Saturday, 29 December 2012

Happy New Year!

It's that time of year again and, although I'm a bit late in saying so, I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! This is now the third 'festive season' since I started Red Parsley and, unlike last year when I was in Brazil for a month, this year I'm spending it all at home. For that reason, I didn't bother 'saving up' any features or reviews to post over the holidays like last year as I assumed I would have time to write some. This has turned out to not be the case as a few regular readers here have noticed! As well as spending time with my lovely wife, we actually have some friends staying with us which has been really nice but has also unexpectedly deprived me of any blogging time I might otherwise have had!

Helpfully, however, our guests include a great friend of my wife and her husband who, as chance would have it, is a big gamer himself. Unsurprisingly, this means he likes PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii rather than twenty or thirty year old games like me but it has given me another of the pushes I so often need to try some of the so-called games for one of these new fangled machines, namely my seldom-used PS3. The results of this will probably make up a post here in the near future but for now I just wanted to offer my thanks to all my regular readers for your support and to convey my warmest seasonal greetings, even if I am rather late on one count!

It's been quite a year here at Red Parsley - there was the 200th review a while back and the 500th post just recently, amongst other things - and I hope you'll join me in making it an even better year next time around.


Friday, 21 December 2012

500th Post!!

Well, like it or not, Red Parsley has been clogging up the world of retro-gaming blogs for over two and a half years now and I've now arrived at my possibly-prestigious 500th post! I won't start spouting clichés like 'where has the time gone?' or 'seems like yesterday that I started' because, to be honest, they're not true. I can barely remember not having this splendid excuse to play loads of classic (and plenty of not-so-classic) retro games and babble incoherently on about them. It almost seems like I've always been doing it and I'm not really sure what I spent my spare time doing before. Having said that, Red Parsley was started at almost the same time as I switched from a very physical night job with long hours to an office day job so I'm sure the sudden increase in my spare time has helped.

Red Parsley has made me pretty busy nonetheless, but I've also enjoyed it very much. I would say I've enjoyed every minute but some games I've looked at have really stunk the place up! I'm gradually increasing in popularity though, with more page views per month now than I had in my first eight months combined which I hope means I'm doing something right! I even get spam emails now - surely a sign that I'm becoming famous?! Anyway, enough about this nonsense, I figured I should do something to mark the occasion, but what?

Well, since the whole point of Red Parsley is to broaden my gaming experiences, I had an idea. Up until I started blogging, I was already a very keen gamer, focussing almost exclusively on retro games, having lost interest in 'modern' systems after the demise of the Dreamcast. However passionately I might've pursued my interest though, it was done in a rather blinkered way - mostly arcade style games on mostly Sega consoles with a few others included. But some of the most popular systems of all-time were ones I'd never even tried until recently. So now that I have, I think the most appropriate thing I could do is reveal the biggest revelations I've had about these things since starting Red Parsley. Behold:

People Like Lists!

Or 'Top Fives' lists as far as Red Parsley is concerned. With the occasional exception - usually articles that snag a mass of search 'bots of some sort which is most likely a coincidence - the most popular posts here by far are always the Top Five lists I create, even some of the more nonsensical ones. I was actually going to start a separate blog purely featuring all manner of weird Top Five lists originally, but I'm now glad I didn't - Red Parsley probably would've fallen flat on its face if I had! So, rather than competing with each other, they're now part of one and the same blog. I've tried to alternate between game and film related lists and other more obscure ones, but they always end up with more 'hits' than any other posts of the respective month. It's getting tougher to think of more game-related ones, at least without extensive research, but rest assured list fans - I still have plenty of ideas yet! So, what next? Top Five Bums? I know who would win that one...

Monday, 17 December 2012

One-on-One Fighting Games #2

King of the Monsters (1991)
By: SNK Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: SNK Neo Geo MVS First Day Score: 47,640
Also Available For: Neo Geo AES, MegaDrive, SNES
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

The Neo Geo has gained a great deal of fame and adulation over the years for a variety of reasons but much of this has come from fans of its many one-on-one fighting games. The flagship series must surely be King of Fighters, but fighters are not the only thing it's possible to be king of! All these human-based games are all very well but even the most creative minds can only do so much with our soft, fleshy, watery bodies. What we need is for someone to open their mind to the possibilities that other beings could bring to the genre. No, I'm not talking about robots, I think we've had just about enough of those metallic buffoons clanging into each other (eeek!). Something with the unpredictability of nature is still required I think, but a good helping of muscles, fangs, and a bit of primeval ferocity wouldn't hurt either. Sounds like a job for the Japanese...

Friday, 14 December 2012

Top Five Movie Moments #6

#6 - The Matrix (1999)

It's rare these days that a film barely anyone has heard of or knows anything about comes along and smacks us round the face, and one of the last I recall to have a really big impact was The Matrix. It received so little hype or build-up that I hadn't even heard of it prior to its cinema release. It got rave reviews though, of course, so I made it a point to buy it on DVD despite still knowing bugger all about it.

Watching it for the first time was definitely one of the more prominent of my "What the hell?!" movie moments but it was immediately clear that it was something special, both in terms of its story/premise as well as its floopy special effects. Numerous rewatches were both required and desired and it quickly became one of my favourite films which makes choosing its five most outstanding moments tough, but here are the one's I've selected:

Spoiler Alert: the Top Five Movie Moments featured here obviously assume that you've seen the film in question or don't mind knowing about its most prominent moments so don't come whining to me if they ruin a film that you haven't seen yet!

