Friday, 29 January 2016

Overhead Run 'n' Gun Games #10

Twinkle Tale (1992)
By: Toyo Recording Co Genre: Run 'n' Gun / Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis First Day Score: 68,240
Also Available For: Nothing

As was often the case with games exclusive to Japan, I heard a few murmurings of Twinkle Tale back in its day, but I never saw it on sale anywhere and certainly never had the chance to play it until much later - long after the MegaDrive had been and gone (as a 'current' system at least) in fact. Typically, it costs a blinking fortune to buy these days but, happily, after receiving a push courtesy of a Top Cat-inspired Facebook group of retro shmup fans, I've finally had just that chance and was a little surprised to find that it's not the standard vertical-scrolling shmup I thought it to be. It's actually a more run 'n' gun-ish take on Techno Soft's classic Elemental Master which means you control a human(oid) character who scampers about the various stages on foot. Here, however, there's no auto-scrolling, nor any time restrictions, so you can proceed at your own pace. Splendid :)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

First Look PC #3

Ampersand by PiGravity (2015) - PC

I have long been keen on futuristic racing games so when I saw this one for a great price on Steam I snapped it up. A little while later I started playing it with a view to reviewing it. So why merely a 'First Look', you might ask? Well, that's mainly because I'm not completely convinced the game is finished! Upon loading it for the first time, you see, I found no title or options screens and what appeared to be an extremely rudimentary course selection screen which offered three choices, two of which seemed to be the same. Nonetheless, I picked one, then selected the only jet-craft-thing that was available, and... nothing. What the hell were the controls?! The control pad didn't work, the mouse didn't work either. Eventually I found the correct keys, though, and started moving.

Monday, 25 January 2016

TV Shows #8

How To Get Away With Murder Season One (2014)
Developed By: Peter Nowalk Starring: Viola Davis, Billy Brown, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Matt McGorry, Aja Naomi King, Karla Souza, Charlie Weber, Liza Weil

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 43 Minutes per Episode, 15 Episodes

I've been saying for years now that there are far too many films and TV shows about murder. They can be entertaining, don't get me wrong, but surely they just give would-be killers ideas? Has someone enraged you? Or perhaps you're simply curious about offing someone? Well, you are in luck - simply do everything the idiotic killer in the complicated murder story on TV did except the thing that got him caught. Hey presto, you're now a successful murderer! I suppose it probably wouldn't be the greatest thing ever if this had happened, obviously, but it wouldn't surprise me too much. Not only is there a crap-load of source material, but now there's even a show that sounds like it was written for that very purpose – the aptly named How To Get Away With Murder - a new ABC show which débuted last year to good reviews and bagged its main star, Viola Davis, a Golden Globe for her efforts.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Dizzy Series - Part 5

Fantasy World Dizzy (1989)
By: Oliver Twins / Code Masters Genre: Arcade Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum
Also Available For: Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Enterprise 64/128

Yet another lovely Codies loading screen...
A common topic of debate among gamers, especially Speccy fans, is thus: which of Dizzy's magnificent adventures is the best? There is no correct answer, obviously. Lots of fans still vote for the second game, Treasure Island Dizzy, but my answer has long been Fantasy World Dizzy. This might be because I can actually finish it without too much trouble (kind of - more on that later) but it sure is a mighty pleasant game anyway. It sees a return to the fantasy-theme of the original game - it's actually even more fantasy-ish here - and is also notable for introducing the 'Yolkfolk', a bunch of unhelpful buffoons who comprise Dizzy's family. The object of the game, however, is to rescue another of his associates, his ditzy girlfriend Daisy, who's gone and gotten abducted by the evil King Troll while walking through a forest.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Exploring the Nintendo Wii

If ever any proof was needed of my lack of enthusiasm for modern gaming, it would be this post. Remember the 'New Arrival' post here at Red Parsley regarding my purchase of a Nintendo Wii? Well, that was well over a year ago now and it's taken me this long to get around to playing all the games and writing this feature! In fairness though, as I said in the previous post, I was a purchase I kind of regretted soon afterwards anyway - it was more of an impulse buy really, if it's even possible when ordering stuff online, and indeed, I have used it little.

