Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Why I think First Blood is a Masterpiece.


The first time I saw First Blood or Rambo First Blood as people tend to call it now I thought it was a fantastic film. With repeat viewings I have come to appreciate it even more and would in fact call it a masterpiece.

First Blood tells the story of a Vietnam war veteran who has returned to America after the war and tried to find his place in the world but is unfortunately not wanted and is met with fear and hostility. The main character John Rambo is not just suffering from the external hostility he is also suffering inside because he has PTSD (Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder) and certain things trigger him causing his mind to see and sense the horrors of the war he has lived through.

The majority of the film is basically a small war between a sheriff's department and Rambo. Rambo fights hard and he fights smart but yet you never lose site of the key fact that basically all he wants is to find peace and to be at best treated with some respect and dignity and at the very least just left alone. I think that most people just want to be understood and to have peace so I find it very easy to relate to Rambo, maybe it is even easier for me to feel for the character because I have also sufferd from PTSD?

 I know that recently when the film Split came out there was a huge backlash against it and the way it suposidly portrayed mental illness, having not watched it I cant really comment on that but I do know that I see First Blood as representing some of what its like to experiance PTSD rather well in my opinion. To me First Blood has this at least partial realism that a lot of other action films even including its own sequels do not possess. In most films a guy takes on whole armies of men standing in the direct line of fire so to speak and yet every bullet misses him and he eliminates wave after wave of enemies but this film is kind of diffrent. Yes Rambo wages a war against the sherif and his men but he does it mostly by hiding and taking them out one at a time, he uses his enviroment and a skill set he would have given his background, he sustains injurys and he suffers for them. Some people have tried to argue that he would have died during a long drop in the film in which he hits tree branches but while I admit in most cases it would proberbly kill you I dont think its imposible that he could get lucky, and with all the crap you see him go through you cant begrudge the character a little luck. Beyond this though John Rambo attacks when he has the advantage and then retreats when he doesnt and personally I feel that all of this gives the film a certain gritty realism I dont find in a lot of other action movies, its a real shame in my opinion that later films in this franchise lost there way in this regard (I am not saying they are bad films I enjoy them I just dont think they come close to the original).

The film makes you feel for Rambo, it makes you question the way he is treated, it makes you wonder if this is what it was really like for some of those returning from Vietnam (the sense of rejection not the personal one man wars) it keeps your sympathies very much on his side and this makes you want to root for him to see if he manages to come out of this alive. Its an intresting semi realistic story with a strong central character which really makes you stop and think and in a world full of films and shows that mostly let you sit there passivly gorging on them without ever engaging your brain this cant help but be a good thing. If you have spent your life under a rock and never seen Rambo or its just been a long time since you last saw it then I cant help but tell you to go get your hands on it and watch it as soon as possible.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Snes Review 128: SD GUNDAM V SAKUSEN SHIDOU

I was always quiet a fan of Japanese stuff not only games but also anime, the very first Japanese animation shows I saw were thanks to my dad and at the time I didn't have a clue what anime even was. As a young kid I loved transformers and having basically watched everything there was transformer wise my dad started to try to find something else to occupy me, I remember he found this video rental place in one of the shopping centres not too far from us and they rented these cassettes called Force Five, eventually when the shop was starting to go out of business he brought me a whole bunch of them. Force Five was basically 5 different shows 4 of which were focused around the idea of giant robots, robots with cool sounding names like Grandizer, Guyking and the StarAvenger. This started a love in me of giant robots which did lead to me buying certain games because of it but often  when it came to imports I was worried about them having text in which would stop me enjoying them. It wasn't like it is nowadays when you can just jump online and put the name of a game in to a search engine and look for the answer to questions such as ''Do I need to be able to read Japanese to play this?'' You also couldn't get a Japanese cartridge of ebay for a couple of pounds like you can now.


The risk of there being a language barrier issue was the reason why I never tried to get my hands on SD Gundam V Sakusen Shidou, I had heard of Gundam but I wasn't prepared to throw down a load of cash on the chance the game would be manageable but in the case of this game language its not really much of an issue at all. You see how big an issue language is depends on the type of game, in an RPG it is pretty crucial but in other genres like fighters, shooters and sports titles as long as your OK with missing some of the story or finer details and just enjoying the game play its not really much of an issue at all. So what kind of  game is this? Well basically the game on first appearances is sort of a cross between something like R-type and Cybernator with cute chibi Gundam based graphics. According to my research the game was developed by TOSE who I have mentioned before (they are a company who have worked on quite a few games but basically remain in the shadows by choice) and published by Bandai (now apart of Bandai-Namco) and was released in Japan in 1992.

