Tuesday, 23 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Elite & Atic Atac

So once again lets go back to my Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games list and look at another two from the list, so without further ado here we go.


So the first ever time I saw Elite it was on the BBC Micro which my older brother owned, I adored it from the first moment and forgive the pun but I thought the game was light years ahead of its time. Now the spectrum had so many games on it that its even harder to pick a top ten for it than it would be for most systems but the reason this one makes the list is that when you consider the hardware its running on and when it was made you simply didnt get games like this back then, the game was  and still is a joy to play and the main reason for this is that its a game which you play however you want to play it.

The graphics the wire-framed ships were just unthinkably brilliant back then they might have aged now but what hasnt aged is the sense of freedom you see in Elite you jump in your space ship the  Cobra Mk III and you explore a large and wonderful universe, you can trade cargo, fight pirates or maybe you want to be a pirate yourself and attack other ships so that when youve destroyed them you can take there cargo for yourself using your tractor beam to steal it.Yes we have all kinds of open world games now days but back then this was pretty much one of a kind. I could talk about this game till the cows come home but I think it is much better to simply say you need to play this game

An intresting and kind of annoying point to note is that Elite was the first game to ever utilise an anti piracy method called the LensLock. The LensLock is basically a special Lens that came with the game, now you look at coloured squares on the screen through this in order to read a code which you need to play the game.

Atic Atac

When I used to play this game back in the day I never knew that it was something I would keep coming back to for my entire life, the very last time I set up my spectrum it was to play this very game and a select few others and now thanks to the Compilation Disc Rare Replay, I can very easily find myself playing this any time I want in seconds. So yeah Basically the name on the box here Ultimate Play The Game is the name Rare went by before they became Rare.

Atic Atac is what would proberbly be described as an Isometric arcade adventure game it was released for the ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro. The thing is a lot of people think that Rare and there long stretch of impresive games all started with the NES, well the truth is far from that in fact Ultimate had already been making games on the 16k model of Spectrum but Atic Atac was there second game which required 48K of memory and its an absolute belter of a game, for those that dont know how big a deal Ulitmate was as a developer this game was Ultimate's third consecutive number one in the UK Spectrum sales chart.

Atic Atac plays in a  top-down perspective and is set inside a castle, a castle in which you the player are trapped. You need to find 3 pieces of a golden key in order to escape, something that makes this game all the more intresting is that you have a choice of three diffrent characters a Knight a Wizared or a Serf. There are a number of items which are all around the castle for you to find, some of them are always in the same place others are randomly generated, you can carry 3 of them at a time.
You have diffrent coloured keys which will open doors which are the same colour, then theres items which will kill or repel enemies. All of the enemies essentially attack the player on sight, contact with them drains your life bar. So what makes this a top ten game? It is a great game to just jump in to, the randomness really helps with repeat replays but its mostly just because its so darn playable, wether you play this game on an original spectrum, a modern spectrum recreation or on rare replay I just advice you to give it a crack and see what you think.

Monday, 22 May 2017

My Oppinion on the price of Spare Switch Docks and Splatoon 2's no cart version

Ok so the first thing I want to talk about is the fact that Nintendo Europe has revealed that Switch owners can buy a second dock for their console in the UK as of June the 23rd. This is potentially great for people who would like to have a dock sat waiting either at your partners house or on another TV so that you can pick up the Switch and dock it in another place without having to move stuff about. This is Nintendo though so you knew that there had to be a catch, the catch is that a second dock is going to cost you £79.99, which apparently is a good price as you also get a HDMI lead and a power supply. Ok well a HDMI lead can be got for as little as £1 from pound land and you could get a power lead and a USB plug from pound land for £2 so how about you just cut those out of the box and charge a realistic price for it one thats not like £77. I know that there will be die hard Nintendo fans defending this but personally I am waiting for a third party to get there hands on one of these reverse enginer it and come up with a much cheaper alternative.

So in Japan Nintendo is releasing several diffrent retail versions of Splatoon 2 one of which is a boxed version which doesnt actually have a cartridge. So what you will get for your money is a case which doesnt contain a cart, it just contains a download code. Now I just cant see the point in this, if you collect games then really you want the physical copy of it, if you prefer download copies then usually this is because you want to buy the game but dont want to fill your house with crap. The even crazier thing from my point of view is that the code version costs exactly the same as the version with a cart, they only had to print a code on a piece of paper which cost them far less than making a cartridge would have cost but hey its the same price. This raises the whole question of why the heck are downloads the same price as a physical copy anyways? I guess thats best touched on another time though.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Why the Nintendo Switches e-shop is a little boring and what they could do to change this.

So I was looking at the Switch's eshop and I noticed there were some Neo Geo games I would like I was going to grab Garou Mark of the Wolf and King Of the Fighters 98 which would have been £12.58 for the 2 games, might not sound too bad but hey, figured Id check on the Xbox One first afetr all I always like to try and get the best bang for my buck. So I checked and there was a BackWards Compatability sale on and guess what there was a whole bunch of Neo Geo games on it including the two I had been looking at on the Switch's eshop.

So while looking at the backwards compatability sale I decided that I would spend the £12.58 on there on games to play on my Xbox One and So I got Garou Mark of The Wolf, King Of the Fighters 98, King Of the Fighters 2002, Samurai Showdown 2, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, Double Dragon Neo, Bomberman Battlefest and Alien Hominid HD for £14, yes this was a tiny bit more than I intended to spend but well who minds paying about £1.50 more to get 6 more games? This made me stop and think is Nintendo really handling the whole Virtual Console thing correctly this time?

Dont get me wrong I love the Neo Geo and its games and £6.29 is a darn site less than the games went for on cartridge back in the day, the thing is though that the games have come out so many times in so many diffrent places by now that they are just very old hat. I have Metal Slug 3 on the PS2 and Xbox on disc, then I have the SNK collection Volume 1 on both the Wii and PSP as well as having the Metal Slug Anthology on the Wii, all of these were gotten for very little and I have played them to death. This is before you realise that lots of people have been emulating the Neo Geo back before the whole Virtual Console/ PSN store and various other stores became a thing. Heck I even donated to charity to get a Neo Geo humble bundle from the popular charity donating video game bundle site Humble Bundle.

One of the issues is that if you look on any service that lets you download retro games you are likly to see the same titles again and again, Steam, the PSN Store, Xbox Live all of them will have for example the same 40 Megadrive games, the ones that usually fill up compilation discs. Nintendo's switch can not hope to compete with these services as the games have been available on them for a long time so people will have either already purchased them or will be able to grab them for much less during sales like I have.

What Nintendo should have done for the release of the Switch is looked for titles they could put up which have not been so easily available already. They should have reached out to companies who have less touched back catalogs and they should have dug into there own archives. I for one would love to see them finally release Star Fox 2 onto a Virtual Console, its never had a proper release despite being finished so surly there is money and equally importantly headlines to be made there. They should also take a good long look at what has been done elsewere. People have hacked SNES roms for example and added better more high quality music, emulators have been able to let you play snes games in multiplayer over the internet, textures have been smothed, fans have translated import titles. Why not use this, grab these translations, check them and if there good then release previously unreleased games on the virtual console giving some credit to those who have done the work for you, just stop and think outside of the box for a moment instead of offering something that every single company going has already done, surly Nintendo with your Wii-motes and touch screens and just general inovation you could apply some of this to the virtual console scene and not only make it something to get excited about but also use it to plug some of the holes in your release scedule.

Friday, 19 May 2017

How I became a game collector and why I continue to be one

So I thought I would write a piece on how I became a retro game collector, I have proberbly touched on it in the past possibly during my run of SNES reviews but I figured a more expanded piece would be intresting. I recently wrote a piece on what it was like to be a gamer in the 80's in the uk which you can access by following the link, its not necesery but it might throw a little more light on some of what I am saying. For the puropse of this I am going to consider retro basically anything that is no longer current, sure that might not be accurate but it makes sense to take this view because my first retro purchase would have been made when I was at school and back in my day at that kind of an age things were very much set in absolutes something was either new or it was old. Consoles were looked at as either being the current machine, the future as in it wasnt out yet or the past as in it was old (in the sense it was not the currently newest system from a company, it could be there last machine or second to last if it wasnt the current it was old) and at that time the SNES was the current console, the N64 was announced and on its way and the NES was old.

