Saturday, 20 April 2019

TV Shows #18

The Night Of (2016)
Developed By: Richard Price & Steven Zaillian Starring: John Turturro, Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp, Payman Maadi, Poorna Jagannathan, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Afton Williamson, Ben Shenkman, Jeannie Berlin, Paul Sparks, Ned Eisenberg, Nabil Elouahabi, Michael Kenneth Williams, Glenne Headly, Amara Karan, Kirk 'Sticky Fingaz' Jones, Mohammad Bakri, Ashley Thomas, Paulo Costanzo, Chip Zien, Glenn Fleshler

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 56-96 Minutes per Episode, 8 Episodes

Tagline: "What happened"

There have been several films and TV shows over the years that have dealt with the aftermath of an eventful night out (The Hangover being a fairly prominent recent example), but I can't imagine too many are as messed up, from the protagonist's perspective at least, as The Night Of. It's based on the first season of British drama, Criminal Justice, and is actually a miniseries rather than a new show proper, so this 'first season' is all there will be, but it's likely to be one that will stays with you long after the last of the eight one hour (on average) episodes has finished.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Retro News - New R-Type!

R-Type Final 2 by Granzella (2019?) - PS4

Despite the popularity of their ace series and its legendary status over the years, Irem have often seemed keen to put R-Type to the sword. The last proper new shmup to bear the name was R-Type Final, a PS2 exclusive back in 2003. Given its name you would expect that to be the last. Then, about 5 years later came a couple of turn-based strategy spin-offs for the PSP known as R-Type Tactics (or Command to US players), and I'm pretty sure I remember Irem actually saying at the time that they would be the last games in the series, and so it was for many moons. But then, just a couple of weeks past, on April Fool's Day no less, stories began to surface of something called R-Type Final 2. Given the timing, everyone just assumed it was an amusing-yet-cruel jape on the part of the developer, especially given their track-record of similar pranks, but egads - it has now been confirmed as a real game by the team themselves!

Monday, 15 April 2019

Top Five Red Birds

Birds are pretty awesome, even someone as unenvironmentally friendly as Jeremy Clarkson knows that, but here in Europe most of them are a bit dull in terms of colour. Plenty of blacks, whites, browns, etc, but not many bright colours. They appear to be nearly exclusive to the tropics. There it's rare to see a bird that isn't brightly coloured. Here is a look at five of the finest bright red examples :)

5... Red Munia

Also known as the red avadavat, this little finch is found in tropical Asian regions where it lives in fields and grasslands. Only the male is red like this, and even then only during breeding season, but that doesn't make it any less eye-catching.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

NES Platform Games #7

Kid Kool a.k.a. Kakefu Kimi no Jump Tengoku (1991)
By: Vic Tokai Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo NES
Also Available For: Nothing

The mighty and wonderful Psycho Fox has been among my favourite platformers (and therefore my favourite games) since the Elder Days, and has spent many moons in my Master System's 'slot' (tee hee!). Back then I always thought it was an actual Sega game - it wasn't until several years later that I discovered the marvellously named (and also very excellent) MegaDrive platformer, Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure was made by the same team at Vic Tokai, a Japanese developer who made games for many formats of their day. One of them has only just come to my attention, owing mainly to the Nintendo allergy that ailed me in the NES era, and it has turned out to be what basically amounts to a semi-prequel or practice run for Psycho Fox itself. This means - hooray! It was released only a year earlier and, as other fans of the stonking Master System game will quickly see, there are many similarities.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Top Five Princess Leias

Those of you around my age will very likely have had at least some Star Wars figures lying around your bedrooms when you were growing up, specifically those from the range of 90-ish figures released by Kenner. I certainly have fond memories of them, even if I never quite managed to collect them all, and one character whose figures I seem to remember better than most is the lovely Princess Leia Organa.

This could be because she was one of my first crushes (especially after seeing Return of the Jedi - snigger!), even if none of her numerous figures really looked like her. Not that any plastic figure would be capable of capturing her beauty anyway (simper)! So here's a largely-pointless look at my five favourite Leia-guises and comparisons with the equivalent Kenner figures. Long may her illustrious hotness live on :)

5. Bespin Leia

The first chance Leia had to get out of her skanky Hoth outfit, have a shower, and enjoy a change of clothes, resulted in this arrangement, possibly chosen by the charming/slimy (delete as appropriate) Lando. I was never the biggest fan of this look, worn during her stay in Cloud City, but hey - it's still Leia!

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

New Arrival - Glowy Laptop!

