Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2014

Well, after revisiting many of my old reviews, and indeed getting the urge to play many of the games again too (I don't often get the time to play games simply for pleasure these days), we're finally up to date! The biggest difference with this list is the presence of several indie PC games - a type of game I've increasingly become a fan of since delving into that dauntingly-large world - but this year also featured some landmark arcade titles and I finally reviewed my very favourite game of all time too. Behold, the ten best games I've played (and reviewed) this year are:

10. Oids by FTL Games (1987) - Atari ST

For many years, every time the subject of 'gravity games' comes up I've heard three names - Gravitar, Thrust, and Oids. The latter is one that I never played until this review but it's turned out to be the best of them all - as well as loads of stages featuring all the usual stuff but it even has a level editor too! (full review here)

Monday, 29 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2013

Remarkably (for my standards), I've now posted reviews of over 400 games here at Red Parsley, covering many systems and genres, popular and obscure titles alike. I've still barely even scratched the surface of most of these of course, and my 'to do' list contains well over 400 more titles, but I've still played a lot of good and bad games over these (almost) five years. Here is a list of the finest examples from my fourth year of blogging. Only seems like yesterday that I reviewed some of these...

10. Ghost'n Goblins by Capcom (1985) - Arcade

I actually played Ghouls'n Ghosts before this but I'd heard it was meant to be just as almost-impossibly tough. As it turned out, it wasn't too bad in that regard - it was still a big challenge but not as frustrating as expected, and I consequently enjoyed it a lot. Sir Arthur's first adventure remains a top arcade game. (full review here)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2012

Remarkably (for my standards), I've now posted reviews of over 400 games here at Red Parsley, covering many systems and genres, popular and obscure titles alike. I've still barely even scratched the surface of most of these of course, and my 'to do' list contains well over 400 more titles, but I've still played a lot of good and bad games over these (almost) five years. Here is a list of the finest examples from my third year of blogging. I need to play some of these again...

10. Yars' Revenge by Atari (1981) - Atari VCS

I missed the heyday of the VCS so I didn't get around to playing this highly-regarded title for it until many years after its release but first impressions of it were still great even after all this time. It's as simple as you would expect from the VCS but the challenge is just right and it's very addictive! (full review here)

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post today to wish all my readers, whether occasional or regular, a very Merry Christmas! That's if you celebrate it of course. If you don't, I hope you're all having a great time anyway, regardless of what you're doing! The festive season here in RKS Land has been spent fairly lazily for the most part - something that will no doubt shock those who know me personally - but I've received some mighty fine gifts including a couple of games. Look out for posts featuring those... at some point. Until then, wishing Happy Holidays to all of you. Have fun :)


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2011

Remarkably (for my standards), I've now posted reviews of over 400 games here at Red Parsley, covering many systems and genres, popular and obscure titles alike. I've still barely even scratched the surface of most of these of course, and my 'to do' list contains well over 400 more titles, but I've still played a lot of good and bad games over these (almost) five years. Here is a list of the finest examples from my second year of blogging. Seems like such a long time ago now...

10. Hellfire by Toaplan (1990) - MegaDrive/Genesis

Jaz Rignall of C&VG/Mean Machines used to rave about this one, a rare example of a horizontal-scroller from Toaplan, but I never really thought it looked like much. Then I played it and discovered one of the smoothest and most well designed such games yet seen! It's tough but I still can't stop playing it. (full review here)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Film Review #73

Submarine (2010)
Director: Richard Ayoade Starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Paddy Considine, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 97 Minutes

Tagline: "A comedy that doesn't let principles stand in the way of progress."

The teen high-school comedy/drama movie has been popular since I can remember; a staple, no doubt, of many of our own formative years and beyond, but pretty much every one I've seen has been American. Submarine is also considered a comedy of this type but it's British, so, as you might've guessed, it's not quite like the teen comedies that most of us are used to. It is set in Wales and stars the relatively unknown Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige as 15 year old class-mates, Oliver and Jordana. The former is a bit of an oddball, rather introverted, and infatuated with the latter. She is far more feisty, a bit of a pyromaniac... and only vaguely aware of his existence. That is, until his joining in with a spot of bullying gets her attention, at which point she decides he'd be an ideal candidate to make her ex-boyfriend jealous. One staged set of 'kissing photos' later...

Friday, 19 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2010

Well, 'tis nearly the festive season here in the UK, and indeed many other countries, and will remarkably be the fifth such season since I've been posting my ramblings here at Red Parsley. Usually this affects the content of my posts to no significant margin, such is my indifference to this time of year (and there are only so many 'Christmas Games' posts people can read, anyway), but this year I was thinking of posting a 'Top Ten Games of the Year' closer to the... ummm, well, end of the year.

This would not, however, be comprised of games released in 2014 - I've played so few of those it would be a bit pointless - but will instead feature my favourite ten games of those that I've reviewed in the year. Since these games could've been made at any time, I suppose this could also be a somewhat pointless exercise, but I'm going to do it anyway. Before I do that, though, I figured I might as well do the same thing for every year since Red Parsley has existed.

If nothing else, this will give me a chance to highlight some of my older reviews (and some great games in the process) to newer readers, and will probably prompt me to tidy them up a bit too (looks like I was less of a perfectionist in the early days!). So, the finest games reviewed during Red Parsley's fledgling year are:

10. Shinobi by Sega (1987) - Arcade

I've probably spent much more time playing the MS version of this classic than this version but few could deny the charm the arcade original has. It's tougher, there's no doubt of that, but it's also very satisfying and enormous fun to play. The gaming world has seen many ninjas but none as cool as Joe Musashi. (full review here)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

3DO Games #6

Icebreaker (1995)
By: Magnet Interactive Studios Genre: Action / Strategy Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: 3DO
Also Available For: PC, Mac

