Thursday, 23 October 2014

16 bits, 2 bytes - Seventh Event

Drakkhen, Kemco 1991

I’ve already covered the sequel (Dragon View) but forgot about the original.


The Amiga/Atari ST game was considered quite revolutionary because of a pseudo 3D overworld.

When the dragons were destroyed, a new world was born.  But, the humans may be destroyed…  The humans failed to heed the gods’ advice and wiped out the dragons. So the gods made a new world, one for the Drakkhen; half human half dragon.

The new Drakkhen island world was divided into four parts. They were earth, fire, air and water.  Each area is ruled by two Drakkens.  The human world is in danger of being destroyed by the Drakkhen.

But, the gods have granted the humans a final chance for survival!!  They will be spared if they collect the eight tears on Drakkhen island.

That's the story morning glory and what complete and utter bollocks.

Create a party of four by choosing gender and class ranging from amazon, scout, magician or priestess.

Knowledge, physique, intelligence, agility etc is the usual stat attack and is left open on how one should distribute.

There are two playing fields (overworld and dungeon), where battles occur randomly and fixed respectively.

Fighting is pretty pants because when controlling a single char, the computer uses unintelligent AI to worry about the rest.

Being able to switch char helps but still leaves three acting like assholes.

As enemies dance, jiggle, twitch and charge, the poor bastards have serious issues.

Learning spells, receiving items and levelling up is the reward for overcoming hostility and won’t even surprise the adventuring virgin.

Swamp and desert are borders you can expect to cross and terrain feature different hazards.

Interacting with friendlies outside castle grounds brings advice and parting with hard earned ‘jade’ will line the pockets of wandering merchant.

After kicking the ass of many, your goal is to find and kill the ruling dragon prince and princess of each land.

If the realm of dungeons and castles weeps eight times - congratulations.

Travelling to other lands is monotonous and the inconvenience of bumping into invisible threat merely compounds the situation.

It's enough to make anybody agoraphobic.

In order to heal or revive your party, Anak shrines must be visited.

Are these things close by?  Take a fucking guess…

Also, you have access to a map but compass isn't on the game screen.

How convenient.

Saving regularly (which can only be done outside), is strongly advised as enemy can easily overwhelm without breaking sweat.

If you accidentally take a swim, expect to drown unless buttons are mashed like a crazy bastard.

Even if curiosity grips, statues and tombstones must be avoided or something extremely unpleasant will awaken and obliterate your ass.

A flashing road where dragons attack should only be visited at the end but of course, you can’t or won’t know that until much later.

It’s a badly designed suicide mission, strewn with more danger than No Man’s land.

With ancient graphics, sparse sound, confusing text and frustrating gameplay, I can't imagine anybody enjoyed this flawed fuck fest.

The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse, Capcom 1992

In pixels, his journey began way back in 1983 on Atari 2600 with Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

While the 80s couldn't get enough, the Illusion series consisting of Castle, World, Land and Legend spanning Mega Drive, Master System and Game Gear should instantly ring a bell.

Cursed with poor collision detection and sluggish mechanics, Fantasia is best forgotten.

Our chirpy hero sets out to rescue best pal Pluto when kidnapped by evil Emperor Pete.

Lush surroundings and dreamy sound are pulled from the highest of drawers.

These range from fluffy clouds surrounding beanstalk, leafy forest, snow filled valley, fire grotto and Pete’s castle.

Turning up the heat looks much the same as a stage in the original Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and for some reason, mid boss reminds of Red Arremer.

The Mario factor was never an hallucination but now feels even worse.

Once stunned, an enemy can be thrown to others and some have to be jumped on several times to be killed.

For fuck’s sake!

When it comes to cuteness, enemy or boss should sicken more than an army of kittens as creepy crawlies, fish, spider, bird, snake and sabre-toothed ice skating dog are out to halt progress.

A crusty old wizard is met throughout giving advice and items.

Different outfits give unique ability as complete with hose, a fireman extinguishes burning hate while a turban casts magic.

Goofy’s grappling hook allows Mickey to step inside the boots of Bionic Commando.

Aimed at kids?

Put it this way, wearing a blindfold may give a greater challenge.

Disney’s Magical Quest 2: The Great Circus Mystery starring Mickey & Minnie, Capcom 1994

Arriving in town for circus frolics, the adorable mice notice something odd.  Where in the hell is everybody?

Well gee whizz, I guess Baron Pete is up to no good.

The co-op function from World of Illusion is reinstated but predictably gives Donald the boot.

If mood doesn't take, either mouse is playable but that’s surely boring.

All the fun of the fair includes delicious servings of haunted house, cave, jungle and castle.

The Aurora Borealis guarantees frozen plains is equally delightful.

Snails, squirrels, clowns, candles, ghosts etc are baddies sent to scupper progress.

