Saturday, 31 July 2010

Film Review #8

D.E.B.S. (2004)
Director: Angela Robinson Starring: Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Meagan Good, Devon Aoki, Jill Richie, Jimmi Simpson, Geoff Stults, Holland Taylor, Michael Clarke Duncan

Certificate: 12  Running Time: 88 Minutes

Tagline: "They're crime-fighting hotties with killer bodies"

Just when you thought you'd seen just about every kind of spy film possible, it's time to think again... Prepare yourself for... the D.E.B.S! Apparently, there is a secret test hidden within the SAT exams that measures an applicant's ability to fight, cheat, lie, and steal. Students who score high enough are plucked from high school to join a paramilitary unit called the D.E.B.S - Discipline, Energy, Beauty, Strength - whose job it is to protect us all from the world's 'Super Villians'! One particular team of D.E.B.S is nearing graduation from the Academy just as the criminal mastermind, Lucy Diamond re-emerges from the Super Villian wilderness.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Game Gallery #1

Puzzle Bobble (1994)
Arcade Version - full review here

Welcome to a new Red Parsley feature - the Game Gallery! These pages will feature lots of screenshots of a particular game showcasing all of its levels and features, intro sequence (if there is one), the game ending (if I can finish it!), and anything else that could be deemed remotely noteworthy.

One of my reasons for doing this is due to the scarcity of existing screenshots. When I first started writing game reviews, you see, I found it really difficult to find decent quality shots, and many of the ones I did find were tagged, most often by people/websites that had no business doing so. This infuriates me. So, I started grabbing my own and, unlike so many other selfish tossers on the net, anyone is welcome to take my screenshots and use them for whatever they like. It would be nice if I could get a namecheck or something in return, but if not - no problem!

Anyway, the popularity (or lack thereof) of this post will determine whether I can be arsed to do more or not, so if you like it - let me know! I'll start off with something fairly easy - Puzzle Bobble - the short but fun colour-matching puzzle game by the mighty Taito which is reviewed in full here! Enjoy :)

Pics are all thumbnailed and are 640px wide at full size :)

Title/Intro Pics:

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Top Five Master System Shmups

Shoot 'em ups have long been one of my favourite genres and one that I probably own most examples of. The fact that my recent 'Top Five MegaDrive Shmups' post has been my most popular yet indicates I'm not alone! I also seem to have sparked a craze for compiling shmup lists, with all and sundry now apparently listing their own favourites, including my friend Graeme (Jdanddiet) here! So, continuing the theme, I thought I'd return to my first console, and here's my choices:

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. Cloud Master (1989)

I never really had much interest in this one due to the average scores it seemed to get in reviews, but when I actually played it I discovered that I (at least) really liked it! One of the reasons for this could be the highly varied and imaginative enemies which seem to be straight out the Fantasy Zone school of weirdness (although not quite as psychedelic!), but it's got a rather unique premise too with a young fellow seeking to learn the secrets of the five lands in order to become a wizard. The graphics are really nice and include some fantastic sprites, the music's not bad either, but it's just one of those games that's really enjoyable to play too. Besides, where else can you ride around on a cloud?

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Gaming Memories - Part 2

Hayling Island beach...
Soon after my encounter with OutRun in Devon had instigated my passion for arcade games, I had developed a keen interest in the previously ignored amusement arcades in which they dwelt. Coincidentally, it wasn't much longer before some good fortune befell me. My good friend Stu and his family had started taking family trips to nearby Hayling Island every Sunday so his dad could practise his windsurfing (indeed, Hayling is supposedly where the sport was invented), and he had kindly invited me to tag along for the day.

