Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Are You a Member of the CULT? - Flash Gordon (1980, Universal)

"Pathetic Earthlings. Who will save you now?" - Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow)
I love this poster, which was also used as artwork for the 25th Anniversary DVD.
Camp? Yes. Rubbish, in a great sort of way Special Effects? Yes. Brian Blessed shouting a lot, while dressed like some sort of Turkey thats escaped from Bernard Matthew's farm? Definitely yes. Is it a cult classic in every sense of the word? Most definitely yes. Flash Gordon is an update of the original comic strip, created by Alex Raymond in 1934, which was then turned into a TV serial, starring Buster Crabbe. It told the story of Flash Gordon, his love interest Dale Arden (no stiff jokes here, please, although I'm dying to say a few!), and scientist Dr. Zarkov, trying to save the world from Ming the Merciless. It was a very good show (even if it did have very dodgy sets), but it would take nearly 40-odd years before anyone made a movie. But, Universal & Dino De Lorentiis had a crack at it in 1980, with their adaption of the screenplay by Lorenzo Semple, Jr., which was directed by veteran Mike Hodges (Get Carter. Another cracking film).

"Flash...Flash, I love you, but we only have 14 hours to save the Earth.." - Dale Arden
Where is the microfilm, Mr. Bond?
The story saw our hero, Flash (aaaaaahhhhhhhh!), against the evil, bald headed, long bearded Ming, who has decided to have fun with our planet, creating Tornados, Hot Hail storms and, to top it off, subject our moon to an enormous force to bring it crashing down to Earth on top of us (....nice!) within 11 days. So, Hans Zarkov (played by Topol, and very well in fact), kidnaps Flash (Sam J. Jones) and Dale (Melody Anderson) and takes them to the planet Mongo, in an effort to save us (every man, every woman, every child....ok I stop reciting the lyrics). On the planet, he gets executed and resurrected by Ming's daughter, Aura (Ornella Muti), tries the Wood Beast on Arbora against Prince Barrin (Timothy Dalton), wrangles in Vultan (BRIAAAAAAN BLESSSED!) to help (and laugh a lot), and pilots a huge ship with a very long pointy thing on the end (wait until H&S catch up with him!).

"Gordon's Alive?" - Vultan
The Japanese version. I like this one much better than our poster.
I first saw Flash in the late 90's, on the SCI-FI Channel (when it used to show good films. You know, before it started showing SyFy Originals that were filmed in your backyard using Blu-Tak, Cardboard and a wig from the Party Shop in town!), and enjoyed it's camp-ness, cheap (but still stunning) sets, models on wire (which still look good, in a naff kind of way) and solid performances by all (yes, even Jones, who had to have his voice dubbed, because it was too low, or something). Even the soundtrack by Queen was very listenable to on it's own from the film (I've even got the Battle Theme as a ringtone on my phone!), as the music gave the film a bit of seriousness and oomph.

"Promise me, if you kill me, you'll team up with Vultan and fight Ming!" - Flash
Rocket Cycle? Looks more like a tank from Command & Conquer!
Some lines might be cheesy, but the film is instantly quotable (many lines delivered by Blessed himself), and is the perfect cult movie. It is a perfect adaption, and it deserves it's cult status indeed.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Alternative Factor: 5 alternate Sci-Fi classics

I had to get a Star Trek reference in there somewhere!
Whenever people do their definitive 5 sci-fi movies, guaranteed Star Wars, The Matrix, Blade Runner & Tron would be on there. Hell, even I place them in my top 5. But, I also have an alternate top 5, which includes what I think are classics, and were, and still are, groundbreaking (well, apart from one, anyway), even today.

5: Fantastic Voyage (20th Century Fox, 1966)

Taking a different route to other sci-fi movies, Fantastic Voyage was the first movie to be set within the human body, and sees a team of scientists (including Stephen Boyd, Donald Pleasence and Raquel Welch) being shrunk down in size in their submersible, The Proteus, and injected into the body of a scientist who had defected after an assassination attempt in order to remove the tumor in his brain. Directed by Richard Fleischer (who also directed Conan the Destroyer), the film throws up another twist in the form of a saboteur on board the very same submarine. It also provided an idea for the following movie....