I got my first 3DO whilst it was still a 'current' system and, thanks to its failure and the subsequent price reductions, I was also able to buy most of the games I wanted for it quite quickly too, but one that I was not able to was Icebreaker. It was described by magazines of the day as a puzzle game and the few screen shots I'd seen were quite intriguing, but I was never able to find it anywhere, not even mail order (which was the last resort in those days). So, once again, this fine blog gives me the chance to finally tick another box, so to speak, and the first thing I noticed when I did finally get to play it is that it's not really a puzzle game at all. It's more of a action/strategy mixture, and it's quite an unusual one at that. The emphasis, you see, is very much on pyramids. There's no back-story to speak of so it's difficult to know how or why they came to be, but there are a lot of them.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Film Review #72

Event Horizon (1997)
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, Kathleen Quinlan, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 95 Minutes

Tagline: "Infinite Space, Infinite Terror"

I've been a fan of science fiction for most of my life, certainly since I can remember, so it's very odd that I never got around to watching Event Horizon before now. It wasn't especially well-received in its day, nor was it very successful, but, like my viewing of martial arts films, a lack of critical acclaim never usually stops me from giving the latest example the once over. Thanks to the ever-helpful Netflix recently reminding me of its existence, however, I've finally done just that. I never knew that much about its plot other than there being a spacecraft and some sort of horror element to it, so I naturally assumed I was in store for some sort of Alien-like mystery/massacre, and that theory seemed a sound one when I started watching.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Arcade Racing Games #4

WEC Le Mans 24 (1986)
By: Konami Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 97,380
Also Available For: Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MSX, ZX Spectrum

There are many things about most games that can help to make them memorable other than simply being really good. As far as WEC Le Mans is concerned, that was achieved in two ways, for me at least. First, by featuring that supremely lovely Porsche (a 962 if I'm not mistaken) with its distinctive Dunlop livery on all its promotional materials (which, ironically, was not used in-game), and second, by housing the arcade version in a large, round (not to mention rather bulbous) simulatory machine that actually spun players around in accordance with the on-screen action. But is the game actually any good? This was something I didn't really know until recently as I'd spent far more time remembering its adverts and giant twirly machine than actually playing it, and that's odd since it was part of the fine selection in my local arcade at the time, and a fairly decent version (supposedly) was also available for my trusty Speccy. Ooof! Time for this fine blog to save the day once again.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Gaming Memories - Part 15

Most of my posts in this series of features have relayed my many happy years with the console or computer in question but the previous one, a few months ago now, was a little different. It was regarding my tenure as a Game Boy owner which, sadly and for reasons I'm not really able to fathom, I owned only for a rather brief period. Looking back now I find it strange, then, that a decade or so later I decided to give Nintendo's by now-ultra successful handheld another chance.

By now the Game Boy was a bit old hat though, so I figured I'd instead go for the newer, fancier Game Boy Advance, and if I was going to do that I might as well get the very latest model which was at the time the 'SP'. In fact, if I'm honest, it was the recent news of some limited edition versions of the SP that really swayed me (as well as a very brief encounter with an old friend's GBA which I saw running a Street Fighter Alpha game rather impressively) and I duly sought out and purchased the one that most appealed to me - an 'NES Classics' model whose colour scheme was based on... the NES, believe it or not. As can plainly be seen in the picture here, it was certainly a great looking device, resembling an NES controller when open and an NES console itself when closed. This made it a lovely item for my collection but would I spend any more time using it than I did its predecessor?

Monday, 8 December 2014

Thunder Force Series - Part 8

Thunder Force 4 a.k.a. Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar (1992)
By: Techno Soft Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis  First Day Score: 494,440
Also Available For: Saturn (compilation)

Jeepers, has it really been two and a half years since I last visited this fine series?! I guess that could be because the wonderful third game has for so long been not only my favourite game in the series but my favourite shmup overall as well. Back in the early 90's I owned all three MD Thunder Force games and duly purchased the fifth game for the mighty Saturn when it was released too, but the second and third games, particularly the latter, have always been the ones I have returned to - for some reason I never really 'felt' the subsequent releases regardless of the acclaim they continued to receive. This fourth game, known as Lightning Force in the US for some bizarre reason, is often cited by fans as the pinnacle of the series, for example, so I guess it's finally time for me to devote the time and effort to it that it clearly deserves. Can it possibly be better than the third game?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

TV Shows #6

The Killing U.S. Version (2011 - 2014)
Created By: Søren Sveistrup (original Danish version) Starring: Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell, Liam James, Michelle Forbes, Brent Sexton, Kristin Lehman, Eric Ladin, Brendan Sexton III, Jamie Anne Allman, Elias Koteas, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Julia Sarah Stone, Peter Sarsgaard, Gregg Henry, Tyler Ross

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 45 Minutes (per episode)

Tagline: "Be Careful What You Uncover"

Despite not having actually watched TV for over ten years now, generally speaking, there are a tonne of shows I still want to watch, either on DVD as I used to, or on Netflix or Amazon Prime as is more likely now. Therefore, when my wife suggested we watch The Killing I really wasn't that keen. I hadn't heard bad things about it, I hadn't heard anything about it in fact, I just had too many other shows I wanted to watch. But I know better than to argue these things so we started watching it. As you probably guessed, it's a serial crime drama but you may not know that it's based on a Danish show called Forbrydelsen, created by Søren Sveistrup. The US doesn't have the best track record of remaking shows or films from overseas so I was a little wary when I discovered this, but I was happy to find... it wasn't half bad.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Currently Playing...

Battle Squadron (1990)
By: Innerprise Software / Electronic Arts  Genre: Shooting   Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga  First Day Score: 361,000
Also Available For: MegaDrive/Genesis
Download For: Android

My Sega fanboy-ness was never stronger (or more irrational, some might say) than in the MegaDrive/Amiga days and one game I often used to cite as a demonstration of the superiority of Sega's mighty machine was Battle Squadron. My review of the MD version a few years back was surprisingly impartial but the fact is I've always viewed it as the better version. My opinion has naturally been contested by various Amiga fanboys over the years but I have always remained resolute. Nonetheless, I recently decided to give their beloved version of the game another try anyway!