Actually, that's probably somewhat unfair. I suspect the lengthy delay in my Wii-ing (chortle) is as much down to laziness and lack of time as it is indifference - I've not used my Xbox a huge amount more, for example - but as I've said before there is an awful lot of crap on this unusual system and it can be quite off-putting. Finding something that can even be called a video game is a challenge at times when looking through the Wii section of a game store. There are a few diamonds in the rough though, of course, and it is these that I intend to seek out and play. I've actually already sought out a decent number of them - they are sitting quietly on my sizeable game shelf, their majestic white covers gleaming like pearls, just waiting for me to get around to finishing this feature so I can play them! Just playing the titles below reminded me of something else I've often found a bit off-putting about the Wii though.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Top Five Films For 2016

This time last year I was getting quite excited about the the movies due for release in the coming 12 months. I ended up seeing four of the top five in the cinema (only Terminator Genisys missed out thanks to its rather lacklustre reviews) and I ended up seeing most of the bonus titles mentioned at the bottom of the post too.

It was a good year for films then, but this coming year could potentially be even better. I've again made a Top Five of the ones I'm most looking forward to. It's been harder to narrow the list down than it was last year, and in the end neither of the big two DC films made the cut, but here are my choices. What are yours?

5. Star Trek Beyond (July)

I've seen an incredible amount of vitriol aimed towards so-called 'JJ Trek' in recent years (as if he's the only one responsible for the new films!) but I've enjoyed them quite a bit personally. After the arguably unwise decisions of Into Darkness' story, this third outing for the new crew does at least feature a new and original story centred around an attack by a swarm of unknown but powerful aliens. Apparently it's an all-new race too, which I guess is both good and bad. It pretty much looks to be 'as you were' really though. There is clearly lots of action again and it appears from the trailer that the Enterprise gets destroyed (yet again), so it will be interesting to see how the crew gets home once they inevitably vanquish their terrible new foe. As much as I like this crew, though, I'm not quite as pumped for this as I thought I would be once I saw the trailer. Then again, it is still Star Trek, and that makes it a must-see for me. (see official trailer here)

Friday, 15 January 2016

From the Neo Geo Pocket to Your Actual Pocket!

I have little doubt that many of you will have heard of SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters Clash for the Neo Geo Pocket Color. It was one of the fab system's more notable releases and had a small but passionate community of enthusiastic players. Some of you may have even been among them! And now, splendidly, you don't even need to be an owner of SNK's little box of tricks to play it. Ooooo.

No, I'm not talking about emulation either. Something wholly more remarkable has been afoot here, and it's all down to one fan of the original game, Andrew Thorson, who has taken it upon himself to turn Card Fighters Clash into an actual card game with real, physical cards! I should probably talk a little about the game itself before I go any further, however, for the benefit of the uninitiated.

All versions of the game, which includes the NGPC original (of which there were two versions - SNK and Capcom editions), a new NGPC 'expand' edition, updated versions for Nintendo's DS, and now this physical version, are all collectible card strategy battle type games.

The many cards feature characters from both SNK and Capcom's respective gaming universes who are pitted against each other, but using their unique stats and special properties as displayed on the cards rather than resorting to fists and frooming fiery projectiles and all that other dangerous physical (and ungentlemanly) stuff. The only question was: where did your loyalties lie? With SNK or with Capcom?

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Arcade Fighting Games #5

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991)
By: Capcom Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 103,300
Also Available For: SNES, Master System, Game Boy, Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum (conversions); Saturn, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PSP, Xbox (as part of compilations)

It has long been my intention here at Red Parsley to feature many more fighting games, but whenever I play one I often find my thoughts wandering back to this game. I therefore figured I might as well give it a quick review and see how it holds up today. It did, after all, directly influence a good few of the many games that came after it (and that's putting it mildly!). For many it's where the genre began, but even those who know better still recognise the enormous contribution it made to the genre. Scrolling fighting games such as Double Dragon had been proving quite popular for years but, despite also being around for a while - probably even longer the scrolling variety, in fact, the one-on-one style of game hadn't caused too much of a stir until this behemoth arrived.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Film Review #85

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Director: J. J. Abrams Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Mark Hamill

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 135 Minutes

Tagline: "Every generation has a story."

If you have any kind of online presence, or indeed an actual social life with real people and all that junk, the latter few months of 2015 will have seen you fall into one of two camps: first were the so-called nerds who were counting the days until the new Star Wars film arrived with varying degrees of excitement; second were those who were unable to understand what all the fuss was about and couldn't give two pieces of monkey crap about anything including the words 'Star' or 'Wars'. I have definitely been in the former camp. Like many around my age, I grew up with the original trilogy of films. I probably didn't see them at the cinema as I would've been too young (certainly for the first two), but I watched them on trusty VHS over and over again, had tons of toys and action figures thanks to my lovely parents, and all sorts of other stuff. I even had Return of the Jedi bedding! These were happy years and ones I fondly look back upon often.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Early Driving Games #13

