Thursday, 29 July 2010

Crap Game Corner: Captain Pytron (Speccy)

As I lay here, listening to Journey on the internet radio, I keep thinking of the late 80's. Arcade conversions were getting more ambitious on the old 8-bit micros. And it even reminded me of the cover tapes from CRASH, Your Sinclair and Sinclair User. Some would have great game demos, full games that were quite good....and games that weren't. Games that were so shit beyond belief, so diabolical, so monumentally.......crap, that it's an astonishment how they ever got made in the first place.

Take Craptain Pytron. I use Craptain because this game stinks more than month old rotting meat. Upon loading, you get a screen with our 'heros' name, with what looks like a bloke from those old cartoons, the 'Wot, no beef?' cartoons (you know, the bloke with the really long nose, that hangs over the brick wall. His nose, that is.) with a norse helmet on. So, upon pressing enter, you get control options:

upon which, yours truly selected keyboard (I had no joystick handy). Now, expecting to be able
to redefine my keys, I waited, and then got thrust into the game. No explanation of how Pytron got there, why he's there (probably didn't pay his Pizza Hut bill, or something) and what to do. Greeeaaaaaaat *sigh*. BUT, not only that, but it doesn't give you a run down of the keys to use. Now,here's the fun part. You start in a cell. A LOCKED (I'll repeat that: LOCKED) cell, with 3 objects:
After finding out (after being killed through not knowing what the controls are) how to pick up objects, I found out how to use them (it was found out by guess work, and I sill don't know how to use it). Now, thinking that the jug would hold a key, you use all objects until you find that the SPRING will open the door (???). Confused you will be. You also start off with no weapons, so the enemies you first encounter (big, green things that look like the creature thats with Olive Oyl when she's in the army) are able to sap your energy, and you can't fight back. Oh, and they're able to go through the LOCKED door from earlier.

Captain Pytron should be left in his cell to rot. The game is shit, the controls are shit. It looks ok, though. Only just, mind. But ok graphics do not a good game make, and you can't polish a turd, not even one with very obscure and stupid puzzles like this. And, no, I'm not even posting screenies of this game, because this thing offends me. Tis a game so crap, it's made me quite mad. Now, go away and play Monty Mole, and let's never speak of this rubbish again.

JetSetWilly: Playing crap games, so you don't have to ((C)marc. All rights reserved, copyright doesn't exist, so sod off!)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Into the Unknown: Podder (Spectrum) - Central Solutions

The ZX Spectrum had millions of games (at least, it felt like it) released throughout it's lifetime. Many were generic clones of famous games, and there were some that took the idea, and put a spin on it. A bit like Podder. This is your normal clone of Sabre-Wulf (sort of), but with a difference. Instead of a bloke with a sword, you control a car (that looks like a tank) which can fire at enemies and you pick up gasoline. And, instead of looking for an amulet, you're looking for 107 vehicle parts. So far, so good. It brought something new to the maze game table. It's a shame that it plays so woefully, and looks as ugly as shit.

You have the normal controls, which I won't bore you with by repeating, And you also have a fire function, which is about as much use as a one legged elephant. The car moves very slowly and is animated terribly. Plus, you just get the felling you've seen it all before (again in Sabre-Wulf....but much better and much more addictive!). It looks really awful and very simplistic, especially for 1986, when games like Mikie and Hyper Sports were released. I mean, everything looks so.........square. Even the rivers are square. And whats more, your 'car' looks more like a small tank.

The game is very limited, to be honest, and there was no replay value back then, and there isn't now. The only Central Solution should have been to NOT make the game at all. As much fun as eating broken glass and drinking vinegar.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Near Miss: 10 of the best Greatest Hits albums.

Normally, after a group/band/singer has done about 6 albums, they'll release a BEST OF/Greatest Hits compilation. I personally love these albums. They allow someone (like myself) the chance to get into a band by listening to the best hits and then deciding if I want to splash out on the other albums. Take Thin Lizzy. I only ever heard a couple of their songs (Whiskey in the Jar, Jail Break), I had a listen, and I like a lot more of their stuff, so GH albums are a must. Here's the 10 (was originally 5, but there are so many good ones, it would be a crime to miss any out!!) I think are worth a listen to.

