Sunday, 30 October 2016

Film Review #92

The To Do List (2013)
Director: Maggie Carey Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Scott Porter, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Andy Samberg, Donald Glover, Connie Britton, Clark Gregg

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 104 Minutes

Tagline: "She's going from straight A's to her first F."

As you may or may not have gathered by way of the subtle innuendo of the tagline, The To Do List is the yet another one of those high-school sex comedies. I'm not normally a big fan of them to be honest, but I was enticed by this one due to the presence of Aubrey Plaza of whom I've become a bit of a fan in recent times. Here she plays Brandy Klark, a teenager just finishing high school. She's a smart, straight A student and valedictorian of her school, but also somewhat lacking in social graces and seen as a nerdy loser by the 'cool' kids who include her older sister Amber (Bilson). Nonetheless, she does have a few friends, chiefly Fiona (Shawkat) and Wendy (Steele), who along with her sister convince her that she needs to gain some sexual experience before starting college. And so is born the list of the title which features a great many sex acts that Brandy intends to try out over the summer, many of which she hasn't even heard of.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Retro News - New 3D Sonic Speeds Our Way!

Sonic Utopia by Murasaki & Mr Lange (2016) - PC

Crikey! No sooner do I get excited about a new Sonic game in the old 2D style of the classic MegaDrive games but now along comes a new fan-made 3D game as well! If you are anything like me this might initially be a prospect that strikes fear into your heart. I still haven't played too many of Sonic's three-dimensional adventures admittedly, but the ones I have played have not been tremendously appealing to me, right from the very first one no less (I can't remember being much more disappointed in a game than I was in Sonic Adventure). Many of them have been competent 3D platformers but most haven't really felt like Sonic games. This new title, however, looks a bit different. It is the work of a small team who have just released it for 2016's Sonic Amateur Games Expo (SAGE), an event for fans to show off their Sonic-related projects, and it is... wonderful!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Retro Gaming Zoo #2

Humans are stupid. Animals are always better than stupid humans, everyone knows that, and it's something that's also true in the world of video games. A tremendous variety of weird and wonderful animals have starred in games over the years and here I'll be taking a closer look at some of them. Next up is:

Creature #2 - Flicky of Flicky
Type of Creature? Bird  Realistic Portrayal? Yes

After the recent tomfoolery with a certain chat/film group to which he lends his name, I figured it was a good time to take a closer look at Flicky, the plucky blue avian star of Sega's 1984 arcade game and subsequent conversions. He is very bird-like too, which is surprising for the day. He can run around and has a decent flappy-assisted jump, both are which are invaluable for collecting the helpless little 'Chirps' around the short looping stages and avoiding the hungry cats that also scamper about the place, and that is about the extent of his ambitions too. He's just doing what any responsible squawker would do. I'm not sure how realistic the actual stages are since later ones seem to take place in space, and I'm not sure how adept any bird would be at holding a net to catch catapulted Chirps either, but as a character Flicky is definitely very realistic for video game standards. Happily we got to see his likeness again along with many of his colourful brethren, and on their apparent home turf too, in Sonic 3D: Flickies Island, but nothing since then. Come back Flicky/Flickies! :)

Is His Game Any Good? Yes, it's mighty good! The most celebrated version is that found on Sega's own MegaDrive which was actually slightly superior to the arcade original (although in fairness, it was released some seven years later!) but I have yet to play a version of Flicky that isn't tremendous fun. Check the full review here.


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Arcade Racing Games #5

Continental Circus (1987)
By: Taito Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 2,101,460
Also Available For: Amiga, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MSX, ZX Spectrum

There were quite a few racing and driving games in the arcades of the mid-to-late 80's so developers often had to do something to make their game stand out, but Taito managed to do that by accident with this release. It's clearly an F1-style game so what's with the 'circus' in the title, so many of us thought back in the day. It soon transpired that this was actually a translation error with the intended title being Continental Circuit. A few cabs made it to the US with the corrected name on them but for most of us it was a game that was often met by a childish smirk. Was it actually a good game though, or would attempts to play it be met with even more mirth? Well, the Spectrum version wasn't too bad as I recall but I never had the chance to play the arcade original back then. Upon recently being reminded of the game, I decided it was time to find out.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Nintendo Unveil... the Switch

Nintendo have found themselves in a strange position in the market in recent years. Back in NES and SNES days their systems were flooded with third-party titles. Some were exclusive, others not, but there was always plenty of choice. Starting with the Wii and continuing with the Wii U, though, they seemed to have branched off from their competitors, leaving the bulk of the third-party releases for Sony and Microsoft while their own systems, under-powered in comparison to the others, were left with some fantastic first-party titles, some gimmicky releases to take advantage of the unorthodox controls the machines employed, but little else.

