Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2014

Well, after revisiting many of my old reviews, and indeed getting the urge to play many of the games again too (I don't often get the time to play games simply for pleasure these days), we're finally up to date! The biggest difference with this list is the presence of several indie PC games - a type of game I've increasingly become a fan of since delving into that dauntingly-large world - but this year also featured some landmark arcade titles and I finally reviewed my very favourite game of all time too. Behold, the ten best games I've played (and reviewed) this year are:

10. Oids by FTL Games (1987) - Atari ST

For many years, every time the subject of 'gravity games' comes up I've heard three names - Gravitar, Thrust, and Oids. The latter is one that I never played until this review but it's turned out to be the best of them all - as well as loads of stages featuring all the usual stuff but it even has a level editor too! (full review here)

Monday, 29 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2013

Remarkably (for my standards), I've now posted reviews of over 400 games here at Red Parsley, covering many systems and genres, popular and obscure titles alike. I've still barely even scratched the surface of most of these of course, and my 'to do' list contains well over 400 more titles, but I've still played a lot of good and bad games over these (almost) five years. Here is a list of the finest examples from my fourth year of blogging. Only seems like yesterday that I reviewed some of these...

10. Ghost'n Goblins by Capcom (1985) - Arcade

I actually played Ghouls'n Ghosts before this but I'd heard it was meant to be just as almost-impossibly tough. As it turned out, it wasn't too bad in that regard - it was still a big challenge but not as frustrating as expected, and I consequently enjoyed it a lot. Sir Arthur's first adventure remains a top arcade game. (full review here)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2012

Remarkably (for my standards), I've now posted reviews of over 400 games here at Red Parsley, covering many systems and genres, popular and obscure titles alike. I've still barely even scratched the surface of most of these of course, and my 'to do' list contains well over 400 more titles, but I've still played a lot of good and bad games over these (almost) five years. Here is a list of the finest examples from my third year of blogging. I need to play some of these again...

10. Yars' Revenge by Atari (1981) - Atari VCS

I missed the heyday of the VCS so I didn't get around to playing this highly-regarded title for it until many years after its release but first impressions of it were still great even after all this time. It's as simple as you would expect from the VCS but the challenge is just right and it's very addictive! (full review here)

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post today to wish all my readers, whether occasional or regular, a very Merry Christmas! That's if you celebrate it of course. If you don't, I hope you're all having a great time anyway, regardless of what you're doing! The festive season here in RKS Land has been spent fairly lazily for the most part - something that will no doubt shock those who know me personally - but I've received some mighty fine gifts including a couple of games. Look out for posts featuring those... at some point. Until then, wishing Happy Holidays to all of you. Have fun :)


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2011

Remarkably (for my standards), I've now posted reviews of over 400 games here at Red Parsley, covering many systems and genres, popular and obscure titles alike. I've still barely even scratched the surface of most of these of course, and my 'to do' list contains well over 400 more titles, but I've still played a lot of good and bad games over these (almost) five years. Here is a list of the finest examples from my second year of blogging. Seems like such a long time ago now...

10. Hellfire by Toaplan (1990) - MegaDrive/Genesis

Jaz Rignall of C&VG/Mean Machines used to rave about this one, a rare example of a horizontal-scroller from Toaplan, but I never really thought it looked like much. Then I played it and discovered one of the smoothest and most well designed such games yet seen! It's tough but I still can't stop playing it. (full review here)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Film Review #73

Submarine (2010)
Director: Richard Ayoade Starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Paddy Considine, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 97 Minutes

Tagline: "A comedy that doesn't let principles stand in the way of progress."

The teen high-school comedy/drama movie has been popular since I can remember; a staple, no doubt, of many of our own formative years and beyond, but pretty much every one I've seen has been American. Submarine is also considered a comedy of this type but it's British, so, as you might've guessed, it's not quite like the teen comedies that most of us are used to. It is set in Wales and stars the relatively unknown Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige as 15 year old class-mates, Oliver and Jordana. The former is a bit of an oddball, rather introverted, and infatuated with the latter. She is far more feisty, a bit of a pyromaniac... and only vaguely aware of his existence. That is, until his joining in with a spot of bullying gets her attention, at which point she decides he'd be an ideal candidate to make her ex-boyfriend jealous. One staged set of 'kissing photos' later...

