Wednesday 31 January 2024

The Best of X68000 Cover-Art - Part 1

The X68000 has long been a system that has interested me. As well as looking cool, it hosts some great games including some famously-awesome arcade conversions. I would like to cover it more here but, like most Japanese home micros, it's a pain in the arse to emulate and it's certainly not a realistic system to buy. Due to the high cost of the actual system as well as most games for it, and no doubt for numerous other reasons, it's not one that's popular with collectors, at least in this hemisphere. It doesn't seem to get mentioned much at all really, from what I've seen. As a result of all this, not only have I not played many games for it, but I haven't even seen many of the physical games, even online, so I found myself wondering what the cover-art was like for them. After a little effort, I have found some cover scans and have taken it upon myself to choose the most eye-catching ones! Here is the first of what will probably be four posts on the subject...

38 Man Kilo No Kokuu...
Air Combat...

Thursday 18 January 2024

Game Boy Games #5

Choplifter II: Rescue and Survive (1991)
By: Beam Software  Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo Game Boy First Day Score: ???,???
Also Available For: Nothing

I've never really been a handheld gamer for some weird reason - it was always the home consoles that interested me - so when I saw that Choplifter III had been released on the SNES I was mildly startled. I had long enjoyed the original game on my delightful Master System, and here, apparently, was the third game, but what in the blue blazes had happened to the second game? The answer wouldn't find my eyes until many moons later but it turned out that Choplifter II was a Game Boy exclusive of all things. Crikey, I exclaimed! Once I got over the shock of this unexpected news and considered the game for a moment, I was immediately sceptical that such a game would work on the small, blurry screen. The view of the action would have to be much more zoomed-in so you could actually see stuff for one thing, and that would open you up to being killed by something when it scrolled onto the screen right next to you. I suppose I should play the game before condemning it for my imagined slights (to partly quote Thor from The Avengers) though, huh?!

Monday 15 January 2024

Top Five John Hughes Films

If you asked someone old enough to name the best films of the 80s, you would very likely hear names like Ghostbusters and Back to the Future, but I'm confident a majority of the John Hughes filmography would be mentioned too. When I say that, I'm only counting the films he actually directed as well as wrote, rather than the far greater number for which he has only a writing credit. That only leaves eight films, but nonetheless, for many, his films define 80s cinema, especially if you grew up in that decade as I did. Here are my pics for his finest efforts:

5. Sixteen Candles (1984)

I suspect many had a bit of a thing for teen hottie Molly Ringwald in the 80s and this was the first of her 'big three' releases in successive years, but I was only seeing it for the first time here. She stars as Sam Baker who is hoping for big things following her imminent 16th birthday, only to find her family all forgot about it! They are a little preoccupied with her older sister's wedding the day after but even so! Aside from that there isn't too much of a story though. She goes to school as normal where she gossips with her friend, crushes on senior Jake (Michael Schoeffling), gets chased around by geek Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), goes to a school dance, etc. There isn't much more to it really, it's kind of a 'slice of life' 80s high school comedy that happens to take place on and just after the main character's birthday. It's possibly most famous these days for Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe), a foreign exchange student whose racially-stereotyped scenes are, frankly, not very funny, but I enjoyed most of the rest of it. Ringwald and Hall are great and share some nice scenes, and the general 80s-ness is wonderful too. Not sure Sam should've given up her panties so readily though - lord only knows what ends up being done to/with them...