There is actually one immediately noticeable thing about that the Amiga version that is superior to the MD, and that's its box-art. That's (possibly) a subject for another post though. As far as the actual game is concerned, there are less dramatic differences. For all intents and purposes, they are both versions of the same game which, in case you haven't played it or seen the MD review, is a one or two-player vertical scroller which charges you with violently disassembling the evil Barrax Empire.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

PSN Downloads #4

Vessel (2014)
By: Strange Loops Games Genre: Platform / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation 3
Also Available For: PC, Mac

There doesn't really seem to be a massive amount of games starring genius/mad scientists but most of the ones that are around seem to be platformy puzzle games. One of my favourite such examples is the Amiga game, Morph, but Vessel, while further proof of my theory, is quite a bit different. It's a game I recently happened upon via PSN and is a port of a game I've now discovered was released a full two years earlier in it's original PC incarnation. Not sure what the delay was as it seems to be pretty much the same game, and that's one starring M. Arkwright, an inventor who has created a type of splooshy liquid automaton called the Fluro (fluid robot). They were supposed to take over all the laborious monkey jobs that us lazy humans can't be arsed to do but, unsurprisingly, they soon had other ideas.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Top Five Tom Cruise Films

Yes, I know, I can already hear some of you hurling insults and derogatory remarks in this general direction regarding the rather famous (or should that be infamous?) subject of this post, and Mr. Cruise does seem to polarise opinions somewhat. His devotion to the much-maligned 'religion' of Scientology is enough to earn the scorn of many, and his often-wacky behaviour seems to irk many more, but I don't really care about that stuff. I prefer to focus on more relevant stuff.

For example, something else he's devoted to is his work. He chooses his roles pretty carefully and he's actually a superb actor when the role demands it. He also usually performs all his own stunts during their filming as well, which is quite remarkable when you see some of them (mainly the Mission: Impossible films). He has a lot of time for his fans, too, and always spends hours working his way around crowds at premieres to give out signatures and pose for photos - something I respect a great deal considering how unpleasant some lesser 'stars' can be.

The main reason I don't share many people's opinions of Mr. Cruise, though, is simply because of how much I've enjoyed many of his films. When I mentioned to someone that I was planning on making this list I was asked "Has he even made five good films?". Now, as I replied at the time, I believe many people let Cruise's 'colourful' personal life cloud their judgement of his films, so yes, in my opinion he's made many more than five good films, but these ones are my favourites:

5. A Few Good Men (1992)

Despite the huge hype surrounding this film on its release, I ended up seeing it much later than most for some reason. Upon finally doing so (by buying it on DVD), however, it was very easy to see why it was so popular! It's basically a military courtroom drama which gives it potential straight away, but it has a superb cast too (with a scene-stealing turn from the mighty Jack Nicholson). Cruise plays Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, an inexperienced US Navy lawyer assigned to defend two officers accused of killing a fellow officer, but Kaffee believes they were actually following the orders of obstructive base commander, Colonel Nathan Jessup (Nicholson). The plot is fairly predictable but powerful performances from pretty much everyone involved make this a gripping drama all the same

Friday, 28 November 2014

Stealth Games #1

Castle Wolfenstein (1981)
By: Silas S. Warner / Muse Software Genre: Stealth / Maze Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Apple II
Also Available For: PC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64

Having quite recently experienced my first 'stealth' game in Splinter Cell, I figured it was a good time to look at what must be the first ever example of the genre, which also happens to be the beginning of a popular (and active) franchise. It was released all the way back in 1981 by Muse Software and its name is surely already known to gamers old and new alike, but I doubt too many know much about it. The setting is the titular castle during World War II and it's your job to infiltrate it, find the secret war plans within, and escape. Its flick-screen rooms are viewed from above and most of them contain Nazi guards of which there are two types, but unlike most games featuring such dangerous and malevolent enemies, it's not always necessary to kill them.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Retro News... Long Lost Sega Game!

As any regular visitors here will no doubt already know, two things I'm rather fond of as far as gaming is concerned are Sega and shmups. Imagine my delight, therefore, not to mention my surprise, to recently hear about a long-lost Sega shmup! This kind of thing happens now and then of course - lots of unreleased or prototype computer and console games have been leaked before, usually having been developed for a particular system before its fortunes take a downturn and a release no longer looks profitable. This particular title is a little more special though.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Bat 'n' Ball Games #9

Arkanoid - Revenge of Doh a.k.a. Arkanoid II (1987)
By: Taito Genre: Bat 'n' Ball Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: Not much with a control pad :(
Also Available For: NES, Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Commodore 64, MSX, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Apple II

There have been a surprising variety of bat 'n' ball games since Atari's Breakout first appeared but, despite that, it's still Arkanoid that most gamers cite when recalling their favourite examples. Luckily Taito were not ignorant of the joyous reception their fine game had enjoyed and swiftly went about crafting a sequel. As before, it has a nonsensical story which is just an excuse to play the game really. This time, the amusingly-named 'Doh' has come back to life and now inhabits a large spacecraft called 'Xorg'. Using this craft he/it has 'entered our universe from a different dimension'. In response, the 'Mixtec' Arkanoid-type ship has launched 'Vaus 2' to make a pre-emptive strike on Xorg.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Film Review #71

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Director: Martin Scorsese Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 179 Minutes

Tagline: "More, more, more, more, more, more is never enough"

I think it's safe to say the common perception of Wall Street is not an especially positive one. It is after all pretty much exclusively associated with greedy, arrogant, lying fat cats who have and want nothing to do with us lower class riff-raff. Oliver Stone's film of the same name among many other examples demonstrated that all too well, but at least they are fictional. Martin Scorsese's latest effort, however, is not. Much like several of his previous films, it's based on the memoirs of its main character - Jordan Belfort, a real-life stockbroker who, after earning a low-level position with a respected Wall Street firm and almost immediately losing it following Black Friday, instead decides to start his own company dealing in penny stocks along with new friend, Donnie (Hill).