A lot of people in England like to claim that they owned and played on the NES at release as I have mentioned before in previous posts but it wasnt really like that, we were all busy with our micro computers with most of us only jumping on the console bandwagon when the SNES and Megadrive came out, we did however hear and read a lot about NES games in video game magazines of the time. We would pick up an issue of the official Nintendo magazine to look at games that were coming out for the SNES and they would compare them to old NES games, they would highlight when sequels to NES games were released on the SNES and they even had a few pages at the back of the magazine which had scores for all of the NES, SNES and Gameboy games they had ever reviewed. I used to take these pages and use them as a guide for what to buy and what to avoid for my SNES but I also looked at some of the high ratings particular NES games got and it began to wet my appetite to make me consider what it would be like to play them. I had both a MegaDrive and a SNES by this point as well as an Amiga 500 but I just couldnt get enough of video games, it was then that I saw a NES with something like 7 or 8 games in the paper for next to nothing, litterally something silly like £15 to £20 this was my first retro purchase and I really enjoyed it.

I dont know if youd consider that the proper start of me being a retro game collector but it is deffinetly the point at which a seed was planted which would grow into my new hobby. I was actually a Star Wars collector first, it was easy to go to markets and boot sales and other places and find Star Wars merchandise for very reasonable prices, sure you could pick up price guides and find out that something was worth £10 or £30 but if you looked hard and invested a little time into it you could find this sort of stuff for very little. It was a nice fun hobby that I enjoyed but soon everyone started doing it and all the bargins dried up and well thats when I fell out of love with the hobby. For me the thrill was in finding a figure or such that was worth a whole bunch but not paying very much for it at all and then comparing what I had to my friends, when it turned into people selling and buying an ewok for £40 because well thats what he is worth I simply lost my love for it, there was no thrill of the chase and I released that this was the part of the hobby I had enjoyed it was more about the quest than what I owned.

I was one of the few kids who had owned both a SNES and a Megadrive, I was also one of the only kids who went backwards and got a NES and then a Master system 2 and well I found myself becoming a sort of authority figure a games guru people would come up to me and ask me what to get and my oppinion on companies and hardware and I guess this kind of fed into me becoming more intrested in broading my experiances. I made a few what I know consider mistakes I sold a handful of spectrum games id owned, and then I sold some SNES games to get my N64, then sold my N64 when I needed to buy replacment parts to repair my computer as I needed it for my college work and it had broken, and I started to regret these decisions and swear that I would rectify them. On top of this I had always been a very trusting person who wanted to help people, a friend of my mum and dads had a child who was slightly older than me and I lent him a tin with 40 megadrive carts in it, to cut a long story short he turned to drugs and sold these, it knocked my megadrive collection basically in half and I vowed to get all of them back, there are actually a handful I still dont own but I do now have a collection boardering more around the 250 mark.

I remember setting out to go to carboots and independent game shops with the idea of getting lots of SNES and Megadrive games but id bump into NES, Master System, PS1 and N64 stuff and if it was cheap I would just think what the heck I will grab it, if its a decent game and its in good condition and its going for peanuts then why not? I took to it in the same way I originally took to StarWars collecting, I had wanted to get all the SNES and Megadrive games I had ever owned and then my favourates I had played at friends houses but it just grew and grew from this point, I would realistically buy any game but it had to be at the right price, I didnt mind spending £10 on a game if it was good and usually went for more but if it was a crappy game then I would only grab it if it was like a quid or two.

 At first my buying was rather casual but then I found myself in a bit of a bad place. I was attacked during a robbery at a place where I worked and I got held hostage and had my head beaten in with iron bars, I managed to sort of overcome this and return to work but my stress level had massivly increased, I was also trying to get promoted to make more money to give my daughter a better life, soon I was working 70 hours a week trying to make somethinf of myself and I was also dealing with panic attacks, flashbacks, audio hallucinations, bad dreams and all manner of other issues. It came to a head when I started having physical problems, my eyes mouth and throat all started regularly swelling, I found it hard to breathe and eventually this ended up after several visits with me sat in a Doctors office with him explaining that I was under massive stress I had gotten Anagodema and Ultacaria and in his oppinion if I didnt lower my stress level somehow then I would be dead in 6 months, he wasnt right but he wasnt far off. 6 months latter I had what you would describe as a nervous breakdown, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had to leave work and begin attending theraphy.

During my theraphy for PTSD I was told that I had to come up with a happy place, now coming up with a happy place basically means coming up with a place real or fake that you can think of in your head that you will feel secure and happy in, basically so that if you start to feel  distressed during your theraphy you can go there mentally and escape. I chose being in my childhood room playing Super Mario World as my safe place and it helped hold me togther. Every time I was in therapy I would have to relive the robbery, talk about it, close my eyes and see it, I learned that I had repressed certain parts of it and my therapist had to help me regain my memory of the whole ordeal, it was a terrible thing to go through but I not only had my happy place to go to I had my retro collection to go to. I didnt have a lot of friends to talk to during this time its funny how sometimes everyone just seems to up and disapear when your at your lowest and need the most help, my partner at the time wasnt very much help emotionally in fact it was while I was at my lowest that she began to get abusive. When my daughter was at home I put on a brave face and made out that I was OK but when I was on my own I would sink in to my world of retro games, I found that when I invested time in them I felt better they calmed me down playing them, sorting them, buying them, I had very little money at all but that only meant that I had to spend it all the more carefully.

My breakdown was approximatly 8 years ago and ever since then I have found that every time I buy a retro game for a good price I feel a rush of excitment and a feeling of release from my stress. So I guess I am a collector because it makes me happy but also because it helps me maintain my stress levels and my mental health. I enjoy playing the games but both playing and collecting them serves as a sort of giant stress tap. So does my collection have limits or boundries well yes it does, I am never going to go for a full set of anything basically because I am not going to pay huge money for bad games, heck I dont even want to pay like more than £40 for a brilliant game, there are no bounds as in the consoles I will collect for , I have atari 2600 games, spectrum games, NES games, Megadrive games. Will I ever stop collecting? Most likly not after all it helps calm me down and control my stress but most of all because it makes me happy

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Steam World Heist Review

I got Steam World Dig on the cheap during a sale, I thought that it was going to be some kind of 2D MineCraft clone and well while that wouldnt have been the worst thing in the world it turned out to be something somewhat different and something I really enjoyed. Yes Steam World Dig had mining in it, but instead of building it had a story a very enjoyable story, once I started playing it I couldnt stop. It not only had a great story but it had what people often refer to as MetroidVania style gameplay, the sort of platforming action where you keep noticing places you cant reach for one reason or another and then you gain a tool which I noticed not long after finishing it that there was a game called Steam World Heist and I thought oh well that sounds cool but what I really thought it would be was just more of the same but with a slightly diffrent setting. Well I finally decided to get and play it and despite it not exactly being new I felt that I really should review it.

SteamWorld Heist may share a few small things in common with dig for a start it features the same kind of robotic characters, a very simmilar graphical style, a similar senseof humourand a great story but its a tottally different genre of game. If Dig was a metroidvania game with steam robots then I can best describe Heist as a 2d tactics game with steam powerd robots, think of it as 2D Xcom steam robot edition but with base building replaced with humour and character interaction and you'll be on the right lines.