4: Innerspace (Warner Bros., 1987)

Starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short & Meg Ryan, Innerspace tells the story of Tuck Pendleton (Quaid), who volunteers to be shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the body of Bugs, the lab's rabbit, but is instead injected into the body of Hypochondriac Safeway clerk Jack Putter (Short), in an effort to hide him from Scrimshaw (Kevin MacCarthy), who is after the microchip in the craft inside Putter that allows miniaturization. Action packed, and very funny, Innerspace is a comedy homage to Fantastic Voyage (sharing the same idea of a miniature craft inside the human body)., with some great special effects. It just shows, from these two movies, you don't need CGI to tell a great story.

3: Life Force (Cannon Films, 1985)
(What the hell has the first poster got to do with Space Vampires? It does look pretty cool, though)

It might be cheesy, it might have Steve Railsback over acting (and shouting a lot), and it might turn into a kind of zombie movie at the second half, but it's still a lot of fun, with the added bonus of knockers wobbling about a bit. 3 deep slumbering humanoids are discovered aboard an alien spacecraft in the corona of Hailey's Comet, and are brought to Earth, where they go an a life force-sucking....erm...rampage (???). Expect Peter Firth to act all moody, Matilda May to be very naked, and a woman who's had her life forced sucked to explode into dust on a table. Yes, it's also completely bonkers, but that's half the appeal. Well, what do you expect from the writers of ALIEN?

2: The Day The Earth Stood Still (20th Century Fox, 1951)

The film that inspired many alien invasion movies from the 50's and 60's, TDTEST is just as powerful, and thought-provoking, as it was 59 years ago. Aptly directed by Robert Wise (Star Trek: The Motion Picture), and starring Michael Rennie as Klaatu, the film is about an alien who visits Earth with his robot companion GORT, with a message and an ultimatum: cease all violent acts and live in peace with one another, or we will destroy ourselves (and possibly the Earth along with it). The message is still relevant, even in todays volatile climate, with Nuclear weapons and terrorism rife in the world.

1: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (Nelson Communications, 1988)

Originally filmed in 1986, and being left on the shelf for a couple of years, the first Bill & Ted adventure sees them going through history, to collect 'persons of historical importance', in order to help them pass their history report, otherwise they will fail, Ted will be sent to Alaska to the Military Academy, and Wyld Stallions will be no more. Starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, Bill & Ted was one of the ultimate time-travel adventures (including Back to the Future, of course) made at the time, and was very funny with it (tempting Ghengis Khan with a Twinkie, anyone?). Plus, who ever thought of using a Phone Booth as a time machine was a stroke of genius.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Movie Corner: RAMBO (2008)

'To win war, you've gotta become war....' - John Rambo, First Blood: Part II

Created by David Morell in 1972, with his first appearance in First Blood, John Rambo became just one of the most regarded characters of the Eighties, thanks to Sylvester Stallone and his portrayal of the Vietnam-War veteran, who was subjectgated to abuse from the police after wandering into a small town and then decided to escape and cause a one man war. It was so successful, two sequels followed. 1985's Rambo: First Blood PtII, following Rambo's mission back into Vietnam to take photo's of a group of American POW's still being held, and again in 1988's Rambo III. This time, helping Afgan rebels fight against a Russian General, and to help get his friend Colonel Trutman, who was captured by the same Russians. I personally enjoyed all three (even though the third one bombed, but I thought it was very enjoyable), so when they announced RAMBO, to say I was excited is an understatement. And then when I saw it, it brought back memories of the Eighties and reminded me how much I miss Eighties action movies. They certainly don't make 'em like this anymore (well, until The Expendables came out, of course!)
You seem to have a something stuck in your throat

Rambo is living in Thailand, capturing snakes for the local snake show, when he is asked to transport a group of missionaries up the river, to war-torn Burma, where the civil war has been raging for 60 years, the longest civil war the world has known. When the missionaries get captured 'behind enemy lines' (so to speak), Rambo leads a rag-tag group of mercenaries to go on  rescue mission to get them back. 

