Friday, 15 February 2019

Retro News - Free Dreamcast Book!

I don't write about the Dreamcast here nearly as much as I should. It's mainly a time issue - its games will generally take much longer to play and write reviews for - but it's still a bit of a travesty considering how splendid the system is, and how important it is to me too. I do try to keep up with news from within the lively DC community though, and recently I heard a splendid example.

As you may have already noticed by the interceding picture here, the DC community hasn't just been burbling on about their favourite console and its many fine games. They have gone to the effort of making an entire book listing them all, and the best part is - it's completely free to download and keep! This will be of particular interest to hardcore DC fans too, as it's an amazingly comprehensive tome. Every single game ever released for the console is contained within including indie titles released after the console's supposed demise, and all entries have an overview of the game as well as detailed release info including any regional variants or alternate names, etc.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Film Review #107

A Simple Favor (2018)
Director: Paul Feig Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Bashir Salahuddin, Jean Smart, Rupert Friend

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 117 Minutes

Tagline: "Can you keep a secret?"

I have become very wary of Paul Feig's name over the last few years. This is mainly owing to his apparent partiality to Melissa McCarthy to whom I quickly became allergic upon first seeing one of her films, which was a product of their collaborations. I am, however, the opposite of wary when it comes to the delightful Anna Kendrick, so what do I do when she stars in a Feig film? When first news of A Simple Favor reached me, I'm sorry to say that fear soundly defeated affection, even with McCarthy's name nowhere to be seen, and I duly noted it down on my mental 'films to avoid' list. But then news began to reach me of its alleged splendour. I was also mildly startled to see it appearing on some people's 'Best Films of 2018' lists. With this new and unexpected information at hand, I summoned the will to slap fear around the chops with the back of my hand and set out in pursuit of this possibly-fine-after-all film.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

A Decidedly Ungamey Year

As I may have mentioned before, I am in the unfortunate position of only having one real life friend who's into videogames, and sadly he doesn't live particularly close to me these days either. Much of our communication, therefore, is by phone or internet. Around last Christmas, he sent a text asking me what the best five games I'd played for the first time in the previous calendar year were. This was, I believe, with a view to exchanging recommendations to be played in the coming year, but after giving it some thought, I realised I had barely even played five games for the first time that year, never mind enough to be able to select the best ones!

This realisation was slightly alarming, worrying even, but at the same time not too surprising. Nonetheless, I immediately decided this year would be different - I would make sure to play many games this time around. These need not be modern games, you understand - anything qualifies as long as I haven't played it at all previously. As part of this regimen, I would make sure to play the five games my good friend Luke had recommended. Here's a look at his choices, none of which I have played, but by the year's end... I will have - I swear it by the old gods and the new.

SteamWorld Dig (2013)

Rather embarrassingly, this is one I have already had in my Good Old Games collection for lord knows how long. I did play and review the game from which it seems to take its inspiration - Spelunker - many moons ago with an OCD-related intention to move onto this fancy reimagining in due course but, well, you know, I kind of forgot about I guess! I don't know why though, it looks like just the sort of game I would enjoy immensely. I can spend hours collecting and exploring in an atmospheric platformy environment and I haven't found a game of that type that has really hooked me in a good while now. Hopefully, thanks to Luke's timely reminder, I will now belatedly have another one to get stuck into.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Top Five Heather Graham Outfits

As the few regular visitors here may well know, I've long had a bit of a thing for the lovely Heather Graham. She's unlikely to win an Oscar for her acting, I guess I can concede that, but she's a decent enough actress and has a natural charm that I find very appealing. Then there's her aesthetic qualities which are, frankly, remarkable. Not only that but she looks pretty much the same today as she did 25 years ago! Not sure what sort of witchcraft she practises to maintain those pleasing attributes but, luckily for us, she seems happy to let us continue appreciating them from afar. Here are some of my favourite outfits of hers from various events:

          5... Just Cavalli Soho Store Opening, 2013

Friday, 18 January 2019

Random Game I've Never Heard Of #14

Guzzler (1983)
By: Tehkan Genre: Maze Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 27,350 (one credit)
Also Available For: SG-1000

I was actually playing a pretty awful old shmup with a view to entering a score in a retro league when I noticed the name of this game just above it. I hadn't heard of it but I thought I'd give it a quick go anyway. Given its name, I expected it to be a blatant Pac-Man clone or perhaps even some some of binge-eating game, like a food version of Tapper, but it was not. While it is indeed a maze game, it's not like the one starring that flappy-jawed yellow gobbler at all. Each stage is a single screen in size and features mazey-like layouts, but the similarities are not extensive besides that. It even took me a few minutes to work out what was going on when I first tried it. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising!

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 indifference, 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.