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...

Master System vs NES

Regular readers here will know of my love for Sega's delightful Master System. It was the first console I owned and the reason I quickly became a Sega fan-boy, shunning anything Nintendo related for years as a result. I realised how stupid this was in time to enjoy the wonders of the SNES but its predecessor was still something of a mystery to me until recently. To my not-inconsiderable surprise, my subsequent investigations into the NES have revealed that it is arguably a better all-round machine than my beloved MS after all! Sega's machine is technically superior (just about) and has some wonderful titles, of course, but for each one of them, there's probably at least five comparable examples on Nintendo's machine. The sheer number of releases for it means there's also a lot more crap, obviously, and I'll always love the MS much more than the NES without question, but still... it's hard to argue with the amount of goodness the grey toaster provides.

Single-Screen Platform Games

This is among my very favourite kind of game - most of the ones I've played feature jolly happy graphics with cute characters and catchy music, both things of which I strongly approve, and they're also ideal for either a short gaming 'fix' or for a longer score-hunting session. As a bonus, they almost always feature a two-player mode too! Some of the most well-known examples - Bubble Bobble and Bomb Jack spring to mind - are legendary, but I've discovered that there's not many games of this type around, as far as I can tell. I have at least uncovered a few I previously knew little about such as Zupapa!, and even discovered a couple I'd never even heard of such as Chack'n Pop, but finding new candidates to review here is proving frustrating. There are a few I know of such as Tumble Pop and Fairyland Story, but I seem to have little choice but to save them for later since there are so few. Or am I just stupid? Please list potential candidates below!

The Commodore 64 and SID

Along with the NES, the biggest name I missed out on when I was younger is the C64. I was an owner of its main rival, the Spectrum, and I got into consoles big time straight after that so it's taken until starting Red Parsley before I even played a C64 game for the first time. My first impressions of it were good and it's clearly got some fantastic games that I never got to play on any other system I owned, but - and I'm probably going to get crucified for this - I have yet to see what all the fuss is about regarding the famed SID sound chip. Yes, the C64 games I've played have superior audio to most Speccy games I've played (it's not difficult!) but I've heard nothing yet to explain the fanatical love and devotion the chip (and the sounds it produces) continues to enjoy, and I'm a big fan of chip tunes too. The only possible conclusions I can reach are either that I happened to have not encountered any of the 'greats' yet or that SID-related adulation is based purely on nostalgia. Am I right, or should I start running? C64 fan-boys, I invite you to convince me...

People Don't Like Emulation

One of the biggest casualties of almost exclusively spending my gaming time on Red Parsley is that my collection of actual consoles and games has lain largely dormant since, even including my recently-purchased PS3 which has still been used for little more than Netflix. The main reason for this is, I need to play the games via an emulator in order to grab screenshots for the reviews/features. Using old stock images gathered using Google searches is absolutely unacceptable, of course, but at the same time I often find myself berated for not playing games on the original host hardware. Well, fellow retro gamers, there is one solution that would enable me to do just that while still devoting as much time as before to playing and posting - pay me to do the site for a living! That would be the greatest thing ever. Sadly, I fear offers will not be forthcoming so I'll have to continue struggling along in my day job, squeezing in a few hours writing or gaming at lunch breaks or during non-eating or sleeping times at home. It's a hard life being a blogger...

Retro Gaming Lives!

But my biggest and happiest revelation since starting Red Parsley is just how active and vibrant the retro-gaming scene is. Yes, I already knew this to some extent before starting the blog but since I've been writing and therefore investigating and/or researching these matters in much more detail, the sheer effort some retro fans have gone to in celebration of their passionately-pursued hobby is nothing less than extraordinary. Some just play, others collect, and some create, but together we all contribute to a community that's thriving.

So, whether you just talk to your friends about old games you used to love, whether you're one of the super-talented fellows who actually make new games for supposedly defunct systems, or whether you're a babbling nincompoop like me cluttering up the web-ways with words and pictures of old gaming stuff, you're still helping to keep the ever-diminishing spirit of classic gaming alive and I salute you!