The film marks a return to Stallone's famous character (after Rocky Balboa) after a hiatus of Twenty years, with him co-writing the film and directing it, and has been hailed as his 'comeback' movie. First off, the film is violent. Very violent. There is lots of claret on the screen, with people being blown up, heads being shot at, nothing is left intact. It shows intense scenes of what might be going on, with small villages being raided for recruits, normally kids from the ages of 12, to people being shot in the head, and being stabbed with rifle-mounted knives. It leaves nothing to the imagination. But, through all the violence, is a really good, well written story that, even though it has been told before in a different form, is so realistic, that it is a radical departure from the last Rambo movie (where he had a limitless supply of ammo, and loads of one-liners. A sure-sign of an Eighties movie if ever I saw one!). It also shows, that Stallone is a very capable director, that can deliver a finely crafted movie and doesn't cut any corners. There is not one scene I can see that the actors delivers an off performance, and there's no let-up in the intensity of any scene. The music is also great, giving the film an atmosphere that is sometimes lacking in modern-day movies (only some, mind). Even Coming Home from First Blood is used at the start, which is a nice nod to the original.
When I say cut, I mean CUT!
For comeback, it's an explosive choice. And it makes you wonder why he ever went away, but I for one am glad he's back.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Crap Game Corner Strikes Back!: Night Breed The Action Game (Amiga)

See, this looks pretty cool. Shame the game plays like a dog.

Clive Barker has written some of the most well known horror novels and movies going: Hellraiser, Sacrament, Everville, and has even written a couple of video games: Jericho and Undying. But, his earliest came in the form of a book called Cabal (not, not the into the screen shooter from TAD Corp.), about a secret city underneath a graveyard called Midian, and the weird creatures that inhabit it. Enter a character called Boone, who is the main character, and has discovered he is one of the weird creatures, but is a human too. He has to save Midian from Humankind and so teams up with the monsters who inhabit the city. It was made into a movie in 1990. So, Ocean (being Ocean) decided to make a game of it (well I never!). Not one, oh no. They decided to make two. One was an Interactive Movie (and was crap), and one was an action game (and was crap). The one I've played the most (unfortunately) was the action game. Sigh. Here we go again (I hope you're all sodding happy!)

The idea is sound. You play Boone, who has to go through the graveyard to find two of three keys (the third being in possession of a being called MASK, and not from the tv show of the same name, either!) and reach Midian, all the while avoiding what look like Nazis from the second world war, who brandish flame throwers and machine guns, as you have been framed for recent murders. Upon reaching the city, you then have to guard the city from said bad guys (the Sons of the Free, and the Berserkers) and your shrink (who got killed and then brought back by the magic of Midian who I think is MASK. Confused? I certainly am! So much so, my head hurts just thinking of it!).
Certainly sounds like a convoluted plot, but sounds pretty damned cool. How can Ocean possibly stuff this up? Very easily. It's definitely better than the atrocity that was the Interactive Movie, but it's still shit. Graphically, it's good. Sound-wise, it's ok. Gameplay-wise......huge facepalm!! The worlds biggest facepalm!!! It's fu*king awful! It plays like roadkill. It's really hard to punch anyone and so, after about 3 minutes, your dead. You have to walk into, and out of, the screen when you approach a doorway, so you can get to differing parts of the graveyard (presumably to bury this bloody game). If you can't guess, I hate this fu#king game. It's a case of 'Graphics do not a great game make' (said Master Yoda). And to think this was meant to have been part of a trilogy!! Good god, I'm glad this bombed, as I'm shit-scared of how the third one would have turned out (probably a puzzle game with fluffy bunnies and rays of sunshine).
I just wish it played as good as it looks...
...mind you, the front cover is also cool.

After excellent movie tie-ins on Batman, Robocop, The Untouchables and Lethal Weapon, they released this. THIS......turd. And it's not even a polished one. It plays more rough than an ugly bird who's pissed on a saturday night. And thats not a good thing.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Arcade Born, not console bred: ALIENS

ALIENS was released in 1986, to much acclaim. It took the premise of the original, and added a lot of combat, and scares, to the series. Of course, games were produced. The most well known is the Electric Dreams' ALIENS, which was, in a sense, a first person shooter, and was released on the Amstrad, C64 and Spectrum. And was bloody hard, but bloody good. It made you jump like Mario, but was difficult to navigate, so many people got lost on their way to tea with the Queen (hang on, thats not right....). So, Konami decided  four years later, to make a run 'n' gun based on the film, but rather loosely.
Hang on! I don't remember this from the movie!!!