So SteamWorld Heist starts you off as Piper the female robot steam captain of a pirate ship, yes she might be a robot but she is referd to as Ma'am and her and whats more she is a great character. I think its great that Piper is clearly a she and yet is in charge captain of the ship and is shown to be intelgenet resorceful but no doubt this will be ignored while people continue to complain all feminine characters in games are either damsals in distress or just walking breasts. To start with Pipers crew consists of her, a pilot called wonky and a tough old sea fairing robot called Seabrass but slowly you will start to recruit new and intresting robots to build your own merry band of bots. I need to stand and salute the game right here, they have pumped so much character into every recruitable robot that you cant help but grow attached to them and that really makes this game what it is. So many times I caught myself shouting out little snippets like "yes SeaBrass your da man" that I should be embarrassed about it but im not.

The game is the ideal handheld game or short burst game because it only takes minutes to complete levels, so you can do one on the bus on your way to work or just when you have 5 minutes to kill, yet honestly you can find youself blowing an hour on it without realisihng the time has gone by. Every one of the robots has its own skill set but then there is also a lot of choice when it comes to weapons, do you want a pistol with a long sight which will make it easy to hit your enemies but wont cause much damage or you could use a weapon which doesnt have a sight requires you to get closer but packs a heck of a wollop. One of the important things to note is that you can try levels again and again either to see if you can beat your score or simply if your stuck on a level and think you need to gain a little more experiance and level your chracters up or want to gain some more currency to buy a more powerful gun.

Now I dont think you should ever be over positive about anny game so I will try to look at faults this game has. SteamWorld Heist doesn’t have permadeath, if one of your robots dies then you take him back to your ship in pieces and he will be restored once you have completed the mission, the issue with this though is that downed robots dont gain any experiance at all, this can have a knock on effect as when you take them on the next mission they will still be weaker than your other bots, its not too bad though I guess as you can redo an earlier easier mission with some of your robots who could use a bit of levelling up so as far as faults go its not to big of a deal.

So in conclusion Steamworld Heist really won me over. The characters are all awesome, you really feel close to them after a bit of time, the sci fi robot plot line is great in my oppion and the gameplay has a real just one more go quality to it. It is a brilliant game and its worth every penny it costs. I should point out that at the moment as its part of the humble Indy 18 bundle so you can get it on steam for practically nothing and help charity as well, it can be found at the following link  https://www.humblebundle.com/humble-indie-bundle-18

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

SNES Review 119: The Incredable Hulk

I have previously talked about how the names on a box could be the diffrence between you grabbing or not grabbing a game back in the SNES days and there are three names which come in to play with this particular game and I actually want to handle all 3 of them one at a time, I am going to start with Probe because well after all they are the ones who actually programmed this game. 

Probe Software was founded in 1984 by Fergus McGovern and Vakis Paraskeva, later being renamed Probe Entertainment, I suppose really there biggest claim to fame in the console world would be the fact that they were responsible for the MegaDrive ports of Mortal Kombat 1 and 2. Its not like thats all Probe did though they infact made over 50 titles on over 10 diffrent platforms one of the nine SNES games they made was the game I am reviewing right now. So do Probe still exist today? Nope not at all, they were acquired by Acclaim back in october 1995 were rebranded with the name Acclaim Studios London which was latter rebranded to Acclaim Studios Cheltenham and which then died along with Acclaim when it went bankrupt in 2004.

The game was published by US GOLD a company pretty much worthy of a whole post themselves, but here I just want to touch on them briefly. Now recently I have been talking and posting quiet a lot about the Sinclair Spectrum and US GOLD is a name most spectrum owners would have known well. U.S. Gold was founded in Birmingham in 1984 as the publishing division for a software-distribution company called Centresoft. Its primary purpose was to republish popular American computer games in the UK and Europe. The problem with them is that although they published a lot of things there success rate was kind of fifty fifty half good half bad, this name on the box actually did the game a lot more harm in my oppinion than having Probes name would have.

The real name that sold this game at least for me was the Marvel name, now who doesnt know of Marvel Comics creators of Spiderman, the X-Men, DeadPool, DareDevil and of course the Hulk. I am sure I have mentioned this before but I love comics and not just Marvel but also DC and even the lesser well known stuff and most of them are just filled to the brim with stuff that would seem to anyone with any kind of re3asoning factor to be things ripe to put in a game but as most will proberbly know pretty much for every good game featuring a comic book character there has been one featuring a stinker but back when this came out well I was a little eaiser to excite. Ok originally when I purchased this game it was only partially because of the Marvel Comics it was also because this along with other games I have reviewed in the past (Metal Marines and Smash Tennis) were SNES games which some shop or other decided to sell for a low price despite them being new, in this case the price was an outstanding £14.99, as with the other games this meant that not only I got it but pretty much everyone I knew with a SNES got it.

I remember the day I originally purchsed this game, I was in town with a group of friends and we were looking for something to spend our cash on, most of us proberbly had about £15 max and maybe a second hand game or two in our backpacks, pretty much expecting that maybe if we traded both old games and some cash in we could find a deal and get something not to bad. We had been to a couple of diffrent places and then we came to one store all of us ended up going upstairs in the shop (it was either a game or games boutique store my minds a little blank on which it was) and there we were met with a pile of copies of The Incredable Hulk on the shelves brand new in perfect condition with the aformentioned £14.99 label on them. Nowdays this doesnt seem that impressive as decent games end up being cheap a few weeks after release all the time, its £40 one week £30 the next and £20 the week after but I think a lot of that is due to online shops and competition, the market for games was very diffrent back then and when you saw something cheap you didnt really have much time to think about it, so I grabbed it and rushed to the counter as did several of my friends, we had all spent up so we all headed back home and went our seperate ways.

Now they always say that people look at old games through rose specticles, you remember a game as being wonderful as most of its good points stick in the head and you forget the bad bits, well I wrote the following just before playing this game for review. I have very fond memories of quiet a few games but when I stop and try and remember the Indredible Hulk the main thing I remember is crushing dissapointment, I remember the graphics being quiet bright and I remember it being a bit maze like and also that sometimes you became Banner Hulks human form, lots of identical grunt type enemies, I also remember selling it feeling like I had been tricked and that the shop that sold it me knew it was a pile of poo and had thrown the cheap price on to it because they knew that it was the only way they would shift there copies. I remember feeling very bitter about it when in truth looking back now I have no idea why, part and parcel of gaming back then even more so than now was taking a wild stab at whatever games you could get your hands on and after all when Id lucked out getting Smash Tennis and Metal Marines in simmilar deals well you could argue I was due a bad one.

You might be wondering why I decided to buy Hulk again now if my feelings on it were so strongly negative well I was looking for reasonably priced games I didnt own. I had seen the Incredable Hulk in a few indy retro shops for £15 for a loose cart and tottally dismissed it, but when I saw it for £6 online for a loose cart including shipping I began to think about it, I looked up a few reviews and was suprised that it wasnt considerd a stinker, infact when you look at some of the reviews for it well Nintendo Power gave it 3.3 out of 5 and GameSpot gave it 7.7 out of 10, this kind of made me begin to doubt myself. I have always thought that I was a gamer who was willing to give games a fair chance in fact I used to get annoyed with my older brother for dismissing a game if it made him jump too much or there was a maze section or if you had to go a full 5 minutes without killing something, yet here I sat wondering if I had been a little hasty with this game all those years ago, and so with that thought in my mind I decided to buy the game.

