Friday, 24 April 2015

PSN Downloads #5

Fatal Inertia EX (2008)
By: Koei Genre: Racing Players: 1-8 (online) Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation 3
Also Available For: Xbox 360

For a while now, the main question amongst gamers when it comes to futuristic 'hover craft' racers has simply been... F-Zero or Wipeout? My personal allegiance is very well known in these parts but there are a few examples that aren't part of either series. One recent example is this one made by KOEI, initially released for the Xbox 360 before a slightly spruced-up conversion was bestowed upon us lucky PS3 owners, and it was one I was eager to try out. It has a short introduction which mentions something about you being invited to participate in the 'cutthroat motorsport' of the title where 'only exceptional pilots will survive'. You are of course given an 'advanced prototype' with which to do this, and there are Single Player, Multiplayer, and Garage modes available to choose from.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Film Review #77

Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
Director: James Wan Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Djimon Hounsou, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, Tony Jaa

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 137 Minutes

Tagline: "Vengeance hits home."

As anyone who has visited Red Parsley much over the years must know already, I've been a big fan of the Fast & Furious series since the very first instalment (seems a looong time ago now). Sadly, however, tragedy has befallen the F&F family since the last film with the untimely death of Paul Walker, and this seventh film is famously his last appearance on screen. That in itself more or less guaranteed a big box office take, although I guess the previous films haven't exactly flopped - aside from the third film, each instalment has steadily earnt more and more money, and most fans would say they've also been getting better and better too (with an exception or two). Does this latest, most anticipated part of the ongoing saga continue that trend? It certainly looked like it would judging by the trailer, so I had high hopes.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Rise From Your Grave - Resurrecting my old Speccy +3

As were the words famously spoken by Zeus at the start of Altered Beast, and they were the words I thought of once again just a couple of nights ago. As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, I recently undertook an arduous-but-productive expedition into the mysterious depths of my old bedroom and the attic of my parents house. This resulted in the retrieval of my old gaming magazines, as detailed here in the previous post, but something else I unearthed - and one of the things I was actually looking for - was my old Spectrum +3, and happily I found it.

It was more or less exactly where I left it actually - in the attic, safely sealed in a big box along with all the cables and bits and pieces as well as a load of tape games. After cautiously opening the box in case of spiders or other scary creatures and finding none, I began sorting through everything in preparation for actually seeing if it still worked. This presented me with a problem though - how the devil do you get a computer like this working on a modern TV? As it turned out, this was easier than I thought (after consulting the instructions for my TV, naturally), and splendidly I soon saw the distinctive opening menu offered by Alan Sugar's fancy revamped Speccy models. Further progress, however, was cut short by the pesky keyboard which was apparently no longer working. Unwilling to admit defeat, this meant I had to do something I very rarely do - actually try to fix it.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Early Driving Games #11

Vroom (1991)
By: Lankhor Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Atari ST First Day Score: 12,370
Also Available For: Amiga

These days F1 games seem to be limited to whichever one has the official FIA license but in the 16-bit era they were much more common. This one was released by French developer, Lankhor, in 1991 for the ST and Amiga and looks much like many others that were around at the time - that is to say, decidedly average. For some reason, though, I had a sneaking suspicion it might actually surprise me, so, after a bit of hassle trying to find a version that actually worked, I spent some time finding out. There are Demonstration and Training options which are probably worth checking out quickly, but there are two main play modes - Arcade and Racing - to choose from on the rather limited menu screen, and it was the former I tried first.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Film Review #76

Wedding Crashers (2005)
Director: David Dobkin Starring: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Bradley Cooper, Jane Seymour, Keir O'Donnell

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 119 Minutes

Tagline: "Life's a party. Crash it."

Any film that has the word 'wedding' in its title is generally one to be avoided in my experience. A narrow-minded view, perhaps, but most of them do tend to be somewhat generic, predictable rom-coms with little in the way of charm. This Wilson/Vaughn vehicle, however, could be one of the few exceptions to that rule, and a big part of the reason for that is down to it starring Wilson and Vaughn. They play John and Jeremy respectively, who are divorce mediators as well as long-time friends who are gearing up for their favourite time of year - the wedding season - a period they spend crashing weddings posing as distant relatives or old friends of someone-or-other. I suppose the lashings of free food and booze would be a big attraction to any party lover, but their main motivation for their favourite past time is to take advantage of the loved-up state of the various female guests.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Favourite Speccy Loading Screens - Part 3

Oh, hello again. As some of you may well have noticed, I've recently been posting selections of my favourite Spectrum loading screens. Actually, I imagine rather a lot of you have noticed as they have turned out to be among my most popular posts for some time! I suppose visually-stimulating posts are always popular but, whatever the reason, I'm very pleased to now present the third part of the extensive gallery...