The first thing to point out is that a lot of how you feel about this game will come down to a couple of things one of which is how you feel about the whole chibi style itself. Do you like seeing cute pudgy little style characters? Do you mind your death dealing mech being a cute pudgy little mech whose eyes pop out when he is hit? If you don't like this then it will put a serious dampener on how you feel about this game. I need to talk about the games music. At times even though your out there dealing death the music on some levels can be so unbelievably upbeat and happy but then there are actually some quiet tense and menacing bits of music here and there. I have to admit I am a big fan of the music in this game, the tune in the third stage is absolutely great even if it does make me think more of a horror film than mechs. One issue though some of the music ends up being reused so you'll hear some pieces multiple times on your way towards finishing the game but its not to bad when you think how limited some other games are in this department.

OK so back to how you feel about this game depending on certain things well one of them is the fact that for a game that looks so childlike it is actually as tough as nails. If you see cute screenshots and think your in for a walk in the park then you will soon find that you were unbelievably wrong. I personally don't think it ruins the game but I can see why it would annoy some people, regular enemy mechs the cannon fodder so to speak can actually take a decent amount of shots from your starting weapon and are more than capable of hurting you, as for the bosses well they are initially hard but its all pattern based, if you've put down the robots in megaman or bosses in the castlevania games then you will soon notice that the enemies here have a similar sort of thing going on. One for example will stay away from you and fire a certain pattern of rockets before trying to then get in close with an energy sword, once your used to this its not too hard to manovour your way into the gaps in the pattern and start dealing some real damage to him. OK so on to the weapons you start off able to use your sword and shoot little round bullets that don't do a lot of damage but you gain the ability to use a laser gun which is a lot more powerful, a shield to block a sort of rocket cannon and an extend able mace weapon. The shield blocks which can be very helpful and the other weapons do higher damage than your starting weapons, they are all pretty fun to use and you select which one you need from a bar at the bottom of the screen. In all honesty I am not sure if its just time or your actions that fill the bar up but the weapons only seem to last for a bit so its a case of using them then waiting for the bar to build again, so do you want an early choice now like the laser or do you want to wait for the bar to build up more?

As for faults well I think the game controls well but the computer controlled robots seem to be just a little too quick for my liking its like they know where you are and give you very little chance to get away with out taking some damage from them. On top of this you could say that the game is a little repetitive basically offering the same kind of game play from start to finish and if your a skilled player it wont take you that long to finish it at all, you can play it with a friend which I think helps but if you finish it or turn it off will depend greatly on what you think about this kind of game and if you have any love for the source material and its style. I  would give the game a 6 out of 10 but if you cant stand either the Chibi style or the challenge or you find it hard to deal with repetition then I would warn you to stay clear. This game only came out in Japan so if you want to try it then your going to have to have either a converter, a modified system or hardware from that region. On the plus side the game only cost me £3 although I did have to dig through a lot of Gundam listings as there were a whole bunch of Gundam games a lot of which I have been led to believe have a lot bigger language barrier so if you choose to do so then order with care.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Snes Review 127: Legend

OK so where do I start with this game well I guess with a little bit of basic information. Legend is a game developed by Arcade Zone and released for the Super NES in 1994 just before Christmas in Europe at least (was released a little over half a year earlier in America). It is a scrolling beat-em-up hack and slash sort of game with a Medieval European setting, its kind of the closest thing that you will get to Sega's Golden Axe games on the Super Nintendo. The game was created solely by the duo of Carlo Perconti and Lyes Belaidouni, the founders of the above mentioned Arcade zone. Arcade Zone didn't make many games before dying but the founders did go on to make another company and make games for the original PlayStation including a remake of Legend (this second companies name was Toka). Another weird thing to note about Legend is that a company called Pika has gotten the rights to it and is actually making brand new Super Nintendo cartridges of it and one of Arcade Zones other games Iron Commando (the later being an extremely rare Japan only release originally).



So I guess now what I want to do is talk about how Legend originally entered my life. There was a local kid who I kind of knew in passing enough to nod at and say hi to but didn't know properly mostly because he was about 2 years older than me and back in my school days older kids didn't typically hang around with anyone younger than them. Well he had a SNES and he was looking for someone to swap games with and a mutual friend told him I had quite a lot so it might be worth asking me. Well he turned up at my house with Legend and I was impressed with it so I made him an offer. I swapped him 2 Japanese Super Famicom games and my old cheap converter so he could play them, I remember one of them being Super Formation Soccer but have no idea what the other one was. The funny thing was that after this he just kept coming around to mine and we soon became best friends for a good four years he was probably my closest friend and we did a great deal of our gaming together, because of this I cant even play Legend or heck even see the cart without remembering him.

