Monday, 16 January 2017

Gaming Flashbacks #2

As a gamer I've been more or less exclusively playing retro stuff for years now. The last 'current' console I was genuinely excited about was the Dreamcast and its quick demise made me sad. Even then, though, I still spent a lot of time with my many older systems. Since then, I've dabbled with the odd newer game of course - a few original Xbox and PS3 games for example - but even then there is one aspect of gaming I have practically no experience in: online gaming.

I'm sure at least most of you reading this, even those who think of yourselves as hardcore retroheads, probably still play modern games as well, and these days that generally means at least some degree of online tomfoolery. Some games like Titanfall and Destiny give you no other option, but I have somehow avoided doing this almost entirely. I'm not quite sure why if I'm honest, I don't hate the idea or anything like that, it's just something I've never gotten around to trying properly.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

MegaDrive Shmups #9

Granada (1991)
By: Wolf Team / Telenet Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 496,784
Also Available For: X68000

The MegaDrive is justifiably famed the world over for its ultra-splendid selection of shooters but most of these are of the usual horizontal and vertical scrolling varieties. One game that bucked that trend by offering more ground-based, free-roaming action was Granada (not 'XGranadaX' as it's often called, understandably). It wasn't a well known game over here in the UK, largely on account of the fact that it wasn't released here, but it was a game that intrigued me enough to seek it out at my friendly local import emporium, and I had a lot of fun with it. And how could I not? After all, we're not just in control of a mere tank here but a 'Hyper Cannon Tank' brimming with advanced weaponry which you must guide through some sort of unspecified battle being waged on 'the peaceful streets of Tobora' (though maybe not right now) where you'll face 'the giant flying battleship Astarsha' as well as Valsic, another HCT.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

TV Shows #12

Extant (2014-15)
Developed By: Mickey Fisher Starring: Halle Berry, Goran Visnjic, Pierce Gagnon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Hiroyuki Sanada, Grace Gummer, Michael O'Neill, Tyler Hilton, Camryn Manheim, David Morrissey, Brad Beyer, Jeannetta Arnette

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 40-44 Minutes (per episode)

One trend I've noticed in the last ten years or so is that a lot of film actors/actresses have moved on to the small screen as stars of new TV shows. One of the first instances of this I remember is Kiefer Sutherland in the super-awesome 24 - a casting choice that surprised me a bit in the day, even if Mr. Sutherland was no longer the draw he had once been - but it must have worked as the show was a smash hit with his performances regularly singled out. Soon, other former and current movie actors were doing the same, but one recent example that still surprised me a little when I first saw it advertised was Extant. How on earth did they manage to get an Oscar winning actress like Halle Berry to appear in what was apparently a sci-fi TV show? By giving her an executive producer credit? I'm not sure if that's what did the trick but who cares? It's never exactly a hardship to see the lovely Ms. Berry again, and a new sci-fi show is always welcome around these parts. Surely the two combined will result in a show of true majesty?

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

Okay, I'm a bit late this year - I think I usually am actually - but this is just a quick post to wish all my readers, whether occasional or regular, a very Merry Christmas! If you celebrate it, that is, obviously. It's been a challenging year here in RKS Land, and one that has regrettably seen the fewest posts at RP since I started the page back in 2010. I was hoping to at least hit the 100 mark but I have recently started (another) new job which has resulted in quite a bit less free time than before.

Nonetheless, I have a huge backlog of game and film reviews in mind so there will be plenty of new posts here over the coming months - once I get around to writing them of course! So please, continue to drop by and leave comments and feedback, either here or on the various social media platforms I spam my new posts. In the meantime, I hope you have all had a wonderful festive period and year in general. May the next prove as good or perhaps even better. Happy Holidays one and all! :)


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Top Five Atari 2600 Shmups

When you think of shoot 'em ups, the Atari VCS/2600 probably isn't the first system to enter your mind, but a surprising number of its games tasked you with shooting things. I suppose most videogames did generally back then but even so, I thought it was high time I took a look at some of the best examples available for Atari's iconic console. Many of them were clones of popular arcade machines of the time such as Space Invaders and Galaxians, naturally, but I think I've ended up with a nicely varied list in the end. Here are my choices - did I leave out your favourite?

Games-Related Top Fives Disclaimer: I've traditionally stuck to the games I know and love so far, and these game-related top fives reflect that. One of the purposes of this blog is diversify my gaming experiences, to play games I haven't played before, so I will do new game-related top fives in a few years to see how different they are!