10: Journey - Greatest Hits.

With tracks like Seperate Ways (Worlds Apart), Open Arms and the classic Don't Stop Believing, this should be in every rock fans collection. A heady mix of feel good, rock out songs that you can't help but want to sing along to (especially Be Good To Yourself, which is the last song, and definitely one of the best I've heard).

9: Level 42 - The Definitive

There is a two disc version, but the one disc version contains the best tracks (save for Love Games, which is ok at best). From Running in the Family and Starchild to Micro Kid and Hot Water, nearly every track is a winner (apart from the track mentioned), and it shows why Level 42 were one of Britain's biggest bands in the 1980's.

8: Rainbow - Best Of

Another entry for Rainbow on one of my lists, the whole cd is just great. Including the songs Kill the King, A Light in the Black, Man on the Silver Mountain and the most famous track Since You've Been Gone

7: Led Zepplin - Mothership

Who hasn't heard of Led Zepplin? The track Whole Lotta Love was used for Top of the Pops, for chuffs sake! All the tracks, including Immigrant Song and Communication Breakdown, that are spread over the two discs are pure 70's rock, and that at it's heart is what counts. And even the front cover is brilliant!!

6: Elvis - HITStory

I might be cheating with this as it's three best of's in one, but the whole package comes as one, so it still counts. Containing the originally released 30 #1's and 2nd to None, and the unreleased The Story Continues, all three discs contain something that will please everyones ears. Cd 3 contains some tracks from the movies, like Kissin' Cousins, and GI Blues.

5: Prince - Ultimate

Many great tracks from the start of his career, through Purple Rain and Batman, to Diamond & Pearls and New Power Generation, with the songs Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette and Kiss, this is another Best Of that get's a thumbs up from me for getting me into just one of the greatest male solo artists of our time.

4: Blondie - Greatest Hits

Denis, Heart Of Glass, Rip Her To Shreds, Rapture, the list is (not really) endless, with track after track of classic music. Another recommendation and, again, another best of that got me into Blondie.

3: Phil Collins - Hits

I've always liked ol' Phil. And who wouldn't, with songs like Another Day in Paradise, Two Hearts (very 60's-ish), Sussudio and I Wish It Would Rain Down. The front cover is of worthy mention, as it's all his solo album front covers drawn and painted by hand, and looks quite good.

2: Alice Cooper - Best Of

As I've mentioned before, I love my rock music, and no collection is complete without at least one Alice Cooper album. This greatest hits album might not be the strongest (it's version of Billion Dollar Babies is a live track), but it does have the 1988 hit Poison and Feed My Frankenstein, that featured in Wayne's World.
Party on, Garth!

1: Shakin' Stevens - Epic Singles Chronology

2 discs, every one of his 80's songs and all his christmas singles. Maybe, the most complete collection of Shaky's singles ever. Including I Might (which had all the VIZ! characters on the front!), A Little Boogie Woogie and This Ol' House (which is a different version to the originally released version). This always takes me back to my childhood, and you've always got to have a guilty pleasure, and this is it.

Other notible mentions are:
The Very Best of KISS, O Yeah! Aerosmith Hits (also released as Aerosmith Anthology) & Poison Greatest Hits 86-96.

But I thought I'd go for a top ten that doesn't include ALL of the usual suspects, but mixes a lot of styles together.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Air Guitar: Top 5 songs with Awesome guitar solo's

I love rock music. It's been a staple part of my musical diet for many years (even when I was in the wilderness of the dreaded Eminem-fever!), but I eventually came back to it full-time and, alongside my love of 80's synth-pop (OMD, Depeche Mode), 70's Glam Rock (T-Rex, Sweet) and KISS, and I even found new bands to rock out to and pretend to play air guitar to, all the while looking like I was having some sort of either a) seizure, or b) going completely mental. But, one of the most important parts to me, is the solo. The solo can say a lot about a song, especially if the song is fast (Danger Danger's Horny SOB from Screw It!) or if it's slow (Aerosmith's Hole In My Soul).
But, here's my top 5, and also, why I think the song is just brilliant in it's own right.