So I am now going to start talking about the game itself and I am going to do so by talking about the graphics. Legend has some great visuals and stands up very well compared to other SNES beat 'em ups. For a start most of the stages have really nice background landscapes which have a sort of watercolour feeling to them which really helps give the game world a real feeling. , The playable character(s) and the enemies are both well animated and are just generally very detailed sprites. The only fault I can really find is that there are certain parts where old backgrounds seem to be reused but I cant fault them too much for this, also this is less of a graphical issue but if your going to go to the trouble of making two player sprites that look different even if they control the same you should give the player the choice to pick which to use instead of just automatically making the sword guy player one and only using the axe based character for player two.

OK so moving on to the sound well I think that most of the music is better than average but its not the stuff of legends forgive the pun, it works but in my opinion it could be a lot better, I guess I was spoiled recently when I played Actraiser. On top of the music you have the obvious battle sounds, basically some metallic crashing/clashing noises and some death cries. Everything works don't get me wrong but as far as I am concerned things could be better.

OK so as for controls well you have an attack button, a jump button, a magic button a special move button (when you use it you throw something but you loose some health for doing so), and the triggers block, both of them block in exactly the same way. This sounds like a lot after all that's basically 5 buttons doing different things but in practise it doesn't seem like you can do as much as you'd think. The main thing the game is really missing in my opinion is a run button or heck even just a double tap run, this game just feels like it needs this adding to it. The game does overall control pretty well though, sometimes when you turn around while attacking it seems a little slow but its never really much of a problem.

The game is not very long, you will soon find yourself on the final stage. The combat is simple but the enemies are aggressive and at times it seems like a new one runs on every second you have killed one. The enemies will try to circle you and will block and if you back off they will chase you, different enemies have different attack strategies and the game has some pretty darn cool bosses. Every single enemy in this game drops a collectible, these include money , health, urns, and keys some add health some add magic but all of them disappear super fast which can make them very hard to pick up with aggressive enemies always being on you.

OK so I have talked about all of the pros and cons of Legend and I think I might have mentioned a certain Golden Axe franchise so I guess once again I am going to end up talking about a MegaDrive game while reviewing a SNES game. Now I have already mentioned that Legend only has 2 player sprites and that they are basically pallete swaps just diffrent colours really and an axe instead of a sword where as Golden Axe gave you 3 diffrent chracters who all both looked and felt very diffrent. The thing is Legend is a perfectly decent game, good even but its just not that memorable, once your done with it your done. With something like Golden Axe though its the little things its the memories like when you realise that youve spent a whole bunch of time fighting on the back of an eagle or when you ride your first dinosaur or the bit where the villagers run past you screaming. Legend shows a lot of promise but in my opinion it just falls short, its not a bad game at all in fact its a good game its just not an unforgetable classic. I would give it 7 out of 10. I spent £10 on a loose European Cartridge of it and to me this feels just about the right kind of price, if you have a SNES and are looking for something you havent played before then this is worth a shot.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

A part of arcade history. My holiday hunt for Amusments new and old.

I was on holiday recently in the UK and it was at a Haven at the seaside now it might not have been where I went on holiday as a child but there were a lot of similarities there were caravans and chip shops and ice cream parlours but most importantly at least for this blog post there were arcades.

Now back when I was young in the 80's the whole arcade scene was absolutely booming, there was of course giant video game arcades at the coast but you also got machines in pubs, pizza parlours, chip shops, cafes heck there was even one in one of my local hairdressers. I could go into what killed arcades but I think that's something that has been done to death.

During my Holiday I went in as many arcades as I could and looked at various machines both games and amusements and I took a lot of pictures and I basically want to share some of these with everyone and in some cases talk about them a little as well.

OK so lets start with the stuff I actually found in Haven itself.

There was this Jurassic Park arcade machine which as well as being quiet a big impressive beast of a machine was actually quiet fun as well. Its a clearly quiet recent machine which see's you shooting tranquiliser guns at various dinosaurs, if you see it I would recomend giving it a blast its pretty good.


There was a card based combat game called Animal Kaiser by Namco, every time you play you get a collectible card which you can use again in the future it wasn't my sort of thing but it was interesting, if you check my Instergram Kerr9000_blog there are more pictures related to this including one of the cabinet and one of the cards themselves.