Hayling Island itself is a fairly small, roughly 'upside-down T' shaped island located next to Portsea Island on which the city of Portsmouth is located. Whilst mostly a residential island, it's also home to some nice beaches (including a nice sandy one, unlike Portsmouth!) as well as some other facilities mostly used in the summer months such as cafes, beach huts, sand dunes, and the Beachlands funfair and arcade as well as several more arcades.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Film Review #7

Into the Wild (2007)
Director: Sean Penn Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Brian H. Dierker, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook, Jim Gallien

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 142 Minutes

Tagline: "Your Great Adventure on Alaska"

Hands up who's ever felt like dropping everything and just disappearing off the face of the Earth to live a totally different life? I'm sure most of us have considered it more than once before realising the impracticality of such a venture. Into the Wild, a true story incidentally, is the tale of a young man who has no such second thoughts. After growing up in a turbulent family in West Virginia, Christopher McCandless (Hirsch) graduates from college with near straight A's and then... disappears...

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Top Five Fizzy Drinks

Despite the fact that they gradually destroy your teeth whether you brush them or not, I'm sure we all love a nice cold fizzy drink when it's hot. Here are my favourites:

5. Lemon Tango
This one has become something of a rarity but unlike all the other flavours of Tango, this one actually is tangy! --pause-- (returns after some research)... It now transpires that Lemon Tango has been discontinued, hence it's rarity. :( I'm sure I found some about a year ago. Oh well, you'll be missed, tasty Lemon Tango, your less tangy but nearly equally splendid tasting brothers will have to suffice!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Platform / Puzzle Games #2

Penguin Land (1987)
By: Sega Genre: Platform / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Master System  First Day Score: 9,450
Also Available For: Sega SG-1000, ColecoVision

Back in the late 80's when my beloved Master System was my console of choice, I was rarely able to add to my game collection. I had around 8 games, mostly considered classics nowadays and highly rated back then. As I spent time looking through the magazines of the day, there were, however, always a few games that I wanted but was never able to get my hands on. Penguin Land was among these. Despite the unspectacular scores it generally received in the magazines, I found myself taken by the premise and screenshots and decided that I had to have it! This was, I suspect, mainly due to my fondness for platform/puzzle games, but it wasn't until many years later - around 10 in fact - that I finally got round to buying it. Was it worth the wait?

Friday, 23 July 2010

N64 Driving / Racing Games #1

Wave Race 64 (1996)
By: Nintendo EAD Genre: Racing Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo 64 
Also Available For: Nothing 
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

As I recall, during the mid-to-late 90s there was a mini-craze for jet-ski racing games. Most of the more extravagant ones were monstrous arcade behemoths complete with actual jet-skis to sit on and be thrown around by as you play. If one game can be singled out as starting this craze, it could well be Wave Race 64, which ironically has never even graced an amusement arcade (to the best of my meagre knowledge anyway). It's actually the second game of the series after the lesser-known Game Boy outing, having been initially unveiled in 1995 and released a year later alongside the Nintendo 64 itself. Having such a game as a launch title alongside Super Mario 64, amongst others, you could be forgiven for thinking that it would be somewhat over-shadowed, but many gamers revelled in the amazingly realistic water-based racing action offered by Miyamoto-san's other launch title, and with good reason.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Puzzle Games #1

Puzzle Bobble (a.k.a. Bust-A-Move) (1994)
By: Taito  Genre: Puzzle  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 190,900
Also Available For: PlayStation, 3DO, SNK Neo Geo, Neo Geo Pocket, SNES, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, Sega Game Gear, PC, Bandai WonderSwan... also featured on various compilations and download services

I think it's safe to say that Bubble Bobble has stood the test of time well and is rightly regarded as an all-time classic. It's also safe to say that it has perhaps remained Taito's most popular series. There have been numerous conversions of the games to home systems, particularly Bubble Bobble itself, and some of these conversions have appeared on newer systems in just the last few years. There have also been a number of 'updates' or 'remixes' of these famous games such as the Evolution/Revolution games on the PSP and DS. It's odd though, that there had been no all-new, original games from Taito starring their most beloved of characters until Puzzle Bobble appeared. In spite of the fact that the second and third games in the original platform-based series (Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars) feature Bub and Bob as their real human selves, is it their appearance as dragons in the original that most gamers most fondly remember. It is fitting then, that the latest game to feature Bob and Bob returns them to that popular guise.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Platform / Puzzle Games #1