That brings me to the new system, known until today as the 'NX', and one to which I had devoted more than a passing thought over the last few months. Foremost in these thoughts were wonderings about whether Nintendo would continue their trend of recent years or go back to their old ways, and all was revealed yesterday at the system's grand unveiling. It will be known as the Nintendo Switch and, at first glance, it appears my fears have been realised, for their new home console will actually be more akin to a dockable portable system. As you may well have seen in the video already, the 'console' itself seems more like a tablet which can either be docked, with games played on TV, or undocked and used wherever you like with parts of the detachable controller clipped to the sides so as to not rely on pesky touch-screen controls. This does seem pretty cool in the video, admittedly, but my first reaction was one of disappointment. Would Nintendo once again be using a hardware gimmick to sell their new system?

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Retro News - Star Control Returns!

Star Control Origins by Stardock (2017) - PC, PS4, Xbox One

So there I was aimlessly wandering around the world wide web when I happened upon some news I had long hoped for but almost given up on - Star Control is back! This may not mean a lot to many of you but, as any regular readers here will know, I have had a great deal of affection for this series for many years, going back to the original game, and its sequel has been my favourite game of all time since its release. So this long-awaited news has been met with much excitement by me and the series' other loyal fans as you might imagine! It's not a fan project and it's not a conversion of a previous game like the splendid Ur-Quan Masters. No, this is an all-new, full retail release... at last!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

TV Shows #10

iZombie (2015-16)
Developed By: Rob Thomas / Diane Ruggiero-Wright Starring: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 42 Minutes (per episode)

Okay, I'll just come out and say it - I really don't like zombies. I don't like zombie films, I don't like zombie shows. I think zombies are stupid. First they were stupid mumbling stumbling oafs but more recently the trend has been for zombieness to be the result of a virus/pathogen of some sort, usually also bestowing super speed, strength, athleticism, endurance, etc on the infected party. Either way, they're stupid and their films/shows are stupid too. This new show, however, takes yet another approach. Well, kind of. It's loosely based on the comic books by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred of which there were 28 issues between 2010 and 2012, but definitely only 'loosely' as about the only similarity between them from what I can see is the general appearance (though not name) of the main character. Here she is called Olivia (Liv) Moore and was until recently just a normal medical resident from Seattle. That was, until she attended a boat party and got herself infected.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Retro News - Hewson Are Back!

Hyper Sentinel by Hewson Consultants (2016) - iOS, Android, PC, PS4, Xbox One

I'm sure pretty much everyone into gaming in the 80's was well aware of Hewson Consultants. Their many releases, mainly for the 8-bit home micros, were of a consistently high quality and they made quite a name for themselves as purveyors of the utmost splendour, but sadly they shut down only a couple of years into the following decade. But now they are back! Well, kind of, for announced earlier this year was a Kickstarter for a brand new game bearing the Hewson name. I had planned to cover it here at Red Parsley back then but, of course, it's taken me ages to get around to it as usual. In the intervening months the project sadly failed to reach its target and seemed to be over before I'd even posted about it. Happily, though, that's not the case and it's looking pretty good!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Currently Playing...

Hang-On by Sega AM2 (1985) - Master System

If you are visiting this blog intentionally there's a pretty good chance your days of console gaming go back as far the 80's, perhaps even late 70's. My first was Sega's magnificent Master System which remains one of my favourite systems. The version I was fortunate enough to have featured two built-in games - Safari Hunt, to make use of the bundled Light Phaser, and the mighty Hang-On for those times you don't fancy shooting poor rabbits, bears, and armadillos!