Monday, 30 March 2015

Currently Playing...

Neo Turf Masters by Nazca Corporation (1996) - Neo Geo

I try to cover a decent range of games and systems here at Red Parsley but I really don't feature enough Neo Geo games - it is after all regarded by many as the ultimate hardcore gamers' machine - so, only a few nights past, I decided it was high time I looked at another of its fine titles. This was not, however, Neo Turf Masters which, as long-time readers may be aware, I've already reviewed!

When gamers visit the Neo Geo it's most often for one of its fine fighting games or shmups, but the game I've spent most time with is this one. I'm probably the only gamer in the world that can say that but I don't care, I have always been very keen on arcadey golf games and, aside from the mighty Everybody's Golf series, this one has long been my favourite.

That makes it easy to get distracted by it when I'm meant to be looking into some new titles to review! It features Match Play and Stroke Play options for one or two players, four decent, similar-looking courses based in USA, Japan, Australia, and Germany to explore, and six golfers to do it with - but this stuff is all par for the course with golf games really (pun definitely intended - chuckle!).

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Puzzle Games #18

Be Ball a.k.a. Chew-Man-Fu (1990)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Puzzle / Maze Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: 232,810
Also Available For: Nothing
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Puzzle games can often be among the stranger titles hosted by their respective systems and this PCE release by Hudson is definitely no exception. A brief perusal of the American instructions (Be Ball is the Japanese version) reveals that 'the people have been deprived of their favourite foods - fried rice and egg rolls - by the evil Chew Man Fu'. To what end? Your guess is as good as mine, but luckily 'two feisty twin sisters' named LaLa and LingLing have bravely stepped up to 'turn the tables on the wrong-doers'. Jolly good then! Of course, as you probably already guessed, this is done by... moving four coloured balls around. Obviously. Each stage, you see, features four different coloured balls and four plates of matching colours. Your job is simply to move each ball to the corresponding plate before moving to the next. This may not be as easy as it sounds, however, especially when you learn that there are supposedly a somewhat bewildering 550 stages to battle through.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Busy Year Ahead...

Oh hey, how's it going chums? :) As some of you may have noticed, it's been a while since I've had a chance to post something here at Red Parsley. Well, you may have noticed I haven't posted anything for a while, at least, and that's because I haven't had a chance to (believe it or not), so I figured I'd take the opportunity to ramble on incoherently while I've got half an hour or so free.

Perhaps surprisingly, the lack of new posts of late isn't down to laziness either. Well, not just down to laziness anyway. As much as I'd love to do it for a living, blogging is strictly a part-time gig for me and has to be fitted around everything else that occupies my insufficient free time. Recent weeks in RKS Land have included a short period of illness, several birthdays, the acquisition (and subsequent use) of a new mountain bike (a rather fancy one too), and other time consuming pursuits, and the remainder of the year doesn't look like affording me a great deal of blogging time either. In just a few weeks my brother-in-law will be visiting my wife and I from Brazil for a month, and at the end of the summer we'll be taking a remarkably spiffing holiday to (muthafukkin) California too. Perhaps most detrimental to my blogging, however, is something that comes along ever year around this time - work.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sonic X-Treme... At Last?

I can’t really speak for any of my overseas friends but Sega’s poor old Saturn had a torrid time here in the UK. Among the many reasons given for its relative failure was the lack of a proper Sonic game. Sega’s hyperactive spiker had, after all, been a big factor in the success of the Mega Drive, and most Sega fans, some still reeling from the disappointment of the 32X, were expecting not only an amazing new console but also an amazing new game starring their hero. It did not arrive but, as many gamers know all too well, one was in development, and it looked pretty good.

Poor quality but shows the famous fisheye lens effect...
Sadly, after being besieged by all manner of problems, both technical and personnel-related, during the course of its (more than) two year development time, Sonic X-Treme was cancelled. Instead, us poor old Saturn owners had to make do with Sonic 3D Blast, a conversion of an isometric Mega Drive game, Sonic Jam, a compilation of Sonic's other MD adventures accessed via a rather limited 3D 'Sonic World' area, and Sonic R, a racing game starring our nippy blue hero along with a few of his friends. All three games were okay but definitely not what we were promised nor expecting. Over the intervening years, snippets of information and a few grainy screenshots from the failed project emerged which only compounded our frustration - it actually looked like it could've been really good! God damn Sega and the chaotic mess that followed their most successful period...

Monday, 9 March 2015

Top Five Will Ferrell Films

Until recently I thought Will Ferrell was pretty much universally regarded as one of the funniest men alive. Since leaving Saturday Night Live, nearly all his films were well received, he was featured on countless magazine covers, and he seemingly had the comedy world in the palm of his hand. In more recent years, however, that seems to have changed. Was he just a flash in the pan? Have the quality of his films dropped by that much? Or was he never really that loved to begin with? I suppose it's most likely a combination of all of those to varying degrees but I've definitely gotten the impression lately that he's something of a love/hate kind of actor.