 Ok so Now I have played the game a whole bunch I am going to cut to the chase and talk about it, first lets start with the story.  So basically your the Incredible Hulk and your well making your way through five levels each of which ends with you battling a Marvel Comics villain if you for any reason dont want to know who theses are then drop down a few lines now... Ok you face The Abomination (who appears as a sub-boss in every level), the Rhino, Absorbing Man, Tyrannus, and finally the Leader. Ok I admit this is less a story and more a description of what you do, but I dont have the manual or the box and I am assuming that the whole story thing was left down to a small blurb in these. If you leave the game on the title screen you dont get an intro just every so often it goes to a high score table, and when you actually start the game all you are met with is a very brief comic style cut scene of Banner turning in to the hulk, you do get little bits of explanation between stages but they pretty much amount to ''Hulk beat Villian X so he wanderd off some place else but oh no he fell into Villian Y's fiendish trap''. So for all extents and purposes theres no real story, there are some villians to beat but no massive reason behind it that you get told about at least, there are also no major supporting characters, and certainly no plot twists or anything to make you keep playing. Now I know some might think I am being harsh and that games were simply like that and that I am spoiled by the New Marvel Cinematic Universe and the way it throws all manner of heroes togther but not all super hero games were like this back then at all. I am now just quickly going to compare it to a SNES game I dont own and therefore wont be reviewing any time soon just for some perspective and this game I am speaking of is Spiderman Maximum Carnage. You see in Maximum Carnage not only do you get a whole bag full of Villians but you also get a well told story and you even get absolute piles of Marvel cameos with all kinds of heroes showing up some of them being the typical sort everyone will have heard of like Captain America and others being less well known sorts like FireStar and Cloak & Dagger. Hulk was one of the original Avengers and the dude cant even get a quick walk on from a single Avenger?

Ok so on to the graphics well the Hulk looks pretty darn good, he is big and green and of course he is wearing his trademark shorts. He makes the standerd enemies look small and well when he smashes  crates and telephone boxes it all looks pretty convinving. Enemy designs are well the word I would use would be decent, mostly the grunts of this game are well either robots or men in highly armoured sci fi style suits, they look clean and shiny but the probelm is a lack in variety which can make things awfully repetivie feeling, something thats not helped by rather plain and bland backgrounds. As you walk around youll pass piece after piece that basically looks the same so you will end up asking yourself if you have been here before. The bosses all look like they should though

The sound is basically a mixed bag, the music sucks, it basically feels like a short number of very short looping tunes that just feel well like they could be taken from any low budget video game. Now I am darn sure someone will say well what the heck did you expect music wise from something connected to a comic book character Mozart? Well go look up the end credits music from the 1978 Incredible Hulk TV show, I think its called something like "The Lonely Man" it is a very moving  sad solo piece of piano music and it would make an awesome midi tune. As it stands though we are stuck with music of the most turd like. (I am happy though as I got to throw an Incredible Hulk TV show refrence into this review). The sound effects are good though Hulk actually sounds convincing with his noises and then you have the sounds of things smashing and crashing and decent gun related noises its just a shame its partnerd up with rubbish music.

Well lets get on to what really sells a game and makes it worth remembering and that of course is the gameplay. Well its an action platforming game with a decent move set, hulk can jump, punch, grab his enemies, toss them, tombstone them, crush them, he can do that super sonic hulk clap you see in the films and comics, he can stomp and after collecting the right pill he can run smashing through things. Oh yeah thats a little gem isent it Hulk picks up pills to power up and regain health, yes I know even otherwise indestructable characters kind of need life bars and the threat of death in games but seriously this game has health pills what wer ethey thinking? The gameplay at first seems quiet fun after all who hasnt wanted to be a super powerd hero and punch people and have the power of the hulk but the issue is that really you have so little to do with this power. The enemies, AI is virtually non-existent, they all run straight at you and straight to there doom, yeah for a little bit its fun to practice all of the moves on them, but soon well when you have punched, crushed, stamped and super sonic clapped one enemy well youve done it to them all it soon simply becomes dull and repetitive. The platform jumping type stuff is also as easy as pie, oh as for the becoming Banner thing thats something you do when your about to die, I guess I had forgotten that over the years. There is no save feature but its not the longest game in the world but your still not likly to see the end as I am affraid boredom will most likly have set in long before then.

So has my oppinion of this game actually changed? Yes it has, before I thought that it was a bad game however on replaying it and reflecting on it I instead have to say that no it is simply a very average and forgetable game, If I had to give it a score I would once again give it a 5 out of 10, this being the third 5 I have given makes me feel like I am stuck in a nightmare of the average, what I wouldnt give now to play either a gem or to sink my teeth in to something that truly sucks. If you must buy this game then look to pay about the same that I did for a loose cart but I would instead strongly advise you to use this money instead to pick up the first season of the old Incredible Hulk Tv Series which is about £5 on Amazon.  For now I think I am just going to go and listen to that sad walking away music again while I toss this cartridge deep into my games cupboard and walk on by.

Monday, 15 May 2017

SNES Review 118: Spectre

Originally Spectre was a Video game for the Apple Macintosh, developed in 1990 by Peninsula Gameworks and published in 1991 by Velocity Development. It was a 3D tank battle game basically something on the lines of the old arcade classic Battlezone by Atari (which came out 10 years earlier in the 1980's), the game did very well for itself which is proberbly why around 4 years latter a SNES version was made. I guess this is a bit of a pleasent change in a way seeing a game make its way from the Apple Macintosh on to the PC after I have coverd so many Amiga games which made there way to the SNES. Well the Macintosh game scored rave reviews.

The SNES version of the game was made by a company called Synergistic a video game developer founded in 1978 who fitting started out by publishing some of the earliest available games and applications for the Apple II family of computers. They continued developing games for various platforms into the late 1990s making 4 SNES games in total this being the second game they made for the platform (the only one I own and therefore proberbly the only one I will be reviewing).

Ok so there is basically no story to this game to explain so I guess I will just have to explain what it is that you do. Well you play the part of the pilot of a tank called a Spectre tank. This is not just any old tank the Spectre can do more than youd expect sure it can fire normal rounds but it can also shoot  powerful grenades, it can also do things you really wouldnt expect a tank to be able to do such as jump, and warp into hyperspace to quickly get far away from enemies. Using the Spectre you go from level to level progressing by collecting a certain number of flags while enemy robot tanks attack you, the higher a level you get the more intellegent, quick and strong the enemy tanks get.

The Games graphics although done in a 3D style are incredably basic, the floor is basically a never ending chess board and the only diffrence between levels is the colour of half of the squares (half are always black). You have large geometric shapes cubes, spheres, and pyramids which are all colorful, enemy tanks basically look nothing like thanks though, essentially they look triangular a bit like one of those flipper robots you see so often on Robot Wars.

Other than the enemy tanks, the flag you need to collect, and the various shapes the stages are barren. There is literally nothing else too see, so its quiet a bland game really once youve seen one level you have pretty much seen them all, things might get tougher with enemy tanks being faster or smarter but they never look any diffrent.

The Sound in this game is hardly worth a mention there is some very basic background music that is ominous and fitting I guess but it also is not the best as far as quality goes, its kind of painful. The sound effects are basic in the extreme there are pretty much only like 4 sound effects the sound of your tanks gun firing, the sound of something getting hit and the sound of you getting hit and thats about your lot apart from well there is a robot voice which says game over and level complete and such but it sounds super muffled. All in all though the sound is not much of a selling point for this game at all.

There is one single player mode and four multiplayer modes to choose from. The single player mode I have basically all ready talked about in discussing how the game works, as for the multiplayer well there is one where it's you and a drone vs. a friend and a drone which is basically 2 on 2 capture the flag, a free for all where the winner is the one who destroys the most tanks, a mode where the one who captures the most flags wins and then finally ''Allied Assault'' which is just basically a 2 player co-operative version of the single player mode.

One of the biggest issues with this game is that it came out a whole year after StarWing/StarFox came out, and it compares very very poorly to that game, sure the graphics in starfox might mostly just be diffrent shapes but they are put togther in a wide variety of ways, each level looks diffrent, the enemies look diffrent, the thing is playing this game has just made me think even more about StarFox about how much it did right about how it pieced togther every little element in a way which produced well video game magic, everything just slots togther perfectly to make somthing thats much bigger and brighter than its elements this just doesnt happen with Spectre.

I yet again have to give another game a solid average 5 out of 10, look the game is fun in short doses and doesnt really do anything that badly, but things could just be so much better and there are much better titles for snes collectors and players to buy, sure if you see this for about £5 and want to give it a shot then go for it, but its really not worth going out of your way to track a copy down or paying through the teeth for it.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Yie Ar Kung Fu and Kickstart 2

 So its back to my list of Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games again, so here is another two games from my top 10. So without further ado here we go.