5... The Attempted Escape

We'd already been introduced to 'Neo' by this point and caught a glimpse of his shady night life as a master hacker, but the next morning is when we meet Thomas Anderson, a 'program writer for a respectable software company' who doesn't seem to see eye-to-eye with his boss. Shortly after receiving a dressing-down for being late, he receives a package containing a mobile phone which immediately starts ringing. On the other end is the mysterious 'Morpheus' who is quick to alert Mr. Anderson to the arrival of the authorities who are looking to take him 'down town'. The solution is to escape, but even with the help of Morpheus, it won't be easy...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

NES Platform Games #4

Milon's Secret Castle (1987)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Nintendo NES
Also Available For: Game Boy
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Poor old Hudson Soft. They've long been one of my favourite developers, particularly on the PC Engine (a console they helped to develop, no less) but earlier this year they were 'absorbed' into Konami and effectively no longer exist. Boo hoo! Fortunately, there are still a few of their games that have escaped my attention and one of them is Milon's Secret Castle, a scrolling platform game set in and around the structure of the title, known as Castle Garland. This vast fortress is located in the land of Hudson (chortle) where residents use music to communicate with each other, except Milon who apparently lacks this ability. Whilst trudging through the countryside in search of others like him, he decides to visit Queen Eliza, but instead finds the castle being attacked by 'Evil Warlord Maharito' who has imprisoned the queen, stolen everyone's musical instruments, and captured the seven Magic Crystal Balls. Milon quickly volunteers to stand against Maharito and restore the happy world of Hudson to its former glory, but it won't be easy...

Monday, 10 December 2012

Arcade Shmups #16

Truxton a.k.a. Tatsujin (1988)
By: Toaplan / Taito Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 80,720 (one credit)
Also Available For: MegaDrive, PC Engine

Although quite a few of Toaplan's games saw releases in the West, there aren't really that many that remain celebrated today for some reason. Of the ones that are, most are of course shoot 'em ups and one of the most acclaimed of these is also among those that I've played the least. Despite being a feature title all the way back at the Mega Drive's launch, I still somehow missed it for my entire tenure as an owner of Sega's console. Before rectifying that embarrassing error, however, I figured I may as well take a look at the arcade version first! The back-story could be taken from any number of shmups of the time but does feature some pretty good names. The planet being preyed upon on this occasion is called 'Borogo' and the evil aliens doing the preying, known as 'Gidans', are led by the evil 'Dogurava'.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Overrated! #5

Micro Machines (1991)
By: Code Masters Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, SNES, NES, Game Boy, CDi, PC, Amiga

There's some great presentation throughout...
People will always have differing opinions of things. Whether it's games, films, music or anything else you can think of; there will always be at least one person that worships something and another who hates it with just as much passion. However, generally speaking, good things are regarded as good by the majority and likewise bad things remain bad. This is as true of video games as anything else but there's bound to be a few people that dislike well-regarded games and that includes me - it was the whole reason I created the 'Overrated!' feature here at Red Parsley of course. I've only covered four games so far though, which suggests it isn't something that happens too often, but if there was one game I always had at the back of my mind to add to the feature, it would be this one. I don't think there's any game so universally lauded that I dislike, but I caught a lot of flak for its omission from my recent Top Five so I figured it was as good a time as any to address the issue!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

SNES Driving / Racing Games #2

Top Gear a.k.a. Top Racer (1992)
By: Gremlin Graphics / Kemco Genre: Racing  Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES
Also Available For: Nothing

There were many reasons that gamers of the world were excited about the arrival of the SNES but one of the main ones was the ultra-hyped Mode 7 graphics trickery. We were told it would revolutionise 3D gaming, or at least games that appeared to be 3D thanks to the wizardry it would offer. The greatest benefactor of this was the driving/racing genre - titles such as F-Zero immediately showed what was possible, so it was very strange that it wasn't used by more developers. A great example of this is Top Gear, a seemingly new game exclusive to Nintendo's new machine, but one which had its roots firmly planted in the dark and gloomy world of systems bereft of Mode 7 splendour. Indeed, as the keen-eyed among you may have already spotted, Top Gear is a direct descendent of celebrated Amiga series, Lotus Turbo Challenge. This was probably not what expectant Nintendo fans had in mind prior to the system's launch.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Maze Games #7

Magic Serpent (1991)
By: Software 2000 Genre: Maze / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Commmodore Amiga First Day Score: 27,962
Also Available For: Nothing

For a good number of years I absolutely hated mobile phones, or more specifically their users. Sitting next to me on the bus or at work bleeping and blooping and cycling through their bloody ring-tones… Grrrr! They used to drive me up the wall! Nowadays they are more acceptable – most likely a consequence of the rapid increase in their power and uses. One result of this is that they’re now becoming a legitimate gaming platform but back in the dark days their games were about as advanced as those on a calculator. One of the most popular was Snake which I'm sure most of you know far better than I do owing to the fact that I never owned a phone which hosted a version. Something you may not know, however, is that Snake is actually based on one of the very earliest arcade games known as Blockade, variations of which have appeared on many computers and consoles over the years. One of the last to appear before mobile phones re-popularised them was Magic Serpent.