Sunday 31 December 2023

Run 'n' Gun Games #10

Psycho-Nics Oscar (1987)
By: Data East Genre: Run 'n' Gun Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 93,900
Also Available For: Nothing

I'll be the first one to admit that my coverage of the Commodore 64 has been pretty woeful here. The reasons why could be the subject for another post, but I have been meaning to review Turrican here for a long time. I decided to finally do so recently, only to find it was apparently 'inspired' by an earlier game, and an arcade game no less. Accordingly, my OCD will not allow me to review Turrican first, so here is a look at the curiously-named Psycho-Nics Oscar, released in 1987 by Data East. This puts it in their RoboCop/Dragon Ninja phase which was, in my opinion, their best period as an arcade developer. It doesn't seem to have much in the way of a backstory though. As far as I can tell, the player takes on the role of Oscar, but I'm not sure if he/it is a robot or a guy controlling a mecha. Hmm, anyway, whatever Oscar is, your simple-yet-difficult job is to liberate Ordio City. I am again unsure if this is a city on a future Earth or if it's on an alien planet, but who needs an excuse to neutralise alien (probably) filth?

Wednesday 13 December 2023

First Look Mega Drive #1

Mega R-Type by TheRoboZ (2024?) - MegaDrive

As regular visitors here might have noticed, there has once again been a period of neglect here at this blog. There are reasons for this, of course, but recently my good friend Luke texted me regarding a game I had long imagined: R-Type on the Mega Drive! If that's not something to get me burbling away here like I used to, what is?! Indeed, for I often spend time wondering what non-existent arcade ports might've been like, and one that has always mystified me is R-Type on the MD. Or lack thereof, obviously. I know it had already been wowwing shooter fans for a while by the time the MD launched but it still would've made for a top-tier release for Sega's 16-bit powerhouse, surely? Oh well, it never happened for one reason or another, but it seems I'm not the only one who wished it had.

Saturday 25 November 2023

TV Shows #31

Halo Season One (2022)
Developed By: Kyle Killen & Steven Kane
Starring: Pablo Schreiber, Natascha McElhone, Yerin Ha, Kate Kennedy, Olive Gray, Shabana Azmi, Natasha Culzac, Bentley Kalu, Charlie Murphy, Danny Sapani, Jen Taylor, Bokeem Woodbine

Certificate: NR Running Time: 40-59 Minutes per Episode (approx), 9 Episodes

There are some films/shows that I follow the development of and eagerly await right from them getting greenlit all the way up to their release, especially examples of the sci-fi genre. Halo was not one of these. I ultra-know about the games, of course - I've even played one of them a little (the first one for the original Xbox, as detailed here) - but the show? I didn't even know there was one until it had already been out for a while, and when I did find out, I wasn't super excited since videogame adaptations generally suck donkey balls anyway, and any residual excitement I might have had for the show was quickly tempered by the almost-unanimously negative reactions it had earned online. These things happen often I suppose, especially to things with existing 'fandoms', but it still wasn't a good sign.

Monday 20 November 2023

Arcade Adventures #7

Lord of the Sword (1988)
By: Sega Genre: Arcade Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Sega Master System
Also Available For: Nothing

For the second review in a row I've found myself in the not-unstartling position of apparently having had a game's genre wrong for 35-odd years! Last time was It Came From the Desert and now it's this MS exclusive from Sega. It got rather mediocre reviews in its day so I've never shown a huge amount of interest in it, but from screenshots I always assumed it was a Rastan or Legendary Axe type deal. It kind of is I suppose, but it's a more adventurey kind of game than those two. We'll come to that later though. You play through the game as a fellow known as Landau. I assume this isn't meant to be classic actor Martin Landau, star of Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999 amongst many others, probably including even more examples with colons. No, this Landau is just some guy with long hair.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Memorable Bosses #4

Big Core MK I
Game: Gradius & some sequels

Big Core's first appearance on the PC Engine...
Of all the bosses found in the many shmups we've seen over the years, this fairly unremarkable craft is not one that leaps into your mind when thinking of memorable examples, I suspect. But there are two reasons why it does leap into mine. First of all, it was, to my knowledge, the first ever proper boss in the genre that soon came to be known as shoot 'em ups, so it has historical relevance. Secondly, its imminent arrival is heralded by one of my favourite game choons of all time! One might argue it's not really an appropriate composition for a boss battle of any kind, never mind such an important one. It's a short and simple track, as you might well expect from the era, and it sounds rather too jolly and upbeat to really suit the on-screen confrontation. You hear it almost every stage too, since the mighty Big Core is the boss on most of the stages (chortle!), but I don't care about any of that. It holds nostalgic value for me, particularly the excellent PC Engine version which is by far the one I've spent most time playing, but it is also genuinely a memorable boss regardless. The fact that it has reappeared in later Gradius games is testament to that. There have been far more impressive bosses over the years but Big Core Mk I still holds a special place in my gaming affections.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Arcade Adventures #6