The last machine was this lovely modern Space Invaders machine which I really enjoyed playing on, sure I would much prefer to see an old fashioned original machine but  I appreciate the game living on in this way with a modern machine even though I think its more likely to be old farts like me playing it as apposed to it gaining a new audience.

Haven was also filled with lots of the 2p machines the waterfall type where you put 2p's in to try and push prizes out as well as having those claw machines with stuffed animals in and lots of typical adult gamblers.

The story when I got out and in to various other Amusement arcades wasn't much different, you didn't see any old 80's machines anywhere, you saw the odd modern machine but mostly they were buried by gambling machines and claw machines. I would loved to have found an old machine a Final Fight or a PacMan or something but I guess you just don't really see those things anymore.

I did see a few modern arcade games











Yet the really cool thing I saw was some nice old amusement pieces which I would like to share here. Video Games were not the only things which made amusements when I was growing up.





Here is a dancing clown, you used to see a lot of machines like this when I was younger the basic idea is you pay a small amount and you get a show, in this case Peppy the clown dances for you. I remember when I was young I used to enjoy a machine where Sooty would play the drums for you if you paid 20pence. We actually saw one of these Sooty machines as well but my girlfriend took the pictures of this for me and I haven't gotten them yet.

 

There was also this great Four-Square machine and the Scientific Automatic Palmistry machine. I found it really interesting to be able to try this stuff and to be able to photograph it basically because I am mostly a fan of preservation its why I am a video game collector but I also think things like this need to be photographed kept and remembered as they were just as much a part of arcade history and therefore video game history as everything else.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

A Rant: The internet is it a force for freedom or has that sweet moment been and gone.

At its best the Internet is a tool which fives the voiceless a voice. Traditional forms of media tend to put out a limited amount of views and opinions usually opinions which are connected to large groups of people or institutions with lots of money or influence. In the olden days if you really wanted to get your opinion out there for the masses to see or your art then you had to get through certain gates and past gate keepers.

I remember how exciting I thought it was when I first found blogs and forums and basically saw so many competing opinions available for me to read. I would look at IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) and find that fifty different people had reviewed a film, they were all there talking about it without anyone to get in the way, no editors, no real gate keepers.

My experience of school was one were it mostly consisted of teachers telling you there view of the world while dismissing any thoughts or opinion you might have. I guess this helped fuel in me a desire to be heard, a desire to get my opinion across. Admittedly this desire frequently got me in trouble as I cared more about being heard than the rules.

Life was very different once I got to college and university suddenly I was being taught how to think, they wanted me to form my own opinion and learn how to present it. It was amazing to suddenly find figures of authority not only listening to my opinion but congratulating me on how well I could present it. When I finished my education I began to miss this. There was only two things my friends and acquaintances had ever really considered me an expert in and they were video games and films.

So here I was with a large amount of knowledge about several niche interests and a desire to be heard, this is where the Internet came in to the equation. It was very liberating to be able to have your own place online to write about the things you care about to be able to put your opinion out there for others to find.

This freedom is one which has met some issues now. We used to be controlled by the fact we could only read pre-approved content, now many people are being controlled by something else they are being controlled by fear. So many employment contracts now feature clauses basically stating that you can be fired if you share an opinion online which they don't agree with. Its more than that though some employers will even look at the social media profiles of perspective employees digging through there history and there friends judging them based on a snapshot of there social life and opinions. If people become scared there opinion might be judged then they might simply decide not to post any opinions in case they are made to suffer for what they think or feel. Maybe the Internets golden age has been and gone I guess all we can do is wait and see.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Parasite Random Horror Review

 Ok so not long ago when I was talking about the death of my childhood video rental shop I talked about a film watching game, for those who havent read it I was basically going on about using youtube to find random old horror films and just basically jumping in to them with very little knoweldge in order to try and find classics you didnt know existed. Well I recently grabbed the popcorn my carbinated softdrink of choice and did just this. I found a person who had posted a whole bunch of full horror movies and flicked my way through them starting on a random one. The film was called Parasite.



Now when I started watching it I felt that bits of it were familiar like I had watched it before but in total honesty I have no idea if I had or not which is not surpising when I realise how many films I have watched and especially how many horror movies. I do certainly know that I cant tell you a story about when I first saw this film as a youngster Sometimes when I show someone one of my favourate old films they watch them and dont seem to see what I see in them they will ask if maybe my views are somehow skewerd because of my affection for the films. I do know that sometimes a film fans affection for a particular picture can tottaly defie all logic, they can just feel a certain love for a film but yet not be able to offer any kind of real rational explanation why. I hold a lot of love for 80's horror films but maybe I just see them through rose tinted specs, the best way to do this is to look at films from the 80's that I dont have this kind of connection to films like Parasite that I dont have some old fashioned tale of my youth which I can tell focused around them.