New costumes include sweeper (vacuum), safari (swing and hang about) and hobby horse (jump, jump, and jump some more).

Ape, lightning cloud, dinosaur and ghost are bosses who may as well not bother.

Bad boy Pete transforms into a dragon but to be fair, is less lackadaisical.

Capcom delivers another gorgeous looking, superb sounding, non-challenging romp that kids and big kids will lap up.

Disney’s Magical Quest 3: Mickey and Donald’s Magical Adventure, Capcom 1995

The best is left until last but strangely, wasn't released outside of Japan.

As we're not dealing with a stat hungry, story humping RPG, understanding how to play is about as difficult as blinking.

Now that Minnie has been dumped, World of Illusion is given a 'new' interpretation.

Once upon a rodent…

The bollocks goes that Donald’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie discover a magical storybook and Pete drags them into Storyland.

Fairy cake tells the distraught heroes of events and defeating villain weighs heavily on anthropomorphic shoulders.

Although differences are superficial, raucous rodent and quack pants refuse to share costumes.

Mickey dons armour, climbing clobber and becomes magician, while Donald wears wooden barrel, climbs differently and borrows Aladdin’s lamp to shoot off projectiles.

For what it’s worth, uncovering doors hidden by blocks will have you participate in a card turnover bonus game and doesn't end until a baddie is revealed.

Hording coins permits the purchase of whatever in a shop.

Storyland boasts supreme detail and ranges from Fungi Forest, Shell Ocean, Snowflake Mountain and Pete’s Castle.

Whether aquatic, above or below ground, baddies and bosses suit whichever environment.

Pete tools up inside doors and when defeated, he promises to change his ways and seeks forgiveness.

Each adventure was later ported to the GBA and co-op function in the second and third is made possible using a link cable.  The first added Minnie as an extra char and mini games (no pun intended), but technically suffered.

The Magical Quest may have cast its final spell but sandwiched in between was…

Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse, Travellers Tales 1994

Based on classic cartoons of yesteryear, those who eventually built Lego took charge with an idea sounder than a pound.

Steamboat Willie (1928), The Mad Doctor (1933), Moose Hunters (1937), The Lonesome Ghosts (1937), Mickey and the Beanstalk (1947) and The Prince and the Pauper (1990) are all reenacted.

Yes this is generic as hell, but stunning graphics and exceptional animation ensures a treat.

Unfortunately, it’s one of those rare pains in the ass that must 'load' and like the Mega Drive version, stages lose sections and sequences are shortened.

Secret bonus level The Band Concert (1935) is also cut.

Mega CD included more speech, expanded levels and applied even greater visual and aural gloss.

For a Disney themed game, crossing the finishing line is uncharacteristically problematic.

With a complete graphical makeover, the same principle came to PS1 but was renamed Mickey’s Wild Adventure.

Whatever, right?

Pilotwings, Nintendo 1990, 1991

Who’d have thought that flying lessons could be entertaining?

The concept couldn't be simpler – fly and touch down on runway or target area.

Under instruction, expect airplane, rocket belt, sky diving or hang gliding to become a hobby.

Flying through rings may be necessary but those fucking things were only detested after Superman 64.

Results are judged on accuracy, time and like escaping from a deviously laid snooker, angle is king.

Success is rewarded with a better licence and later, becomes a real bitch to master.

Although sounding extremely mundane, the reality is more accessible than a wide open space.

The Rocketeer, NovaLogic 1992

Based on superhero and 1991 Disney film I've never seen, expect a strange hybrid of shit, shit and more shit.

During the racing section, you'll find yourself regularly crashing into poles because turning the fucking plane around is made unnecessarily difficult.

Switching to scrolling shmup and a badly disguised Cabal prompts the suicide button.

I appreciate graphics are pretty nice but the same can’t be said for its tortuous music.

Anybody who took pleasure from this tedious catastrophe is either taking the piss or clinically insane.

The NES version is apparently way better and I have no reason to doubt rumour.

The Ninja Warriors, Natsume 1994

The 1987 arcade used an innovative trick to represent action but was Kung-Fu Master with barefaced balls on.

Using a horizontal display, mirrors either side of a regular monitor created the fake impression of extended perception in regards to width.

Unsurprisingly, it came home to systems such as Amiga, Mega CD, PC Engine and numerous 8 bits.

Darius and more elaborately, Konami’s 6P super deluxe X-Men used the same technique.

Anyway, we’re dealing with the remake but the original's spirit largely remains.

To depose tyrant Banglar and his troops, revolutionaries led by “Mulk”, develops three androids (Ninja, Kunoichi and Kamaitachi) to kick ass and restore freedom to the nation.

The stupid thing is that Kunoichi is obviously female and looks fuck all like a robot.

It’s a slash and grab, nuking affair but the co-op element has been removed, as has very brief gore.

Each char is slightly different in terms of attack and the enemy contingent of human and robot filth coming from left and right must be dispatched.

