Friday, 31 January 2014

Top Five Cartoon Cats

Anthropomorphic animals have long been as common as humans in the vast world of cartoons, perhaps even more so, and the most common types must surely be cats and dogs. I've already taken a look at my favourite cartoon dogs here at Red Parsley (and longer ago than I realised too!), however, so it's now time to look at the best feline examples from this dying medium:

5. Stimpy

Lets face it - there are very few occasions when stupidity is not funny, and that's the main reason for Stimpy's appeal. Stimpson J. Cat, as he is more formally known, is best friends with psychotic chihuahua, Ren, but he's also porky and stupid which often sees him on the receiving end of Ren's abuse. He doesn't seem to mind though, and is rarely seen without his stupefying smile and tongue hanging out! As I mentioned before, I was never sure if I was a fan of Ren & Stimpy or not due to its inconsistent quality (in my opinion) but my favourite thing about the show was always Stimpy. He may be an 'eeeediot' but his stupidity is a source of much amusement, and his blissfully ignorant, easy to please nature, and energetic voice also make him endearing.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Point 'n' Click Games #1

Lure of the Temptress (1991)
By: Revolution Software / Virgin Games Genre: Point 'n' Click Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Amiga, Atari ST, Apple Mac

I imagine it's pretty obvious to any regular readers I may have here at Red Parsley that I tend to favour certain game genres over others but I'd like to think there are at least a few examples of all genres that I've enjoyed at one time or another. Then I remember point 'n' click adventures. Fans of these games speak very passionately on the subject but the few examples I've tried have never really 'clicked' with me (har har har!). As with so many other game-related things, however, this mighty fine blog is here to provide me with the prod that I apparently need to give them another try. This first one I've chosen is one I remember from my Amiga days (I think I even had a copy), as well as by the sultry minx who adorned most of the promotional material. It's actually free to download and play now and it's as a result of this that I encountered it thanks to those splendid chaps at Good Old Games who gave me a copy complete with a built-in DOS emulator!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Sega Model 1 Games #1

Virtua Racing (1992)
By: Sega AM2 Genre: Racing Players: 1-8 (via machine link-up) Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: MegaDrive, 32X, Saturn, PlayStation 2

Developers have been flirting and experimenting with 3D graphics in video games since almost as long as they have existed. Atari's vector games of the early 80's like Star Wars and Battlezone were quite convincing for their time, for example, and the home systems didn't miss out either. Innovative titles like 3D Monster Maze on the humble ZX81, the isometrically-viewed games on the Speccy like Knightlore and Head Over Heels, and Incentive Software's superb Freescape games delighted early home computer users before the more powerful 16-bit machines gave us games like Starglider and Carrier Command. These games were all exceptions to the norm though - as we know, 3D graphics in games didn't become standard until the mid-90's and most would say that 'revolution' began with Sega and their 'Virtua' series of games which began in 1992 with the remarkable Virtua Racing.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Film Review #59

The Heat (2013)
Director: Joe Johnston Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Tom Wilson, Michael Rapaport, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 112 Minutes

Tagline: "Good Cop, Mad Cop"

You know it's funny. Just a few weeks ago (or so it seems), I rewatched all the Lethal Weapon films and made a largely unspectacular post about them here at Red Parsley during which I mused about the heyday of 'buddy cop' films - a subgenre which had apparently outlived its welcome and gone extinct. But now, released just a few months ago, is the first such example I've seen for a long while which stars Sandra Bullock as FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn and Melissa McCarthy as Boston PD officer Shannon Mullins who are unceremoniously thrust together to take down some generic 'drug lord'. I first heard of it when I saw the trailer at the cinema. It looked stupid and annoying and I had no interest in seeing it. My wife, however, liked the look of it. And so... being the nice guy I am, I bought it for her, which of course meant I had to watch it too. I braced myself and expected the worst and it seemed as though I had been wise in doing so.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

New Arrival

Holidays are always a bit of a mixed blessing if you ask me. Just two weeks ago I was enjoying blazing sunshine, tropical beaches, eating out every day (and the odd few mosquito bites!), but you always have to return to reality (unless you're really rich or something), and thus, I've now been back in the cold, rainy UK for over a week, with much of that time spent at work. However, as mentioned in my previous holiday-related post, I did receive a gaming-related gift immediately prior to embarking on this memorable trip which I had been waiting to try out.