So first I want to say sorry if some of this review is a little spoiler based but its just one of those films where to talk about it you need to talk about particular parts of it. You see the film has a plot but its not exactly the most indepth plot in fact is not exactly that great it can be summed up as basically its a post apocolyptic future and a goverment agency has tried to make creatures presumably for war purposes the lead scientist decides that he needs to destroy these creatures but he actually gets infected by one of them so he takes the other last remaining one and goes on the run the idea being if he can study the creature and learn its weaknesses he can remove the one from inside of him. The creature he has to study however gets loose. So basically it is a sci fi horror film now there are a lot of good parts to this film but it is very slow paced, some of the acting is a little akward so its by no means a perfect film if I ended this review here it would proberbly make the film sound awful so I am going to go on to list some of the cool stuff which is in this film if you dont want the film spoiling for you then ignore the next paragraph.

So early on you get to see a lead pipe rammed into in a guy's abdomen and then you get to see the blood pouring out the pipe. Then there is a scene where the parasite attacks and kills a lady by dropping from the ceiling onto her. Add on to this the creature bursting out of someones head, the effects in the film look pretty great for the time and there are some fantastic set pieces and they really are what make the film but you also get the feeling that there was so much more potential here. I didnt realise it while watching this film but its a Charles Band Production yes the Charles Band responsible for the Puppet Master films seeing as Puppet Master got so many sequels its almost a shame that this film didnt get one. The films lead actor is not the best but there is a goverment agent chasing him who is a pretty darn intemedating and cool baddy to the degree that youd rather spend more time with him, in fact I found it kind of hard not to root for the villian in this case.

So how would I rate this film? Well and bear in mind I am aiming this score at fans of the genre if you usuallyu like this kind of thing then I would give the film a 7 out of 10, I think its well worth a watch but its not an all time classic or anything, however does it make me think my love of 80's horror is misplaced? Not at all everything I like about this film is pretty much pure 80's goodness, its not the best example of the decade or genra but randomly picking it and watching it certainly brought back those good old VHS rental feelings from my childhood

Thursday, 3 August 2017

How I feel I am doing with this blog so far this year.

Well I am about to go on an 8 day holiday. Its not like this is going to be the first holiday I have been on while doing this blog but it is not likly that I will be posting  at all during this time so I thought what I would do right now is just to let people know that while doing a sort of retrospective of what I have done on this blog so far this year and what I have planned for the rest of it.

At the start of the year I posted a list of what I intended to do this year so lets talk about what I claimed I was going to do and if I have managed it or not. I said that I would continue to talk about Games, Horror, Wrestling and occasionally polotics or just things that have either grabbed my intrest or just pissed me off. So how has this gone? Well I think I have done well as far as talking about Games and Horror has gone, I havent done bad as far as rants go either but I have really not lived up to the promise of providing wrestling content.

I said that I was still going to try my hardest to crack on with this task of reviewing SNES games this year. I said that I hoped to review at least 25 new titles that I havent previously talked about. I also said that if I did not have enough games that I wanted to talk about I would simply buy some new ones. If my maths is right then I have so far reviewed 18 SNES games so far this year meaning if I want to hit my target I need to review another 7 before the end of the year, I think this is certainly possible and I really hope I manage it.

I talked about how I wanted to make sure this blog had semi regular posts so there was at no point a massive amount of time without something going up here, and I dont think I have done to bad with this, this will be my 112th post this year making this already my busiest year since moving to blogger. I did promise there would be guest posters and this is something I have not managed I am afraid, the problem is that people who wanted to help have found that they simply do not have the time, you might think it alone takes a moment to throw out a post but sometimes it is much harder than that.

I said that I wanted to review at least one horror film a month I havent constantly managed to do this some months I have provided several others I havent even managed one, I also said I hoped to return to talking about the WWE hall of fame, which I have but only once, these hall of fame reviews take a lot of research. Research is the biggest problem with this blog in general, if you think about it every time I talk about a film I make sure I watch it at least twice and then if I want to say something about it I try to check my sources as much as possible, If I want to talk about a game I make sure I have played it for a good amount of time so I am not just talking rubbish. 


I have to admit that overall I am quiet pleased with how well things have gone this year so far even if there little things I would change if I could have a do over.