Monday, 26 September 2016

Splendid Amiga Music #2

Okay, time for another embarrassing confession - I have never played the Secret of Monkey Island games... (silence, occasional tumbleweed)... Yes yes, I know, it's a shameful state of affairs. In my defence, I've never been a big PC gamer, I got into the Amiga really late, and I was never the biggest fan of point 'n' click games to begin with, but it's still unacceptable. Another chance for the mighty Red Parsley to avail me of my oversight for sure. I do, however, have the game's theme tune in my vast game music collection and, having just heard it again while writing a review, I felt compelled to post it here. So behold, for the nostalgic pleasure of the game's many fans, and to treat the ears of other ignorant oafs like me, it is thus:

Special Note: I didn't record this great tune myself, I'm just an admirer, so all credit to, firstly the original composer, and secondly the YouTube user who uploaded it!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Film Review #91

Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)
Director: John Stockwell Starring: Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dave Bautista, Sara Malakul Lane, Gina Carano, Georges St-Pierre, Darren Shahlavi

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 90 Minutes

Tagline: "Without rules, without referees... the fight is to the death"

I've long been a fan of Kickboxer in all its cheesy 80's glory, and even a couple of its straight-to-video sequels (though definitely not all of them!), but even I wasn't sure what to make of the news that the series was getting a remake/reboot. Its story of a brother seeking revenge against an evil Muay Thai master for the crippling of his sibling was a reasonably engaging one but is it really a story that needs retelling? Most of its fans like the film for its action, as well as the scary Tong Po, not for its story, so it was a slightly odd decision to be sure. It would most likely need new actors too, so why not just put them in an all-new film? Perhaps a whole new series could be born. Oh well, the reasoning behind it doesn't really matter now I guess, it's here and who knows - it could be frickin' awesome so let's give it a chance.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

San Francisco's Gaming Gem - Part 2

Oops, it's now been almost exactly a year since I went to California which means I am long overdue with this post (no surprise there I guess!). Anyway, having already revealed the wonders of Musée Mécanique generally, I thought I'd also take a quick look at the five games I spent the most time playing there (besides skee ball of course, which is the greatest thing ever). Here they are:

Sprint 2 (1976)

I've long been a fan of the splendid Super Sprint so it was a real thrill to find this, the original Sprint (the '2' denotes a two-player version) lurking amongst the more modern machines. Naturally I gave it a go and quickly found it... rather tough going. As you can see, the cars are teeny things but steering them around the circuits isn't too tough. The black and white graphics are tidy and the controls are smooth enough. What makes it tough is its mandatory 4-speed transmission. It's not always easy to constantly shift up and down in any normal racing game but it's even tougher here with ultra-concentration needed to get around within sight of the other cars. I guess I'd get used to it after a while but... jeez, I made a mess of it on this occasion (my ranking was 'granny' - boo hoo)! It was still wonderful to even have the chance to play it at all though - there can't be too many of these machines left at all, never mind ones working this flawlessly, and it does still play really well considering how old it is.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Crap Games #10

The Spirit of Speed 1937 (2000)
By: Broadsword Interactive / Acclaim Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Sega Dreamcast
Also Available For: PC

One of my favourite genres on the Dreamcast was that of driving games. There were many superb examples with several available early on, and I bought all but one of them. The one I didn't get, and indeed had never even played until recently, was Spirit of Speed. This was mainly due to the rather harsh reception it was met by upon its release. Actually, that's putting it mildly - I don't think I've ever seen a racing game get so consistently, mercilessly savaged by magazines, websites, and players the world over! Despite this, it's still a title that has always rather intrigued me. Not too many games give you the opportunity to race in classic old 1930's speedsters like the ones found here after all. Whilst possibly somewhat restrictive, it's also a unique premise. Besides, it can't be that bad, surely?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Top Five Elements

I'm sure most of us at least remember the periodic table - no school chemistry class would be complete with it - but how much do you know about the many elements featured on it? Probably about the same as me, but I've been belatedly reading up recently and have learned lots of interesting stuff about them, not least that there are now some 118 of them! Here are five I found the most impressive :)

