Friday, 3 July 2015

Top Five Scary Australian Creatures

Though it may not be the biggest country in the world, Australia is still a very large place; sufficiently large, in fact, to pretty much be classed as an entire continent by itself. It's way bigger than Europe, for example, and it has also been separated from the other main landmasses for close to 100 million years. This isolation had led to a great deal of bio-diversity. For some reason, perhaps coincidentally, this has resulted in the mighty country playing host to some of the world's scariest and most deadly creatures! Putting aside the obvious choices such as crocs and great white sharks (which are easier to avoid, at least) here are the five that freak me out the most :(

5 - Funnel Web Spider

Almost everyone is scared of spiders (even the 'tough guys' who try to convince people they find them 'cute') and one of the least pleasant in the Land Dahn Unda, not to mention most famous, is this fellow. There are several species, all of which are venomous and have large fangs capable of biting through a fingernail or shoe. They do at least do you the courtesy of adopting a 'warning posture' before striking, which is handy... assuming you even see them. Fortunately there are anti-venoms available; otherwise this scary scurrier would be higher on the list!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Indie Games News/Previews #3

Squirbs by Team Indev (2015) - PC

I've long had a weakness for those platform games with cute/weird characters so this upcoming indie title caught my eye easily enough, but I quickly noticed another thing that makes it stand out - you don't control just one cute/weird character but two simultaneously! The main character, you see, is the Squirb of the title whose world has been split into two, both of which contain copies of him. Your job is to search the 125+ stages for fragments of a magical stone which will return the world to normal, but you do this by controlling both Squirbs in both worlds at the same time by way of a split-screen view, with the simple controls (left, right, jump) moving both Squirbs in the same way.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Quest To Like a Football Game #2

Microprose Soccer a.k.a. Keith van Eron's Pro Soccer (1988)
By: Sensible Software / Microprose  Genre: Sport  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Commodore 64  First Day Score: Won 2-0 :)
Also Available For: Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

For the first part of this feature I decided to look at probably the oldest football game that I actually remember seeing/hearing about first-hand, but for this instalment I've gone for a slightly more recent one. It's a game I had also heard much about (though not played), and I've never heard anything but glowing praise for it, so I was slightly more hopeful this time that my quest would bear some fruit. A strength of Match Day was its great presentation and that was the first thing that struck me about Microprose Soccer too. As well as allowing you to change several aspects of the gameplay there are even two different styles available - the normal 11-a-side game that most of the world enjoys and the 6-a-side indoor game that was popular in the US around the time of the game's release.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Top Five Psycho Fox Characters

Nintendo fan-boys can keep their infernal plumber and puffy pink pillow; one of the finest 8-bit platformers in my opinion has always been Vic Tokai's fantastic multi-animal adventure, Psycho Fox. Its graphics and music are among the mighty Master System's finest and the stages are full of appealing features and alternate routes giving it fantastic replay value. One reason I like it so much, though, is the ability to switch between different animals with their own specialities. Some are more useful than others but all add something to the game and help make it one of the most enjoyable platformers I've played. Here are the characters in order of usefulness:

5 - Hippo

This portly fellow is probably the most amusing of the selectable characters (and the happiest - look at that broad smile!) but he's also the one you're almost certain to use the least. He's the only one who can punch down walls but you won't encounter them very often and even when you do there's usually an alternate route. Other than that talent, he's much slower than the other characters, making him near useless on stage three, and his jumping ability is pretty woeful too. The fat one you like more because of his warm personality than what he brings to the team...

Saturday, 20 June 2015

First Look PlayStation 3 #3

Motorcycle Club by Kylotonn / BigBen Interactive (2015) - PlayStation 3

All those open-world driving games that have been appearing lately have been rather cool, so when I saw this game advertised recently I immediately thought it would be a motorcycle equivalent. You know, kind of like Test Drive Unlimited or something but with biker gangs? But alas it is not. It's actually little more than a bog-standard racing game featuring open-road circuits (though no regular traffic), with the only innovation coming in the form of the three different types of bikes available. These are Superbikes, Roadsters, and the Custom bikes (big spluttery Harley-type things). The twist is, you can switch between them while racing. That's right, simply pressing the relevant button will somehow switch your bike 'on the fly' with no discernible loss of speed!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Adult Games #5

Lady Killer (1993)
By: Yanyaka / Mitchell Corporation Genre: Action / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 155,700 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nothing

The distinct lack of originality I've found while looking into these so-called 'adult' games thus far has been... not entirely unexpected to be honest, but here I may have found one that's had at least a little effort put into it. You play the part of a diver called Gonta and it's his job, quite simply, to de-robe a succession of lovely ladies! Well, reveal their splendour in pictorial form at least, and he does this by... ummm... diving into them. Allow me to explain in more detail. First you must choose a lady. There are six available who apparently reside in various cities across the world. Choosing one sees our hero fly to that destination where he's met by a series of single screen stages. Each initially features a watery silhouette of your chosen lady which is revealed by the aforementioned diving. Yes, it's as weird as it sounds.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Film Review #79

Need For Speed (2014)
Director: Scott Waugh Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Scott Mescudi, Imogen Poots, Ramón Rodríguez, Michael Keaton, Harrison Gilbertson

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 130 Minutes

Tagline: "For honour. For love. For redemption."