Okay, this particular new arrival may not be remotely retro-related but it does have at least some gaming relevance! Before we look into that, however, let us first pause for a moment to remember my trusty red HP Pavilion which has been retired after about five years of faithful service. Not many of you knew it in person but if you've visited my humble page before, there's a good chance anything you saw or read therein was played, captured, written, and edited on my glorious red laptop.

It was a bit of a pain now and then - it was even running Windows 8 - but overall, it was a mighty fine machine and served me very well. The decision to replace it was made for a few reasons. Getting new stuff is always cool anyway, but it was mainly because of performance issues - it had been getting slower and slower (most likely due to its age, I suspect) and I've been growing impatient for an SSD-based OS, so I just figured it was time for an upgrade. And if you're going to buy something like a computer, you might as well make it a stonking great one!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

PS4 Purchases #5

No Man's Sky by Hello Games (2016)

Despite having posted about most of my recent PS4 acquisitions, I'm still rather behind on posting about the earlier ones, so I thought I'd go right back to the beginning with this one. As long time readers may know, I was ultra-excited about No Man's Sky - the promo blurb and screenshots made it seem like a game that would appeal to me enormously, but as it turned out, it failed completely to live up to its promises. I still wanted to try it anyway but at the time of its release I didn't have a PS4 and my PC apparently wasn't capable of running that version, so I missed out. Upon unexpectedly getting a PS4, however, it was one of the first titles to pop into my head. Supposedly it was superior to the PC version anway, and after buying Driveclub with my new console, the next purchase I made was this one.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Film Round-Up #25

Some say (notably my wife) that I have an unhealthy obsession with Heather Graham but that's not true at all, I just find her a naturally appealing actress. Sadly, it seems not too many of her films are particularly great, but I have been continuing to watch more of them in the hopes of finding a few hidden gems. Here is the latest selection, randomly chosen from her Wikipedia page (chuckle!)...

Committed (2000)

As we learn in the film's very first scene, Jo (Graham) is a committed person - a revelation she hits us with immediately prior to her white wedding. Flash forward a couple of years and she's doing pretty well. She has lots of friends, she runs a club, etc - only to find hubby has cleaned out his stuff and left her. Yes, you heard that right - a guy who was married to someone who looks exactly the same as Heather Graham... left her! ... *bewilderment* ... She would have to give me a judo-chop to the gentleman's region to get rid of me! Anyway, against most people's advice, Jo tracks down her errant spouse Carl (Luke Wilson) to try and win him back despite clear indications that he's not interested! ... *more bewilderment* ... She gets a bit of help along the way from her brother (Casey Affleck) and a few other interesting characters she meets, including Carl's new girlfriend (Patricia Velásquez), and thanks to this great cast, Committed is actually pretty enjoyable, perhaps aside from some questionable decisions made by Heather's character. She's still as appealing as ever though, and this is one of her better non-big-name films... 7/10

Friday, 22 February 2019

Isometric Games #4

Batman (1986)
By: Jon Ritman & Bernie Drummond / Ocean Genre: Arcade Adventure Players: 1
Difficulty: Medium Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: 824
Also Available For: Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, MSX

Pretty much ever since I first got (or was given - thanks mum and dad!) a Spectrum, one of my top five favourite games for it has been Head Over Heels. Not only was it a wonderful adventure in its own right but it also made me a fan of isometric games generally, so it's strange that it has taken me such an extraordinary amount of time to get around to playing this example. I've never really been a fan of the Caped Crusader in general but this, possibly the first Speccy title to bear his name, is one that has long been considered the spiritual predecessor of Head Over Heels. Both were products of the same ace two-man team of Jon Ritman (programming) and Bernie Drummond (graphics), so it's not too much of a surprise that they have a lot in common, and there are similarities in both the visuals and game design as well.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

First Look TV Show #3

Wreck Trek (2013)

Not more than a few days past was I watching something-or-other via my Amazon Fire Stick thingy when I saw Wreck Trek in the 'you may also like' section afterwards. I am usually cautious of the unknown but its premise was fairly enticing so I thought I would give it a go. It features a bunch of people - six as I recall - who have been charged with finding the three cheapest cars they can in Berlin (the 'wrecks' of the title), getting them into a roadworthy state, then pairing up and driving them from Berlin all the way down to South Africa. A not-inconsiderable distance I'm sure you'll agree! This sounded like it might be rather splendid - kind of like one of the Top Gear/Grand Tour 'specials' where they drive their own themed cheapo cars across vast stretches of the world (though not nearly as far as proposed here) while engaging in all manner of tomfooleries and showcasing the country/culture they are in too.

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!