I think all that's left for me to say is - thanks for reading! I genuinely hope you've enjoyed at least some of the 500 posts here. I'll continue to think up new stuff to cover and investigate more old stuff as well. Here's to 500 more? :)


  1. 500 - well done, Simon!

    How about... Top Five Red Parsley Top Five Lists?

  2. You obviously haven't been listening to the right SID songs!!! (One of my favs) (Another!!)

    Haha. Anyway, well done on your 1st 500 posts. Here's to the next 500!

  3. Although harsh, others are justified in occasionally berating you for not playing games on original platform! Emulation does not replicate total 'feel' of the game that original hardware provides. Also, it's possible the game's difficulty (and overall experience) cannot be fully realised when one can simply load a snapshot! All modern phones now come with a reasonable camera, so it's not hard to get screenshots. All that said, I really enjoy site and appreciate you do for love with no fiscal reward! So here's to another 5000 posts, thanks for everything buddy :)

  4. Many thanks to all! Luke, however, I feel you are being rather unfair there!

    Obviously I don't just plough through a game using infinite 'save states' - they are only used if a game is too difficult to otherwise get screenshots of later stages. It's also completely unrealistic to suggest I could get shots by photographing the screen. Even if the shots were straight and good quality (and they'd never be as good quality as one grabbed from an emulator), most of them would have 'paused' or something even worse obscuring the action.

    The only part I agree with is that using emulation doesn't replicate the 'feel', but that's the price you and any other regular readers I have must pay. Without emulation, Red Parsley would be updated probably no more than once every two weeks as opposed to three or four times a week...

  5. Well done RKS :) That's quite a milestone. Here's to the next 500 and more 8) Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone :)

  6. A hearty congrats to you, Simon! Here's to 500 more posts, and then 500 more, and 500 more after that ... :)

  7. Has it really been over 2 years already? Kudos to you for sticking with it, Red Parsley is one of those rare places I'll check pretty much daily for a new article. That puts you in a very select group of sites, above even many of the commercial concerns. I may not always agree with your opinion, but they're always well researched and represented and guaranteed to be a good read. Thanks for all the entertainment.

    Regarding emulation, I find a small range of USB adapters and original controllers for those goes a long way towards replicating the feel of playing on an original system. Out of curiosity, do you ever turn off speed loading for the tape based systems and sit through the loading screens and tunes? Some of those are where an affinity for chiptunes (and the SID chip) come from. To the casual listener there's possibly not much difference between the SID and the AY chip used in the Spectrum 128ks, Atari ST etc. Extended exposure however will eventually reveal the more subtle sounds available on the SID thanks to its wider range of waveforms.

  8. Two years, a ton of posts - all good stuff man. Definitely glad our bits of the gaming and blogging world met up here. I personally have no problem with the use of an emulator to get the grabs you need. I also have a cheap USB device I picked up... gawd, a long time ago. The company name's worn off of the dongle actually, but it allows me to hook up composite video andaudio to my PC and capture it that way too, which has come in handy for me since I have a ton of old systems resting about my house still.

  9. well done on 500 posts and Happy Christmas

  10. Thanks a lot everyone, I hope you enjoy reading my ramblings as much as I enjoy writing them (usually!) :)

    Mr Ant, your kind words are much appreciated, it's good to know you still drop by :) I've often thought about getting one (or some) of those adaptors you mention and trying my hand at Saturn, Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox, etc, emulation. It would certainly help me to further diversify the systems and age of games I cover. I haven't really looked into them much yet but I hear they can be rather rare and expensive? Oh well, I'll look into it soon :)

    Mr Chalgyr, I actually used to have a cable of some sort that allowed my to connect consoles to my PC and grab shots that way but I'm not sure what happened to it. It wasn't that good though, the shots weren't great quality and it was a pain to set up. Oh well, thanks for your kind words :)

  11. Congratulations on 500 posts. :-)

  12. Thanks Mr. Dste! Only just saw your message, sorry :P