Friday, 19 December 2014

Games of the Year - 2010

Well, 'tis nearly the festive season here in the UK, and indeed many other countries, and will remarkably be the fifth such season since I've been posting my ramblings here at Red Parsley. Usually this affects the content of my posts to no significant margin, such is my indifference to this time of year (and there are only so many 'Christmas Games' posts people can read, anyway), but this year I was thinking of posting a 'Top Ten Games of the Year' closer to the... ummm, well, end of the year.

This would not, however, be comprised of games released in 2014 - I've played so few of those it would be a bit pointless - but will instead feature my favourite ten games of those that I've reviewed in the year. Since these games could've been made at any time, I suppose this could also be a somewhat pointless exercise, but I'm going to do it anyway. Before I do that, though, I figured I might as well do the same thing for every year since Red Parsley has existed.

If nothing else, this will give me a chance to highlight some of my older reviews (and some great games in the process) to newer readers, and will probably prompt me to tidy them up a bit too (looks like I was less of a perfectionist in the early days!). So, the finest games reviewed during Red Parsley's fledgling year are:

10. Shinobi by Sega (1987) - Arcade

I've probably spent much more time playing the MS version of this classic than this version but few could deny the charm the arcade original has. It's tougher, there's no doubt of that, but it's also very satisfying and enormous fun to play. The gaming world has seen many ninjas but none as cool as Joe Musashi. (full review here)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

3DO Games #6

Icebreaker (1995)
By: Magnet Interactive Studios Genre: Action / Strategy Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: 3DO
Also Available For: PC, Mac

I got my first 3DO whilst it was still a 'current' system and, thanks to its failure and the subsequent price reductions, I was also able to buy most of the games I wanted for it quite quickly too, but one that I was not able to was Icebreaker. It was described by magazines of the day as a puzzle game and the few screen shots I'd seen were quite intriguing, but I was never able to find it anywhere, not even mail order (which was the last resort in those days). So, once again, this fine blog gives me the chance to finally tick another box, so to speak, and the first thing I noticed when I did finally get to play it is that it's not really a puzzle game at all. It's more of a action/strategy mixture, and it's quite an unusual one at that. The emphasis, you see, is very much on pyramids. There's no back-story to speak of so it's difficult to know how or why they came to be, but there are a lot of them.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Film Review #72

Event Horizon (1997)
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, Kathleen Quinlan, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee

Certificate: 18 Running Time: 95 Minutes

Tagline: "Infinite Space, Infinite Terror"

I've been a fan of science fiction for most of my life, certainly since I can remember, so it's very odd that I never got around to watching Event Horizon before now. It wasn't especially well-received in its day, nor was it very successful, but, like my viewing of martial arts films, a lack of critical acclaim never usually stops me from giving the latest example the once over. Thanks to the ever-helpful Netflix recently reminding me of its existence, however, I've finally done just that. I never knew that much about its plot other than there being a spacecraft and some sort of horror element to it, so I naturally assumed I was in store for some sort of Alien-like mystery/massacre, and that theory seemed a sound one when I started watching.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Arcade Racing Games #4

WEC Le Mans 24 (1986)
By: Konami Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 97,380
Also Available For: Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MSX, ZX Spectrum

There are many things about most games that can help to make them memorable other than simply being really good. As far as WEC Le Mans is concerned, that was achieved in two ways, for me at least. First, by featuring that supremely lovely Porsche (a 962 if I'm not mistaken) with its distinctive Dunlop livery on all its promotional materials (which, ironically, was not used in-game), and second, by housing the arcade version in a large, round (not to mention rather bulbous) simulatory machine that actually spun players around in accordance with the on-screen action. But is the game actually any good? This was something I didn't really know until recently as I'd spent far more time remembering its adverts and giant twirly machine than actually playing it, and that's odd since it was part of the fine selection in my local arcade at the time, and a fairly decent version (supposedly) was also available for my trusty Speccy. Ooof! Time for this fine blog to save the day once again.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Gaming Memories - Part 15

Most of my posts in this series of features have relayed my many happy years with the console or computer in question but the previous one, a few months ago now, was a little different. It was regarding my tenure as a Game Boy owner which, sadly and for reasons I'm not really able to fathom, I owned only for a rather brief period. Looking back now I find it strange, then, that a decade or so later I decided to give Nintendo's by now-ultra successful handheld another chance.