I have already taken a look at the decent arcade version here at Red Parsley but this MS version was the first one I encountered and it remains my favourite. Obviously it's taken a bit of a hit with regards to its visuals. The biker sprites are smaller and less detailed here, there are far fewer on-screen colours, the roadsides are more spartan, and it's not as fast, but it's not a bad effort all things considered. That nighttime stage still looks super cool too! The audio is more or less the same as the original, although that's mainly because the arcade version had very little - there's no in game music and few spot effects as you race. The aesthetic differences were irrelevant for me at the time anyway though, as I'd never played or even seen the arcade game.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Wes Anderson Presents: The X-Men

Okay, I don't usually post funny videos from YouTube here - I don't even watch them very often if I'm honest - but I can't resist posting this one here. If nothing else it will keep reminding me that it exists! But what is it? Well, I'm sure you all know the X-Men films, or at least know of them. What you may not know is that my favourite film director for many years now has been the great Wes Anderson. I could probably make a whole post here about why that is but for now let's just say it's because he and his films are awesome. He also has a very distinctive style, and this short video is a fan-made 'trailer' of what an X-Men film might be like if Wes directed one! It's likely to appeal only to fans of Mr. Anderson's work, and those people will love it, but it's still pretty cool even if you don't know him. Check check check it out!


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Mobile Games #10

I Am Level (2014)
By: Smiling Bag Genre: Platform / Pinball Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Android
Also Available For: iOS

It was long ago now that I initially discovered this game - more than two years has passed, in fact. It was soon installed onto my Android phone; I played it for a while, and enjoyed it, but then my phone went and broke. It didn't take too long to replace it - how could it these days? - but my progress was obviously lost in this and all other games I had installed (which was only a few, luckily). I had originally intended to review it back then but gadzooks if it hasn't taken me all this time to finally get around to reinstalling the game (I had to buy it again, too!) and playing it through. It didn't take me long to make up my previous progress and only a little more to surpass it, so I guess it's time to resurrect that review as well. If I can remember where I put it, that is. Oh, wait a minute...

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Flicky Flicks Round 1

I believe I've briefly mentioned in passing the chat group over on Facebook known as Team Flicky. It consists of six members - Chris (Chip), Dave (Grumpy McUnt), Mark (Pinbot), Geoff (Neptune King of the Sea), Ben (Hipster Ben), and Me (Randar) - and amongst our many mutual interests are movies. It was therefore recently decided that we would form our own film club known as Flicky Flicks for which we would all choose one film based on a particular theme, then each watch all six films and name our favourite. Whoever nominated the most popular film would get to choose the next theme. I can't remember how Michael Douglas was chosen as our first theme but anyway, here are the six films we chose and mini-reviews from us all for each film. The winner will be revealed at the end!

Romancing the Stone (1984)
Director: Robert Zemeckis Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Alfonso Arau, Manuel Ojeda

Nominated By: Pinbot Running Time: 106 Minutes

Joan Wilder (Turner) is a very successful but lonely romance novelist moping around New York feeling sorry for herself when her she receives a phone call from her sister who's gone and gotten herself kidnapped by some dastardly antiquities dealers who are now blackmailing her (Joan) into travelling to Colombia to trade a map she had surreptitiously been sent in the mail for her squawking sibling. Of course, it’s not long before she ends up in trouble. Until, that is, the splendidly-named Jack T. Colton (Douglas) arrives just in time to save her. And so begins their epic adventure through the Amazon in pursuit of the lush green gem of the title.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Retro News - Yet More Wonder Boy?

Wonder Boy Returns by CFK (2016) - PC

Holy smokes, it's a glorious time to be a Wonder Boy fan, for not only do we have the two Wonder Boy III games on their way (one new adventure apparently inspired by it as well as a remake) which I have covered here already with much enthusiasm, but now news reaches me of yet another game to feature the infantile whippersnapper. This time it is seemingly based on the original Wonder Boy, a game I recently reviewed here at Red Parsley and enjoyed a great deal, and is being handled by CFK, a Korean publisher responsible for releasing tons of titles in their native territory, mainly for consoles and handhelds.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Single Screen Platform Games #14

Mario Bros (1983)
By: Nintendo Genre: Platform Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 58,740 (one credit)
Also Available For: NES, Apple II, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Despite being among the most well known video game characters of all time, some people are still unaware of Mario's earlier exploits. His first appearance was of course as the heroic Jumpman in Donkey Kong, I don't think there are many gamers who forget about that, but one game that does often seem to get overlooked is this one, the original Mario Bros. I first played it many years ago on my Spectrum and I seem to remember a fairly strong feeling of indifference at the time. Coming back to it now though, and the arcade original no less, might well elicit a different reaction. One thing I didn't know before is that the game is apparently set in New York's sewers. I suppose it makes sense now that I think about it but it's still unlike any sewer I've ever seen. Not that I've actually seen too many but you know what I mean. This sewer is apparently infested with many strange creatures and it's down to the heroic plumbing duo of Mario and Luigi to exterminate them.