Thursday, 20 November 2014

PS2, Xbox, GameCube... The Last of Their Kind?

For almost the entire history of video games there has been a rivalry to one degree or another between console gamers and home computer users. The former believed their systems to be the superior gaming platforms whereas the latter heralded the multi-functionality of their systems, and I suppose both were right - that is after all what both types of format were designed for.

Rather than simply acknowledging that though, most gamers argued instead. First we had the Spectrum and Commodore 64 users versus the Master System and NES users, then MegaDrive and SNES users versus Amiga and Atari ST users, and when the CD-based consoles started appearing it was the all-powerful PC they were competing with. I was an active participant in many of these wars, particularly at college where I spent many study hours passionately lobbying for my mighty MegaDrive in the face of a devout Amiga fan, right up until I effectively left the 'current' gaming scene with the demise of Sega's final console which was, as we all know, the last really great console to be released. Part of the reason the Dreamcast didn't achieve the levels of success that Sega needed it to was simply because there were so many PS1 owners who were waiting for the PS2 to be released, and most of the rest were waiting to see what delights Nintendo would come up with for the GameCube or to see what Microsoft's debut console would offer, and it's these consoles that I recently decided must surely constitute the last of the true games consoles.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

MSX Games #1

Herzog (1988)
By: Techno Soft Genre: Strategy / Shooting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: MSX
Also Available For: NEC PC-88, Sharp X-1

The superb MegaDrive is correctly remembered as one of the finest consoles ever and was graced by countless fantastic games. One of its more under-appreciated gems is Herzog Zwei, a real-time strategy game from Techno Soft (yes, they of Thunder Force fame) which is often cited as one of the very first such games ever. Something that is seemingly even less well-known than this slightly obscure game, however, is that it was a sequel to an even more obscure MSX release called... Herzog! For the linguists among you, the name is actually German for 'duke' (no, I've no idea why a Japanese game has a German name) which does little to explain the premise. Unsurprisingly, the backdrop is warfare, namely a conflict between the 'Mercies' (blue) and 'Ruth' (red), and the goal for both sides is to reach their opponent's base and destroy it.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

First Look PSN #4

Chime Super Deluxe by Zoë Mode (2010) - PlayStation Network (PS3)

Video games have not often fared well as far as charity is concerned, in my experience at least, and it seems Chime here is the first title released by non-profit publisher OneBigGame, so naturally I feared the worst. I bravely gave it a try anyway though, and what I found was a fairly simple music-based puzzle game. The idea is to choose from a list of dance/trance music tracks, charitably donated by such artists as Moby and Paul Hartnoll, which then play while you attempt to arrange a succession of various shaped blocks within a (nearly) screen-sized grid. As you're doing this a 'beatline' continuously sweeps the playfield from left to right. If your block-placing antics has left behind any completed blocks of 3x3 or bigger, known as 'quads', they are permanently added to the 'coverage' of the grid when the beatline passes over them which means you can then place more blocks on top.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Top Five Street Fighter Characters

While it's certainly not a genre I dislike, one-on-one fighting games have never really been my favourite genre either. Many of my preferred examples, however, are made by Capcom and feature the words 'Street Fighter' somewhere in the title. It's a series I first encountered in its very earliest form - the original Street Fighter in the arcades, and the version with the big puffy pressure-sensitive buttons too! I've since played most other games in the series (though not the fourth game... yet) and have enjoyed them all. Well, except for Street Fighter: The Movie, obviously.

Obviously the games are all very well made, catering for novice and expert players alike, but I think one of the most appealing things about the series is the variety of characters. There are few I really dislike but those below are the ones I've spent most time playing as. That just leaves the question: who is your favourite?

5... Sakura

Cynics might suggest that this energetic young lady was introduced to the series purely for fanservice reasons, being a schoolgirl with a very short skirt and all, and perhaps they're right, but she quickly became a fan favourite anyway. She debuted in Street Fighter Alpha 2 as a squawking teenager, having been inspired by Ryu's victory in the first World Warrior tournament. She therefore plays a little like him, having her own less powerful variations of some of his moves, but she's much more nimble. She might flash her panties now and then as she leaps all over the place but she'll have you for lunch if you get caught gawping!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Retro Calendar!

Oh hey, how's it going? Being something of a sad mindless office drone by day, I've become rather fond of those 'page-a-day' calendars in recent years. I've had several kinds including astronomy ones and even cat ones (who doesn't get bored of those crazy felines and their often-nonsensical tomfoolery?). While briefly mentioning this to friend and occasional Red Parsley peruser, David Bird, he had an idea - how about making an online retro game equivalent? This kind of amazing technical wizardry is beyond my humble abilities but luckily David is a dab hand at that kind of thing.

And a remarkably short time later he had done exactly that! But how did he manage to do it so quickly? Well, luckily he knew someone who already had a fairly sizeable collection of screen shots! So, after combining my exhaustively-grabbed archive and his own coding know-how, we soon had... the world's first (probably) retro gaming page-a-day calendar! Hopefully all you fellow retro-gaming fanatics think this is as cool an idea as we do so please feel free to check it out using the links below.

The images are sourced from the entire history of Red Parsley and are displayed using random effects such as scanlines and wibbling, and the featured game changes every hour too, so keep hitting 'refresh'. Here are a couple of samples from today:

Hope you like!

See the calendar in all its majesty here
Maybe also check out David's main website here.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Puzzle Games #17

Zooo a.k.a. Zoo Keeper (2003)
By: Success / Ignition Entertainment Genre: Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo Game Boy Advance First Day Score: 74,900 (normal mode)
Also Available For: PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS
Download For: Android, iOS

You know, I think there has to be something about having animals in video games that automatically makes them much more appealing, at least to certain people like me. Take those tile-matching puzzle games for example - you know, the ones like Bejeweled? Despite there being dozens, perhaps hundreds of different versions and clones of them on everything from proper gaming systems to mobile phones, web browsers, and Facebook, the only one that's ever appealed to me in all these years is Zooo. And, as you might've guessed, it's an animal-themed one! The creatures in question are apparently the occupants of a zoo and have run amok. You play the part of a zoo keeper and it's your job to 'keep the animals orderly'... by arranging them in lines, obviously!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Retro News... Internet Arcade!

