Saturday, 30 July 2016

Puzzle Games #20

Kero Kero Keroppi no Daibouken (1991)
By: Character Soft Genre: Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo NES First Day Score: 14,400
Also Available For: Nothing

There are several members of the animal kingdom whose presence in a game is usually a good sign of its quality. Everyone knows if a game stars a monkey or a penguin, it's likely to be good, for example, and frogs have a pretty good track-record so far too. I was therefore keen to check out this game after seeing its smiling amphibious star beaming out from its cover, who is, I believe, named Keroppi. It's hard to be totally sure as the game was perhaps unsurprisingly a Japanese exclusive, but he shall henceforth be referred to accordingly anyway. After muddling through a couple of options screens (which allow you to choose one or two players, and whether to start a new game or enter a code), it quickly becomes clear that his game is not only a puzzle-based one but also aimed at younger players too. As Keroppi (probably), it's your job to rescue what appears to be a female frog named Keroleen (so identified by her large eyelashes and what look like pigtails) who has become 'trapped in the castle'.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Film Round-Up #16

I'm not sure why but I've always enjoyed watching serial killer films. It's a bit weird given my aversion to horror films, but 'normal' serial killers? That's just fine by me. I have of course seen the most famous ones such as Seven, Natural Born Killers, the Lecter films etc, but I recently decided it was time to watch some new ones (well, new to me at least). Here, consequently, are the wondrous titles I selected:

God Bless America (2011)

I hadn't heard of this one prior to this feature but I now get the feeling it's one that a lot of people might be able to relate to, myself included. It stars Joel Murray as a seemingly normal salesman, but one who has become sick with the state of American society. Upon receiving several bits of bad news in quick succession, he decides he has nothing left to lose and goes on a killing spree, soon finding himself joined by a like-minded schoolgirl (Tara Lynne Barr). Their targets? Bratty 'reality' TV stars, disruptive cinema patrons, bad parkers, and all the other kinds people that they (and I, and no doubt many of you too) so despise sharing the world with. Okay, so maybe killing them is a little extreme but how many of us haven't felt like doing something similar at least once in our lives? As you might've guessed, it was intended as a black comedy, and it is indeed mighty amusing to people with a mildly twisted sense of humour like me. Murray and Barr are both great in their roles, as are most of their targets I suppose since they are indeed annoying, and their quest is a very satisfying one for anyone with a similar outlook on life and society. Is it too much to call it cinematic wish-fulfilment? ... 8/10

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Retro News - New 2D Sonic Speeds Our Way!

Sonic Mania by Sega & Others (2017) - PS4, Xbone, PC

I don't usually cover special game anniversaries here, I'm not all that bothered by them to be honest, but news reached me today of a special one. Or rather, one that was accompanied by some special news. The recipient of this grand gesture is the incomparable Sonic the Hedgehog who is now 25 years young, and that means, besides making me feel rather old, it's time to celebrate! Sega's chosen method of doing this is to release not one but two new games starring the Blue Blur. The first of these is a new 3D adventure codenamed Project Sonic 2017 which is due for release sometime that year for PS4, Xbone, and Nintendo's new system, the NX. Of much more interest to us is the other title.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Currently Playing...

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (2002)
By: Krome Studios / EA Studios Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Microsoft Xbox
Also Available For: PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC

Let's face it, as much fun as most of them were, the heyday of fuzzy animal game characters was definitely in the 16-bit era. By the time the PS2 and Xbox arrived with all their almost-realistic human characters and corresponding blood and violence, controlling a cute animal seemed a little childish didn't it? I guess that's down to personal preference but they certainly weren't seen as often. One of the more recent I've come across (outside of indie gaming) is this effort by Krome Studios which was actually the first part of a trilogy starring their feisty marsupial.

It's interesting that they've actually gone for an extinct animal for their game but the Australian setting in which he dwells immediately opens up a number of possibilities. The story is as silly as you might imagine and involves Boss Cass, an evil cassowary (a kind of bird if you didn't know) who wants to become the supreme ruler of Australia. This, he will apparently achieve, by activating 'the Dreamtime' for which he has stolen the five mystical talismans. While attempting this, Boss Cass traps all but one of the thylacines (Tasmanian tigers) in a portal to the Dreamtime before his plan is foiled and the talismans are scattered across Tasmania. Unfortunately, this still leaves the thylacines trapped, however.