3: Yie Ar Kung Fu

Yie Ar Kung Fu was a pretty well known arcade gamebut I think it was possibly even more popular as a computer game the original arcade game was by a Japanese gaming company I am sure you will have heard of Konami, and it needs to be said that Imagine did a great job adapting the game to the humble spectrum. I need to admit that there is one thing that really made me keep coming back to this game and its something that people really wouldnt think of nowdays and thats loading time. Some spectrum games could take what seemed like hours to load and could feel like they just were not worth it, Yie Ar Kung Fu not only was great to play it also loaded fast as anything which back in those days was important.

The scenario of the game is a simple one. You take control of a young kung fu fighter called Oolong who wants to follow in the his fathers footsteps honouring his family name by becoming a Kung Fu Grand Master. To do this Oolong must fight and defeat a large mix of diffrent fighters with diffrent styles and in some cases weapons. The story might be simple but it just feels so well so much like a proper Kung Fu film turned into a game, the characters you face all seem to fit in the moulds of characters you would see in one of those old dubbed kung fu movies and well it just makes it feel great, youd think that with just one attack button and one stick your moves would be rather limited but when playing the game it doesnt feel this way at all. You have a roundhouse kick, a leg sweep, a body punch and leaping punches all of which you use to strike your opponent and deplete there energy bar before they can get you. You had 5 lives to try and defeat all of your opponents with and beating each one of them seemed to very much be a case of learning the way they moved and learning stratergies to cope with them. Its a very enjoyable game as you always seem to get a little bit better, the more you play the more you learn and the further you get.

Modern players might find this game a little basic in a post Street Fighter 2 world with combo's and special moves and a large choice of player characters but dont let these things put you off trying the game, it has a great character to it and it a great feel, I would love to see a modern sequel that takes the same sort of characters and feeling as Yie Ar Kung Fu but throws in all of the modern trimmings of the one on one fighter that we have gotten so used to, the combos and special moves

4: KickStart 2

Kickstart 2 is a motorcycle  racing game, it is obviously the sequel to Kikstart but this is where I have to admit that I have never actually seen or played the original Kickstart so I cant say if its a big improvment over the original or not, what I can say is that I really like this game but then I guess thats obvious with this being on this list. The game is very basic you control your bikes braking and acceleration, you also hop and pull wheelies and you do all of this in order  to navigate across a course of various obstacles including ramps, tyres, gates and telephone boxes. You have to learn how to make the best time on courses by knowing how your supposed to deal with diffrent types of obsticals, for example you need to travel slowly across wooden beams, but if you go too slowly over the tyes then you will be thrown off your bike so you need to go over those quickly. I guess this game has two things in common with the above Yie Ar Kung Fu one of them is the fact that you have to learn how to handle things be they opponents or situations and that the more you learn the better you get at the game and the other is that KickStart 2 is a very quick loading game, I used to be putting this game on all of the time because it was good and it took a fraction of the time to load that most of my games did.

If I was to try and explain to a more modern gamer what KickStart 2 is like I would say imagine an older more primative version of Trials HD, you can actually see how simmilar they are Trials is just sort of the same idea taken to its natural point of progression.What can I say though I love Trials now and I loved KickStart back then, and heck for all of the time that has passed I still think the gamkes not too shabby.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

SNES Review 117: Zoop

So usually when I am looking to do a SNES review I am thinking about the story behind the review, sometimes its a story about how the game first came in to my life, did I own it as a kid or did I play it at a friends, but I have nothing here, I have to admit that I didnt as far as my memory goes ever see any footage of this game back in the old games magazines of the time nor do I remember seeing it in shops.

In fact the first I ever saw of Zoop was when I brought it for the megadrive basically just because it was cheap, in all honesty I didnt at the time even realise that it was multiplatform, it was in fact very multi-platform as it was on the Game Boy, the Game Gear, the MegaDrive/Genesis, the Atari Jaguar, the PlayStation, the PC (MS-DOS), the Macintosh, the Sega Saturn (only in Japan) and of course because I am talking about it here as a part of my 150 Super Nintendo Reviews project I think you have figured out that it was on the SNES.

So Zoop is a puzzle game and it was developed by Hookstone Productions, a video game company I can actually find very little information about they were a UK-based video game development group which was apparently active from 1994 until around 1998. As far as I can find out they were only ever responsible for this game Zoop, a game called Sentinel Returns and then a game called Ferox which was cancelled before being released. So its not like there is a whole pile of past or future games that were made by the same people for me to compare it to, I guess ultimatly as a puzzle game it will be compared to the likes of Tetris, Dr Mario and the various other puzzlers which have stood the test of time and leap straight into the average game players mind.

Ok so lets try and explain what you do in this game, I will try to keep it basic but I think its actually a rather hard game to explain. You control a triangle in the center of the screen you move it around the center area making it point in diffrent directions. To start with a piece comes in from one of the sides of the screen and if there is a piece in its way it pushes it, your not just watching one part of the screen though, two consecutive pieces will never come in from the same angle,it might come from the left or right or top or bottom of the screen and if a piece falls into the center square, the game is over.

You will notice that your triangle starts as one colour well if you shoot a piece of the same color as your triangle,well then it will be "zooped" (disapear)  and you will gain points for this. If the piece you shot is green and your triangle is green then youll destroy it, if the piece behind this piece is green youll destroy that too and so on and so on until you meet a diffrent colour. If you shoot a piece which is a diffrent colour to you, well then you wont make it disapear youll simple turn your triangle into whatever the colour you have just shot is. So if your triangle is green and you hit a green and theres another green behind it and then a red behind that you will eliminate the greens and then your triangle will turn red hopefully that makes sense, once you have played for a handful of moments it soon becomes second nature.

This all sounds pretty basic but the more pieces you can zoop in one go the more points you score, whenever you zoop the required quota for a level the game will speed up, and then there are special pieces which come into play including a proximity bomb and a line bomb and colour bomb also as the game progresses distracting backgrounds are purposly added in to try and up the challange factor this was used as a unique selling point for the game and was referd to as opti-challenge graphics, I could see some people liking this and it clearly pissing other people off, I found myself kind of falling in to the middle of this sometimes I find it annoying and sometimes my brain just seems to filter it all out for me

The sound effects in the game are kind of cartoon inspired and the music well I think at first it is catchy but soon it will make you want to pull your own ears off, yes it does that good old puzzle thing of seeming to try to be tense when the gameplay is tense but it just doesnt really cut it for me, add on to this that the graphics are just about as basic as they could possibly be, sure everything  moves smothly and its quiet a bright game but there is nothing here that tests the system in even the slighest way. I am not going to say that the game cant be fun in small bursts but its just that there are much better puzzle games out there than this, it is fun ismall dozes but its ultimatly a forgetable experiance, there is a reason you hear people go on and on about Tetris and Dr Mario and Bust A Move insted of Zoop. I would give this game a very average 5 and would say not to buy a cart of it unless you can get it for about £5 and then only if you like puzzle games as this is very unlikly to be the game to convert someone who is not a fan of them.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Fibromyalgia awarness day: A little something for people to look at.

So today is fibromyalgia awarness day, so I figured that I would do my bit to help raise awarness by doing a blog post on it. Ok so I will start by briefly trying to explain what fibromyalgia is, I hasten to add I do not suffer from it nor am I a Doctor or other medical professional, everything I know comes from the fact my girlfriend has it and the reading I have done around the disorder in order to try and be an understanding boyfriend because I love her.

So to start at the basics what does the term fibromyalgia actually mean well the term "fibromyalgia" is from New Latin,with  fibro refering "fibrous tissues",  myo to "muscle", and algia basically meaning "pain"; thus the term pretty much means "muscle and fibrous connective tissue pain". The thing is this in and of itself sounds bad enough but it does not really explain what having firbo is like or the challangers someone with it faces I think some of the following videos do this far better than I could. The first I will put in this post the other 2 well I will add links just below for them. I know this is not my usual sort of post some people might have expected me to be talking about horror or video games or even ranting about polotics but how can all of those things not seem unimportant compared to trying to actually post something that could help people to better understand the issues that a whole group of people live with.