Morph (1993)
By: Millennium Interactive  Genre: Platform / Puzzle   Players: Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga  First Day Score: 38,950
Also Available For: Amiga CD32, SNES

Hey! Who remembers Morph? He was a weird brown thing made from plasticine who changed shape and lived in a box and who had his own TV show when I was a kid. I think only British readers will know who I'm referring to, but whether you remember him or not is irrelevant because this game is nothing to do with him! This Morph is a boy, Ralph Morris, who helps his crackpot uncle (called Professor Krakenpot, appropriately enough!) to test his new teleporting machine. The test inevitably goes wrong and alters his molecular state, leaving him in a 'state of limbo'. Happily for us, however, this results in a type of game that was fairly common on the Amiga - a 2D scrolling platform puzzle game!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Film Review #6

Broken Arrow (1996)
Director: John Woo Starring: John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Delroy Lindo, Bob Gunton, Howie Long

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 104 Minutes

Tagline: "Prepare to Go Ballistic"

It was in 1994 that a little film called Pulp Fiction reminded the world that John Travolta exists. After over a decade in the relative wilderness, thanks to QT, he was finally 'cool' again. At this point, of course, the fickle movie business decided he was once again 'hot property' and inevitably, there soon followed a glut of films starring him. Some, of course, were utter nonsense, apparently made purely to have something out there with his name attached. Some others were actually pretty
good. Which was Broken Arrow?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Top Five MegaDrive Shmups

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!

If I review any MD shmups in my upcoming feature that get really high scores, they don't appear in this Top Five because I hadn't played them before! (a.k.a covering my arse!)

5. Fire Shark (1990)

Flying Shark, in my view, is among the finest vertical scrollers of all-time so it's a shame it never saw a release on a system able to do it justice such as the MD. I guess we'll have to settle for the game considered its unofficial sequel - Fire Shark! Still, it's not much of a sacrifice as this game retains the basic premise and many of the distinctive features from its forebear and adds a few more of its own for good measure! It's true that the graphics and sound do not represent the pinnacle of MegaDrive achievements but they're not bad, and this is still an enjoyable, if slightly easy, vertical-scroller packed with tons of airborne and ground-based targets to lay waste to.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Budget Games #2

Caves of Doom, The (1985)
By: Mr. Chip Software / Mastertronic Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum  First Day Score: 112
Also Available For: Nothing

As one of the first budget games I ever played, this title is planted firmly in my memories of the trusty Speccy, but another reason is its toughness: "Whilst exploring the planet Doom you were captured by the guards of the ruthless Lords of Darkness. You are now imprisoned in caves deep within the bowels of Doom but are determined to escape. To do so you must find five keys, one of which is in three pieces, which are scattered around the caves. However the odds are laid against you as the Lord of Darkness has laid traps in the caves and has sent many thousands of his bloodthirsty minions to thwart your mission. You are unarmed and, therefore, must use your wits to avoid certain death on Doom..." Well, that's all according to the cassette inlay, anyway! You'd think with a name like 'Planet Doom', people would be a bit more cautious before engaging in exploratory tomfoolery.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Overhead Racers #3

Cobra Triangle (1988)
By: Rare Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: NES  First Day Score: 168,250
Also Available For: Nothing

One of the reasons I decided to start covering this genre of games is that it's one I've enjoyed immensely in the past, but so far this enjoyment has been limited only to a handful of titles. There are still many I haven't actually played before, so what better excuse to start? For the third game in the feature, I thought I'd take a look at one that tried to do something a little bit different. Enter Rare. This NES-exclusive is a bit unusual for an overhead racer for several reasons. Not least of these is the fact that it's single-player only! That's right, the feature that is often the main appeal of games of this nature is entirely absent! Do not despair, however - much has done by our ever-reliable friends at Rare to ensure the longevity of this, one of their first forays into the racing genre and, for a change, it features not cars but speedboats!