Not called the 'Emerald Xbox' after all, but it should be...
Some of you may remember the most recent 'Top Five' list here at Red Parsley which featured the gaming systems I most want to own. Splendidly, it seems that one of the handful of people who saw this post was my lovely wife who had apparently decided I had been good enough over the past year to deserve one of the featured systems. The logistics involved in obtaining an FM Towns or X68000 meant they were never a realistic option but, to be honest, I think she made the right choice anyway, the result of which was presented to me on Christmas morning after seemingly having been hidden in our spare bedroom for weeks without my knowledge! And lo, it came to pass that on the morning of our holiest day I received the mighty gift of not just an Xbox but the extra special green Xbox that I had so desired for many years of men. I was surprised to find that it weighed more then ten neutron stars but it sure was a nice looking piece of kit. Now I just needed something to play on it!

There were quite a few games I've had in mind to buy for this weighty device should I ever possess one, but such titles are not easy to come by these days, away from the vastness of the internet. Nonetheless, I actually bought my 'test' game the very next day. On the way to the airport I stopped at my local second-hand game store only to find a severely depleted stock of Xbox games, but there was one was that took my fancy, which was available for a mere £1 no less! More on this bargain title in another post but, suffice to say, my splendid green slab worked perfectly.

I shall of course cover this console in more detail with an 'Exploring...' feature once I've acquired a few more games for it - a process that's currently underway, but for now I'm content simply that my Xbox adventures have belatedly begun...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

NES Shmups #4

Gun-Nac (1990)
By: Compile Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo NES First Day Score: 1,512,690
Also Available For: Nothing

Our talent for gradually destroying our own planet is quite remarkable and, if this vertical-scroller from Compile is anything to go by, we won't be learning our lesson any time soon. The splendidly-named Gun-Nac, you see, is set in the 'distant future' by which time we have irreparably shagged up our planet by consuming all of its resources. Much like Agent Smith says, our only way to survive is to 'spread' to a new place, in this case artificial solar systems called 'IOTA Synthetica'. Even these are now in danger, however, from a mysterious wave of destructive cosmic radiation sweeping through the area. The Galactic Federation therefore apparently has little choice but to send the brave Commander Gun-Nac, son of the Legendary Xan, to investigate the cause of the radiation and wipe it out. It doesn't take long, however, before he discovers that this floopy energy flooding the galaxy has actually 'caused ordinary inanimate objects to spring to life and attack the solar systems residents'. Eeek!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Star Trek #4

Next Generation Favourite Episodes - Season Four

The adventures of the Next Generation crew have consistently improved season-by-season so far, with the last season ending with the series' first cliffhanger. Would the fourth season continue this encouraging trend? The answer is almost certainly a resounding 'yes' as far as most fans are concerned. The selection of episodes was the broadest yet and included an interesting glimpse of Picard's home.

The same episode also introduces Worf's adoptive human parents (whose affection makes him amusingly uncomfortable!) and he also soon discovers he has a 'surprise' son. Elsewhere, Troi whines about her senses as usual, Picard battles the Devil, Worf stuns us all by declaring that he is in fact "not a merry man", Dr Crusher almost becomes a lesbian, and Geordie nearly starts a war. There's also an intriguing episode called 'Clues' in which a xenophobic species attempts to trick the Enterprise crew into not realising they exist!