After a rather good intro sequence, you get thrust into the settlement of LV426 (aka Archeron), to battle the Alien menace. But, instead of the normal movie aliens, you get ones that look like snakes, ones that look like bats, and one that has some sort of armour (?). But, the chestbursters and facehuggers are also present, so at least thats in keeping with canon of the series. Saying that, the bosses aren't. There are also between level segments, with you in the personnel carrier going from one part of the settlement to another, trying to track down Newt, who has run off (kids, eh?). You do have additional weapons to pick up along the way, like missile launchers, a three-way plasma gun and a flame thrower, along with health pick-ups and extra lives. At certain parts, you have to go through air vents to reach the next part of the level. As soon as you enter the shaft, the trademark motion tracker appears at the top of the screen, long with blips for your position and for threats, which is a nice touch, as it stops unexpected deaths. The only problem is, that you don't get the trademark motion tracker sound, which is not a really big problem, but without it, it loses some of it's atmosphere.
I remember this bit....but she run them over instead, didn't she?

The game is really well made, with sound bites from the movie and some good graphics. Admittedly, they haven't aged all that well, but they are still pretty good in keeping with the tone of it's source material. The only problem is the controls. Well, not with the joystick, as Ripley moves really well. It's rather that instead of having a button for kneeling fire and a button for bombs, both are mapped to the one button, which is annoying when you have a lot of facehuggers and you can use your normal fire button. Apart from that, the game is really enjoyable, and ALIENS fans will get a lot out of it. Run 'n gun fans will also find something of enjoyment here, with loads of things to blast at, and even slap when you jump into the Power Lifter (Yay!!). The closest the home computers could come to this was the US version of ALIENS, only when you land on the planet, it's more akin to a maze game. But, thats for another post.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

License to Convert: Predator 2 (Amiga, ST)

Sequels to movies aren't as good (technically) as their originals (exceptions are the Back to the Future series, the original Indiana Jones trilogy, ALIENS, the Lethal Weapon series and the original Star Wars trilogy). Predator 2 was, I think, unjustly criticized, mainly because Arnie isn't in it. Instead, Danny Glover took the lead role, and the action was transported to the urban jungle of Los Angeles, 1997. People didn't like it. I did, though. It wasn't as good as the original, but I thought it was a good action romp. Image Works obviously thought so too, and set about getting the rights to produce a game based on the movie. It appeared on many a format, and in differing versions: the Sega Mega Drive & Master System versions were top-down isometric shooters (and were quite hard but enjoyable), the NES version went unreleased and the home micro's were treated to a Operation Wolf-style shooting gallery, but with an outline of Harrigan. It's the shooting gallery, Amiga version I'll be having a blast at, and I think it's a rather good conversion from Arc Developments.

Comparison alert: Amiga....

Starting on the mean streets of L.A, you have to save police officers under attack and those who are injured and take down the drug runners who have an assortment of weaponry. You start off with just your modified handgun, and can pick up weapons along the way, like a pump-action shotgun, M16 rifle and a M14A assault rifle. Your health is represented by your police department badge, in the bottom left-hand corner (or it might be the bar that looks like the Predator language running underneath the action, I can't remember). Every once in a while, the bad guys throw grenades and petrol bombs, which you have to shoot, or say goodbye to a sizeable chunk of you health. The animation of the baddies running about the levels are really smooth, with them stopping every once in a while and kneeling on the floor to get a better shot at you. Even better is when the Predator makes an appearance. Sometimes, he'll just pop up and rip the spine out the enemy, or you'll see  an outline (which is a really good graphical effect), or just the sights of his shoulder cannon. Also, when you shoot him, he shoots back. Bugger.
.....ST. Not that much difference, really. Still bloody good, though.

The levels range from the streets of L.A, to an apartment, sewers and then finally the Predator ship itself. The graphics are varied throughout, even if the action is not, and the music changes on every level. I also like the use of the outline for you character, as it's also smoothly animated, and gives it a Dynamite Duke-feel. You also have a cursor, which is invaluable. It also samples sounds from the movie, and has a hand drawn picture on the title screen of the Predator on the Eastern Building, which looks phenomenal.

