Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Film Review #90

Straight Outta Compton (2015)
Director: F. Gary Gray Starring: Jason Mitchell, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Paul Giamatti, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr., R. Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 147 Minutes

Tagline: "The world's most dangerous times created the world's most dangerous group."

If like me you were around in the late 80's, surely you can't have failed to notice the rapid rise of gangsta rap? Even if you had no interest in this abrasive new musical style - and indeed, some even refused to class it as music at all - it soon reached such prevalence that you would hear it whether you wanted to or not. At the forefront of this rise were N.W.A - self proclaimed Niggaz With Attitudes - who pioneered so-called 'reality rap', and it went down a storm. Actually, a storm is a very apt metaphor as not only did N.W.A achieve almost overnight superstardom but their controversial lyrics and behaviour also attracted a great deal of negativity culminating in protests as well as attention from the law enforcement community. As with any meteoric rise, however, there was also the inevitable fall, and this biopic shows us both.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Cover Art: Sega Mark III - Part 2

I haven't posted as many cover-art comparisons as I would have liked here at Red Parsley yet, but even without having featured many systems (yet), I don't think many would argue that the one with the greatest differences in regional cover art must surely be Sega's Master System. Despite their dreadfulness, I have a certain affection for the covers our MS games had over here in the UK, but while doing the comparison posts it became clear that many of the Japanese Mark III games are quite superb. I therefore thought it might be swell to share what I believe to be all of them here with you splendid fellows. I've already posted Part One, and here are the rest of them which, I believe, constitutes every Mark III game officially released (as well as one unofficial title), with the exception of a handful of My Card games which didn't have cover art. Hope you like them!

Nekkyuu Koshien...
Out Run...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Rail Shooters #1

Star Wars (1983)
By: Atari Inc. Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 70,979 (it's hard via emulation!)
Also Available For: Atari 2600, 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Apple Mac, Apple II, Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Electron, Enterprise 64

Atari's arcade heritage has always been impressive and has long been looked upon fondly by gamers who were around in their day. For most, their day was the early-to-mid-80's; a period that saw some truly wonderful games released, many of which bore Atari's proud name. Of them, one of the most memorable was undoubtedly Star Wars. Not only was it based on the insanely popular film whose sequels were still being gifted upon lucky movie fans the world over (having arrived between Empire and Return), but it was also something of a technical marvel and, even more remarkably for a licensed game, it was even rather good too! I would hope there's no need to detail the back-story here (although I do know a few people that haven't seen the Star Wars films), but suffice to say, Atari were sensible in basing their game on the exciting climax to the first film, namely the daring attack on the mighty Death Star.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Top Five Michael J. Fox Films

He may have sadly been absent from our screens for a good few years now due to the tragically-early onset of Parkinson's Disease, but the name of Michael J. Fox is still one resonates strongly with most film fans, especially ones who were around in the 80's. This, of course, is mainly due to the Back to the Future films, but he has starred in a surprising number of other films too. Here I've taken a look at what in my view are the best of them. Don't agree? Let's hear what your favourites are!

5. The Frighteners (1996)

This early Peter Jackson movie was sadly Michael's last big on-screen role, but was it one to remember? To be honest I think more people remember it due to Jackson's pre-LOTR involvement than MJF's these days but it's not a bad film and he is pretty good in it. He stars as Frank Bannister who is somehow able to see and communicate with ghosts. So of course, he tells them to haunt people, then sells his services as an exorcist! This is all well and good, but when the ghost of a serial killer starts offing locals, both living and dead, Frank must use his abilities to investigate and stop the evildoer. It was a film perhaps more notable for its special effects than anything else in its day but it definitely has more than just that going for it. As well as Mr. Fox, Star Trek alumni Jeffrey Combs is a standout as an eccentric FBI agent, as is Jake Busey, and we even get a cameo from R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket's hardcore drill sergeant). It has perhaps aged a bit now but it's still a fun romp and there are some interesting ideas here.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Memorable Gaming Moments #3

Test Drive Unlimited by Eden Games / Atari (2007) - PC

As a gamer, have you ever been in that situation where you don't really know what to play, or perhaps don't even necessarily feel like playing something, but are bored and/or feeling a bit down and need to cheer yourself up? Sure you have, everyone has, and I'm no different. There are a few games which I rely on during these times. Not many, mind you, but the one I've found myself returning to time and time again since I reviewed it last year is the awesome Test Drive Unlimited.

