, and even then I never really bothered to learn the character's aim or motivation. Not that it often mattered too much with most games in those days I guess, but it does have a backstory. It takes place in a 'faraway land', and presumably also long ago, where an evil half-man half-beast named Jagu holds sway over the weak and pathetic population. Oh dear.

Saturday, 12 November 2022

TV Shows #26

The Sinner (2017-21)
Developed By: Derek Simonds
Starring: Bill Pullman, Jessica Hecht, Jessica Biel, Elisha Henig, Carrie Coon, Matt Bomer, Alice Kremelberg, Christopher Abbott, Natalie Paul, Frances Fisher, Michael Mosley, Hannah Gross, Dohn Norwood, Joe Cobden, Chris Messina, Abby Miller, David Huynh, Eddie Martinez

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 40-54 Minutes per Episode

Tagline: "Some sins don't stay buried."

Crikey, I think the last time I saw Bill Pullman was in Independence Day Resurgence, and the time before that was probably all the way back in Independence Day. No, wait - he did make an appearance in Battle of the Sexes as well, but he hardly seems the most prolific actor, certainly in recent years. And yet, here was his face, looking moodily sideways as though in a Scandinavian drama, on Netflix. Or was it Prime? One of those anyway, and the premise sounded interesting enough, so I figured it was worth a shot. As I soon discovered, the premise only applies to the first season as The Sinner was only meant to be a miniseries originally, but it proved sufficiently popular for more seasons to be made. In all of them, Pullman stars as Harry Ambrose, a police detective who becomes obsessively committed to resolving mysterious deaths.

Saturday, 22 October 2022

Super Conversions #2

The Need For Speed (1996)
By: Electronic Arts Genre: Driving Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation
Also Available For: 3DO, Saturn, PC

The arrival of the fearsome 32-bit CD-based consoles in the mid-90s was a fascinating time for a gamer. There were several choices, some from newcomers, and in those days each offering needed a 'killer app' to succeed. In many people's eyes, Trip Hawkins' innovative 3DO had one in the shape of The Need For Speed - an immersive, technically stunning point-to-point driving game featuring a roster of real cars which could be driven over varied environments and landscape types against a rival. It persuaded many to commit to the hefty outlay required to play it and was a big hit with those who could afford it (or, more to the point, the expensive console which ran it). The sneers of smug 3DO owners were short-lived, however, as within a couple of years, Electronic bloody Arts had ported it to the PlayStation and Saturn, and it wasn't too long after this the 3DO itself went down as well.