This is the game the first one should have been.  It's fun, graphically excellent, sounds brilliant and gives you the chance to use a mouse instead of a joystick, which makes it even more great to play.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Return of the Crap Game Corner!: Predator (Spectrum, C64, Amiga...mainly all the formats it was released on!)

I know Retro Gamer did a shamer on this, but I thought I'd give it a fighting chance.....then thought 'Nah! Fuck it!' Anyway, it's long been known that I have a strong hatred of this game, and the reasons will be made clear.
Activision must have thought they must have been onto a winner when they bagged the rights to produce a computer game version of one of the biggest blockbusters of 1987 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and an alien who hunts people welding guns for 'sport', who also has a female appendage for a mouth (?). So, upon loading it up, you're greeted with a digitized picture of Arnold (which looks great on a 128K machine), and then followed by an animated sequence thats supposed to depict the Predator going to Earth. In actual fact, it looks like it was done by a 2 year old on a 16K Spectrum with one hand tied behind their back. But, that's only the beginning.....

When you start, your men slide down their rope from, what I assume to be, your helicopter and run off into the jungle. You are the last to slide down and off you trot. You are then inundated by enemy guerillas, which take all your ammunition, and are left with four grenades and your fists (sigh). I know at the end of the film, Arnie fights the Predator hand to hand, but at the start of the film, they don't run out of ammo in 5 seconds! And the controls! Oh, the controls. So awful, so horrific, such a pain in the arse, you couldn't care if your men get horribly butchered or worse: got caught, tied up and subjected to watching High School-bloody-Musical all day long. Now, theoretically, up should, nay, MUST be used for jump if you've got a side on scroller (Predator is a 2.5D scrolling shooter, so would not allow you to move in or out of the screen, which would be fine), leave out jump altogether, which would be a great idea, or do like Gryzor (Contra): When your firing and move the stick you aim in that direction. In my mind, it would make it playable. But.......it's not. Up is mapped to up on the joystick. Jumping is done by pushing up....and fire (meaning you use up your bullets just JUMPING (double sigh)). And, I haven't even started on the graphics.....

Bloody awful. Shockingly shit. Some of the worst I've ever come across (only Chase HQ on the Amiga beats this for shit graphics). It just seems that this game was rushed through to cash in on the movie. Only the effect for the Pred-Vision is a saving grace, but it's not good enough to save this from being the Christmas turkey this deserved back in 1987-88. And to think I wasted £2.99 on this on budget, and I still felt ripped off!

Activision, hang your head in shame. You've made one of the greatest Sci-Fi/Action movies of all time into a dud that should have at least had some thought put into it.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Ooo, eck! Crap Game Corner Returns!! - Dragon's Lair (NES)

Help me, Dirk! SAAAAAAVE MEEEE! Don't worry, Daphne! I'll save you!.....

.....or probably not, if you play this game. If you thought the arcade laserdisc game was awful (to play, but not to look at), you haven't played nowt yet! Basically, Elite took the game, and made it a side on, flick screen adventure. Just not a very good one. It plays sooooooooooo shockingly awful, you'd think it's someone's idea of an April 1st joke. And a very cruel one, at that.

You start off outside the castle, and you have to get over the drawbridge and enter said castle. Piss easy, yes? Er, no. Not in the slightest. As soon as you move, you get eaten by the dragon hiding underneath without so much of a by your leave. So, it's just as playable as the arcade game, then. You're not given any indication of impending doom at all, and you'll soon be waving good-bye to all 7 of your lives in a matter of seconds, or until you power off the game and chuck the cartridge into the corner. In case you're wondering, you'll never see the second screen. Or if you do, it'll be on your last life, which you will lose as soon as you start off. After a good conversion of Tecmo's Bomb Jack, it's a shocking discovery to find this with their name on (mind you they did do the awful Dukes of Hazzard, The Fall Guy and Airwolf, with the (in)famous regenerating wall).