For a while now I've been toying with the idea of posting odd bit and pieces of retro-gaming-related news but, since I don't often participate in many related groups or forums or attend too many community events (I'm a bit of a loner I guess!), I don't really find out about most things until after everyone else. Boo hoo! :(

I was fortunate enough fairly recently, however, to unexpectedly stumble upon some absolutely fantastic retro gaming news. Perhaps everyone else already knows about this too, but it's so splendid I'm going to warble away about it anyway. The amazing non-profit Internet Archive site already had stacks of texts, books, art, videos, films, music, and all sorts of other stuff freely available to view/use, and now they have made some rather awesome additions to their sizeable vaults. The first is known as the 'Internet Arcade' and is a collection of hundreds of classic arcade games from the 70's, 80's and 90's (though mostly the early 80's) which are all fully playable via JSMAME emulation from your web browser!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Film Review #70

Zombieland (2013)
Director: Ruben Fleischer Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 87 Minutes

Tagline: "Nut up or shut up."

Despite their recent popularity - or perhaps partly because of it - I've never really been tremendously interested in zombie films. I've seen a handful over the years but definitely don't seek them out, I just find them immensely predictable and boring. I'm therefore not sure what made me decide to watch this particular effort, especially since its title made it clear that there would be many of the lumbering oafs in attendance. Maybe it was the very decent looking cast that swayed me which is headed by Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson who portray Columbus and Tallahassee respectively, so named for their cities of origin (apparently exchanging actual names might lead to them growing more 'attached' to each other which isn't a good idea when they could die at any time). They are two survivors of the 'zombie apocalypse' that occurred two months before the events of the film; the result, apparently, of a mutated form of mad cow disease which devastated the US.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Overrated! #7

Wipeout (1996)
By: Psygnosis Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Saturn
Also Available For: PlayStation, PC
Download For: PlayStation Network

Well, it's certainly a pretty cool title screen...
Developers had been experimenting with futuristic racing games for some time already before Nintendo came along and gifted us with the mighty F-Zero. Mighty as it was, though, being a Nintendo game, it was just a little too cartoony and colourful for some tough and manly gamers of the time. Luckily for them, Nintendo's superb game was sufficiently popular that the years that immediately followed it saw many developers rushing to try and topple it from its throne, and most of those were far more serious and 'realistic'. The most successful of these by some margin was Wipeout by British studio, Psygnosis, and it's a game that was immediately hailed by near enough everyone as the game that had finally made gaming acceptable, even 'cool'. As I would hope anyone reading this would know, however, that's no guarantee of it actually being enjoyable.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Splendid Master System Music #1

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

Some time ago now I wrote about the intensely nostalgic feeling I had when I heard a much-loved piece of Master System music again for the first time in many years, and this past weekend it happened again! Okay, perhaps the feeling wasn't nearly as pronounced this time but I was still very pleasantly surprised to be reminded of this fantastic piece by industry legend, Yuzo Koshiro. It was featured in both the Master System and Game Gear versions of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, specifically the 'Bridge Zone', and must surely count among the finest pieces of Master System music I've heard. Check out its splendour thus:

Special Note: I didn't record this great tune myself, I'm just an admirer, so all credit to, firstly the original composer, and secondly the YouTube user who uploaded it!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Single Screen Platform Games #13

The Fairyland Story (1985)
By: Taito Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 58,800
Also Available For: MSX, X68000 (PlayStation 2 and PSP on compilations)

The most famous and beloved of all single-screen platformers may well be Bubble Bobble but, as I discovered a few years ago whilst fooling around with this very blog, it wasn't even Taito's first stab at the genre never mind the first ever example. Three years beforehand they gave us Chack'n Pop which was and remains quite a strange but oddly enjoyable game (once you get used to it!), and then again, the year before the legend itself arrived they graced us with Fairyland Story! Unlike Chack'n's peculiar adventure, however, this particular example has much more in common with Bubble Bobble and could therefore (possibly) even be considered its spiritual predecessor. Both games feature 100 single-screen stages, each consisting of an arrangement of platforms populated by several scary enemies which all need to be vanquished before you can move to the next stage. The only real differences are the characters and how they dispose of the heinous enemy creatures.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Film Round-Up #6

Love and Other Drugs (2010)

You might think this is just another rom-com that my wife 'encouraged' me to watch but it's actually one I bought for her only to find that she'd already seen it and didn't like it! Oops, oh well. I eventually got around to watching it anyway and it's actually not bad. This could of course be because Anne Hathaway spends much of it in various states of undress. She plays Maggie Murdock, a somewhat promiscuous young lady who begins a sexual relationship with Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), a womanising pharmaceutical sales rep. He soon falls for her but finds her much less eager to commit to a longer-term relationship since, as we later find out, she suffers from early onset Parkinson's disease and seems to only want a sexual partner due to fears that any boyfriend or husband would leave her when her condition became too much of a strain. I guess it's hardly the most original premise but this isn't an all-out rom-com - a surprising amount of the plot is dedicated to Jamie's blossoming career, especially when a new drug called Viagra appears (the film is set in the mid-90's), but both sub-plots work pretty well together. Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are both likeable in their roles, too, and they have some decent support from Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt amongst others. Unexpectedly enjoyable... 7/10

Friday, 31 October 2014

Currently Playing...

Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (2003)
By: Microsoft Game Studios Genre: Shooting Players: 1-4 (up to 16 online) Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Microsoft Xbox
Also Available For: Xbox 360

So, flying games, huh? I've never really known what to make of them to be honest. The idea of them is almost always appealing but on the few occasions I've taken the chance and played one, I've nearly always ended up frustrated and/or disappointed (probably more my fault than theirs but still). A low price point helps though, and I happened to spot this popular Microsoft game for a ridiculously un-pass-upable 75p!