5 - Iridium

As well as sounding like something from Star Trek, Iridium is also among the rarest of all elements on earth. It's a shiny and very dense metal (the second densest of all elements, in fact), is resistant to nearly all corrosion, and is found most commonly in meteorites, which means the tiny amounts in Earth's crust likely arrived from the depths of the cosmos. Time to launch a mining expedition?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Film Round-Up #17

I'm sure most films fans who grew up around the time I did remember Kickboxer very well. Released soon after the much-heralded Bloodsport, it confirmed Jean Claude Van Damme's status as the most awesome action star to come along since Arnie. What many don't realise, however, is that it spawned a surprising number of sequels, most of which were straight-to-video efforts and none of which would be graced by JCVD. Rumour in the day was, he refused to star in any sequels for some reason (not just Kickboxer but any his film). How true that is I don't know but after catching the original again on Netflix a little while back, I decided to find out just how bad these sequels were. After all, it's long been known that straight-to-video sequels lacking the original star(s) are always bad, right? Let's find out (snigger)...

Kickboxer (1989)

It seems like a long time ago that I first watched this but seeing it again recently was the catalyst for my renewed interest in JCVD films. He plays Kurt Sloane, the younger brother of world kickboxing champ, Eric (played by real-life champion, Dennis Alexio). Looking for a new challenge, they go to Thailand to fight the champion there, Tong Po (played by JCVD's buddy, Michel Qissi), who of course destroys Eric! Seeing his brother confined to a wheelchair, Kurt vows revenge and soon finds himself under the tutelage of famed trainer, Xian Chow, who teaches him the ways of Muay Thai (while his hottie niece, Mylee, provides recreation). I'm sure you can guess what comes next but Kickboxer was a more than decent couple of hours of training/fighting action which was great to see again. Much of the scenery is really nice and there are some superb scenes. Who could forget our hero's drunk dance leading to barroom brawl?! There aren't a great deal of fights but the ones that are here are nicely done. Van Damme looks about as good as he ever has too, and Tong Po makes for a highly intimidating bad guy. See if you can avoid cheering for 'Nok Su Kow' to take him out! ... 8/10

Monday, 5 September 2016

Arcade Shmups #24

Hotdog Storm (1996)
By: Marble Inc / Ace International Genre: Shooting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 483,360 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nothing

As I'm sure everyone in the world already knows, hot dogs are well lush. I eat them regularly. I even have special spicy crunchy sprinkles with which to garnish them. Mmmmm, I have some in the fridge right now actually, maybe I'll go have some. Yes, why not? Any time is a good time for hot dogs after all! Hmmm, anyway, sorry about that, I seem to have lost my train of thought. Something must've reminded me of hot dogs for some reason, but on with this review which is of... Hotdog Storm? Ohhh yeah, I remember now! Well, despite the mouth-watering distraction, this is a game that apparently has precious little to do with fast food, name (and awesome title screen image) notwithstanding. In fact, it's a totally bog-standard vertical-scroller. If it has a backstory I'll be a purple feathered ostrich if I know what it is, but it's a short game, featuring only five stages of action between you and... whatever victory promises.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Splendid MegaDrive Music #3

Gauntlet IV (1993)

There are several things this MegaDrive exclusive does to improve upon the already-splendid Gauntlet and one of them is its music. Neither the arcade version nor the mighty fine Speccy conversion on which I spent so much time featured any in-game music, but some cracking choons have been added to this MD version courtesy of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata.

They all have cool names like 'March in the Dark' and 'Adventures of Iron' and they really do add a lot to the game in my opinion. Some are like rousing battle anthems, others create a sense of mystery, but one of my favourites is one called 'Whisper of Phantom'. It takes a little while to get going but... check check check it out:

Special Note: I didn't record this great tune myself, I'm just an admirer, so all credit to, firstly the original composer, and secondly the YouTube user who uploaded it!