Sunday, 27 December 2015

Puzzle Games #19

Bounder (1986)
By: Gremlin Graphics Genre: Action / Puzzle Players: 1  Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum  First Day Score: 55,340
Also Available For: Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, Commodore 64, Commodore 16/Plus 4, MSX

I must've played a fair few games that involve a tennis ball in some capacity but this must be the first and only game in which I've played as a tennis ball. The reason for this is not explained in any way in the game's instructions which serve only as... well, instructions, on how to proceed, and even then only briefly. The object of the game is to steer your perpetually bouncing tennis ball through all ten of the vertically-scrolling stages, avoiding the many obstacles and hazards until you reach the 'goal' at the end. You can move it forwards, left, right, and... that's it. The only surfaces you can bounce on safely are the hexagon tiles and the two types of special tiles - arrows which gives you a super bounce, and question marks which give you a bonus, though not always a good one.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Oops, I'm very nearly too late this year (by UK time at least) but just a quick post 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 having a great time anyway, regardless of what you're doing! The festive season here in RKS Land has been spent in pretty much the same way as usual - gifts and fattening food, lunch with family, lazy evening with new film (review coming soon!), etc. I even received a couple of games from my generous ancestors. Look out for posts featuring those... at some point. Until then, wishing Happy Holidays to all of you. Have fun :)

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Red Parsley Charts - Part 2

Oh, hey, what's going down y'all? Over a year ago now some of you may recall a list posted here of the Top Ten highest rated games that I've reviewed so far. This was meant to be the first of several similar lists leading to a 'Charts' tab at the top of the page, but... I kind of forgot about it. Until now!

That's right, it's now time for the Top Ten highest rated films that I've reviewed! Since I've only actually reviewed a small percentage of the films I've seen and a tiny fraction of those made so far, I guess it's a rather pointless list, but that's never stopped me before. Like its game equivalent, the list will be updated over time, but for now here are the finest films to be reviewed here so far :)

10. Kick-Ass (2010)

I really didn't know quite what to make of this when it first arrived in a shower of glowing reviews but I bought it anyway and immediately loved it! Aaron Johnson is good but Chloe Moretz steals the show for me as Hit-Girl. Great characters, great action, lots of black humour... What more could you ask for? (full review here)

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Crap Games #9

XDR: X-Dazedly-Ray (1990)
By: UNIPACC  Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis  First Day Score: 77,300
Also Available For: Nothing

Most of the titles I've looked at in the 'Crap Games' feature have so far been ones I remember getting slated in magazines of the day, but this latest instalment is different. I have only vague memories of it from back then - possibly because it was only released in Japan - but as I recall its arrival was met with neither adulation nor disdain. It was seen as pretty average in other words. Lately, however, I've been hearing much more about it, specifically from a friend named David who loves shmups so much he even renamed himself after one of his favourite series', Darius. The reason he talks about XDR so much is because he harbours a pure, unmitigated hatred towards what he considers the very worst shmup ever made in the history of the world. Prior to this review I had never played the game but I have been very curious for a while now as to whether it really is that bad.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Gaming Memories - Part 16

Looking back to my early days of gaming, I still find it very odd that I never had any friends who owned a Commodore 64. The mighty Spectrum may have been more popular here in the UK (just about) but there were still plenty of C64’s about, and I read about them all the time in Computer & Video Games magazine and the like, so it was quite strange. Perhaps making it even stranger is the fact that I did have several friends with the less-popular Amstrad CPC, and it was this system along with the Speccy that comprised most of my time with 8-bit home micros.

My good friend Luke had a much-treasured 464 at around the same time I had my Speccy +3 and I recall us using it often, but lodged in my memory most firmly of the the times I spent with the CPC was the example owned by one of my class-mates whose house was, conveniently enough, part-way between school and my house. It was often, therefore, that I would stop off at his house and engage in various game-related skylarkings before running home for dinner and homework. This was the same friend, incidentally, who introduced me, somewhat belatedly, to the Atari VCS. He didn't have too many games and the system was too old to by then to realistically find any new ones to buy, but we enjoyed it all the same. When we weren't hopping around on Frostbite, however, we were in a different room of his sizeable house.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Film Round-Up #11

She may not particularly popular among film fans but I've always been very keen on Jennifer Aniston (at least in part thanks to her always-prominent 'nippular area'). As she proved in Friends over the years, she's a talented comedic actress, but she is capable of more varied roles as well, such as slutty nympho, Julia Harris, in the Horrible Bosses films, and accident victim Claire in this year's Cake.

