Thursday, 30 June 2016

F-Zero Series - Part 9

Well, it's been a few years now since I last took a look at the F-Zero series here at Red Parsley, mainly because I've already covered every instalment, but I still enjoy playing each of them to one degree or another. The Nintendo 64 game is without question my favourite but few gamers would argue that it was the SNES original that had the biggest impact, and for those of us that grew up with it, every corner of every course is consigned to memory. Despite that, I still fancied revisiting them and thought it might be worth taking a closer look at all of them. Therefore, whether it stands to cause pangs of nostalgia, or perhaps even give new insight into a game you (somehow) knew little about, here are the courses of F-Zero...

Knight League - Mute City I

This much-visited location, presumably the location of the F-Zero league head-quarters, is the 'biggest city on all the Space Federation Planets' and is where each of the three leagues start. Its first course is obviously the simplest, featuring nothing trickier than a right-angle turn, a ramp which might send an inexperienced racer over the edge of the course, and a hairpin to round off the lap, but overall Mute City shouldn't cause any problems on even the highest difficulty level...

Friday, 24 June 2016

Wonder Boy Series - Part 1

Wonder Boy (1986)
By: Westone / Sega Genre: Platform / Action Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 83,140
Also Available For: Master System, SG-1000, Game Gear, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: Wii Virtual Console, Sony PSN

It has now been more than 6 years that I've been bumbling around with this blog, but all that time ago when I first started planning it, for some reason I intended to start by reviewing Wonder Boy. This is a bit odd since it's a game I've never really played properly. It was most likely with the intention of then reviewing the other Wonder Boy games afterwards, most of which I have played, and enjoyed very much, but whatever the reason, it has taken me all this time to get around to it. One thing I already knew about Wonder Boy's debut quest is that it involves the rescue of his precious girlfriend, Tina, who has been abducted by some evil monkey-spank known simply as King. Keen to regain her warm companionship, our impressively-crested hero sets out on a 'long and hazardous journey' in pursuit of the felonious King, and unfortunately the journey is indeed that, spanning some seven side-scrolling areas each split into four danger-filled rounds.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Film Round-Up #15

The Hobbit (2012 - 2014)
Directed By: Peter Jackson Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Manu Bennett, Sylvester McCoy, Billy Connolly, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis

Certificate: 15 Running Time: Approx 474 minutes

I am often asked what my favourite film of all time is. There are many contenders, but my answer lies with a series that has had a bigger emotional impact on me than any other. And that's what films are all about, right? Making you feel stuff, whether that's joy, sadness, fear, anger, or simply making your heart fill up like a balloon (to quote another of my favourite films) for no apparent reason. That's what happens when I watch The Lord of the Rings. I don't just sit there gawping at the TV - I actually feel invested in the adventure; in the characters, even the 'evil' ones. So, as I often find myself saying, if I'm allowed to choose a trilogy as my favourite 'film', it would have to be that one. Imagine how ecstatic I felt, therefore, to hear a few years back that we would have the chance to return to Middle Earth in the form of a new trilogy which was on the way too!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Cover Art: Sega Mark III - Part 1

I haven't posted as many cover-art comparisons as I would have liked here at Red Parsley yet, but even without having featured many systems (yet), I don't think many would argue that the one with the greatest differences in regional cover art must surely be Sega's Master System. Despite their dreadfulness, I have a certain affection for the covers our MS games had over here in the UK, but while doing the comparison posts it became clear that many of the Japanese Mark III games are quite superb. I therefore thought it might be swell to share what I believe to be all of them here with all of you splendid fellows. They aren't all great quality, sadly, but they're the best copies I could find. Here are the first 40 covers - the rest will follow in Part 2 of the post. Hope you like them!

Action Fighter...
After Burner...

Monday, 13 June 2016

Mental Cars Round-Up #1

Everyone loves mental cars. Even if you never get to own one (most of us); even if you never get to drive one (some of us); they're still great to look at pictures of or watch on TV shows like Top Gear. In recent years we've been treated to some of the most insane examples yet. For this first post on the subject, I thought I'd take a look at some of the best to come from the USA. It is the land of excess after all!