Fibromyalgia video 2

Fibromyalgia Video 3

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Fernandez Must Die and Rockstar Ate my Hamster

So I said I would do a Top Ten list for my top 10 favourate microcomputer games and then I stopped and thought about it, the truth is very few people will have played enough games across all of the various Microcomputers to really do a list that takes every machine and all of the games for it into consideration particularly not if you are the age I was when those machines were popular. You see back then you picked a machine and you were pretty much loyal to the core it was like joining a tribe, you picked your machine and at the same time you picked where your loyaltys would lay, sure you might play one of the others if you visited a friends house and he owned a diffrent machine but youd never admit that anything on it was better than what you had at home, the majority at least would make out that they were just making the best of a bad situation playing on this rival machine. My older brother had a BBC micro, and I had friends with both Amstrad and Commodore C64's but I dont feel I have really used them enough to fold them in to this, plus there are so many other lesser known micro's so I thought what the heck I should just stick to what I know and make it a Sinclair Spectrum Top Ten, then I realised that if I just did a list which went Game 1, 2 ,3 etc well I might be talking abouyt games people have never heard of. So what I have decided to do is slowly work my way through my Top Ten list 2 games at a time, every time I make a post on this subject I will talk about 2 games trying to give both a rough idea of what the game is about but also how/why it has made its way on to my list, so here goes. I am not going to put them in order because well thats too hard, oh and this is my list its not set in stone, other people would argue with it and heck in a year maybe even a months time then I very well might argue with it after all most top tens are very much based on what you think and feel at a set time. Lets kick things off with the first two games I want to talk about

1: Fernandez Must Die (1988)

 Ok so what we have here is a Commando style action game, if it moves then you kill it, you shoot with your machine gun, you throw grenades, your mission is to destroy 8 enemy bases and ultimatly to find General Fernandez and kill him. On the way to getting him your going to have to kill buckets full of  soldiers and destroy tanks and battleships. To help you there are some planes that fly over head and drop first aid kits and there are jeeps you can jump in which make you faster have a more powerful gun mounted on them. The game is best played in two player mode, it has great graphics for a game of its kind on the spectrum platform, it might be a bit of a brainless blaster but its a darn good one especially when you grab a buddy and jump right into it. I spent a great deal of time playing this with my friend Andrew when I was a kid both on my Spectrum and on his Commodore 64. If I remember correctly he got the game first, he brought a genuine copy from somewhere and then shortly after this I actually got the full game on one of those magazine cassettes you used to get for the Spectrum, the ones that usually had like 4 to 8 games on them, getting it so cheap with both a magazine and other games well it kinda felt like winning money on a scratch card. It has ended up on this list partly because its just a darn fine game and partly because I have awesome memories of it which have stood the test of time.

2: Rock Star Ate my Hamster

Ok so how to describe Rockstar Ate My Hamster its a very unique game, unlike most brilliant games it has never really been copied and this only makes it an even more special little gem. I guess youd call it a parody management strategy game, as in the game you are basically managing a Rock Band trying to get them to the top of the charts but its full of jokes and parody names and doesnt take itself very seriously at all and this makes it a brilliant bit of fun. Its all menu driven and basically all you do is make decisions, who do you want in your band, what kind of venue will you play at, how much will you charge for tickets, what are you going to call the songs on your album. Yes it might sound incredibly simple and on one level it is as all you really do is make choices and then sit back and see what the results are but it sucks you in, it makes you feel like your band is real and your decisions really matter and because of its tone and jokes it keeps you laughing all the way which is an amazing thing, so many games claim to be funny or to have comedy elements but in all honesty very few games are really gut bustingly funny and at this time this game really is. I played this game with everyone, I played it with my friends, with my brother, with my mum and I even played it for hours and hours on my own. This makes it on to the list not just because it made me laugh or because of the countless hours I invested in to it but also because I think its a very special game in that there is nothing else quiet like it out there even all these years latter it is still one of a kind.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Hammer: Dracula Prince Of Darkness

So with Hammers first Dracula film we had Chrisopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, then we got a second Dracula film the Brides of Dracula which featured Cushings Van Helsing but didnt actually featuring Christopher Lee or anyone for that matter as Dracula and so after that we got the third Hammer Dracula film, Dracula: Prince of Darkness which saw the return of Lee, this time without Cushing (with the exception of scenes from Horror Of Dracula featuring him in the prologue). I saw this film originally years ago when I was quiet young, I however recently watched it and felt that I would like to review it as a part of my series of Hammer reviews.

Ok so I try to keep things spoiler free but if you havent yet watched Horror of Dracula and dont want that film spoiling then skip this paragrape as the start of this film is the end of that one. The film starts with a prologue which replays the final scene from Horror of  Dracula, in which Dr. Van Helsing destroys Dracula by first pulling down the curtains and then using two large candle sticks to act as a cross, a cross which he uses to push Dracula back in to the sunlight that is coming through the window which kills him. These replay is accompanied by voice-over narration which tells of how Van Helsing was able to end Dracula's  reign of terror making him nothing more than a dreaded memory. I really like the way this is done, it really conects this film to the first one, it also reminds you of just how brilliantly that film ended, what once was a great ending now serves as a really awesome high impact start to this film with the naration adding a certain freshness to it, personally I think this was an awesome way to open the film.

The main story doesnt feature Van Helsing at all, it instead tells about how Dracula is reserected and then gives us a new set of characters to go against him, the closist to a Van Helsing style character being Father Sandor who goes from visiting an inn and warning four English tourists to stay away from Dracula's castle to eventually offering those who have escaped Dracula sanctuary and help to defeat him. I dont think he is as good as Peter Cushing however Andrew Keir plays Sandor well and makes him both a believeable and intresting character, you feel that he is just as knowledgable and willing to fight evil as Helsing was but he in my mind at least just doesnt feel as formidable a foe, he doesnt feel like Dracula's natural equal.

I guess your expecting me to go on and on about how wonderful Christopher Lee is now or how much I miss Peter Cushing?  Well I do and dont miss Cushing there was a nice little bit of seeing how cool he was at the start even if it was purly a recap and reused footage, yes its great to see Helsing against Dracula but its intresting to see how Dracula deals with and relates to other diffrent people. Now I find it important to note that the Dracula seen in this film is kind of diffrent to the one seen in the first movie for a start Dracula does not speak in the film, he gestures and looks and hisses apart from the hisses its almost like a silent movie portrayel of Dracula but just like with a silent film Chrisopher Lee manages to speak a thousand words with every look with every movement, he might not talk but he speaks volumes with his acting.

 According to Christopher Lee: "I didn’t speak in that picture. The reason was very simple. I read the script and saw the dialogue! I said to Hammer, if you think I’m going to say any of these lines, you’re very much mistaken.", this account was contradicted by the Screenwriter Jimmy Sangsterwho claimed that "Vampires don't chat. So I didn't write him any dialogue. ''Personally I can think of a whole bunch of reasons Dracula might not talk in this film from a story point of view, maybe it was because of how he came back, maybe meeting his end and then being reserected effected him, or maybe he just didnt find anyone worth talking to that he met during this film. If it is true that Lee read the script and the dialogue was poor then I say that it was a good call on his behalf to decide that less was more and say nothing instead pouring everything in to his almost silent performance.

I didnt enjoy this game as much as Horror of Dracula but I actually have tio say that I think it was better than Brides of Dracula and certainly well worth a watch.