It Came from the Desert (1989)
By: Cinemaware Genre: Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Amiga
Also Available For: PC, PC Engine

I mention the old games magazines I used to read in my younger years quite often here at Red Parsley, and indeed they continue to provide me with many warm memories. One game I always remember seeing was the scarily-titled It Came From the Desert - scary, perhaps, more due of the giant ants that featured in screenshots of the game and adorned promotional material than the name itself. I remember seeing reviews in several magazines such as C&VG and Ace and I wanted to play it despite not owning anything that could play it, and not even really knowing what kind of game it was since neither system I owned (Spectrum and Master System) featured anything like it to my knowledge. By the time I actually had an Amiga, I guess I had forgotten about this distinctive game, and it has remained unplayed by me for all these long years since. That is... until now!

Friday 30 June 2023

TV Shows #19 - Part 2

Hanna Season Two (2020)
Developed By: David Farr Starring: Esme Creed-Miles, Mireille Enos, Yasmin Monet Prince, Dermot Mulroney, Áine Rose Daly, Anthony Welsh, Cherrelle Skeete, Gianna Kiehl, Katie Clarkson Hill, Emma D'Arcy

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 47-53 Minutes per Episode, 8 Episodes

I had been very enthusiastic about watching the first season of Hanna since I liked and still like the film original very much. My wife and I watched the series adaptation with interest pretty much as soon as it was available, and while it probably had too much filler, we both enjoyed it nonetheless. Happily, season two was soon given the greenlight too, which would surely take us into wholly uncharted territory since the events of the film were covered in the first season (albeit slightly differently). It has taken me a long time to get around to watching it - so long, in fact, that I decided to first rewatch the whole of season one to refresh my memory, and doing so made me think I was a little harsh on it in my review. I think part of it is that I've warmed up to Esme Creed-Miles in the main role. Whatever the reason, I was very much up for season two. My wife didn't join me this time (waiting for her is part of the reason it took me so long to watch!), but I was nonetheless eager to see where Mr. Farr took the story.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Splendid PlayStation Music #3

I've been collecting game music for a good few years now. It started thanks to a combination of emulators and their splendid 'sound test' features along with recording programs such as Audacity, and I also used to download some examples using P2P file sharing thingies like Kazaa. For many moons I had a song called Moon Over the Castle which I acquired using the P2P method. It was excellent but I didn't know which game it was from. Admittedly, I didn't put too much effort into finding out and instead just assumed it was from a Castlevania game owing to its name and style.

I can't remember how, but I found out many years later where this great song came from, and it wasn't a Castlevania game at all - it was (and still is) actually the main theme to the Gran Turismo series! Judging by the musical style, a racing game would have been the last type I would've guessed, even one so mighty as Gran Turismo! It was written by Masahiro Andoh of T-Square and was, as far as I can tell, only used in the Japanese versions of the games until the fourth instalment which goes some way to explaining how I didn't know it was the theme to a game I'd played extensively! Anyway, however I might've encountered it, and wherever I thought it was from, it's a fantastic piece of music and I encourage you to embrace it accordingly!