Friday, 15 July 2016

First Look PSN #7

MicroBot by Naked Sky Entertainment / EA (2011) - PlayStation Network (PSN)

Exploring inside the human body in microscopic form isn't a particularly new concept for the gaming world but this latest effort by Naked Sky must surely be a contender for the most realistic attempt yet. You play as a teeny robot designed to fight infection, and are in fact the fourth generation of such a device. The previous three are still in the body and, after having apparently gone haywire, have caused a load of problems including many infections. The game takes the form of a twin-stick shooter with your job being to travel around the body destroying all of these ghastly viruses, curing diseases, and tracking down the pesky microscopic culprits themselves, which are found across five areas of the body which are each split into four procedurally generated stages.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Adult Games #7

Strip Fighter II (1993)
By: Games Express  Genre: Maze  Players: 1-5  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16  First Day Score: 388,100
Also Available For: X68000

It was only a few weeks past that I finally got around to looking at Street Fighter II properly here at Red Parsley, and not before time. It is of course a true classic which, as mentioned in its review, had an enormous influence on pretty much every other developer around at the time, and soon they were busy releasing similar-looking fighting games of their own. Unsurprisingly, these varied in quality a great deal and even included direct rip-offs and spoofs. Ticking all these boxes is Strip Fighter II. There is no Strip Fighter I - it was named purely to riff on Capcom's most popular and successful instalment in the long-running series, and it does this by injecting a bit of sauciness into proceedings (as if it wasn't obvious from the name!). So, after the worryingly-pornographic content of the last 'adult' game I looked at here, we're back in more familiar territory for this PC Engine release it seems, and that's fine by me.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Film Review #89

Robot & Frank (2012)
Director: Jake Schreier Starring: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Rachael Ma, Jeremy Strong, Jeremy Sisto

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 89 Minutes

Tagline: "Friendship doesn't have an off switch."

There have been a load of films about robots over the years. Most of them feature scary examples equipped with advanced A.I. that usually rise up against their idiotic human oppressors and smack us all up. Robot & Frank, however, is a little bit different. It's the début feature for both director, Jake Schreier, and writer, Christopher D. Ford, it's set in the near future, and focuses on just the one human. Frank (Langella) is a retired cat-burglar - a retirement forced upon him by old age and a failing memory. His son Hunter (Marsden), an attorney with a family of his own, has grown tired of checking up on him, so rather than put him into care, he instead buys him a robot 'butler' to look after him, improve his diet, and get him into a routine to help his memory. Frank, of course, has other ideas and resents the thought of his new 'death machine' waiting for a chance to 'murder him in his sleep'. Chortle!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Retro News - The N64 Shmup That Nearly Was!

I meant to post about this quite a while ago now and I thought I had, but it seems not - oops! Anyway, it's long lost game time again, this time for the N64 - a system many retro gamers bemoan for its lack of 'proper' shoot 'em ups. I imagine it may well cause many rankles among them, therefore, to hear that Sammy Corp were in the process of developing just such a title at the tail end of the 20th century.

As most of you are probably aware already, the original Viewpoint was an isometric shooter, developed by Aicom, published by Sammy, and released first for the Neo Geo and later receiving conversions for the PS1 and MegaDrive, but it seems Sammy later decided to release a sequel of sorts for Nintendo's 3D powerhouse as well. Appropriately enough they switched the titular perspective, making their game an into-the-screen blaster in addition to the original isometric. It sounds promising, I'm sure you agree; kind of like mixing the first game with Star Fox, and indeed it looks promising too - just check out the video below which shows the game in what seems to be a near-finished state which includes some epic-looking boss battles. Sadly, despite showing it off at Nintendo's Spaceworld expo in 1999, Sammy pulled the plug shortly thereafter due to what has been described as 'development issues', and that, as they say, was that.