Even though he's tried his hand at more serious roles (and he can actually act), he'll always be a comedian first and foremost, and I suppose his brand of immature idiocy may well be an acquired taste. Perhaps viewers have even gotten tired of it. I still find his antics mighty chortlesome though, and there's no doubt that he had a hell of a run during the 'noughties' when he and his fellow 'Frat Pack' alumni were lobbing their films out left, right and centre. Unsurprisingly then, it's from this period that all my favourite films of his come, and these are the five I enjoyed the most:

5. Old School (2003)

Although perhaps not specifically a 'Will Ferrell film', this amusing Frat Pack effort still gives him a starring role as Frank 'The Tank', one of three depressed friends who try to re-live their much-missed college days by starting a fraternity. Much partying and tomfoolery later and all seems to be going well, until the College Dean - and the victim of their bullying from their actual days at college - decides to try and kick them out, resulting in an attempt to prove that they are a real fraternity. Although his two friends (Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn) are probably more likeable characters, Ferrell unsurprisingly plays the most immature and idiotic of the three, and therefore gets the most laughs (including the famous streaking scene and a hilarious mishap with a tranquillizer-gun) but this is an enjoyable enough romp with some great scenes, and it's hard not to will-on the hapless trio despite the questionable nature of their endeavour.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

ColecoVision Round-Up #1

Well, it's been quite a while since I 'Explored' the ColecoVision - over 18 months now actually (oops!) - so I guess it's time I got around to checking out a few more of its games. Here are five I chose at random because I like their names :)

Space Panic (1983)

Unknown to many, this is actually a conversion of a very important and historic game, for the arcade version of Space Panic was the first ever platform game! Despite this iconic status though, I was never very keen on it so I didn't expect to like this either, but it's actually not bad. The object is to clear each single-screen stage of enemies by digging holes in the platforms, letting them fall in, and then filling in the holes. This is fairly easy at first - the tomato enemies are a bit dim and just walk straight into your traps - but the other two types take a bit more work to outwit! The number of them per stage also gets pretty hardcore before long and while you're digging holes for advancing enemies to fall into, others are approaching from behind. There's a time-limit, too, in the form of finite oxygen for our brave tomato-planting hero, so it can be a pretty hectic game at times, but appealing graphics and sound effects and superb controls make it a very enjoyable one as well. Good fun and surprisingly engaging for the first ever game of its type... 8/10

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Mobile Games #8

Radiant (2014)
By: Hexage Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Android First Day Score: 517,106
Also Available For: iOS, Windows Phone

Shoot 'em ups have surely proven to be one of the most enduring of the early game genres, but if there is one modern format they aren't really suited to it's that of touch-screen devices. Some do exist - quite a few actually - but I haven't been brave enough to try any of the more hectic ones yet. For my first I thought I'd try something a bit simpler, and as if my magic the next game I happened upon was Radiant which looked like fitting the bill superbly. It is most definitely a shmup, but one based more on the earliest form of the genre - the gallery shooter game (i.e. Space Invaders, Galaxians, etc). That doesn't seem like it should require a terribly complicated control system, and so seemed about as ideal for this format as any shmup could. Let's hope my vision proves to be correct...

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Memorable Gaming Moments #1

Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap by Westone / Sega (1989) - Master System

As was the case with many games, it was my good friend Luke who introduced me to the marvels of Wonder Boy III, which was also, in fact, my first such experience with any Wonder Boy game. That meant I was not aware at the time that it takes place immediately after the previous game, and it also meant I didn't know what was going on. All I knew was, after being handed the controller, I found myself with a young green-haired fellow before me, brandishing a sword and standing in a decidedly castle-like corridor while some dramatic music played. Venturing along this corridor led me to my first enemies which were easily vanquished courtesy of some swift slashes, and before long I had even reached my first boss - a somewhat metallic dragon who, in typical dragon fashion, seemed to enjoy bathing inferior beings in his fiery breath.

Friday, 27 February 2015

New Blog!

Yes that's right! As some of my longer-term readers may well already know, another subject I'm interested in besides video games and films is astronomy. I've posted a handful of related features here before but I know most of you come here for gaming-related stuff so I've kept them to a minimum. It remains a subject I'm very interested in though, despite being hopelessly ill-equipped to comprehend much of it, so I decided to create a separate blog just for spacey stuff.

It won't be updated as often as Red Parsley - I only have so much free time after all - but if you have any interest in the subject, I invite you to check it out now and then. Click here to see!