Checkered Flag (1991)
By: Atari Corporation Genre: Driving Players: 1-6 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Atari Lynx
Also Available For: Jaguar

Most attempts at driving games on the pre-CD-based consoles were a bit hit and miss in terms of quality, and you might think that would apply even more to the handhelds, what with their small screens and modest tech-specs, but if one of them could produce a genuinely playable example, it must surely be the Lynx. It was capable of some rather fantastic sprite-scaling after all, which, in the right hands, could result in some impressive pseudo-3D graphics not dissimilar to the SNES's celebrated Mode 7. Of course, though important in this genre, decent visuals aren't everything either. I was more interested to see if there was actually a decent game underneath them, and soon after first trying the game, it seemed as though there was.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Games of the Year - 2015

Well, it doesn't seem like five minutes ago I did the last one of these but the year is already over! It's been a busy one for me, and accordingly it has seen the least posts here at Red Parsley in the six years I've been rambling away here, but I've still managed to play a good variety of games on an ever-widening variety of systems.

Over the coming year I hope to continue this. I've started to feel a tad overwhelmed by the enormity of the indie/homebrew/doujin scene but I will continue to cover any titles that catch my eye in addition to covering old favourites and discovering new gems (hopefully at least) on the older systems. I also have a huge backlog of films and TV shows to review but I'll get through as many as I can.

Anyway, I hope you all, whether you are chance visitors or long-term readers of my page, continue to enjoy my various posts. Feedback is always welcome, positive or negative - what would you like to see more of or less of? In the meantime, here is the largely-pointless Top Ten Best Games I reviewed throughout 2015:

10. Super Bomberman by Hudson Soft (1993) - SNES

Only recently reviewed here, the first of the SNES Bomberman games wasn't quite as flashy as the PC Engine version that preceded it, but it was the introduction to the great series for many of us gamers here in the UK, and a mighty fine one it was too. Packed full of hours of manic blasting fun for one player or several. (full review here)

Monday, 4 January 2016

Sega SG-1000 Round-Up #6

It's been far too long since I last visited Sega's splendid début console, thanks in the most part to my oafishness, but finally I have returned after checking out another selection of titles. The games were selected largely at random but fortunately they represent a decent range of styles including a few versions of games I have played before. Here is how I got on with my latest five choices:

Castle, The (1986)

Released on most of the Japanese systems of the time (except the NES), The Castle is a flick-screen platform/puzzle game of surprising size and complexity. It takes place within the titular structure which consists of a slightly bewildering 100 rooms. Located within one of them is a princess who, in your role as prince, it is your duty and honour to rescue. This is easier said than done though, naturally, as the prince's few abilities do not extend beyond walking, jumping, and pushing, and the castle is chock-full of various enemies and hazards which must be avoided or outsmarted as well as many items to help your progress including colour-coded keys to access areas of the castle. Graphically the game is quite nice. The detail isn't great but there is a lot of variety considering the setting, and the music is amusing and catchy (though repetitive) too. It takes a while to get used to the very slow pace of the gameplay (that is until you discover the 'speed up' button) but once you do you should find The Castle to be an addictive and highly enjoyable platformy puzzler. It could do with a suicide button for when you get stuck, but that's my only gripe with this superbly playable game... 9/10

Friday, 1 January 2016

Star Trek #12

Voyager Favourite Episodes - Season Five

So, fresh from the ratings surge resulting from her introduction the previous season, Star Trek Voyager is over and The Seven of Nine Show has begun in earnest! That's the way many felt at least, including a certain Kate Mulgrew who apparently gave Jeri Ryan a hard time on the set. That sort of thing is never nice to hear but this fifth season was a superb one - I could've made a top ten this time!

A mere five it is though, as always, but besides those, happenings this season include the introduction of a new semi-villainous race known as the Malon who like dumping tons of radioactive waste all over the place. Here, the crew first encounter them in a vast region of space known as 'the void' with no stars visible in any direction (i.e. spooky), a transporter accident results in the birth/creation of a super-powerful Borg drone, and in one which is both good and a bit annoying, B'Elanna is down in the dumps, suicidal even, while the rest of the crew are involved with (somewhat improbably) building a new ship - the Delta Flyer. Elsewhere, the crew discovers a Species 8472 training facility which is modelled on Starfleet headquarters, Neelix distracts Naomi with stupid holodeck fairytales while her mother is missing, Seven takes on the personalities of various people assimilated by the Borg, and B'Elanna is sucked by a vampire-worm thing.