Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Game Gallery #6

Thunder Force 2 by Techno Soft (1991) - MegaDrive

My love of Techno Soft's Thunder Force series is well known by regular readers here at Red Parsley and while the third game is definitely my favourite, I've always retained a lot of affection for this second game too. So, after a recent play-through of the tough son-of-a-gun, I managed to get a few screenshots as well and, in accordance with my crusade against the wanky websites that tag their shots, here are the results of my endeavours for your viewing pleasure!

Title and 'Secret' Config Screen:

Photobucket Photobucket

Monday, 27 February 2012

Run 'n' Gun Games #5

GunForce: Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island (1991)
By: Irem Genre: Run 'n' Gun Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 224,700
Also Available For: Nintendo SNES

Whether they involve complex strategies or just straight-out chaotic shooting, war games are almost always an exciting proposition. Some of them are based on real conflicts through history, or even assumed ones in our future, but others give you few details of your cause, just or not. This early 90's effort from Irem is apparently one of the latter. It's a two-player game starring two unnamed soldiers. The brief intro sequence shows one or both of them parachuting from a plane into what appears to be a jungle. I guess that means it could be a game based on the Vietnam War, or perhaps a battle to oust a South American or African dictator, although I'm not convinced it's any of these judging from some of the equipment up for grabs! Wherever (or whenever) it is though, you're now deep behind enemy lines and thrust straight into the action.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Top Five Smells

Having so many different senses is wonderful but I think many of us would agree - if you had to lose one, it would probably be smell. Sight, hearing, and touch are all much more useful in everyday life and, while people who unfortunately lose one of these, or even never have it start with, do adapt to the loss (or absence), it does present a challenge. This wouldn't be the case if someone lost the ability to smell things but it would deprive them of many lovely aromas. Here are the first five splendid ones that popped into my head:

5 - Coffee Brewing

Until very recently I didn't even drink coffee - it always seemed to make me thirsty when I tried it which is the opposite of what a drink should do, surely? Regardless of whether I drank it or not though, the smell of it brewing, in one of those fancy machines, preferably, always made me want some. Hmmmm...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Computer Platform Games #4

Onslaught (1989)
By: Hewson Consultants Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga
Also Available For: MegaDrive, Atari ST, PC
Download For: Xbox Live Arcade, iOS

The years of the Atari ST and its age-old rival the Commodore Amiga were conflicting ones for me. For the first half of their tenure, my main system of choice was my trusty Speccy. As great as Sir Clive's marvel was, it couldn't hold a candle to 16-bit machines, technically. For the second half of their tenure, I was the proud owner of the all-powerful MegaDrive console where I found myself in the opposite situation. Whichever side of the fence I found myself on though, I always kept an interested eye on releases for the ST and Amiga and one that always intrigued me was Onslaught. It was available on both machines and looked suitably impressive for both. It wasn't long, however, until I learnt a valuable lesson - appearances can be deceptive...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Spectrum Round-Up #1

I recently took a look at some of the best shmups to be found on Sir Clive's little box of tricks but, as is usually the case with the 'Top Fives' here at Red Parsley, I try not to include arcade conversions in these lists unless they are of exceptional quality or if there's simply no other games to choose from! However, the Speccy was home to many arcade conversions including lots of shmups so over the course of a few 'Round-Ups', I'll take a look at those as well. Here's the first five, randomly-selected picks:

Gemini Wing (Tecmo, 1989)

I always remember this one getting some pretty harsh reviews in Speccy magazines of the day which put me off all versions for a while, but I enjoyed the arcade version when I reviewed it a while back and so return to this conversion with renewed hope, and it is... not so good after all! Graphically, the sprites and stages are reasonably accurate. They're monochrome but quite detailed and a fair few sprites can be buzzing around you at once. Unfortunately, they can also be rather confusing which doesn't help when the game is already noticeably harder than its arcade parent, including a ship that moves at inconsistent speeds. The sound isn't bad though. There's no in-game music but the title-screen tune is decent and the in-game effects aren't bad. The main notable feature of the arcade game was the 'Gunball' power-ups and I'm pleased to say they've made the transition but the one-button joysticks of the Spectrum means that to use a Gunball you need to hold down the fire button for a second. This results in them often being used by accident which is the only other issue I have with this conversion really. A good attempt but not quite good enough... 6/10 (full review here)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Scrolling Fighting Games #7

Black Belt a.k.a. Hokuto No Ken (1986)
By: Sega Genre: Fighting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Master System First Day Score: 209,100
Also Available For: Nothing Download For: Wii Virtual Console