5. Mega Mania (1982)

There are loads of Space Invaders clones on the VCS as you might expect but this one is my favourite I think. As normal, rows of enemies appear above you and your job is to shoot them all down. It doesn't get any more complicated than that. What I like about it, though, is that the enemies move across the screen looping from one side to the next, but even more that you can angle your shots as well. That makes it quite a bit easier to take out moving enemies as you might imagine, but it's still not easy as they can move pretty quickly and change direction regularly. Each stage has a different type of enemy too, with their own movements. Some even loop from the bottom to the top of the screen as well as left or right so it's necessary to dodge them as well as their shots, and you don't get long to take them out as your energy level is slowly falling as well. It is a little repetitive and a background would've been nice, but it's also good fun and very addictive.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Steam / GOG Downloads #3

Colin McRae Rally (2013)
By: Code Masters Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Android, iOS

Since the age of the PS1, not only have driving games been far more prevalent but a sizeable portion of them have also been rally games. You might think the title that kick-started this was Sega Rally but as far as I'm concerned it was Colin McRae Rally. The series debuted in 1998 and was a more realistic take on the popular motorsport which in the years prior to the game's release had been dominated by Mr. McRae in his iconic blue Subaru Impreza. It was justifiably a smash hit and led to many sequels which gradually changed names to 'Dirt', presumably due to the tragic and untimely death of the star after whom the series was originally named. But now that original name returns. Does that mean we're in reboot territory? That's what I had assumed prior to playing it at least, but let's see.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

TV Shows #11 - Part 1

Sons of Anarchy (2008-14)
Developed By: Kurt Sutter Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Johnny Lewis, Maggie Siff, Ron Perlman, Ryan Hurst, William Lucking, Theo Rossi, Dayton Callie, Jimmy Smits, Drea De Matteo, David Labrava, Niko Nicotera

Certificate: 18 Running Time: Typically around 50 minutes per episode but ranges from 39-90 minutes

Much like many of you I'm sure, the list of shows on my watch list is long. Netflix alone features tons but recently removed from that particular list is this one. It's about a motorcycle gang and is well regarded but that was about the extent of my knowledge prior to watching. Fortunately, that was sufficient. The gang (or 'club', as they apparently prefer) is known as SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original) and is based in the small fictional Northern Californian town of Charming. There they are involved in various rackets, mostly illegal, but the bulk of their business comes from running guns, supplied by the 'True IRA' based in Belfast and sold to other criminal gangs around the NorCal area. The club was founded in 1967 by John Teller and some of his friends who became know as the 'First 9' but at the start of the show, only club president Clay Morrow (Perlman) and Piney Winstone (Lucking) are left.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Indie Games News/Previews #9

Xydonia by Breaking Bytes (2017) - PC

If there is one type of doujin game that's always guaranteed to grab my attention it's a side-scrolling shooter so you can imagine how pleased I was to stumble upon this one a while ago on Facebook. It's the work of three self-proclaimed arcade junkies from Italy known as Breaking Bytes and has recently been the subject of a Kickstarter campaign which I'm pleased to say was successful. The game is still under development but the alpha has been made freely available and does a great job of showcasing what they've included so far. In fact, it looks more or less finished to my eyes - the presentation is superb, featuring an intro sequence, lots of options, the choice of three pilots, three weapon set-ups, and even assist characters, and the whole thing is really polished already. It isn't quite finished yet though of course - only the first two stages are included here, and they are quite brief, but they're sufficiently splendid to make the game look very promising.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Arcade Classics #9

Mappy (1980)
By: Namco Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 33,150 (one credit)
Also Available For: NES, MSX, Game Gear (ports), PC, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS, Game Boy (on compilations)
Download For: Wii Virtual Console, iOS

When you think of gaming mouses you might well think of Mickey's mighty fine adventures before any others, but coming long before he started lighting up the 8 and 16-bit consoles was a plucky fellow that went by the name of Mappy. Unlike his more famous Disney relative who just goes around doing as he pleases, Mappy is much more responsible and actually works as a police mouse, or 'micro police' as the game calls him! His job is to retrieve stolen property from a series of mansions, but there's a problem - the thieves are still there! They come in the form of pink cats called Meowkies (or 'naughty folks') and their boss, a larger red cat called Goro (or 'boss the big bit', whatever that means) and they are keen to keep hold of their loot, so Mappy's job will not be a very easy one.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Flicky Flicks Round 2

Having enjoyed the first round of Flicky Flicks, the guys and I soon turned our keen gaze to round two which, as chosen by Chip as the first round's victor, would consist of the films of Stanley Kubrick. This was not initially met with huge excitement by me as I've never really been that keen on his films. I know he's one of the greatest directors of all time and all that stuff, and his films are technically brilliant, but I just haven't really enjoyed watching them that much in the past. I guess some film snobs would therefore say I'm not a 'true film fan' but that's fine, I don't mind. As it turned out I've quite enjoyed this round anyway though, which consisted of a couple of classics I hadn't seen before. As before, the winner will be revealed at the end!

