Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Arcade Classics #9

Mappy (1980)
By: Namco Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 33,150 (one credit)
Also Available For: NES, MSX, Game Gear (ports), PC, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS, Game Boy (on compilations)
Download For: Wii Virtual Console, iOS

When you think of gaming mouses you might well think of Mickey's mighty fine adventures before any others, but coming long before he started lighting up the 8 and 16-bit consoles was a plucky fellow that went by the name of Mappy. Unlike his more famous Disney relative who just goes around doing as he pleases, Mappy is much more responsible and actually works as a police mouse, or 'micro police' as the game calls him! His job is to retrieve stolen property from a series of mansions, but there's a problem - the thieves are still there! They come in the form of pink cats called Meowkies (or 'naughty folks') and their boss, a larger red cat called Goro (or 'boss the big bit', whatever that means) and they are keen to keep hold of their loot, so Mappy's job will not be a very easy one.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Flicky Flicks Round 2

Having enjoyed the first round of Flicky Flicks, the guys and I soon turned our keen gaze to round two which, as chosen by Chip as the first round's victor, would consist of the films of Stanley Kubrick. This was not initially met with huge excitement by me as I've never really been that keen on his films. I know he's one of the greatest directors of all time and all that stuff, and his films are technically brilliant, but I just haven't really enjoyed watching them that much in the past. I guess some film snobs would therefore say I'm not a 'true film fan' but that's fine, I don't mind. As it turned out I've quite enjoyed this round anyway though, which consisted of a couple of classics I hadn't seen before. As before, the winner will be revealed at the end!

Paths of Glory (1957)
Director: Stanley Kubrick Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson

Nominated By: Hipster Ben Running Time: 88 Minutes

It's two years into the First World War and the French and German forces have reached an impasse, both stuck in their respective trenches and unable to make any headway. The ambitious General Mireau, however, decides to send his division to take a strategically important position known as 'the Anthill'. Commanding the mission is Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) who knows it's next to impossible but tries anyway. The general is furious when it inevitably fails and demands that some of the soldiers are court martialed and executed for cowardice...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Splendid MegaDrive Music #4

James Pond: Underwater Agent (1990)

I've long felt alone in having a soft-spot for the first James Pond game. Many love its sequel, Robocod, and justifiably so, but the original? There are many things I like about it - the jolly graphics, the environmental theme, the fact that it takes place underwater (well, James is a fish and all) - but one of its less appreciated features as far as I can tell is its music, composed by Richard Joseph. Much of it is somewhat more befitting the character's secret agent status but my favourite is this, one of two level themes that get alternated. It's might be a little strange but it suits the game well and also makes me smile every time I hear it. What more can you ask for?

(full James Pond review here)

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!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Steam / GOG Downloads #2

Instant Dungeon! (2013)
By: Simple Interactive Genre: Maze / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Android, iOS

Like many of you I'm sure, I have amassed quite a large collection of games on Steam, Good Old Games, and similar services over the past few years, and also like many of you I suspect, I have yet to play most of them. It's about time I did though, and I figured that good old Red Parley gave me the perfect excuse as always. The first I have chosen is this, a cheapie purchase I saw on Steam which looked like one I might enjoy. This is mainly on account of it being an overhead-viewed maze game, a genre I generally find very appealing, and one that I was glad to find indie developers haven't forgotten about either.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Film Review #93

Central Intelligence (2016)
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet, Alrahim Wright, Jason Bateman

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 116 Minutes

Tagline: "Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson"

You know, I don't think there is any actor I have heard more about in the last couple of years than Kevin Hart. Some people seem to love him, some seem to hate him, but however you feel about him he certainly seems to be cropping up rather a lot lately. Personally, until very recently I had never (knowingly) seen one of his films so my judgement was reserved for the time being. I am, however, something of a fan of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson so I figured this recent release would be the perfect film with which to break my Hart duck. It starts off with their final high school senior assembly - Calvin 'Golden Jet' Joyner (Hart) is the star pupil - super popular, winner of just about everything, and voted 'most likely to succeed' by his classmates; Robbie Wheirdicht (Johnson) is... well, the opposite - an awkward, overweight, lonely loser.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

San Francisco's Gaming Gem - Part 3

Okay, just a quickie (giggity) for this somewhat belated third and final part of my look at the wonderful Musée Mécanique in San Francisco. I've already written about the museum generally and also taken a closer look at some of the games I played, so to wrap things up, here is a selection of some of the photos I took while there. It certainly doesn't show everything they have, and it looks like they've already made some additions since my visit, but it still gives you a good idea of the wonders housed within. If you get the chance, you really need to check this place out...