It looks alright, and for that, Elite should have a pat on the back. But they should have their knackers caught in a wrench for making it so hard, not even Billy Mitchell could play it without wanting his money back. The controls are cumbersome and Dirk reacts with all the gracefullness of a dead slug to your button presses, so the Sudden-Death-Syndrome of it's arcade is even more apparent. Do yourself a favour. Don't buy it. Don't entertain the idea of buying it. Don't even entertain the though of the idea of buying it. Leave it on ebay, even when someone puts MEGA RARE, FUN GAME and GREAT GAME in the same listing. Just point laugh at the. And feel sorry for me. As I have a copy of the abomination. I think that's why I'm crap at modern games, you know. This game has infected my sense of Gameplaying-ness-thingy. I could even get near the end of Bomb Jack at one point. Not any more. Bastard game.

Newbie: Naughty Bear (360)

If you go down to the woods today, you'd better go armed to the teeth. Because, if this bear sees you, he's liable to impale you with a knife, slap your head in with a baseball bat and shove a telephone in yer gob! That's basically Naughty Bear. To be as naughty as possible. But, there's a reason behind it all: Naughty wasn't invited to Daddles' birthday party, because he's been a naughty little git. So, he decides to anyway, with a present he made himself (probably an axe on a spring or something). But, when two bears laugh at him, he thinks enough is enough, and starts to go on a fluffy rampage.

I....have..had...enough of....YOOOOU!

Utilising a range of weapons, like a baseball bat, knife, axe or machine guns, Naughty Bear has to go around and kill the other bears, or at least, scare them into killing themselves. And that's where the fun comes in. You have the choice of setting traps, sabotaging various items so bears investigate and attempt repair (and thus, letting you get them), scaring them to doing something stupid or just going all out and slapping them silly. If you take the last option, and you slap them into submission, you get the choice to do an Ultra Kill, which, at the press of the Right Trigger, sees Naughty slaughter them maniacally (like shoving a stick into their eye, and setting them on fire). If a bear sees you do this, he will call in The Fuzz to come after you. You can sabotage the phone boxes, so they can't call for help, plus you can destroy cars and boats to stop them escaping. There is also an element of stealth as well, enabling you to scare them even more without being seen.

So, it sounds fun, but what is it like? Not bad, actually. Some stuff works really well (like the sabotaging items then hiding in cupboards, ready to scare the stuffing out your victim, but that only works occassionally. Either that or I'm doing something wrong, so i'll have to give it another go. Still, there's always scaring them to death, which does work, thankfully. It works even better if you sneak up behind a bear and then scaring them, with a very loud BOOOOOOO!, which is quite funny, especially the mouth animation. Only thing is, that it does get a bit boring after a while of doing the same thing over and over. The cut scenes are very choppy, even after the update, and are only smooth at certain points. Mind you, the graphics aren't too bad. Nice and colourful, and cartoony-ish. One other problem is the camera. It could have done with being brought back a bit, so you could see more, and this is apparent when in buildings, when the walls needed to go transparent.

Go ahead. Make my day....punk!

 The sounds and music are ok,. It's just a shame that there's not a deranged version of Teddy Bear's picnic used, as that could have worked well. It is quite funny when you hear Naughty scream BOO at another bear, and when another bear screams after being scared fluffless.
Controls-wise, you can't customise them. Which is the singlemost stupidest idea I've ever seen, as more often than not, you'll press the wrong button and do something else that you wasn't supposed to do.

All in all, it's not a bad game (well, not as bad as some reviews have made out), but it's not great either. There is some fun to be had, but only in short bursts. Just be prepared to have to learn the control layout first.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Handheld Shenanigans: Chase HQ (Game Boy)

I know what you'te thinking: Oh, god, not ANOTHER Chase HQ game! Well, it is. And, it's great. There. Sorted. Next? More info? Oh...........alright then.
The game is the same as the other versions. You drive your Porsche 911 GTS and have to smash the crap out of the criminal's cars. You get 3 turbos.....blah, blah, blah........level splits.......blah, blah, blah.....until the time runs out. The game is the same across all the formats, so there's not much point covering old ground. So, onto the conversion.

Where's my pizza, dirt bag?
The game plays really well, and, I think, is perfectly suited to the Game Boy, with each button mapped for something. There is a choice of 2 control schemes, and I found scheme 2 to be the best all round, as it makes everything that bit more accessable. I will say, that the steering is a bit stiff, though. More than not, you'll find yourself hitting other cars willy nilly. The graphics are some of the best I've seen on the handheld. Everything is really detailed, right down the brakelights and the puffs of smoke coming from your turbos. Every single graphic is great. Musicwise, you do get a rendition of the theme on the title screen, and is well done. The music ingame is good, but it does grate after a while, as does the engine noise. the constant droning will drive you insane after a while. One thing it definitely does have in it's favour, is that it has all five levels from the arcade game. Yes, the routes are different to all the other versions, but so what?