Monday, 8 May 2017

what it was like to be a gamer in the 80's

So when you talk about retro gaming lots of people will get an idea in there heads a picture of what you mean and usually they are going to think about old cartridge based console systems like the NES, the SNES, the MegaDrive/Genesis or maybe even slightly newer CD based systems such as the playstation the GameCube etcetera but there is so much more out there. The importance and the popularity of the NES back in its day in the United Kingdom is often overstated, people try to make out that the machine was highly supported over here, the truth was that not many people had them, if you walked in the average british house you were far more likly to be met with the sight of a micro computer a Sinclair Spectrum, a Commadore 64, an Amstrad or some other such type of machine. The truth is that if you were to see a console it would more than likly be a Master System in fact proberbly a Master System 2. The NES as a system is far more popular now in the UK as a retro console than it ever was as a current machine. Most video game fans my age will have grown up with a draw full of microcomputer tapes not NES cartridges and yet hardly anyone seems to celebrate or collect these in anyway close to the same way.

This is not the first time I have talked about this, if you have been a long time reader of this blog then you might remember me writing an article saying that the first school yard arguments were not about if you were pro MegaDrive or pro SNES they were in fact over which microcomputer you had chosen to support. When you talk to most people now though they tend to make out that they were really into Nintendo, that they owned a NES that all of there friends owned Nintendo Entertainment Systems and that they were massive in the UK, in fact you could argue that the whole history of the video game market back then steams to have been painted over it seems to have been washed away and replaced with this false spin doctored image of what things used to be like, an image that makes us appear well more American. Why is this are we as a group ashamed of our own Video Game heritage, do we feel silly and think that we backed the wrong horse? If you look at the figures for how many households in the UK actually had a NES the highest estimates put the machine in 12% of UK houses.

I think it needs to be rememberd that the humble Micro actually had some advantages over the NES, no I am not going to push how it had a keyboard and you could do programming or any of its uses as a computer why? Well thats simple its because other than a little bit of messing around with programming here and there thats just not how I or any of my friends or aquantances used there Microcomputers. Nes carts were very very expensive, when I saw them new I remember them being about £50 which now as an adult does not sound that much as we all pay sums around that level for brand new games on modern consoles but remember £50 in 1986 money (The year of the NES's UK release) is technically speaking a lot more money than £50 in current cash, they also were not anywhere near as wildly available as Micro games. I owned a Spectrum as a kid, at first it was a old hand me down 48k spectrum but then one Christmas this was changed to a brand new 128k +2 model, and where did I get my games from? I got my games from darn near everywhere. You could get games in Boots the Chemist, you could get them in Game stores, deparment stores, and newsagents, you could get them pretty much everywhere. It wasnt just the availability though it was also the price sure some real big deluxe Spectrum games in big boxes with stuff thrown in could go for as much as £14.99 but they were absolutly piles and piles of games for as little as £1.99.

People might argue that the NES games were bigger or more technical than home computer games and I guess some of them were but were they always better? The honest answer is not really, there were plenty of great games on microcomputers, I would list some here but just trust me, I am holding that back for a future top 10 Micro Computer Games post. I am not here to slag of the NES or anything but I just think its about time people stop and admit that the NES wasnt the champion here that it was in the United States, it was a minor note in the sidelines of our video game history, but I dont think we really lost out, most people were busy playing other things and thanks to things such as Mario All Stars and then things like the Zelda gamecube Collectors disc and various virtual console releases and the NES mini most people who didnt experiance these nintendo games back then have now gotten to see the classics that our American friends grew up with.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Why some of the people complaining about the bullying in Eastenders piss me off.

So its been some time since I have done a post about the news or politics so some people might have assumed that either nothing has annoyed me or caught my eye lately or that I have either stopped paying attention or have mellowed out. Well the truth is I read a lot of news items particularly on the way to and from places such as work or my girlfriends, a lot of the time though I figure that there are others far more qualified to discuss it than me, sure if it pisses me off I might jump in even if im not the most informed but in general I like to have a grasp on the fundamentals of what im going on about.

At this point I should probably make it clear that I dont really do soap operas, I tend to see them as the green scum that collects on the top of the pool in the world of television, they somehow manage to be a mix of some people cheerily getting on with day to day life waving hi to there neighbours and then other people suffering whatever illness or social issue or random plight which is the current cool thing to talk about. Quiet often the problem is that these things are handled with all the grace and subtleness that Elvis Presley apparently used to turn off the television (apparently he shot them if rumours are to be believed).

Apparently on Eastenders two girls have been bullying another girl and making her life well a living hell. Well this is right up my street, I spent 8 months working as a mentor for bullied kids, I also long before that spent a long time studying both the sociology of education and child development so this is a topic I feel I can dive into. Now I havent seen any of the episodes so it's not them I am going to comment on, nope its actually some of the online reactions to it I want to talk about.

Now a whole bunch of people appeared on Twitter and other similar online services to voice there opinions and thoughts on the matter, there were those who didnt seem to know the difference between fiction and reality who couldnt believe that Sarah McGuffin face (I have no desire to even try to remember character names) was being treated in such a manner and those who complained that they didnt want to have to watch someone being treated in this way, that it was somehow hurting or offending them.

I want to answer the complaints of both sets of people here first to those sad about Sarah McGuffin face and her situation, I hate to tell you this after all im sure you have only just recovered from the tooth fairy and easter bunny thing but shes not real, she is in fact an actress paid cash to pretend this is happening, no matter what happens to her on screen shes as happy as larry most likely getting paid to do a job she hopefully loves. If you really want to get sad then realise that these kind of things are happening to real kids and cry out about that, think what you can do that can help, be it check your younger relatives are ok or even donate to a charity, or take a long hard look at how you treat others and the views and attitudes you promote through your own actions.

If you are one of those other people one of those who has complained that you have been forced to watch this character be bullied as part of a TV programme oh dear poor poor you, you have had to sit by in front of your proberbly large LCD television screen and watch someone be bullied on a TV show on a channel one of many many channels, you couldnt have possibly have changed to another channel if you didnt like it, no you were frozen there in the headlights wishing you didnt have to watch it. Well you know something if you were stuck watching it then it was you who had impresioned yourself, you were your own jail guard and you made yourself see something but hey wait a minute stop and think about it there are actually real people out there who are actually being bullied and they are not there own jail guards they do not decide to be bullied, they do not have the option of changing the channel or turning the TV off. So stop blooming whining and again think about those who are really suffering and ponder if there is something you can do to help the situation, to try and fight back against bullying instead of burying your head in the sand and complaining when you see something ficticious which is based of a real life event which happens every single day in schools all over the globe on the TV.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Problem of being a Switch owner.

So as the owner of a Switch, or as I call it at the moment a Zelda box, largly because thats all mine gets used for I wanted to talk about what happening with mine so far. I do own Bomberman R, 1 2 Switch, and have recently got Mario Kart but havent done much with any of them, well apart from written 1 2 Switch off as a steaming bag of crap. So far I have loved the new Zelda but I find myself in a very simmilar situation to which I have been in with previous Nintendo consoles, basically playing a really good Nintendo made game waiting for the next really good Nintendo game to come out because there aint much else to do. What do I mean by this well I am basically saying that 3rd party support is hardly buzzing, so far we have some games that have been ported either from the Xbox One, the PS4 or Nintendo's previous console the switch and some that have released on the Switch at the same time as the PS4 but cost far more on the Switch.

Lego City for example has just come out for the Switch but its just an update of the exact same Lego City that was on the Wii U, heck even Mario Kart 8 deluxe released by Nintendo is the old Wii U game with some bells and whistles thrown on to it. You can Preorder Skyrim which is proberbly going to be about £50 on release maybe more in some shops or you could basically go grab it now for Xbox One or PS4 and finish it before its even out on the Switch and only pay £25, its a good game but its old now. You can buy Troll and I for the PS4 or XBOX One now for £20 to £25 or you can wait till its out on the switch (apparently around christmas) and pay what looks like it will be £39.99, heck Puyo Puyo Tetris has released on Switch and PS4 at the same time but its £25 for the PS4 version and £35 for the Switch. If you really want to get into how your paying more for the same on Switch Rayman Legends is coming to the switch for £59.99 and thats been free on Xbox Games with Gold (yes the Switch one is supposed to be a definitive edition but still).

