Thursday, 20 May 2021

First Look Amiga #1

International Truck Racing by Zeppelin Games (1992) - Amiga

I was actually looking at a different Amiga game when I happened to see this one - an overhead racer featuring trucks? I've seldom been one to pass up an overhead racer so I promptly sought this out to see if it was any good. Strangely, despite trailer-less trucks on the title screen (just like real life truck racing), the examples in the game are all towing sizeable trailers behind them. This unsurprisingly makes the racing a bit trickier as each vehicle is rather large. On top of that, your own 'rig' (though not any of the other five racers, it seems) has a damage-meter as well as finite fuel which means regular visits to the pits are required. You do get to choose which truck you want to use but there doesn't seem to be any difference between them performance-wise, so I guess it's just a case of picking your favourite colour (sadly there isn't a green one) and putting your foot (or indeed finger) down.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Film Round-Up #35

Back to the Future Trilogy
(1985 - 1989 - 1990)
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Mary Steenburgen, James Tolkan, Claudia Wells, Elisabeth Shue

Certificate: PG Running Time: Approx 343 minutes

A couple of weeks ago now I decided to do a 'Top Five Movie Moments' post for the original Back to the Future, and in order to do 'research' for this I thought it was best to watch it again. This was of course just an excuse to... well, watch it again! It must be one of my top ten most watched films of all time already, and was also one of the first films I watched many times along with Star Wars and No Retreat, No Surrender. Unsurprisingly therefore, I enjoyed it immensely this time as well. So much so, in fact, that I ended up watching the sequels too, which I rarely do as they never quite did it for me the way the original does. I mean, I enjoy them for the most part, but more because I get to spend more time with the great characters from the first film rather than them being great films in their own right. I suppose they are at least good films, they just pay the price for being sequels to a far greater film. Anyway, however possibly-foolish this opinion may be, I figured I might as well make a brief post here about them here! To that end, I present:

Sunday, 2 May 2021

PS4 Purchases #12

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap by Lizardcube / Dotemu (2017)

Any observant regular visitors here might remember that I've posted about this game before. Indeed, there was a preview and a review of the Steam version that I've had for many moons, but when a game is as wholly wondrous as this one, the prospect of a physical copy to keep for many ages of our world is a mighty appealing one. I had this PS4 version on my Amazon wishlist pretty much since I had the Steam version, and then, to my not inconsiderable delight, I received it as a gift for my last birthday! Its 'main' cover is typical of the lovely new artwork found in the remade game. It still looks delightful and I can now look at it whenever I want. But I soon discovered the game comes with a reversible cover, the other side of which features some nice, rather more CGI-ish artwork. Upon opening the case, however, there was something else I noticed before I discovered this alternative cover.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Neo Geo Games #2

Magician Lord (1990)
By: Alpha Denshi / SNK Genre: Platform/Fighting Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: SNK Neo Geo MVS First Day Score: 32,040 (one credit)
Also Available For: Neo Geo AES & CD (ports), PS2, PSP, Wii (on compilations)
Download For: Wii Virtual Console, PSN, Xbox Live

Although the Neo Geo is generally known these days for its one-on-one fighting games, shoot 'em ups, and perhaps also the skillish Metal Slug series, the first run of games for SNK's powerhouse was actually a bit more varied. One of the many standout titles was Magician Lord, a shooty-platformer which takes place in a probably-ancient land called Cadacis which has become consumed with chaos and evilness again after many years of peace. This is all down to a foul sorcerer known as Gal Agiese who has escaped from his magical prison and wrought havoc upon the land. The only hope for the fair people of Cadacis is some guy called Elta who is apparently the 'last descendant' of the much-fabled Magician Lord of old who previously vanquished the heathenous Gal Agiese and his demonic buddies. Quite why he's the last descendant, though, I don't know, maybe he's impotent.

Friday, 26 March 2021

ColecoVision A-Z

Several consoles appeared in the early 80s which were intended to compete with, even supplant the mighty Atari VCS. The effort by Coleco Industries was pretty decent, but sadly their... umm, vision I guess, was thwarted by the 'great videogame crash'. Here, over time, I will take a look at all the system's games. This is one of five posts to that end and features all games beginning with letters K through M:

Ken Uston's Blackjack-Poker (1983)

Okay, I've no idea who Ken Uston is and I don't really have any interest in poker. Nor, I wouldn't have thought, did this title suit the usual Coleco demographic. As far as I can tell, though, it plays a reasonable enough game of blackjack, and probably poker too, and supports up to four players, so if card games are your bag, baby...

Thursday, 18 March 2021

TV Shows #23

The Flight Attendant Season One (2020)
Developed By: Steve Yockey
Starring: Kaley Cuoco, Michiel Huisman, Zosia Mamet, Rosie Perez, T. R. Knight, Michelle Gomez, Colin Woodell, Merle Dandridge, Griffin Matthews, Nolan Gerard Funk, Deniz Akdeniz

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 42-48 Minutes per Episode, 8 Episodes

Tagline: "A Deadly Mystery With a Turbulent Descent."