By now the Game Boy was a bit old hat though, so I figured I'd instead go for the newer, fancier Game Boy Advance, and if I was going to do that I might as well get the very latest model which was at the time the 'SP'. In fact, if I'm honest, it was the recent news of some limited edition versions of the SP that really swayed me (as well as a very brief encounter with an old friend's GBA which I saw running a Street Fighter Alpha game rather impressively) and I duly sought out and purchased the one that most appealed to me - an 'NES Classics' model whose colour scheme was based on... the NES, believe it or not. As can plainly be seen in the picture here, it was certainly a great looking device, resembling an NES controller when open and an NES console itself when closed. This made it a lovely item for my collection but would I spend any more time using it than I did its predecessor?

Monday, 8 December 2014

Thunder Force Series - Part 8

Thunder Force 4 a.k.a. Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar (1992)
By: Techno Soft Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis  First Day Score: 494,440
Also Available For: Saturn (compilation)

Jeepers, has it really been two and a half years since I last visited this fine series?! I guess that could be because the wonderful third game has for so long been not only my favourite game in the series but my favourite shmup overall as well. Back in the early 90's I owned all three MD Thunder Force games and duly purchased the fifth game for the mighty Saturn when it was released too, but the second and third games, particularly the latter, have always been the ones I have returned to - for some reason I never really 'felt' the subsequent releases regardless of the acclaim they continued to receive. This fourth game, known as Lightning Force in the US for some bizarre reason, is often cited by fans as the pinnacle of the series, for example, so I guess it's finally time for me to devote the time and effort to it that it clearly deserves. Can it possibly be better than the third game?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

TV Shows #6

The Killing U.S. Version (2011 - 2014)
Created By: Søren Sveistrup (original Danish version) Starring: Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell, Liam James, Michelle Forbes, Brent Sexton, Kristin Lehman, Eric Ladin, Brendan Sexton III, Jamie Anne Allman, Elias Koteas, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Julia Sarah Stone, Peter Sarsgaard, Gregg Henry, Tyler Ross

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 45 Minutes (per episode)

Tagline: "Be Careful What You Uncover"

Despite not having actually watched TV for over ten years now, generally speaking, there are a tonne of shows I still want to watch, either on DVD as I used to, or on Netflix or Amazon Prime as is more likely now. Therefore, when my wife suggested we watch The Killing I really wasn't that keen. I hadn't heard bad things about it, I hadn't heard anything about it in fact, I just had too many other shows I wanted to watch. But I know better than to argue these things so we started watching it. As you probably guessed, it's a serial crime drama but you may not know that it's based on a Danish show called Forbrydelsen, created by Søren Sveistrup. The US doesn't have the best track record of remaking shows or films from overseas so I was a little wary when I discovered this, but I was happy to find... it wasn't half bad.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Currently Playing...

Battle Squadron (1990)
By: Innerprise Software / Electronic Arts  Genre: Shooting   Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga  First Day Score: 361,000
Also Available For: MegaDrive/Genesis
Download For: Android

My Sega fanboy-ness was never stronger (or more irrational, some might say) than in the MegaDrive/Amiga days and one game I often used to cite as a demonstration of the superiority of Sega's mighty machine was Battle Squadron. My review of the MD version a few years back was surprisingly impartial but the fact is I've always viewed it as the better version. My opinion has naturally been contested by various Amiga fanboys over the years but I have always remained resolute. Nonetheless, I recently decided to give their beloved version of the game another try anyway!

There is actually one immediately noticeable thing about that the Amiga version that is superior to the MD, and that's its box-art. That's (possibly) a subject for another post though. As far as the actual game is concerned, there are less dramatic differences. For all intents and purposes, they are both versions of the same game which, in case you haven't played it or seen the MD review, is a one or two-player vertical scroller which charges you with violently disassembling the evil Barrax Empire.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

PSN Downloads #4

Vessel (2014)
By: Strange Loops Games Genre: Platform / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation 3
Also Available For: PC, Mac

There doesn't really seem to be a massive amount of games starring genius/mad scientists but most of the ones that are around seem to be platformy puzzle games. One of my favourite such examples is the Amiga game, Morph, but Vessel, while further proof of my theory, is quite a bit different. It's a game I recently happened upon via PSN and is a port of a game I've now discovered was released a full two years earlier in it's original PC incarnation. Not sure what the delay was as it seems to be pretty much the same game, and that's one starring M. Arkwright, an inventor who has created a type of splooshy liquid automaton called the Fluro (fluid robot). They were supposed to take over all the laborious monkey jobs that us lazy humans can't be arsed to do but, unsurprisingly, they soon had other ideas.