Monday, 7 November 2016

Computer Shmups #4

N.O.M.A.D. (1985)
By: Ocean Genre: Shooting / Maze Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum  First Day Score: 10,355
Also Available For: Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64

It seems like a loong time ago now that I spent most of my evenings in front of my trusty Spectrum. In retrospect, they probably would've been better spent doing homework but never mind! One of the first of its games to ensnare me, and one of the very first video games to ever do so therefore, was this one which was actually a freebie that came bundled with the computer. It's a flick-screen multi-directional shooter set within TALOS, a man-made asteroid which is apparently 'spreading evil through the universe' thanks to its chief occupant, the 'unspeakably vile' Cyrus T.Gross. To combat this terror, the 'rulers of the Free Worlds' have sent in N.O.M.A.D. (Nemesis Organisation Mobile Attack Droid), a floaty shooty robot to blow everything up and kill him. I guess we're ignoring whatever judicial system is used in this part of space for now then, so let's get killing!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Film Round-Up #18

After making his acting debut in Guy Ritchie's first two films, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, Jason Statham quickly made a name for himself as the latest arse-kicking action star. I think he surprised quite a few moviegoers with that move - he had just seemed like a fairly normal cockney bloke beforehand - but he proved very convincing in the many action scenes his subsequent films featured, showing off some superb martial arts skills as well as some fantastic stunt work. The first of these that I saw was The Transporter but many similar roles soon followed and in nearly all of them he seems to be an ex-something-awesome like a SAS soldier or Special Forces operative or MMA fighter or something. He could easily be playing the same character in a vast majority of them, in fact, but they are still often highly entertaining if you ask me. Here is a look at the five I've seen most recently:

War (2007)

The first time we saw Statham and the great Jet Li on screen together it was in 2001 for The One, an interdimensional adventure but this time things are rather less floopy. Statham is John Crawford, an FBI agent who becomes obsessed with catching a ruthless, highly skilled assassin known as Rogue (Li), a former CIA operative now working for the Yakuza, who brutally killed Crawford's old partner and best friend three years earlier. Like most obsessions, this adversely affects near enough every other aspect of his life but he's determined to bring the ultra-elusive villain down. For us that unsurprisingly means a shooty kicky action-filled 100 minutes or so. Statham's take on an FBI agent is as aggressive and rule-bending as you might expect and, similarly, Jet Li's Rogue is a man of very few words, instead showing up now and then looking all sinister and doing sinister things as well as effortlessly kicking a few arses when the fancy takes him. It's a good pairing and there are some really enjoyable scenes, like Rogue playing the Yakuza and Triads against each other, but we never really seem to get the fireworks that you feel is inevitable. Still worth a watch though... 6/10

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Retro News - Daytona Returns to Arcades!

Well, there have been whispers for a little while and now it's been confirmed by Sega themselves - the mighty Daytona is coming back to our arcades! Whether you love or hate the original Daytona USA it's impossible to deny how much of an impact it had back in 1993/94 and the years immediately following its release. It was the first title to use Sega's awesome Model 2 board and it was a smash hit, soon ranking among the the highest-grossing arcade games of all time.

In fact, it was so successful that it's surprising it took Sega so long to return to the franchise, with Daytona USA 2 arriving in the arcades in 1998 and then Daytona USA 2001 for the Dreamcast in... well, 2001 I guess! Both were pretty much just more of the same but with new licks of paint so they weren't quite so successful, but the Daytona name is one that has continued to shine brightly, for Sega fans in particular, right up to the present day. It's been a long time since then though.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

PC Engine Platform Games #5

Chan & Chan a.k.a. J.J. & Jeff (1987)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: NEC PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 First Day Score: 54,100
Also Available For: Nothing

Or Kato-chan & Ken-chan to give the game its full name, but us oldie gamers here in the UK have always known it by its abbreviated name. Whatever name you know it by though, it was one of the Engine's very first releases, and for that reason it garnered a great deal of attention in its day. Was it worthy of it? I've always thought not but I hadn't spent a great deal of time playing it until this review to be honest, despite owning it for many years. Time to find out for sure, I guess! My first stop is finding out just what in the hell it's about. The answer to that, it seems, can be found in the TV show on which the game is apparently based, which was a Japanese variety show starring the two oafs of the title. Here, it seems they are on some sort of quest, but quite what it entails I couldn't say. The US version of the game (known as JJ & Jeff) casts the two characters as detectives investigating a kidnapping, so I suppose we should assume a similar kind of objective here.