Some of the best I've seen. And I've played the Spectrum version!!
I think this is definitely worth tracking down for a few quid, as it's one of the better arcade-GB converstions out there. It plays well, looks really great, and sounds as good as even the Spectrum conversion.

Friday, 6 August 2010

The classic game: Robocop (Spectrum)

Released in 1987, the film of Robocop has stood the test of time, not only as an enjoyable, violent and action packed movie, but as a social commentary, with it's Tongue in cheek and dark humour, but the news broadcasts that were interpersed inbetween. It, of course, spawned an enjoyable second sequel, and a very shit third sequel that should not even have been a) made and b) aknowledged. So, the first game, then. Let's look at the first directive.

You start off on the streets of Old Detroit, cleaning up the scum who wield guns, chainsaws and even ride motorcycles. Some appear at the windows to shoot at you. But, you can shoot back (oh, yes!) but you have limited ammo, but more can be picked up along the way, even for a three-way gun as well, plus health comes in the form of baby food jars, but these are few and far between. And that's part of what makes the game hard. Another thing is that you don't get a respite at all, as you have a time limit of 2 minutes to complete the level. It is a challenge, though, and it has that one more go factor.

The whole game doesn't follow the walk, shoot theme, as you also have a shooting gallery game and a puzzle element, which is a staple of Ocean's games back in the day. And, it gave the game a bit of variety (the Amiga and ST games were two thirds walk and gun and one third puzzle), which I feel is sadly missing in this day and age. The music is another thing that's awesome. The theme might not be the actual Robocop theme, but it was influential enough to be used in the Ariston advert. The sound is great, with some excellent spot effects and, in the 128K version, some sampled speech. They really went to town on this, and I can't imagine it any other way. Ocean were the EA of their day, but what they did, they did with passion and heart, and not for the money. And this game had lots of passion, heart and soul put into it.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Ooo, eck! It's the Crap Game Corner: Terminator 2 (NES)

James Cameron created one of the most excellent sci-fi/action movies of 1984: The Terminator. Starring Arnie as the Terminator, he pursued Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her protector Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) in an effort to change the future, by eliminating her so she cannot bear the saviour of mankind, John Connor.The movie was so excellent, he made another one: T2 Judgment Day in 1991. More of the same, it was a great, if not better, movie than it's predecessor. And, ultimately, games were made. Some were great (Game Boy T2, Amiga T2), and some were so awful, so flawed, so shockingly shit-tastic, that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth just thinking of them. Yes, I'm  talking about the NES and Master System version of the same game, but more extensivly, we are going to poke fun and laugh at the NES incarnation.

Starting off outside the bar from the start of the movie, you control Arnie as the T-800, and have to make it inside the bar. Now, being a Terminator (supposedly a near indestructable cyborg, but we'll get back to that in a bit), you'd think that he could kill people with just a flick of his little finger, wouldn't you?
He's punch is as powerful as a strong coffee. He makes The weakest man in the world look like Geoff Capes.    His power is so lacking, it's inexcusable. He's supposed to be made of metal, not tin foil! When you get shot at, your power goes down at an alarming rate. Skynet must have used Asda Smart Price Titanium (guarenteed to contain 1% Titanium & 99% Goose Fat), because as soon as you start, you're inundated with bad guys with said guns. So, chances are you won't even get into the bar. And, if by chance you CAN get into the bar, more awful combat shenanigans await you. Basically, more of the same: fight 6 at a time, get your energy sapped, lose life, start again. Well, at least the graphics are nice. The sound is ok at best, but the really awful controls add to the dismal gameplay and dodgy (more dodgy than Del-Boy) collision detection.

Well, at least it has a good intro. Shame the game is total bollocks.
This has all the playability of.....well.....something that has no playablility (like Chameleon Twist 2.....but thats for another feature!).
Oh, the awfulness! Terminator? More like Terminated!!