Paths of Glory (1957)
Director: Stanley Kubrick Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson

Nominated By: Hipster Ben Running Time: 88 Minutes

It's two years into the First World War and the French and German forces have reached an impasse, both stuck in their respective trenches and unable to make any headway. The ambitious General Mireau, however, decides to send his division to take a strategically important position known as 'the Anthill'. Commanding the mission is Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) who knows it's next to impossible but tries anyway. The general is furious when it inevitably fails and demands that some of the soldiers are court martialed and executed for cowardice...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Splendid MegaDrive Music #4

James Pond: Underwater Agent (1990)

I've long felt alone in having a soft-spot for the first James Pond game. Many love its sequel, Robocod, and justifiably so, but the original? There are many things I like about it - the jolly graphics, the environmental theme, the fact that it takes place underwater (well, James is a fish and all) - but one of its less appreciated features as far as I can tell is its music, composed by Richard Joseph. Much of it is somewhat more befitting the character's secret agent status but my favourite is this, one of two level themes that get alternated. It's might be a little strange but it suits the game well and also makes me smile every time I hear it. What more can you ask for?

Special Note: I didn't record this great tune myself, I'm just an admirer, so all credit to, firstly the original composer, and secondly the YouTube user who uploaded it!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Steam / GOG Downloads #2

Instant Dungeon! (2013)
By: Simple Interactive Genre: Maze / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Android, iOS

Like many of you I'm sure, I have amassed quite a large collection of games on Steam, Good Old Games, and similar services over the past few years, and also like many of you I suspect, I have yet to play most of them. It's about time I did though, and I figured that good old Red Parley gave me the perfect excuse as always. The first I have chosen is this, a cheapie purchase I saw on Steam which looked like one I might enjoy. This is mainly on account of it being an overhead-viewed maze game, a genre I generally find very appealing, and one that I was glad to find indie developers haven't forgotten about either.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Film Review #93

Central Intelligence (2016)
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet, Alrahim Wright, Jason Bateman

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 116 Minutes

Tagline: "Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson"

You know, I don't think there is any actor I have heard more about in the last couple of years than Kevin Hart. Some people seem to love him, some seem to hate him, but however you feel about him he certainly seems to be cropping up rather a lot lately. Personally, until very recently I had never (knowingly) seen one of his films so my judgement was reserved for the time being. I am, however, something of a fan of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson so I figured this recent release would be the perfect film with which to break my Hart duck. It starts off with their final high school senior assembly - Calvin 'Golden Jet' Joyner (Hart) is the star pupil - super popular, winner of just about everything, and voted 'most likely to succeed' by his classmates; Robbie Wheirdicht (Johnson) is... well, the opposite - an awkward, overweight, lonely loser.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

San Francisco's Gaming Gem - Part 3

Okay, just a quickie (giggity) for this somewhat belated third and final part of my look at the wonderful Musée Mécanique in San Francisco. I've already written about the museum generally and also taken a closer look at some of the games I played, so to wrap things up, here is a selection of some of the photos I took while there. It certainly doesn't show everything they have, and it looks like they've already made some additions since my visit, but it still gives you a good idea of the wonders housed within. If you get the chance, you really need to check this place out...

Monday, 7 November 2016

Computer Shmups #4

N.O.M.A.D. (1985)
By: Ocean Genre: Shooting / Maze Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum  First Day Score: 10,355
Also Available For: Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64

It seems like a loong time ago now that I spent most of my evenings in front of my trusty Spectrum. In retrospect, they probably would've been better spent doing homework but never mind! One of the first of its games to ensnare me, and one of the very first video games to ever do so therefore, was this one which was actually a freebie that came bundled with the computer. It's a flick-screen multi-directional shooter set within TALOS, a man-made asteroid which is apparently 'spreading evil through the universe' thanks to its chief occupant, the 'unspeakably vile' Cyrus T.Gross. To combat this terror, the 'rulers of the Free Worlds' have sent in N.O.M.A.D. (Nemesis Organisation Mobile Attack Droid), a floaty shooty robot to blow everything up and kill him. I guess we're ignoring whatever judicial system is used in this part of space for now then, so let's get killing!