Love it or hate it, no one could deny that The Big Bang Theory was a huge hit for all involved and the main stars made so much money they could live comfortably for the rest of their lives without ever having to work again. Perhaps some of them will but Kaley Cuoco apparently had other ideas. Back in 2018, you see, Chris Bohjalian wrote a novel called The Flight Attendant and Ms. Cuoco, via her production company, optioned it the previous year. I'm not sure how a novel can be optioned before it has even been released - perhaps she employed the use of witchcraft or is somehow able to manipulate the fabric of the space-time continuum? However it was done, this would've been while she was still working on Big Bang Theory so she was clearly already making plans for the future.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

First Look PC #6

Raider Kid and the Ruby Chest by Cacareco Games (2021) - PC

As is often the case with me, I saw this game somewhere and it caught my eye but it has taken me so long to post about it here that I've totally forgotten where I saw it. It has even changed names (slightly) since I first saw it! Oh well, doesn't matter now I guess. What does matter is the game itself which did and still does remind me of Rick Dangerous at first glance. It comes to us via a Portuguese (?) indie developer called Cacareco Games who have made their adventure in the style of a Game Boy Color game which, I think you will agree, is something they succeeded in. There is a simple backstory which I believe involves the pipsqueak of the title getting separated from a tourist party near some ancient ruins of some sort. So naturally, instead of looking for help he crawls inside the ruins and starts snooping around and soon finds they aren't as lifeless as might've been assumed! I'm guessing the objective is simply to get out alive but there is plenty of things to do on the way to that goal.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Master System Round-Up #6

As long-term visitors here (if there are any) might have noticed, I'm a bit of a Sega fan. It was their arcade games, specifically some of their Super Scaler titles, that got me into gaming to begin with, and their wonderful Master System console that so captivated me for years at home. With that in mind, and since I have now reviewed a sufficient number of the arcade versions of those Super Scaler gamers for a Round-Up, here is a look at their MS versions to see how they measure up:

Hang-On (1985)

I actually played this one before I'd even encountered it in an arcade since it came built into my MS, and I spent a lot of time with it. In fact, I got rather good and thought that would translate over to the arcade version when I did finally get to try it, only to fail miserably! It isn't a bad conversion though, all things considered (it was mainly the giant red bike that caused me problems in the arcades). There are four stages rather than the five in the original (happily, the cool night stage keeps its place) which repeat over and over so you basically keep going for as long as you can, and I used to be able to loop through the game several times. I can't now of course, as my powers have waned over the years, but it's still an enjoyable little racing game. It does get a little repetitive after a while - something a few more stages/backgrounds would've helped with, and some in-game music would've been nice too, but for most of us this was a freebie, and to me at least it was a very welcome one... 8/10 (arcade version reviewed here)

Friday, 12 March 2021

Film Round-Up #34

I suspect there aren't many film fans who don't enjoy seeing a good natural disaster unfold on the big screen. Well, maybe those snobby elitist film 'buffs' who sit around stroking their moustaches while musing over art-house film that don't make any sense while looking down on everyone else, but the rest of us? Yes please! They may not have multiple delicately interwoven plots, they may not (always) be scientifically accurate, sometimes they are total nonsense, but by jove they're good fun! Well, good ones can be. Here's a look at a few I watched recently:

Twister (1996)

There was a lot of hype around this one when it first came out and, like most, I duly watched it, but that was the only time I'd seen it until this feature, so it was like watching a new film. I thought it might've dated really badly if I'm honest, but it's actually still pretty good. It stars Helen Hunt and the late Bill Paxton as Jo and Bill, a married (but separated) couple who chase and research tornadoes along with their team (which includes a young Philip Seymour Hoffman). Naturally there are lots of tornadoes in the rural Oklahoma area in which the team (and an 'evil' rival team, obviously) have gathered and they plan to deploy a new gadget which will help them forecast future tornadoes. This of course involves lots of destruction and close-calls, and that in turn makes for an entertaining, action-packed film as you might imagine. Story and character-development are unsurprisingly light on the ground, but the extensive special effects still look good and the two leads are pretty convincing in their roles. Good fun in a switch-your-brain-off kind of way... 7/10

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Top Five Psygnosis Arts

I have many happy memories of the various computer and/or game magazines I grew up reading but one of a handful of memories that stands out the most are those of the truly wonderful Psygnosis advertisements that adorned said magazines. They were most prevalent from the late 80s to early 90s and they were so eye-catching that to this day I still remember most of them while knowing little about the actual games they were advertising! This is mainly because most of them were for the Amiga and Atari ST which I didn't have, but I will remedy this in a series of posts in near (ish) future. In the meantime, here's a pick of some of the finest examples of their adverts from those glorious days. A gallery of them all will follow.

5. Barbarian (1987)

No, not that violent Barbarian game with Wolf and Maria Whittaker in the advert, although that was also memorable for different reasons (chortle!). The artwork for this Barbarian was, like many Psygnosis games, the work of talented British artist Roger Dean and, slightly oddly, places the warrior of the title only in the title logo thingy rather than in the actual scenario depicted in the art. The only creature there is a red dinosaur-type beastie which, as far as I know, doesn't feature in the game at any stage, but it's certainly a distinctive piece all the same. The game itself is a stabby platform adventure which casts the player in the expected role, but it has aged much less favourably than its lovely artwork thanks to some slow, sluggish gameplay that isn't helped by a 'unique', somewhat cumbersome control method. Look but don't touch!