The back-story is actually quite detailed, taking place in an alternate-timeline version of the 1930's where the Americas have fragmented into many smaller nations who are in a constant state of war with each other. As a result, interstate highways were never developed and the main means of transportation is by plane and Zeppelin. Since the people have moved up in the world, so has the crime, and I was (pleasantly) surprised to find that you play as what basically amounts to one of these 'bad guys', albeit a dashing and heroic one, named Nathan Zachary, leader of Fortune Hunters air pirate gang - one of many such gangs that prey on the aerial commerce of the area. The game takes place in four regions starting with Sea Haven, an island off California.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Computer Shmups #2

Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine (1987)
By: Raffaele Cecco / Hewson Consultants Genre: Shooting / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: 3,825
Also Available For: NES, Amiga, Atari St, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Before the days of the internet, us gamers had to rely on magazine reviews to tell us which titles we should add to our collections. One that received unanimous acclaim from all of them was Cybernoid, but once I duly purchased it (or received it as a gift, as was more likely the case!), I found myself with a different opinion. Being a Raffaele Cecco game, the quality of the graphics and presentation were a given, but it wasn't as nice to play as it was to look at for me, with the unforgiving difficulty and frustrating nature of the gameplay quickly turning me off. But that was a long time ago and, while I've never been the most talented of gamers and my meagre skills haven't exactly improved over the intervening years, I nonetheless figured it was time to revisit this much-loved classic to see if it finally captivated me the way it apparently did so many other gamers.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Rediscovering a Lost Favourite

Well, okay, not lost but sorely neglected at least! To my ever deepening shame and sorrow it's now been a good couple of year since I fired up my precious Dreamcast, the official 'Last Great Console Ever'. This has mainly been because of this very blog on which pretty much all of my gaming time has been spent 'researching' games for features. A worthy sacrifice? Perhaps, but things still had to change.

My modest collection of CIB games...
So, when my wife and I decided to replace our beloved but ageing car the weekend before last, in order to acquaint ourselves with the new one we drove to my parents house (around 12 miles) where, as well as catching up with my splendid ancestors, I decided to also grab my collection of Dreamcast games which were being stored in my old room. However, when I returned home and tried reuniting them with the console which was stowed in the 'stuff cupboard', to my not-inconsiderable fury I was unable to find the controller! Cue near enough an entire week of searching for it until... Thursday night when I finally found it stashed inside my Xbox box. Grrr! My incredulity at this revelation was, however, mixed with excitement as I could now finally reacquaint myself with my recently recovered collection.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Star Trek #8

Voyager Favourite Episodes - Season One

I obviously can't speak for anyone else but I was very surprised when Star Trek Voyager was announced. After so many years without any Trek TV show, The Next Generation was very welcome and proved extremely popular too, revitalising the ailing franchise in the process. A follow-up series therefore wasn't too unexpected, and Deep Space Nine duly appeared towards the end of TNG's run. But then, after only two seasons of Captain Sisko's adventures, yet another show was unveiled.

After the mixed reaction to DS9's space station-based exploits, Voyager saw a return to starship-based adventures, and for the first time that ship was not called Enterprise. Voyager was a brand new, state-of-the-art Intrepid-class ship - much smaller than most of the hulking great brutes Starfleet had in service (around 140 crew, no families/civilians) but fast and outfitted with all the latest technology and gizmos such as bio-neural circuitry and the ultra-handy EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram), and it would need every bit of help after getting stranded 70,000 light years from Earth on its very first mission!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Arcade Classics #7

Moon Cresta (1980)
By: Nichibutsu Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 8,240 (one credit)
Also Available For: PlayStation, X68000, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Dragon 32
Download For: PlayStation Network, Wii Virtual Console

In the early days of the arcades, quite a few of the games found there were ones 'inspired by' Space Invaders. A majority of their developers tried to do something slightly different to help them stand out and one of those that I remember best was Moon Cresta. This was partly down to the fact that I had somehow acquired it for my Spectrum (I still can't remember how though), and quite a decent game it was too, but it's one of many of these early classics that I never encountered in its native environment. I suppose it had been replaced by a newer machine by then but, having now spent some time with the original version, it's clear the Speccy hosted a decent port. But how does it stand up nowadays?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Awesome Nature #18

California Red-Sided Garter Snake
Type: Snake Lives In: North America Conservation Status: Least Concern

I was always reading wildlife books of all sorts when I was growing up and one thing I always remember is that brightly coloured animals are generally dangerous. These curly fellows, however, might be highly eye-catching but they're actually harmless to us pesky humans. Well that's unless they climb up inside your clothing, making you writhe and jiggle around in panic, straying in front of fast-moving traffic or something, obviously! There are quite a few of them about too. There are dozens of sub-species of garter snakes in general, ranging from Central America all the way up to Sub-Arctic Canada, but even this Californian variety is fairly common. They live on farmlands and grasslands, usually close to a water source such as a marsh or stream as they are also superb swimmers. Luckily for Californians though, despite their small size, examples like this one are also pretty easy to spot thanks to their almost fluorescent colouration, so death jiggles should be kept to a minimum.

Why It Is Awesome: Luminous snake!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Gravity Games #4

Oids (1987)
By: Dan Hewitt / FTL Games Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Atari ST First Day Score: 152,311
Also Available For: Apple Mac

Quite a few of these gravity games not only require you to combat the natural attractive force of a given celestial body but also land your craft on their surface. This is often in order to save stranded workers or rescue hostages, but Oids must be the only one that asks you to actually kidnap them. Your targets are 'Oids' - android slaves created by the evil Biocretes, forced into servitude, and discarded when no longer needed. You, as a 'member of a compassionate race', were so 'moved and angered' by the mistreatment of these poor sentient clankers that you joined the intergalactic organisation known as SaveOids and vowed to devote your life to freeing the Oids from the yoke of Biocrete slavery. Apparently.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Top Five Robots

Science fiction writers of the early-to-mid 20th century were an imaginative bunch but they sure got a lot of things wrong didn't they? In many cases it was more of a timescale problem - according to many of them, by the year 2000 we should've been travelling around in flying cars here on earth, teleporting to work, and of course exploring space in big, sophisticated interstellar vessels, starting wars with all sorts of alien races, no doubt getting our arrogant arses handed to us in the process.

