Saturday, 10 March 2012

Crap Game Corner's dribbly aunt: Masters of the Universe: The Movie (1987, Gremlin - ZX Spectrum)

Masters of the Universe is a somewhat cult movie nowadays (at least i think it is). Back then, it was a box office bomb, even though I thought it was a rather good movie. It starred Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, Frank Langella as Skelator and James Tolken as Detective Lubic (complete with his trademark bald head!), and was a 100 minute romp with lots of action and a bit of humour thrown in for good measure. Gremlin picked up the rights to produce one game, whereas US Gold did the another which was based on the cartoon. But that was crap. Whereas Gremlin's one was an action game. And that was also crap. Sigh, here we go again.

The game starts with you controlling a little squat version of He-Man. You have to go around and bash Skelator's troops, whilst finding the chords that are required to make Gwildor's invention, The Cosmic Key, work once more, so you can get back to the planet Eternia, and give Skelator a slap around his boney head. Sigh. It's a shame that the game is actually quite rubbish because the story is quite good. Not once did I get to use He-Man's sword, but a weedy little pop gun instead. The enemies respawn all the time (there's sometimes about 6 enemies onscreen at any one time), and sap your energy like there's no tomorrow, especially when you kill them, as they send 4 bullets going in all directions. The compass at the top of the screen points to where you can find the chords are, and there are roughly 8 to find in total. Only I didn't even get to find one, as I was too busy fighting loads of troops to even get near to one. But when you do find one, it's through sheer blind luck, as the compass is actually quite near pointless. It says, for example, to go up. When you do, you come to a dead end, and have to back track. Through loads of bad guys, before you can even find the right way to go. Yet again.

The graphics aren't too bad, and are clutter free, plus the title screen isn't too bad. There's hardly any colour clash, mainly because the main area is monochrome which changes when you reach the edge of the screen and enter a new one. The only problem is that when you reach the graveyard section, you'll end up getting stuck behind a gravestone most of the time, and get shot like there's no tomorrow by the baddies. At least the status bar is pretty straight forward. Your health is represented by the Sword of Eternia. Skelator's is his staff, with the compass at the top. The timer, that represents how much time is left before sunrise on Eternia, is at the bottom, with your lives status by the side. Simple.

It's not a bad game. But on the other hand, it's not a good one. It's just crap.  I don't know what Gremlin were playing at. After classics like the Monty Mole series, MASK I, II and III, Way of the Tiger and it's sequel, Avenger, it's a shame to see this released by a respected software house like Gremlin. And it's put a tarnish against a damn good movie. Even the PS2 version of the game based on the rebooted cartoon from the '00s is better than this. Play that instead, and wonder what could have been, instead of what is. A bloody big let down!

Monday, 5 March 2012

80's Movie Fest: Die Hard (1987, 20th Century Fox)

It's Christmas Eve. Detective John McClaine (Bruce Willis) is flying in from New York to Los Angeles where his wife Holly Generro (Bonnie Bedelia) is working for the Nakatomi Corporation. Whilst cleaning himself up in a bathroom on the 30th floor, a group of terrorists seize control and capture all the guests, except for McClaine, and hold them hostage. Now, it's up to our vest wearing hero, an unexpected guest in the form of a passing cop (Reginald Veljohnson) and all of McClaine's cunning and training, to save the hostages and take down the terrorists, before they can make off with the money from the building.

Die Hard is a staple of 80's action movies. Along side the likes of Predator, Commando and Rambo III, it has a body count, but it has one thing going for it: it's smart. Very smart. Taken from Roderick Thope's 1979 book, Nothing Lasts Forever, Die Hard was originally envisioned as a sequel to Commando. But, Arnie passed (because of how poor Conan The Destroyer did with the critics), so it was rewritten, and became the movie we know and love today. And, I'm glad he did. The script is sharp, the set pieces are fantastic, and the fight between Alexander Goudinov and Bruce Willis is bone crunching excitement. Even the building that doubles as the Nakatomi Plaza is the actual Fox building, so I suppose that saved on location scouting!

Competantly directed by John McTiernan, it became the hallmark 80's action movie, becoming 20th's biggest hit of 1987, and recently being named as 'the best action movie of all time'. Bruce Willis fits into the role of the cop facing insermountable odds perfectly, and coming from doing comedy, delivers his one-liners with gusto, especially his trademark catchphase "Yippie-ky-ay, Motherf**ker". I can't imagine anyone else being able to pull off the role the way he can. The same can be said for Alan Rickman, who plays Hans Gruber, the German criminal mastermind. He seemed to be born to play that role, and again, cant imagine anyone else playing the role.

Overall, the film is nigh on perfect. The best action/christmas movie ever made. It even spawned 3 sequels, of which 2 are excellent, and one is good (but not great). Plus, there is a 5th one in the works, with Willis returning to the role of McClaine, thats supposed to be being released sometime early next year. Can't wait for that one!