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Steam / GOG Downloads #8

SteamWorld Dig A Fistful of Dirt (2013)
By: Image & Form Genre: Platform/Arcade Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: PS4, Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, Switch

Anyone who visited my little page back around the turn of last year may recall a post I made wherein my good friend Luke had given me five game recommendations which I had then vowed to play before the end of the following year. Well, it took me over half of said year but I finally got around to playing the first of his choices, and it has taken me even longer to review it, but it was... SteamWorld Dig! It was among the more popular indie titles of its day so I'm definitely late to the party but due to such high praise from Luke I was keen to get stuck in. Near enough straight away, however, I found that it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I kind of had the impression it was a fairly standard platformer, just set underground. Maybe something like Spelunky. But it's actually more like a much slower-paced, somewhat more complicated Mr Driller. Well, kind of anyway.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Memorable Bosses #3

The Freaky Flower
Game: Wiz 'n' Liz

The first two bosses I chose for this feature are legendary in the world of games but for this example is memorable to much fewer gamers, perhaps only me. It is, as its name suggests, a freaky flower, perhaps a mutant sunflower or something, and is the first boss you encounter when playing the excellent Wiz 'n' Liz, assuming the options were left as default. It doesn't really do much if I'm honest - there are no explosive seeds or scything leaves or anything like that; It doesn't actually fire anything at you. All it does do really is swing its head back and forth and occasionally run across the screen using its uprooted... umm, roots I guess. Oh, and it also looks grumpy, possibly due to how easy it is to defeat (which is very). I'm not really sure why I remember it so well really. Maybe it's simply because I played the game a lot and therefore 'fought' the orange menace, wiping his filth from the land many times. Maybe it's just because it's a giant sunflower. All I know is, for whatever reason, this cursed creature was one of the first to pop into my head when conceiving this series of posts.

Click here for a full review of Wiz 'n' Liz, Mega Drive version.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Movie Review #117

Birds of Prey
Director: Cathy Yan Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ewan McGregor, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 109 Minutes

Tagline: "Mind Over Mayhem"

Many moviegoers found DC's Suicide Squad to be rather whiffy, myself included, but with one exception - namely, Margot Robbie and her great performance as The Joker's main squeeze, Harley Quinn. Also like me, many were hoping to see more of her, but in a better film; perhaps a solo film where the focus would be (even more) on her. Happily, it didn't take long for just such a film to be announced. It may not have been called Harley Quinn: The Movie but the emphasis was without doubt on the loopy psychiatrist with the dazzling ass this time, although she wouldn't be on her own by any means. As even I know, the 'Birds of Prey' of the title are an all-female group of superheroes but, to my admittedly limited knowledge regarding the comicbook world, they don't count Ms. Quinn among their members, so I was a little confused as to the format this film would take. Birds vs Quinn, perhaps?

Sunday, 28 February 2021

ColecoVision Games #1

By: Exidy Genre: Maze / Shooting Players: 1
Difficulty: Easy-Medium First Day Score: 173,800
Featured Version: ColecoVision
Also Available For: Arcade, VCS, Intellivision

I had intended to restrict all of my ColecoVision coverage here to 'Round Up' posts since the games in question are usually very simple and also invariably available on other systems too, but I was recently reminded of Venture while looking at t-shirts on the Redbubble website of all places. A short while playing it later and I decided that not only should I burble about it here but that it should even receive a proper review (not that I've gotten around to many Round Ups so far anyway!). Like many games of its day it first appeared in arcade form but the Coleco was the first system to see a home version, and it was apparently a launch title for the leathery company's spiffing new console too (voontle). I was too young to be among those first few lucky owners myself, but if I had been I suspect Venture would've taken up a lot of my time. Well, that's assuming my parents were kind enough to buy me the console and game, obviously. It was one of the more reasonably-priced consoles though!

Saturday, 27 February 2021

PS4 Purchases #11

Secret of Mana by Square / Q Studios (2018)

I think it's likely I will always prefer the MegaDrive over the SNES but it's impossible to forget that the latter was home to some stunning games that never appeared on the MD. Among them was Secret of Mana which I have played since missing it in its day and its quality was quickly obvious. Then I saw it was the latest old classic to get the remake treatment and would even be getting a physical release for the PS4 and probably some other formats too. Fearing this version would be available in limited numbers and would quickly end up as expensive as so many others these days, I made the uncharacteristic move of pre-ordering it. That was two years ago and I still haven't played it as my OCD demands that I play the SNES version more thoroughly first. And as it turned out, this PS4 version has not gotten expensive at all. Oh well, least I still have it to look forward to (chortle!), and it does look really nice. The question is, does it lose any charm and character as a result of the new graphics? I know those qualities to be among those held in the highest regard as far as the original is concerned after all. Perhaps one day, when I've got a long white beard and two or three marbles rolling around upstairs, I'll find out...