An open-world game it may be, but it still has structure and objectives. Thankfully, however, there are no real time-restrictions or limitations on when you should do this so one of my favourite antics has become thus: set off from my lovely home, smash into a few innocent road-users to get the attention of the local law enforcement authorities, and then spend as long as possible avoiding capture!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

INPUT Magazine - A Retrospective

Oh hey, RetroKingSimon here. Since I started Red Parsley I've been the only person ever to write or post anything here, but today I'm happy and proud to present Red Parsley's first ever guest writer - programmer, developer of Nebula Retro (a mobile game reviewed here a while back), and Facebook friend, John Blackburn, who has written this fantastic piece. Take it away John:

INPUT magazine was a computer programming course published as a partwork by Marshall Cavendish in 1984-5. INPUT must surely be one of the most advanced and impressive partworks ever published on any subject. With 52 editions adding up to 1600 pages, it's huge! And the quality of writing is superb throughout.

One of the first programs I ever wrote. Just a few lines of code produced a
beautiful sunset pattern complete with perspective lines. My grandma was
amazed art could come from "those numbers"!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Gravity Games #5

Thrust (1987)
By: Jeremy Smith / Superior Software Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: BBC Micro First Day Score: 28,850
Also Available For: Electron, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 16/64, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST

I don't think it is particularly unfair to say that the BBC was never really considered a 'proper' gaming system by most players of the day, but of the games it did host, one of the best known must surely be Thrust. It's a little odd since it isn't an exclusive, but it was originally made for Acorn's iconic micro prior to being ported to several other systems and it remains best known there as well. As you might have gathered from its inclusion in this series of features (as well as its name), Thrust is a gravity game not entirely dissimilar to the likes of Gravitar, and like Atari's classic, players find themselves in command of a small, roughly triangular vessel which is slowly falling towards the landscape below. Using it, your mission is to assist 'the resistance' in its fight against the evil Intergalactic Empire by collecting 'Klystron Pods' which are needed to power their 'battlegrade starships'.

Friday, 5 August 2016

TV Shows #9

The Returned Season One (2015)
Developed By: Carlton Cuse Starring: India Ennenga, Sandrine Holt, Sophie Lowe, Mark Pellegrino, Jeremy Sisto, Michelle Forbes, Mat Vairo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Douglas, Tandi Wright, Dylan Kingwell, Kevin Alejandro, Agnes Bruckner, Leah Gibson

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 43-46 Minutes per Episode, 10 Episodes

There have been a number of American shows in recent years that are remakes of foreign (often European) shows. The Killing is a great example, but the one I've watched most recently is The Returned. It's based on a French show called Les Revenants which itself is only a few years old and is set in a small, close-knit American town. However, like all small American towns in films and TV shows, it's a much more eventful place than it might first appear. For one thing, a surprising number of inhabitants have died over the years. Some perished in a flood when the local dam burst 29 years before but many others have been lost in a variety of incidents, some accidents, others not. This in itself isn't that strange, but what is strange is that now, some of them have inexplicably started returning without having aged a day.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Was the Saturn a Flop?

It's a fairly safe bet that most of us retro gamers have a lot of love for Sega and their mighty Saturn. A good few of us probably owned one back when it was first released and I'm sure many more of us have owned one since. It's been a particular favourite among collectors for many years now and, now that I stop to think about it, it's a console I've rarely heard a bad word about.

Recently, however, I saw an eye-catching article about it on the Sky News website, heralding the achievements of a talented engineer who has 'saved the console from extinction' by finally 'cracking its security systems', allowing the system to read from and write to other storage mediums such as flash drives. It's a grand triumph to be sure but one that was of limited interest to me if I'm honest.