It's not a real two-player mode - bah!
Back in the late 80's, my good friend Luke and I were both proud owners of Sega's Master System. We were both still at school though, so we couldn't afford new games very often, but we frequently ogled the games we wanted in the various magazines of the day, and on both of our lists was this exciting-sounding game by Sega. It's actually one of the first games by Yuki Naka who would later go on to head Sonic Team and was released earlier in the same year in Japan as a game based on the popular manga and anime series, Fist of the North Star. Rather than using this opportunity to introduce it to the rest of us though, its release in other territories saw a change in theme to the generic karate game we have before us. This was all unknown to Luke and I at the time of course, and despite the atrocious cover art (see here) it's a game I always found very enticing.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Cover Art: Master System - Part 4

So, despite the fact that my look at the wildly fluctuating quality of Master System covers was only supposed to comprise of two posts, my interest (and amusement) in the subject, or at least the chortlesome UK/US covers, has led to an extended feature. So, for the last time (probably), here's a look at another five beauties:

Quartet (1987)
I'm still undecided about this one. The UK/US cover is typically simple and shows very little, but what it does show manages a fairly decent indication of the game - most importantly that it's a side-viewed shooter and it's a two-player game. The Japanese cover is far superior artistically, of course, but it doesn't really give a hugely accurate portrayal - if I picked that from a shelf, I'd be expecting an into-the-screen tunnel shooter! Definitely looks nicer though...

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Film Review #38

Horrible Bosses (2011)
Director: Seth Gordon Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Julie Bowen, Donald Sutherland

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 98 Minutes

Tagline: "Is your boss a sex crazed maneater?"

I'm sure most straight guys (and gay women) would answer the question posed by this film's tagline with: "If she looked like Ms. Aniston - I wish!" I can't imagine for a minute that anything to do with this annoyingly-named film is supposed to be realistic though. Indeed, if you're looking for a work-related film that accurately depicts the daily struggles that most of us have to deal with, you might as well move on right now! This one starts off normally enough by introducing us to each of the titular bosses and their aggrieved staff members in turn. Nick (Bateman) works for a financial firm headed by the sadistic Dave (Spacey) who coaxes countless extra work hours out of Nick with the promise of promotion, Dale (Day) is a recently married dental assistant who's getting sexually-harassed by his perpetually-horny boss, Julia (Aniston), while Kurt (Sudeikis) actually loves working for his boss, Jack (Sutherland), but when Jack dies suddenly, the job of running the company falls to his son, Bobby (Farrell), an incompetent coke-head who also happens to despise Kurt.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Early Driving Games #6

Victory Run (1987)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx 16
Also Available For: Nothing
Download For: Wii Virtual Console, PlayStation Network

The PC Engine was a mighty fine console in its day, ground-breaking for an 8-bit machine really, and it was blessed with some fantastic games during its lifetime including dozens of quality shoot' em ups and arcade conversions, but one genre that was rather lacking on it was racing games, or more specifically, into-the-screen racing games. This could be for the same reason that inspired me to start this series of posts to start with - because they weren't usually very good! There is one that I always remember seeing in the early Mean Machines columns of C&VG and similar magazines though, and that was Victory Run. I don't believe it was a terribly successful game but the gaming press seemed to like it and that was enough for me. Or it should've been but, as with so many other games, I never got around to playing it!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Single Screen Platform Games #8

Rod-Land (1990)
By: Jaleco Genre: Platform Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 111,800 (one credit - tower game)
Also Available For: NES, Game Boy, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: iOS

Considering how much I like these cutesy single-screen platform games, it's nothing short of shocking that I hadn't played this one before until it popped into my head again a few weeks ago. In fact, aside from its slightly chortlesome name, I knew little of the game until that fateful day. All I knew is that it's cute and that it would fit in well with the theme of this series of reviews. Indeed, the former point is seemingly something the game revels in and is apparent from the moment it starts. Like most other games of this type, Rod-Land is set in a magical far-away place populated by all sorts of fantastical creatures. Among them are two fairies called Tam and Rit whose mother has just been kidnapped and taken to a giant tower by a being of terrifying evil. Since Rod-Land is apparently devoid of any kind of law-enforcement authority, it instead falls to the brave fairies to being her back safe and sound.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Top Five American Football Games

As an Englishman, I'm quite unusual in one way. Actually, I suspect I'm quite unusual in several ways but the one I'm presently thinking of is my keenness on America's stupidly-named-but-nonetheless-entertaining sport of 'Football', and since the SuperBowl is once again upon us, I find myself reminded of how I became interested in the sport to start with, and that was - video games! In all my years of gaming I've played just about every kind of game there is, but if there's one genre I just couldn't get into, it's sports games. I like many sports in real life but video games based on them just never seem to do it for me. Except for one - American Football! Actually, it's two as I like some golf games too, but in the case of the former it was actually playing games based on America's favourite sport that not only taught me the rules but also intrigued me enough to seek out the real sport as well which has now provided as many years of entertainment as the games themselves. I've now played a considerable number of them and here are my favourite five...