Our biggest oversight, however, must be robots. It really is desperately disappointing how far behind schedule we've gotten with these clanking automatons. It's 2014, for heaven's sake! They should've been doing our monkey jobs for long enough now to have developed intelligence, risen up against their human oppressors, and wiped our filth from the planet, but we haven't even invented them yet! Oh well, maybe some day. Luckily we have the world of TV and film to remind how cool robots could be, and here are five of my favourites:

5... Smash Robots

Old British people like me must surely remember these entertaining fellows who were used during the 70's and early 80's to advertise instant mashed potato of all things! They're not just robots either, but Martian robots, who take much pleasure in covertly observing the convoluted way in which we stupid humans make mashed potato while they prepare their own Smash variety much more quickly and easily.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Splendid Xbox Music #1

OutRun 2 (2004)

I think it's safe to say that OutRun is a rather famous and much-loved game and a big part of its popularity is down to Hiroshi Kawaguchi-san's magnificent musical compositions. Any sequel to the mid-80's classic would therefore have a tough job living up to it, and when OutRun 2 finally appeared over ten years ago now the first thing I looked into was its music. Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack includes remixes of the classic tracks but there are also a similar number of new tracks. They were never going to have the same sort of impact as they originals but they are pretty good, and the standout track for me is Risky Ride by Fumio Ito. The original version as heard in the arcade game is great but even better is the 'Guitar Mix' as featured on the Xbox conversion. See what you think:

Special Note: I didn't record this great tune myself, I'm just an admirer, so all credit to, firstly the original composer, and secondly the YouTube user who uploaded it!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

New Arrival

It's hard to believe the year is now more than three-quarters over. It only seems like a few weeks ago that I returned from holiday and began larking around on my new Xbox, as well as burbling on about it here of course. Now, however, I've got over 50 games for Microsoft's behemoth and had no plans to acquire any other systems for the foreseeable future. Then, however, for reasons I'm still unable to understand, I pretty much spontaneously decided I would buy a Nintendo Wii as well.

Not a bad haul for a grand total of £52 I guess!
Actually, I think it must have been partly because, as a result of my Xbox game-buying exploits, I had discovered how cheap Nintendo's console now is as well, but that alone can't be responsible - I've never really had any interest in it before, after all. In fact, I'd even go as far to say it was the target of some mocking on my part. Just take a look at the Wii shelf in any gaming store (I guess you'd have to go back a couple of years now though) and you'll see what I mean, surely? Quite a sizeable percentage of the titles that no doubt stand before you can scarcely even be classed as 'video games' never mind good ones! Anyway, that's a subject for another time I suppose. Decide I did, and soon afterwards I had duly selected a random example from the extensive list at the mighty fine CEX online store, and for a mere £24 I might add.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Atari 2600 Games #3

Grand Prix (1982)
By: Activision Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1
Difficulty: Medium Featured Version: Atari 2600
Also Available For: Nothing

I can't think of too many systems whose games require as much of a combination of creativity from the programmer and imagination from the player as the VCS, and that's especially true when it comes to racing games. This effort from Activision is not just a generic car game either. It actually seeks to emulate the intense racing of Formula 1 - a challenge indeed! It consists of four games variations in total which are actually different courses representing Watkins Glen, Brands Hatch, Le Mans, and Monaco. Despite such varied locations, however, the courses look very similar. Each is viewed directly from above and scrolls from right to left in a straight line until you reach the finish line. There are no corners or race positions or anything like that, just road and lots of other cars to weave around, with the object simply being to reach the end in the fastest time possible. Hitting other cars obviously slows you down though, and there are also patches of oil here and there that make your car skid, so it's up to you how fast you want to risk driving.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Film Review #69

Escape Plan (2013)
Director: Mikael Håfström Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Curtis Jackson, Sam Neill, Vinnie Jones, Faran Tahir, Vincent D'Onofrio, Amy Ryan, Caitriona Balfe

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 115 Minutes

Tagline: "No one breaks out alone"

Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Seeing those two names together on a movie poster/cover should be more than enough to convince film fans from my generation to watch the title in question all by itself. It was certainly enough for me. My interest was piqued the moment I heard about it, without even knowing anything about the plot. Did it even matter? It's muthafukkin Sly and Arnie for goodness sake. Together! Yes, I know they've previously appeared on screen together in the Expendables series but that's not really the same as the pair of them topping a cast list alone. The first of them to appear is Sly who plays Ray Breslin, co-owner of a Los Angeles-based security firm. Ray spends much of his time getting sent into maximum security prisons under the guise of a real convict and then trying to escape in order to test how secure the staff and facilities are.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Doujin Shmups #9

Crimzon Clover (2011)
By: Yotsubane Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: PC First Day Score: 1,162,840,850
Also Available For: Nothing

I have been meaning to take a look at this interestingly-named doujin shooter for literally years now but kept putting it off for one reason or another. It's recent re-release on Steam (complete with new lick of paint), however, has given me the prod I apparently needed to finally get around to giving it a try! It was originally released back in 2011 by a talented fellow called Yotsubane who first unveiled the finished version at the Comiket 79 (doujin fair) and, like many such games, it takes the form of a bullet-hell vertical-scroller. There are quite a few play modes and options available for a game of its type though, including comprehensive menus which allow you to change lots of things, and three types of game - Simple, Original, and Unlimited - which are basically three difficulty levels.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Memorable Adverts / Flyers #1

Oh, hello there. If you're a long-time visitor here at Red Parsley you may remember that I occasionally post features on game cover-art, usually comparing one version or region's art with another, but it's not only covers that feature noteworthy images in the gaming world. I used to read many gaming magazines in my earlier years and they always included a lot of full-page adverts for games. Many of them have been firmly lodged in my mind ever since for one reason or another, and I figured it might be worth sharing them here from time to time. I thought I'd start with:

L.E.D. Storm by Software Creations / Capcom (1988) - Various Formats

Released in the world's arcades in 1988, it wasn't long before Capcom's overhead racer found its way to the five main home micros of the time and, as it recall, it was fairly well received. The only version I played at the time was on my Speccy which I believe I quite enjoyed, but I didn't try any other versions until much more recently.

