Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Almost 3D Shmups #2

Luna Crabs (1983)
By: M J Estcourt / Micromega Genre: Shooting Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum  First Day Score: 560
Also Available For: Nothing

As any student of science knows, the moon has long been suspected of harbouring some type of scary, malevolent horde of creatures. Having somehow concealed them-selves from our acutely cautious gaze, they've been there all this time, waiting, biding their time. But no longer! Having crawled from their lairs en masse, they are now on the move, but what exactly are they? Lord save us, they're crabs! This is actually not the set-up for this 16k Speccy game - the real back-story sets the action on an unnamed Saturnian moon (which kind of negates the whole 'luna' thing) where some research team has stumbled upon the rather aggressive crustaceans who are apparently in residence there. Does mean we're playing the part of the evil invading interloper? Quite possibly, but I think I like my own back-story more anyway.

Friday, 24 April 2015

PSN Downloads #5

Fatal Inertia EX (2008)
By: Koei Genre: Racing Players: 1-8 (online) Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation 3
Also Available For: Xbox 360

For a while now, the main question amongst gamers when it comes to futuristic 'hover craft' racers has simply been... F-Zero or Wipeout? My personal allegiance is very well known in these parts but there are a few examples that aren't part of either series. One recent example is this one made by KOEI, initially released for the Xbox 360 before a slightly spruced-up conversion was bestowed upon us lucky PS3 owners, and it was one I was eager to try out. It has a short introduction which mentions something about you being invited to participate in the 'cutthroat motorsport' of the title where 'only exceptional pilots will survive'. You are of course given an 'advanced prototype' with which to do this, and there are Single Player, Multiplayer, and Garage modes available to choose from.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Film Review #77

Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
Director: James Wan Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Djimon Hounsou, Jordana Brewster, Kurt Russell, Tony Jaa

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 137 Minutes

Tagline: "Vengeance hits home."

As anyone who has visited Red Parsley much over the years must know already, I've been a big fan of the Fast & Furious series since the very first instalment (seems a looong time ago now). Sadly, however, tragedy has befallen the F&F family since the last film with the untimely death of Paul Walker, and this seventh film is famously his last appearance on screen. That in itself more or less guaranteed a big box office take, although I guess the previous films haven't exactly flopped - aside from the third film, each instalment has steadily earnt more and more money, and most fans would say they've also been getting better and better too (with an exception or two). Does this latest, most anticipated part of the ongoing saga continue that trend? It certainly looked like it would judging by the trailer, so I had high hopes.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Rise From Your Grave - Resurrecting my old Speccy +3

As were the words famously spoken by Zeus at the start of Altered Beast, and they were the words I thought of once again just a couple of nights ago. As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, I recently undertook an arduous-but-productive expedition into the mysterious depths of my old bedroom and the attic of my parents house. This resulted in the retrieval of my old gaming magazines, as detailed here in the previous post, but something else I unearthed - and one of the things I was actually looking for - was my old Spectrum +3, and happily I found it.

It was more or less exactly where I left it actually - in the attic, safely sealed in a big box along with all the cables and bits and pieces as well as a load of tape games. After cautiously opening the box in case of spiders or other scary creatures and finding none, I began sorting through everything in preparation for actually seeing if it still worked. This presented me with a problem though - how the devil do you get a computer like this working on a modern TV? As it turned out, this was easier than I thought (after consulting the instructions for my TV, naturally), and splendidly I soon saw the distinctive opening menu offered by Alan Sugar's fancy revamped Speccy models. Further progress, however, was cut short by the pesky keyboard which was apparently no longer working. Unwilling to admit defeat, this meant I had to do something I very rarely do - actually try to fix it.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Early Driving Games #11

Vroom (1991)
By: Lankhor Genre: Driving Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Atari ST First Day Score: 12,370
Also Available For: Amiga

These days F1 games seem to be limited to whichever one has the official FIA license but in the 16-bit era they were much more common. This one was released by French developer, Lankhor, in 1991 for the ST and Amiga and looks much like many others that were around at the time - that is to say, decidedly average. For some reason, though, I had a sneaking suspicion it might actually surprise me, so, after a bit of hassle trying to find a version that actually worked, I spent some time finding out. There are Demonstration and Training options which are probably worth checking out quickly, but there are two main play modes - Arcade and Racing - to choose from on the rather limited menu screen, and it was the former I tried first.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Film Review #76

Wedding Crashers (2005)
Director: David Dobkin Starring: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Bradley Cooper, Jane Seymour, Keir O'Donnell

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 119 Minutes

Tagline: "Life's a party. Crash it."

Any film that has the word 'wedding' in its title is generally one to be avoided in my experience. A narrow-minded view, perhaps, but most of them do tend to be somewhat generic, predictable rom-coms with little in the way of charm. This Wilson/Vaughn vehicle, however, could be one of the few exceptions to that rule, and a big part of the reason for that is down to it starring Wilson and Vaughn. They play John and Jeremy respectively, who are divorce mediators as well as long-time friends who are gearing up for their favourite time of year - the wedding season - a period they spend crashing weddings posing as distant relatives or old friends of someone-or-other. I suppose the lashings of free food and booze would be a big attraction to any party lover, but their main motivation for their favourite past time is to take advantage of the loved-up state of the various female guests.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Favourite Speccy Loading Screens - Part 3

Oh, hello again. As some of you may well have noticed, I've recently been posting selections of my favourite Spectrum loading screens. Actually, I imagine rather a lot of you have noticed as they have turned out to be among my most popular posts for some time! I suppose visually-stimulating posts are always popular but, whatever the reason, I'm very pleased to now present the third part of the extensive gallery...