Most of her work has ended up being in sub-standard romantic comedies though, and while a bit of light-hearted fluff is fine in moderation, she has often seemed stuck in a rut, or even a downwards spiral into oblivion as harsher critics might claim. Here I've taken a look, bravely, some might say, at a selection of her films in the hopes of finding a gem or two amongst the generic rom-coms and other bits and pieces:

Along Came Polly (2004)

One of her first post-Friends films, and it's unsurprisingly a rom-com featuring Jen opposite the usually-decent Ben Stiller (Reuben) who's just broken up with his wife after she cheated on him on the first day of their honeymoon. While he's moping around, however... along came Polly (Aniston) as the title suggests! Polly is a free-spirited, rather directionless ex-classmate of Reuben's whom he starts dating, and her laid-back attitude helps him overcome his neuroses and venture outside his 'safe' comfort zone. That is until his estranged wife (Debra Messing) returns seeking a reunion, obviously. It's silly, predictable nonsense as it probably sounds really, but I still couldn't help but enjoy it anyway. Stiller and Aniston's characters are likeable and they have some decent support from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Missi Pyle as the respective 'best friends', and there are some good laughs amongst the more corny stuff. Not everything works but this isn't nearly as bad an effort as some claim... 7/10

Friday, 11 December 2015

Bomberman Series - Part 12

Super Bomberman (1993)
By: Hudson Soft  Genre: Maze  Players: 1-4  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES  First Day Score: 138,700
Also Available For: Nothing

Growing up as a gamer here in the UK came with a few benefits but it also had its drawbacks. The MSX and NES weren't popular here and we didn't even get the PC Engine at all, so the first time many of us were able to sample the delights offered by Bomberman and his fine games was with this release on the SNES. It was initially launched just a few months after Bomberman '93 which was quite comfortably the best game of the series up to that point, but could the introduction of a new format continue its gradual evolution? I guess we'll see about that later but one thing it did do was introduce a new bad guy in 'the evil Carat Diamond and his cohort, scientist Dr. Mook' who want to steal Bomberman's advanced combat capabilities for use in their special Robot Tournament. Black Bomberman has apparently reformed his character and attempts to stop the diabolical plan but is captured while doing so. Somehow he escapes and warns White Bomberman just as wave upon wave of enemy robots begin their advance toward Peace Town, the home of both antenna-wagglers.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Film Review #84

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (2013)
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet Starring: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Callum Keith Rennie, Niamh Wilson, Judy Davis, Jakob Davies, Dominique Pinon

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 105 Minutes

Tagline: "A Journey in 3D by Jean-Pierre Jeunet."

I've been a fan of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's for a good few years now, at least in part because his films often feature similar kinds of unusual stories and quirky characters as my very favourite director, Wes Anderson, and his directorial style isn't that dissimilar either. This film is his latest effort and the first in English (also the first to be filmed in 3D), but despite the change of language as well as continent, the story is typically unique. It's based on the début novel by Reif Larsen and, as the title suggests, it revolves around T.S. Spivet who is indeed young and prodigious. He's actually 10 years old and lives on a remote ranch in Montana with his entomologist mother, Dr. Clair (Bonham Carter), his unnamed cowboy father (Rennie) who was seemingly 'born a hundred years too late', and his bratty 14-year-old sister Gracie (Wilson) who dreams of becoming Miss America.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Retro News - Amazing Free Game Extravaganza!

I suspect a great many gamers remember an epic adventure/RPG by BioWare called Jade Empire which quickly enchanted all those who sampled its splendidness a couple of generations ago. It was released a somewhat startling 10 years ago now and, while popular, primarily on the original Xbox, it never really reached the level of success many believe it deserved. That, however, could hopefully be about to change.

Electronic Arts are pretty far from my favourite company in the games industry (see here if you are interested) but on this day they bring glad tidings. EA, you see, in their never-ending quest to buy up all of the world's development studios, were successful in adding BioWare to their now-extensive collection. Historically, this would be a bad thing - EA have acquired a reputation for, at best, meddling in games being developed by the studios they own or, at worst, even dismantling a studio entirely (R.I.P. Westwood Studios). But it seems I may have to set aside the fury with which I usually view them, at least temporarily, for I have discovered they are not an entirely cold, calculating, evil entity of a company after all, at least in one particular way.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Maze Games #13

Loaded a.k.a. Blood Factory (1996)
By: Gremlin Interactive / Interplay Genre: Maze / Run 'n' Gun Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sony PlayStation
Also Available For: Saturn

As should be pretty clear from the title screen alone, Loaded is not a game for children. Though certainly not the first game to feature blood 'n' gore in a remotely realistic way, it was probably the first such game I played. It was therefore also the first game to make me question whether the inclusion of so much crimson content added enough to a game to make it worth restricting the number of people that could play it. We'll find that out soon I guess! It's set in the far future and features a space-faring mankind who have colonised many worlds in all corners of the galaxy. One such colony is the Raulf maximum security prison planet where six psychotic mercenaries are among the inmates. They have more reason than the many other inmates to feel aggrieved, however, as they have all been framed for the crimes of an evil space pirate known as F.U.B. who is now warden of the prison.