5: Journey - Still They Ride (Escape)

It's hard to choose a particular Journey song with an excellent solo, as they are al so damned good. Neal Schon is a definite underdog, when stood up along side Slash, Richie Sambora and Joe Perry, but that doesn't make him bad. I think he's quite the opposite. He can put a solo in any song, and makes it sound good. Take this song for instance. He starts off slow, then builds into a hefty finger extravaganza, then goes back to slow, then back to fast for the finish, and it works so well on so many levels.

4: Aerosmith - Crazy (Get  A Grip)

Again, it's hard to choose, as there are so many good songs, but this one just about (only by a very small margin) beats Dude (Looks Like A Lady), which is also a classic track, but the addition of an acoustic guitar solo is just genius, and again, it works.

3: Danger Danger - Crazy Nites (Screw It!)

I was introduced to this band 2 years ago, and this was the very first album of theirs I listened to. Nearly every track is pure gold (save for two tracks, one of which isn't sure what it wants to be). I could have picked the ballad I Still Think About You, or Monkey Business, both of which are great songs. But, it was the solo in this one that made my mind up for me. It's just well written, and fits in perfectly.

2: Andy Taylor - When The Rain Comes Down (Thunder: Remastered Edition)

Ex-Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor did this song for the tv show Miami Vice, but you wouldn't have thought that someone who plays guitar in a new romantic/rock-pop group could play guitar like that. You can just about tell, though, that under the plucking in New Moon on Monday and The Reflex, was a rock guitarist waiting to burst out. And this song certainly doesn't disappoint. The solo is also cool, as it mixes the 80's with a bit of something extra. But what, I still can't put my finger on.

1: Rainbow - A Light in the Black (Rising)

Not only another excellent solo, but an 8 1/4 minute odyssey, especially when the solo gets into its very heart. The late, great Ronnie James Dio puts in a powerful performance, and it's just as equal to Ritchie Blackmore's  4 minute solo, which really puts you in the mood.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Blast from the Past: Star Wars (arcade)

(Note: I posted this item before being notified about an affiliate blog about the same game. I apologize to that author. I did not intend to step his toes with this, so, sorry Graeme. Please view this as a second opinion, just like in the mags of old, as everybody likes differing opinions. Thanks - JSW)

. Back in 1974, a bloke with a beard called George Lucas wrote an initial 9-part saga called 'The Star Wars', which he drew inspiration for from the old television serials from the 30's, 40's and 50's like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, et al. It involved basic plot elements like good vs. evil, spaceships, a guy with a really bad asthma problem and a mystical power called 'The Force'. At first, The Force was supposed to have come from an artifact called The Khyber Crystal. This all changed and was turned into a mystical energy instead. Hawked around the different studios, only 20th Century Fox seemed interested in it's space battles, mysticism and the damsel in distress and green lit it.

Fast forward 3 years later, and Star Wars became the big box office hit 20th, and Lucas had hoped for, and made stars out of Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. Fast forward another 5 years, and Atari decided now would be the best time to release an arcade based upon the films climatic Death Star Battle. Based on the wireframe technology used in it's earlier Battlezone arcade cabinets, Star Wars captured the thrill of piloting an X-Wing fighter and engaging TIE-Fighters, gun emplacements and finally the final assault on the exhaust port.

The cabinet was an upright affair, with a joystick that looked like the same one used in STUN Runner another 6-7 years later. The two handles tilted back and forth, which allowed the craft to move up and down as well as left and right. The handles also had a fire button on each, which funnily enough, fire the laser blasters and the proton torpedoes when you placed the cursor over the exhaust port. There was also a deluxe sitdown model, which a picture of Darth Vader with his lightsaber drawn.

The game was just as ground braking as Battlezone was, with use of speech, authentic sound effects and a great rendition of the Star Wars theme, with some great wireframe graphics to boot. You really did get the feeling you were fighting the empire in that far, far away galaxy from a long time ago.

The Empire Strikes Back came in 1984, in the form of an upgrade kit and was basically more of the same, except it was based on the second film. And, while it was a good game, it wasn't as good as Star Wars.

Red 5 standing by......