Saleen S7

Although they aren't that well known this side of the Atlantic, I had of course still heard of Saleen, mainly because of their awesome Mustangs and other reworked versions of other company's cars. The S7, however - the first all original car Saleen made - only recently came to my attention and the first thing that struck me about it was its amazing looks. Just look at it - it almost looks like one of those sports-prototype racers! It has the performance to match the looks too - the twin-turbo version has a 7.0L V8 producing 750 HP that sends it all the way to 248mph! Check out the highly-limited cherry red version of it too, it looks even better.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

SNES Shmups #5

Super Aleste a.k.a. Space Megaforce (1992)
By: Compile / Toho Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES First Day Score: 4,440,470
Also Available For: Nothing

I've liked shmups pretty much ever since I've liked video games. One of the first I really got into was a vertical-scroller called Power Strike and it was my favourite for a long time. So much so, in fact, that it wasn't until quite a few years later that I found a similar game I liked as much. That game was, believe it or not, Super Aleste which, as it turned out even more years later, was a sequel (of sorts) to my old friend Power Strike which I had discovered was better known to some as... Aleste! Indeed, like the first entry in the series, this SNES-exclusive came with an alternative name too, this time for American gamers who know it as Space Megaforce (why do they so often choose such generic names?) but for me it was the first Aleste game to (knowingly) grace my bedroom and it was... pretty good! I guess I'm getting a bit ahead of myself now though, this is supposed to be a review after all!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Retro News - Another New Wonder Boy Game!

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap by Lizardcube / DotEmu (2016) - PC

As some of you might know, having covered it twice already (here and here), I have been awaiting FDG Entertainment's update/reboot of the great Wonder Boy with much enthusiasm. It is based on and expands upon the epic third game in the series, The Dragon's Trap, and it really is looking wonderful. However, it now appears that FDG were not the only ones with the idea, for as recently revealed after a teaser countdown, there's another new Wonder Boy game on the way too! This one, developed by Lizardcube and published by those fine folk over at DotEmu, is apparently a direct remake rather than a new adventure based on the original, but that's just fine with me.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Film Review #88

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Director: Shane Black Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, Paul Bettany

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 125 Minutes

Tagline: "Even heroes fall."

I think it's safe to say the first Iron Man film was rather well received and is still widely regarded as one of the best of all MCU films, while the second, though not matching the greatness of the first, was still a pretty darn good film. Both of them, however, were effectively intended to build up to the release of The Avengers. This third film was the first MCU movie to be released after that great ensemble effort, however, and while it is itself part of the build up the second Avengers film, the expectations were now sky-high. Could it possibly live up to them? The trailer certainly looked very promising and I think everyone just assumed without question that it would another superbly-entertaining adventure for Tony and friends, myself included.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Retro News - Classic Game, New Conversion!

The Spectrum was my main source of gaming for so long that it's really hard to pick one single favourite game for it, but one title that has always been up there is Head Over Heels. It was originally made for the Speccy and remains associated with the system more than any other despite being converted to many other formats of the day. There was a fancy remake for the PC a good few years ago now (available here if you're interested) but it's the conversions for the older systems that I've been looking at. One was for the MSX and that version, like many others, looks very much like the original, but now there's a version for the mighty MSX2 as well.

It arrives courtesy of FX Software, a Spanish homebrew developer I believe (I haven't really been able to find much info on him/them) who have already remade Batman, the spiritual predecessor of this game. This latest project has been followed with much interest by the MSX community and recently came to my attention as well, simply because it's Head Over Heels. And Head Over Heels is well awesome. But it also looks like a really nice version of Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond's wonderful game. The latter's lovely monochrome graphics were positively brimming with creativity and character and suited the Speccy perfectly but, as alluded to earlier, most of the other versions were not really adapted to utilise that system's strengths and were instead very close to the Speccy version. Some had the odd splash of colour here and there while others were seemingly direct ports, and consequently, despite being universally adored, it's not really a game that's been regarded as much of a looker.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Steam / GOG Downloads #1

Pang Adventures (2016)
By: DotEmu / Pastagames Genre: Shooting / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: PS4, Xbox One, Android, iOS

As you may recall from the preview here a few months back, one of the numerous retro-flavoured indie projects I've been looking forward to is the latest game to feature the Pang name. Some of you may be more familiar with the series by its rather annoying American name, Buster Bros, but whatever you knew it as (and I'd like to applaud the use of the correct name here), it sure is great to see it back. Unsurprisingly it's more of a reboot than a sequel and follows a similar format to the original game: aliens have invaded and unleashed their devastating 'attack balls' on the world's major cities. It's your job (and an optional friend's) to take them all out by bursting them with your harpoon gun.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Film Round-Up #14

Well, I think it's safe to say that if any time is 'Leo Time', it's right now. Fresh off his remarkable performance in The Revenant and having been the talk of the town (and subject of countless Facebook memes) in the subsequent few weeks, the profile of Leonardo DiCaprio has surely never been higher than it is right now? Of course, it doesn't hurt that he has finally (belatedly?) received the Oscar for Best Actor thanks to his turn as the determined (to put it mildly) Hugh Glass.

Is it his best performance? Probably. But is it his most entertaining film to date? I guess that's down to personal taste, but perhaps not. Either way, I figured this was an appropriate time to find that out so I've been looking back at some of his previous films. Here are the first few I've watched with more probably to be seen soon!