Special Note: I didn't record this great tune myself, I'm just an admirer, so all credit goes to the original composer

Monday 19 June 2023

Awesome Nature #24

Type: Bird  Lives In: New Zealand  Conservation Status: Vulnerable

There are many awesome animals in the world but the kiwi is one I keept forgetting about, then when I'm reminded of it I wonder why. They do of course only live in New Zealand which could be one reason why, but there are, surprisingly, five distinct species of them there. They look pretty similar of course, and they are a bit bigger than I'd realised (similar in size to chickens) but are still far smaller than most other members of their family (ratites) such as ostriches, emus and rheas. In fact, their closest relative is the now-extinct Elephant Bird. They are cute little fuzzballs in any case, who spend mostly-nighttimes scrummaging around forest floors looking for seeds, insects, worms and fruits to eat, and they have a remarkable nose located at the end of their long, slightly curved beaks with which to find these things. They have several other rather strange characteristics too, most likely due to how isolated they were for much of their existence. I'm not sure my behind could handle the amazingly-long flight needed to catch sight of one of these flightless flappers in person but I sure would like to bear witness to one. I wonder if they would let me pick them up? Very reluctantly, I'd say, judging by the end of this short National Geographic video I saw!

Why It Is Awesome: It's a fuzzy brown sphere with a beak!

Sunday 11 June 2023

Indie Nuggets #7

Adventures of a Radish (2016)
By: Sorceress Game Lab Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Nothing

I'm always liked seeing fruits and vegetables in games. Usually they are just pick-ups for bonus points or a power-up of some sort, but how many games actually let you play as a fruit or vegetable? I can't think of too many but Adventures of a Radish is definitely one such game! I can't remember how I first discovered it now but it's another one that has lain dormant in my 'games to review' folder for many years of men. Actually, that's not strictly true - I have played it on and off but the review has clearly not been forthcoming. Upon returning to it for this post I realised it doesn't seem to have a backstory, so I guess you're just... a sentient radish. I'm not complaining, of course - there are undoubtedly worse things to be - but some games require stories or objectives to provide motivation to play them.

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Cover Art Face-Off #2

Oh hey, what's going down? If you've visited this ridiculous page recently you might recall a post I made featuring the various famous Sega IPs that, for one odd reason or another, appeared on their own console's rival, the NES. They were mostly of reasonable quality, though of course inferior to the versions found on the mighty Master System, but it was interesting to take a look at them. While on the subject, however, I also looked into the cover artwork for the NES releases since they were unlikely to be using the MS's white grid covers, and indeed they were not. So I figured I might as well make a follow-up post about those too! Therefore, behold:

After Burner (1987/89)

This was one of the first ever games I had in my possession and therefore one of the first game covers to dwell on my shelf so it holds some nostalgic value for me, but let's face it - it looks like something a low-level factory worker doodled in his/her lunch break! The NES offering was for the US market and features a much more impressive-looking F-14 fighter front and centre. I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable about US military hardware to know how accurate it is, but it sure looks cool here, especially surrounded by tracer fire and explosions. It even has the title in its correct font! Though it pains me slightly to say it, there can only be one winner here...

Sunday 28 May 2023

TV Shows #30

Reacher Season One (2022)
Developed By: Nick Santora
Starring: Alan Ritchson, Malcolm Goodwin, Willa Fitzgerald, Chris Webster, Bruce McGill, Maria Sten, Currie Graham, Kristin Kreuk, Harvey Guillén

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 42-54 Minutes per Episode, 8 Episodes

Usually I find it somewhat irritating when people complain about a book adaptation straying from the source material. After all, if the screen version is different enough, it just means you potentially have two things to enjoy rather than two different forms of the same thing! One recent(ish) example I remember was Jack Reacher, released just over ten years ago starring Tom Cruise as the titular character. I personally didn't even know there were Jack Reacher books at the time but it turned out there were many, they were very successful, and their many fans were incensed at the casting choice to play their beloved hero. Moviegoers seem to have a bit of a love/hate view of Cruise at the best of times but here he was playing a character who, in the books at least, is 6ft5 and 250lbs. I've always been a fan of Cruise, at least as far as his movies are concerned, but for all his talents and abilities, being 6ft5 and 250lbs is not among them! The film did okay but most Reacher fans stayed away.