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. Tecmo Super Bowl (1991 - NES)

Since I didn't own Nintendo's grey toaster until long after its time has passed, this is by far my most recently-played game on this list despite being the second-oldest, but time has not diminished the enjoyment that it still provides aplenty. It's an over-head, side-scrolling effort and is notable for being the first officially licensed NFL game meaning gamers could play as their favourite team. The graphics are a little ropey with quite a bit of flicker but it doesn't hamper the gameplay too much which is a mixture of fast-paced, arcade-style action and more in-depth, strategic play. The presentation and audio creates a great atmosphere but the most impressive thing about this game is the number of options and play-modes - it even has a management option! It's quite basic as you might expect but impressive all the same!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Random Game I've Never Heard Of #4

Harricana (1990)
By: Loriciel Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Atari ST
Also Available For: Amiga, Amstrad CPC

See - even the title screen is in French...
The games I've taken a look at with the 'Random Game' feature so far have all been fairly obscure but there's not really any good reason why I shouldn't have heard of any of them. This latest selection, however, is quite a rarity for me as it's actually a French game. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, of course - I've played some cracking French games in my time such as Purple Saturn Day and Flashback to name just two - but Harricana was not only made by our croissant-loving neighbours but is apparently aimed at them as well. Or to be more specific, it seems to be aimed at French-Canadians, for the game is one of the rarest of all racing games - a snowmobile racing game! The existence of so few games of this type compared to pretty much every other kind of racing game made it an intriguing title to explore. To start with...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

PC Engine Shmups #6

Burning Angels (1990)
By: NAXAT Soft Genre: Shooting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: 167,860
Also Available For: Nothing

When I was a much younger and less-experienced gamer shmups were probably my favourite genre, but for some reason I was always under the impression that ones which allowed two-players to participate in the on-screen action simultaneously were rare and precious gems to be cherished beyond all others. In more recent years of course, I've discovered that they're far more common than I realised, and this effort from Naxat is another one. Ironically it was an exclusive release for NEC's fine machine, as many shmups were, which was an odd decision considering it's a machine which only has one controller port! So, only Engine owners who were lucky enough to own a multi-tap could play the game as Naxat intended, but was it really worth the effort? I seldom have the opportunity to play games like this with a second player so I'm hoping my hitherto smashing relationship with Naxat extends to this game and its single player mode as well!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Film Review #37

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
Director: Jonathan Liebesman Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo, Michael Peña

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 116 Minutes

Tagline: "It's not war. It's survival."

I don't think anyone would disagree that alien invasion films as a general concept have enormous potential for awesomeness, but somehow Hollywood doesn't seem to get them right very often, it seems to me at least. It's now time for another one and, as you may have guessed from the somewhat unsubtle title, it's the City of Angels which bears the brunt this time, at least as far as we, the viewers, are concerned. The film, you see, reveals that mysterious meteorites have started landing in the world's oceans, all of them, not coincidentally, near major cities. With barely any introduction of the main characters it quickly becomes apparent that these errant space-rocks are in fact something wholly more sinister - a suspicion confirmed when an unholy amount of destructive fire-power starts pounding the cities nearest to them including, of course, Los Angeles.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Master System Round-Up #1

'Great' Sports Games - Part 1

You know the habit games companies got into of releasing multiple installments of multiple games of multiple sports, often on multiple systems, but all part of the same series? Well, I could be wrong but I think Sega may have started it all with this very series for their splendid Master System console. All of the games in the series were already available by the time I got around to buying my Master System and I've never had a huge amount of interest in sports games, something partly caused by an overwhelmingly indifferent reception in the case of these particular games, so I still hadn't played them until very recently for this very feature. Can they be as bad as I've heard or are they unjustly cast aside? Bravely, I shall venture forth:

Great Soccer (1985)

As far as I can tell, this was the very first game in the 'Great' range and, since I've never really liked 'soccer' (i.e. football) games before for some reason, I wasn't expecting to like this one either. It's a little surprising as a first release too - the sport wasn't especially popular in Japan or the US at that time after all! The action is viewed from overhead and scrolls up and down the length of the pitch and you can choose from three difficulties before starting a game. The players are all rather squat and almost super-deformed in appearance but look quite appealing, but sadly my first impressions soon went downhill. When in possession of the ball, the players kick it a short distance ahead rather than dribble it so it's hard to keep hold of it for one thing. The goalies are human-controlled too, although I didn't know that to start with (hence the score deficit in the screenshot!) and passing and goal kicks are hard to execute well too. The controls in general aren't very responsive actually, which sadly makes Great Soccer a frustrating and rather futile experience.... 3/10