The Beach (2000)

One of the first of Leo's films since a Titanic-fuelled career boost was this Danny Boyle-directed effort, adapted from Alex Garland's novel of the same name, and stars him as an American back-packer who, in Thailand, is given directions to a beautiful-but-forbidden island. Of course, he goes there and finds a small community of fellow back-packers living self-sufficiently. He is allowed to stay and join their community, but only if he keeps it secret. All goes well for a while but naturally their perfect little paradise is eventually disrupted by first a tragic incident, then an innocent (at the time) indiscretion. This makes it very much a film of two halves and I enjoyed the first a lot. Leo's character, while as charming as always, is also a bit of an arrogant twonk, but it's still one of those films that makes you want to be there for real. The community's lifestyle is made to look very appealing and the scenery is stunning, but then the tone of the film changes completely in the second half which pretty much destroys what it had built up. I suppose the point is to abruptly take you out of your comfort zone, and it works, but it's done very clumsily and nearly ruins the film for me... 6/10

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Indie News / Previews #2 (Part 2)

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom by FDG Entertainment (2015) - PC

Some of you might recall a short news/preview item I posted here a while ago regarding what could end up being one of the most awesome indie games ever - Monster Boy, a kind of remake/sequel to the great Wonder Boy games of the past. And now, a tad more a year since the previous post, I found myself wondering where it had gotten to. It was due for release sometime during 2015 after all, but alas. Fearing the worst, I looked into it and found that it's merely delayed rather than cancelled. It has undergone a name change, with 'Cursed Kingdom' replacing 'Wizard of Booze' in the title, but it's very much still underway. In fact, it's looking very much like it's nearly ready...

Monday, 18 April 2016

Bomberman Series - Part 13

Bomberman '94 a.k.a. Mega Bomberman (1993)
By: Hudson Soft  Genre: Maze  Players: 1-5  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16  First Day Score: 71,100
Also Available For: MegaDrive
Download For: Wii Virtual Console, PlayStation Network

This amazingly awesome series had taken a detour to SNES-ville since its last PCE instalment but it was probably still its last entry on NEC's wonderful box of tricks that was considered the best. It retained the same basic gameplay as the rest of the series but the visuals, audio, and stage design were all better than ever. So much so, in fact, that it was hard to see how the format could be improved any further. That didn't stop Hudson from making a swift return to their favourite system to try though. Expectations would be higher than ever but initial impressions were very positive. Having said that, the link-up mode present in '93 seems to be missing from the title screen here but the more important 'Normal' and 'Battle' games are present and correct, and it's also hard not to notice a green kangaroo-like creature present here as well, being ridden by an excited-looking White Bomberman. What in the blue blazes could that be? I shall henceforth find out.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Real Life Getting In The Way Again...

Oh, hello there, how's stuff n junk? :) As some of you have seemingly noticed, Red Parsley has been somewhat bereft of new posts lately. There are several reasons for this - the loss of my job, a couple of personal problems, and an ongoing health issue have naturally meant my now-abundant spare time has been taken up dealing with those matters, and I've also recently been on another holiday with my lovely wife.

As I'm sure won't be a surprise to those who know me, the latest trip was once again to Brazil where we took in Brasilia (for the 5th time), Rio de Janeiro (for the 2nd time), and Buzios (for the 1st time). The latter is a small, jagged peninsula located within Rio de Janeiro state about 2-3 hours from the city after which it was named. Here we had rented a villa/cottage-type thing along with some of the wife's family and a couple of her friends and, while offering a wonderful distraction from life's... complications, what with the swimming pool and barbecue and game room and glorious beaches just a few minutes away, I still found I couldn't truly relax. Other matters were weighing on my mind I suppose, and sadly this feeling of disconcertment continued upon our return home and endures right up to the present day, to my not inconsiderable anguish.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Star Trek #13

Voyager Favourite Episodes - Season Six

As I mentioned in the last Voyager-related post, the fifth season was definitely the best so far. Having now gone through the sixth season as well, I'd say my previous assessment remains true. That isn't to say this season is bereft of greatness though, for there are lots of great moments and more than just five good episodes too.

Other episodes included as varied stories as usual: some of the other drones from Seven's unimatrix turn up seeking the same independence she now enjoys, B'Elanna dies and goes to Klingon hell (temporarily of course), Tom becomes obsessed with an alien shuttle he buys to fix up, Tuvok becomes friends with Neelix after suffering brain damage, the Delta Flyer gets stuck inside a weird orange 'graviton ellipse' thing which previously swallowed a 21st century NASA command module, Seven goes crazy and turns into a conspiracy theorist, the crew bumble around in their stupid Irish holodeck town, the Doctor becomes a revered opera singer, and in one interesting episode, Chakotay, Tom, Harry, and Neelix all begin suffering from horrifying flashbacks of being engaged in a bloody battle when they return from an away mission, and before long, everyone else starts having flashbacks too!