Why is it memorable? Mainly because of the awesome orange futuristic car of course! I always thought it looked very cool anyway, leaping across a broken section of road high above lots of gleaming skyscrapers, but those holes at the back looked suspiciously like rocket boosters as well. Not sure where these 'lazers' that Capcom speak of are found though. Nor is your cool car capable of causing much in the way of 'devastation'. Oh well, who cares about accuracy when it looks splendid?

But is the game actually any good? Sadly not. I played the Amiga version for a review here it was not a particularly enjoyable experience due to its rather bland graphics and uninspiring stage designs. It's got some nice idea though, and a sequel could've been great if Capcom had bothered with one. See the full review here.


Monday, 6 October 2014

Next-Gen Driving Games #4

Hydro Thunder (1999)
By: Midway / Eurocom Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Sega Dreamcast
Also Available For: Arcade, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, PC

The glorious Dreamcast days were my last as a happy current-gen gamer but they were tremendously enjoyable while they lasted. This was partly because, unlike the Saturn, there were plenty of top-quality racing games available on Sega's final console, and one that I spent rather a lot of time with was Hydro Thunder, the first of Midway's short-lived 'Thunder' series. As suggested by the name, however, it's a game that features water-based vehicles rather than road-based examples, specifically powerboats. You take on the role of an unnamed 'international boat racing' champion who longs for a new challenge only to receive an invitation from the mysterious H.T.R.A. - the Hydro Thunder Racing Association. This 'underground clan of adventurous racing renegades' don't invite just anyone into their ranks either, so you'll have to work hard to earn their respect...

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Film Round-Up #5

Snitch (2013)

Congratulations Rock, you've now reached the stage where I'll watch a film just because you're in it! This example though, unlike most of the films he's cast in, takes little advantage of his rather impressive physique, casting him instead as John Matthews, the owner of a construction company whose son is facing ten years in the slammer for dealing drugs (he was actually set up by a 'friend' in a ridiculous sting operation). Instead of letting him become someone's bitch, John petitions an attorney (Susan Sarandon) to let him bring down a bigger fish in exchange for a reduced sentence for his son. The only catch is, she won't give him any help and poor old John doesn't really know where to start. Happily, Dwayne Johnson does a great job throughout, with the concerned father's painful false start soon giving rise to a more organised and confident runner getting in too deep, and it's probably his best acting performance yet. It's certainly not a special film in any way and the message isn't made as well as the producers apparently think, but it's definitely worth watching for Johnson fans... 7/10

Friday, 3 October 2014

Indie Nuggets #4

Nebula Retro (2013)
By: Simple Interactive Genre: Platform / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Android, iOS

I'm always on the lookout for the latest bright 'n' colourful platform games to wet my gaming whistle, so to speak, so you can imagine my delight when this one recently came my way. It consists of twenty-six floaty stages through which you are charged with guiding 'Blockman' who doesn't appear to be a man at all but a white square with a face on. He isn't the first platform hero to be handicapped by the absence of limbs though, and it seems to cause him little trouble here as he attempts to recover the 'Pearls of Blockoo' which are the numerous yellow blobs that occupy each stage. This is a simple enough process to begin with, made even simpler still by a handful of training stages before the game proper begins, but things soon start getting tougher.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Pinball Games #2

Dinoland (1991)
By: Wolf Team  Genre: Pinball Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 2,345,500 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nothing

I think it's safe to say that interest in pinball video games was ignited for pretty much the first time by the Crush series and unsurprisingly it didn't take long for various other developers to try their luck as well. This effort from Wolf Team is one that I remember and it has a lot in common with Naxat's series. Oddly, an improbable back-story has been added here though, which casts you as DINO-Bunz (yes, really), a suitably cool/tough-looking green dinosaur who must protect/rescue his sweetheart, Meeshell (who's pink and has a bow on her head, obviously). This is apparently achieved by smacking up those pesky carnivores with a pinball - actually, I believe DUNO-Bunz is the pinball as he's able to curl into an impressively tight spherical shape - and there are three prehistorically-themed tables over which to do this, based on three primeval environments - land, sea, and sky.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Star Trek #7

Next Generation Favourite Episodes - Season Seven

Well, as the show's final episode says so poignantly itself, all good things must come to an end, and after outlasting The Original Series by quite some margin, Star Trek: The Next Generation did indeed finally end with this seventh season. I'm not sure if anyone, Trek fans or otherwise, were sure how it would be received or if it would be a success, but I doubt even the most optimistic predictions would've gauged just how popular, enduring, and culturally significant it would end up being.

It wasn't a perfect show though, obviously, consisting of a good few stinky episodes amongst the more numerous splendid examples, and oddly enough this final season is not considered one of the show's finest. I don't have any particular issue with it but it probably was a bit easier to narrow my selection down than it normally is. I was never a huge fan of either Descent of Gambit, for example; both two-parters featuring a rebel Borg army (controlled by Lore) and Picard working undercover to bring down some criminal mercenaries respectively. Other delights this season include a remote control Geordie, Data stabbing Troi (but not in the way so many crew 'members' were doing last season), Picard and Crusher nearly getting it on, before the latter shags a ghost in a subsequent episode, and Troi's irritating mother returns struggling to conceal a dark secret.