After suffering the horror of Street Fighter: The Movie (which even the lovely Kylie in a skintight outfit couldn't make watchable), ever have I been wary of any films that have anything to do with videogames. Due to my appreciation of mental cars and films featuring them, however, I found it difficult to avoid this effort based on the long-running (and now 20 year old) series of EA games. To be honest, I'm surprised it took some-one this long to conjure up an NFS-based film, but the long wait certainly can't have been down to its plot-development. Besides featuring cars, it has little to do with the game series which itself has gone through many iterations, and is instead best described as a 'revenge road-trip movie'. Or alternatively, a flimsy excuse to show lots of mental cars being driven mentally.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Mobile Games #9

Bullet Pea (2014)
By: Team Popo Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Android
Also Available For: iOS, Windows Phone

I have tried playing a few platform games on my phone over the years and they are rarely enjoyable. As is often the case with such games, this is usually down to the pesky controls, so I wasn't particularly optimistic about Bullet Pea when I first discovered it. Its crisp, Amiga-esque graphics persuaded me to take the risk though, and it quickly turned out to be a rather interesting game. How could any game not be, starring a sentient, bipedal pea? Further research reveals that this pea, who shall be known as Mike for the purposes of this review, was formerly a constituent part of Professor Peabrain's dinner but, upon seeing him transform into the 'unspeakable megalomaniac', Doctor Thunder, opted to abruptly evolve, growing legs (and a face) in the process.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Extra Special New Arrival!

I don't buy as many games as I used to these days but when I do I rarely mention it anywhere online. Some people, of course, need only the teeniest excuse to warble on about the smallest addition to their collection, with some even going to the effort of making 'unboxing vidoes' (which have always made me chortle), but every now and then there comes an extra special purchase which is actually worth heralding. For me it came in the form of a Holy Grail of sorts - a game I've wanted ever since I saw it in magazines of the time but never got around to buying.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Film Review #78

San Andreas (2015)
Director: Brad Peyton Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Ioan Gruffudd, Paul Giamatti, Archie Panjabi, Will Yun Lee, Kylie Minogue

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 114 Minutes

Tagline: "We always knew this day would come."

It's been a while since the last full-on, big-budget disaster film was making us scared of our mighty planet, or it at least seems like a while, so I have been looking forward to this effort very much. The fact that it's named after one of the most well-known continental faults in the world (and NOT the Grand Theft Auto game as some apparently believe, amusingly) should give you a fairly good idea of what type of disaster you can expect too. Much like The Day After Tomorrow (with which San Andreas has more than a little in common), events here are based not only on what could really happen but on what supposedly will really happen eventually, but not only does it accelerate the global timetable somewhat, it also exaggerates the resultant mayhem as well, meaning we are treated to lots of flolloping landscapes and toppling high-rises.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Arcade Classics #8

Centipede (1980)
By: Atari Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 20,714 (one credit)
Also Available For: Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Intellivision, Apple II, TI-99/4A, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Vic 20, Dragon 32, PC, Apple Mac, Game Boy, Game Boy Colour,, PlayStation, Vita
Download For: PlayStation Network, Android, iOS

Most of the earliest of arcade classics were the 'first' to do something-or-other but Centipede can lay claim to two firsts that I can think of - it was the first well-known game to be programmed by a woman (Dona Bailey alongside Ed Logg), but also (and probably less obviously), it was the first shoot 'em up to charge you with zapping something other than aliens. Apart from these interesting points, though, it was pretty standard fare for its day - a succession of single-screen stages, each featuring evil creatures advancing down the screen which must be shot before they reach the bottom. In this case, 'they' are actually just one. A long one.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Red Parsley is Taking a Nap!

Oh dear, what in the blue blazes is happening? Apologies for the lack of new posts here at your (probably not) favourite gaming/movies blog. As predicted a while back, events have conspired against me and, despite continuing to have plenty of ideas and subject material, I now find almost no time at hand for playing or writing. This situation should only be short-term and I hope to be back to business as usual soon, but for the moment, don't give up on Red Parsley and keep checking for new stuff!

On the plus side, I did recently manage to catch San Andreas at the cinema (review coming soon-ish!) and among the numerous things to catch my eye was the leading lady, Alexandra Daddario, so here is a nice picture of her to pleasantly massage your visual cortex until I return once again!


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.