MegaDrive Shmups #1

Battle Squadron (1990)
By: Innerprise Software / Electronic Arts  Genre: Shooting   Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis  First Day Score: 200,700
Also Available For: Amiga

The days of the 16-Bit Console Wars were an interesting time to be a gamer. If the SNES was better at one type of game, the MegaDrive was better at another. One area in which many agree the MD had a firmer foothold is that of the shoot 'em up. Yes, the SNES had some blinding examples of the genre, but the MD won the day through sheer weight of numbers. An early example of the vertical scrolling shooter on the MD is Battle Squadron, a product of the bygone era of bedroom coders which saw many talented enthusiasts try their hand at that programming lark. Most games resulting from these endeavours were of course very limited, but on the odd, rare occasion, something much more interesting would emerge. Battle Squadron's success was probably not that immense, but Martin Pedersen did well enough from it to enable him to help form Innerprise Software who subsequently went on to develop several more titles.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Top Five Ugliest Cars

5 -Tata Nano
Created by Indian company, Tata, the Nano is currently the cheapest car in the world to buy brand new. As you might imagine, it's specs reflect that, with a 624cc engine which generates a mere 35bhp, and it only has the absolute minimum of interior features. The boot doesn't even open - it has to be accessed from inside the car! All this is understandable for its price though, but did they really have to make it look so hideous?

4 - Fiat Multipla
Good old Fiat. They're never ones to make conventional-looking vehicles, are they? I guess they're relying on the old "Oh, it's Italian, it must be artistic!" cliche. Well sorry Fiat, but this offering is a monstrosity! What's with the bit under the windscreen? Granted, the second-generation model looks a lot nicer and does away with this weird bit but still! This version regularly appears on 'ugly car' polls and with good reason - the Multipla is a MultiFAIL!

3 - Ford Ka
I was a bit surprised when I first saw this stupid thing from Ford. Their cars are usually decent enough, if unspectacular, but this pretentiously-named 'Ka' (definitely NOT pronounced the same as 'Car' by me) looks like a wedge of cheese balanced on marbles! The 'Sport' Ka and 'Street' Ka (both all of 93bhp) look even more annoying. Like the Fiat, however, the new version of the Ka is a vast improvement.

2 - Citroen 2CV
This post-WW2 designed car was a monument to minimalism, and very typically French. It's practicality is to be begrudgingly respected but as a modern car it's just ridiculous! The headlights stick out on little stalks, the roof is a bit of cloth that you can push back, the wheels are about 2 inches wide, the windows don't open but instead fold in half... It's just such a horrible little car. It was orginially designed as an "umbrella on wheels" to take French farmers to market and back. You know what? They should've kept it to themselves!

1. Smart
Well, after many, many years as my most hated car, if the Citroen 2CV was ever to be toppled from its lofty perch, it would take something very special. So step forward... Mercedes? How can the designers of some of the automobile world's finest vehicles be responsible for this... I can't even find the words to describe it! This... affront to all that exists! But yes, sadly it's true. Mercedes, in collaboration with Swatch (they of weird wristwatches) unveiled this in 1998 and the world has been a worse place since. If aliens made first contact with Humans, out of all the things in the world, out of all the things we've been responsible for, this pathetic thing is what I'd be most embarrassed by. Plus, if you crash in one at speed, you're screwed!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Film Review #5

Robin Hood (2010)
Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Alan Doyle, Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand, Danny Huston

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 140 Minutes

Tagline: The untold story behind the legend.

Admittedly I don't buy the movie magazines like I used to but this one seemed to pop up out of nowhere for me! Once I found out about it though, the expectation and excitement immediately began to surface. How could they not? What film fan wouldn't be at least intrigued by the prospect of another Ridley Scott / Russell Crowe collaboration to begin with, let alone a Robin Hood one? Perhaps it would end up being a big ol' Summer Blockbuster along the same lines as the fantastic Gladiator! Or would it be a more cerebral piece like American Gangster? One things's for sure - anyone expecting a retelling of the classic tale is in for a surprise, for the yarn this film spins is in effect a prequel to that oft-told legend.