As much as I enjoyed this episode, however, it didn't quite make the cut. Here, therefore, are my choices for the best of season four:

Best of Both Worlds Part 2 (Episode 1)

Well, it was surely among the most painstaking waits in Trek history, but we finally got to find out what happened after Riker gave the order to 'FIRE!' and it was... a big fat nothing. A nothing after which the Borg vessel sped toward Earth with Locutus in tow, ready to blow the crap out of us. Luckily for all, 'Captain' Riker manages to patch up the knackered Enterprise and give chase only to find a huge debris field consisting of what was Federation ships. Oh nooo! :( And all done by one measly Borg 'Cube' too! Of course, the pesky cybernetic freaks get theirs in the end, but at great cost to our stupid, ill-prepared Starfleet. It wasn't all bad though - this encounter apparently led to the construction of the Defiant, the only decent Federation ship, and the episode has gone on to be regarded as not only one of the best TNG episodes but one of the great sci-fi episodes full stop. Although if this kind of thing happened for real, it's hard to imagine the captain in question going straight back to work as though nothing happened. Still, I guess that's what the episode two was for (which was another good one)...

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Star Control - Part 6

Most of my gaming friends are well aware of my appreciation of the Star Control series but I actually discovered it completely by accident. My dad, you see, went through a brief phase of MegaDrive gaming and he discovered a store which I didn’t even know existed. On one of his trips there he picked up a handful of games – some were ones I knew of well, but the one that I’d barely heard of soon turned out to be my favourite of his selection – Star Control.

The strategy game wasn't too popular - but I loved it!
Full details of the actual game can be found in the rather sizeable review I wrote many moons ago but suffice to say, it was a game that had a lasting impact on me. It wasn't just the game either; the main strategy section of the game was enjoyable as well as the more exciting overhead combat, both of which were even better with two-players, but I think it was the attention to detail which impressed me the most. The unique names, look, and spacecraft of all the alien races involved were well thought out and the story, while hardly original in this early form, was quite intriguing too. It revolved around the powerful Hierarchy - a group of subservient races commanded by the apparently evil Ur-Quan, and the Alliance of Free Stars - a hastily assembled group of races opposing the Ur-Quan's murderous goal of enslaving all the sentient races in the known galaxy.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Puzzle Games #16

Dweep Gold (1999)
By: Dexterity Software Genre: Puzzle / Maze Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Nothing

Lots of danger headed Dweep's way it seems...
The world of video games is full of irresponsible oafs who you have to bail out of trouble and this game features another. Meet Dweep, a perpetually jumping purple gonk-like creature who has apparently lost his babies. Unfortunately they haven't just climbed into an open wardrobe or something - they've instead ended up in a dangerous maze! Dweep is therefore rather anxious to retrieve them sharpish, presumably before his better half arrives home and wraps a rolling pin around his head. To do this he needs you to guide him through a number of single-screen mazes which each contain several little Dweeps (all huddled together, luckily). I'm not sure if that means he has an inordinate number of children or if he just keeps losing the same ones over and over, but either way he seems to be a bit of a bumbling oaf.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Happy Holidays (to me - tee hee!)

As some of you may have (hopefully!) noticed, I have been somewhat complacent of late with regards to this humble blog. I seem to have been very busy over the last month or so, partly owing to Christmas of course (although that's never seemed to affect things too much in previous years), but I've also been preparing for the holiday in Thailand with my wife from which I have just returned. We left the UK on December 26th which of course means we were able to enjoy a nice Christmas morning at home (when I received some splendid gifts from my beloved including a new (to me!) console - see forthcoming post) before heading off to see my family who had gathered at my sister's house where we enjoyed a lovely meal and great company. The next day, however, we were off. A rather arduous full day of flights and waiting later and we arrived in Bangkok. A few days were spent here looking at temples and stuff before we moved on to our next location - Phuket - from where I originally wrote this post while sitting poolside in the blazing sunshine.

The setting in which this post was written :)
Unlike my last lengthy holiday two years ago to Brazil, I sadly didn't store up a reserve of reviews and features to post here during my trip this time and, as you may well appreciate, I'm not likely to spend too much time writing stuff while I'm here either. Rest assured, though, that more idiotic ramblings will begin appearing here again now I've returned, whether you want them to or not! In the meantime, may I rather belatedly take this opportunity to extend my hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas time (if you celebrate it) and to wish you all a fantastic New Year. Some of us may have had a great 2013, some may have had an awful one, most will probably have had a mixture of the two, but I hope 2014 surpasses it anyway. I've got plenty of great (in my opinion, at least!) posts planned for Red Parsley, and there's some potentially exciting times ahead for us all. Enjoy!