I know some people will think I am being a little premature in saying this but I dont think that the Switch has really been handled in a way which will make it either the number one choice or the only console for most people, its going to be a secondery console in almost all cases I think. If I can get a game much cheaper or sooner on the PS4 or Xbox One then that is what I am going to do, as for Wii U remakes well I will only get them if I can get them cheap or if something is added to the game that I really feel I need and I cant help but think that this is how the majority of people will feel.  One of the games I saw that most excited me that I was in fact planning on getting was I am Setsuna but then I learned that this isent just a switch game, nope its on the PS4 and Steam and to be honest I know that sooner or latter it will be dirt cheap on either steam or the PSN store.

I know some people will think that I am being unfair to judge Nintendo so early on in the game, they will argue that great and new intresting 3rd party games could be right around the corner, games which wont be available on anything but the Switch due to the way they use the machine but this is something that I have heard about past Nintendo consoles and the more times you hear it and it doesnt come true the harder it becomes to swallow it each and every time. Originally I set out to just write a blog post about the Capcom Five because I thought it was a really intresting subject but in order to do so I started to think about and talk about the current situation with the Switch to try and use it as a starting block to explain where Nintendo where with the GameCube when the Capcom Five were announced and the subject just took on a life of its own. For those not in the know the Capcom Five were 5 games which were orignally announced to be coming out as GameCube exclusives something which a lot of people pinned an awful lot of hopes on and a topic I may return to in the future.

Now I am not trying to knock Nintendo here or say that anyone shouldnt buy a Switch, heck I got one at release but I am trying to say that Nintendo could have handled things better, they could have with a small investment courted various indy developers to get new unique and quriky indy titles on the system early on, sure there is Snipper clips and a few other bits and pieces but not nearly enough, also why when Nintendo have over 30 years of classic games to look back on why is the Virtual Console currently nothing but a Neo Geo showcase? Ok now I know that they proberbly want to drip feed old games on to the service so I am not saying throw SNES game after SNES game at us one after another but surly one juicy one a week wouldnt hurt now would it? Still lets end this post here with the simple phrase ''Time will Tell''.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Hammer: Brides of Dracula

Last night I watched The Brides of Dracula which is another Hammer horror film and well its the sequel to The Horror of Dracula which I reviewed recently. It in some ways is a strange sequel particularly when you realise that despite having the name Dracula right there in the title doesnt actually feature Dracula at all. So if this films not about Dracula then who and what is it about and what makes it a sequel? Well Peter Cushing returns from the previous film once again playing Doctor Van Hellsing and thats what ties the films togther. At one stage apparently the film was going to be called Disciple Of Dracula which I actually think would have been a better title for the film as the Brides are not really the main Villian of the piece or what the focus point of the film in general.

So in my review of the first Hammer Dracula I talked about how well Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing worked alongside each other and thats sort of the downside of this film. Peter Cushing gives a fabulous performance once again but there isent really anyone around him who comes even close so it really is a one man show. Dont get me wrong Cushing acted the living crap out of the role, I dont fault a single line he utters or movement he makes the man is an acting legend and once again he puts on a motion picture acting master class but it just doesnt equal the previous film as there isent the same feeling of it being an equal battle and the same sort of on screen chemistry. I will try not to spoil to much of the plot but I want to go back to what I said about the brides not being the main antagonists of the piece. The main Villian is actually played by an actor called David Peel and is a character called Baron Meinster, who and I say this more because of the possible title than anything I noticed in the film is apparently a disciple of Count Dracula. Now anyone who has watched a lot of horror and vampire films will instantly be able to tell you that not all Vampires are equal or actors for that matter. No offense to David Peel but he is a poor subsitute for Christopher Lee, Baron Meinster apart from possibly one scene largly comes across as a cardboard cut out monster, in my oppinion you could have lifted him straight out of the film and dropped anyone dressed as a vampire in to his place and given them some simple instructions, Cushing tottally carries him (and the whole film).

I know some people might have issues that this whole review has just become a piece in which to praise Cushing but heck its my review, watch the film and see what you think.  I just feel that Cushing had really gotten the role of Van Helsing and made it his, he had become the character and knew how he would act and what he would say. The ending to this film originally was going to be that all of the vampiresare killed by a swarm of bats released straight from hell via a black magic  ritual. This ending was rejected by Peter Cushing, who said that Van Helsing would never resort to using black magic, that it didnt fit the character and I have to admit that I do think it would have been tottally out of context and well jaring to see this version of Van Helsing do something like that (Hammer did stow the idea away and use it in a latter Vampire film). To me this is the mark of a good actor, one who gets a real feel for the characters they play and begins to breathe real life in to them and make them more than just an image on the silver screen. So I guess I will leave things here, its not a bad film, in fact it is enjoyable, heck if you like Cushing you will proberbly love it, it just doesnt compare to the first entry in the series.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Hammer: Horror of Dracula

I have often found myself talking about Peter Cushing on this blog, I have talked about him as an actor I admire, I have talked about his image being used after his death in a StarWars film and I have talked about the rose he commisioned for his late wife. I guess you can say that he has become one of the most repeated subjects on this blog, the last time I mentioned him was when I talked about the birth of the film studio Hammer and there birth. I ended this piece by talking about The Curse Of Frankenstein stating that it was a genre defining picture,which allowed us brits to usher in the return of gothic horror. I couldnt help but mention that this was due to three individuals one of which was  the director Terence Fisher and the other two were the fabulous actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Well the success of  The Curse of Frankenstein gave Hammer the freedom to explore more adaptations, this led to them making Dracula (AKA Horror of Dracula) which was released in 1958. It stared Christopher Lee (Dracula) and Peter Cushing (Van Helsing), again as well as once more being directed by Terence Fisher. 

This film is a brilliant piece of cinematic history and as far as I am concerned it sets the standard for further Hammer vampire films. If you have never seen a Hammer horror film, then you are in for a heck of a treat filled with impressivelavish costumes and sets, plenty of buxom ladies, some of the red stuff (in this case, very bright red) and a penchant for period settings. Dracula presents all this with gusto. So just like in Curse of Frankenstein, Lee is the monster, and Cushing is the doctor but unlike that film Lee is not a sympathetic Monster here, no he is a dangerous Vampire to be feared while Cushing is a much more sympathetic Doctor, in curse of Frankenstein he was a man who thought he could play God but here he is a man who feels like he is serving the will of God and protecting people from the unholy. Both of these actors give brilliant performances here and they play against each other brilliantly, they dont seem to try to out act each other or to be the star of the piece no instead they seem to work in harmony feeding each other perfectly.

So is this Dracula a film adaptation of the classic Stoker novel? Well the best answer is not exactly. It taskes characters and themes but it is not a beat for beat adaption. The film takes place in Germany and Van Helsing and Harker are colleques studying the legend of Vampires.  The location of Dracula is found out and Harker takes a post working at Dracula's castle, he kills a female vampire (A bride of Dracula I guess) but then before he can find out the Count gets his revenge by biting and Killing Harker.  Van Helsing goes in search of Harker, finding his diary and his corpse the second of which he stakes. Van Helsing then visits Arthur Holmwood and his wife Mina to inform them of Harekers death. Arthurs sister Lucy was engaged to Harker and was living with them due to her recent illness, one which has left her pale and weak. I wont go further into the story and what happens as well I strongly think that this is a film that needs to be seen (yes I am avoiding spoilers for a very old film here).

So is Christopher Lee a better or worse Dracula than Bela Lugosi most people will ask, well he is a totally diffrent kind of Dracula. Lugosi was hypnotic and charming and to a certain degree sympathetic but Lee in this film was something else he came across as violent, dangerous, physical and well animalisti, he was a sex and violence Dracula. Against this we have a Van Helsing who instead of a little old man who happens to know the truth and is just wise and holy we have a Van Helsing here who is not just an expert but also an action hero, to me this film is the start of the idea of the kick ass vampire slayer which is now so common in all forms of media.

Once again I find myself toasting the work of Christoper Lee and Peter Cushing and this is only the first film in Hammers Dracula franchise.