At the end of each stage, an obligatory boss hopes to make or break a player’s progress.

Snowy surroundings, weapons factory and enemy base are backgrounds not looking too shabby.

Girls in the Japanese version were replaced by claw-wielding freaks and even ‘green’ gore was removed.

(Shakes head).

Overall, you could do far worse.

Foreman for Real, Software Creations 1995

Boxing today isn't what it used to be.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. getting the shit punched out of him is a forlorn hope and the Klitschko brothers dominating the heavyweight division for x amount of years is boring.

In the wake of a certain Mr. Douglas causing one of the greatest upsets in sporting history by knocking out an in shape, but mentally damaged Mike Tyson, the home port of Taito’s Final Blow (outside of Japan) was renamed James ‘Buster’ Douglas Boxing on Mega Drive and Master System.

Nintendo’s Punch-Out is unforgettable, but franchises Knockout Kings, Ready 2 Rumble and Fight Night also hold their own.

Sega's 1992 arcade Title Fight had you rive dual joysticks and Visual Concept's Toughman Contest took 'literal' inspiration.

Prize Fighter was an interactive first-person Sega CD effort with surprisingly effective b/w video footage.

Adopting the look of 1980 Scorsese classic Raging Bull was surely no accident.

In 1974, Zaire hosted The Rumble in the Jungle with Ali knocking out an exhausted Big George at the end of the eighth.

Expect this to be considerably less exciting...

The great man naturally stars along with a host of fictitious others.

Stallion, The Legend, Hammerhead, Dangerous, The Nightmare, Rock Jaw, The Lion, Fabulous, Axeman and Lightning.

I mean come on – what imagination.

Why not have somebody called Fist?  Oh fuck - there is.

Punch-Out decorated with diarrhoea?

Yeah, that's about right and anybody floored by the experience needs to meet my friend agony.

Cool World, Ocean 1993

Despite a darker and more adult approach, the 1992 film always sat in the shadow of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Cartoonist Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne) ends up living in the world he created.

In her prime, most red-blooded males would agree Kim Basinger was steaming hot.

Noids (humans from the real world) and Doodles (cartoons) mix about as well as chocolate does with curry.

As her name suggests, Holli Would shag anything with a pulse.

In the film, Jack ends up a doodle and bones Holli, who becomes human.

The spike of power is paramount to save a big round thing called the world.

Rogue doodles who have crossed over to Las Vegas are ‘killed’ by sucking them up with a pen.

A weird arm extension is used to attack, which is also used for climbing.

Nickels buy various items and candy can be traded for currency in a hardcore pawn shop.

Getting behind the wheel is necessary in a shitty driving section.

This is one of those ‘what the fuck do I do’ sort of games and buried in unnecessary mystery.

Chewing the fat, entering places and undertaking tasks are commonplace, but explanation isn't made particularly clear.

If you’re arrested – game over man.

Obscure is sometimes good but believe me, chewing glass is less painful.

The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare, Sculptured Software 1992

Our mischievous boy falls asleep and pesky pages from a book escape.

Tapping into his sub-conscious, walking the streets until paper is found instigates a mini-game.

Upon completion, that page is retrieved.

Bartzilla causing destruction is sort of fun and doing the Bartman is less irritating than the infamous rap song.

Homer as Kong, Apu on Flying Carpet and Marge spreading butterfly wings gives mainstays irregular representation.

Swatting Itchy and Scratchy with a frying pan dishes out slapstick violence while Lisa, Skinner, Otto and Maggie all feature.

Boss man Burns flies a plane and wraps up the Bartman stage.

Brandishing whip and negotiating the word of God is a nice parody of The Last Crusade.

Gameplay largely annoys and Zilla getting knocked down from climbing buildings because of shit discarded from windows really tests patience.

Bold and colourful visuals captures Springfield's atmosphere, but where the fuck is Danny Elfman’s famous theme?

Magic Sword, Capcom 1992

Welcome to the evolution of Black Tiger.

The Black Orb has been reawakened by evil lord Drokmar and must be destroyed at tower’s peak to restore light.

We’re dealt a good hand of fantastical action from 1990 but even though the second player was only a clone, omitting simultaneous action disappoints.

Rescuing an ally (magician, ninja, priest or knight) are compelled to join the fight but how they assist is down to the computer.

For whatever reason, a lizard man only gets off his reptilian ass when in possession of a diamond ring.

A variety of melee weapons help take down denizens, the undead, orcs and bosses like dragon, chimera and hydra means bestiary is covered.

Assuming stamina doesn't waver, beating the villain presents a decision – destroy the crystal or become the new bad ass in town.

I know what I'd do...

Bubsy in Clawed Encounters of the Furred Kind, Accolade 1993

Meet the second ‘worst’ example of screwing Sonic.

The greatest piss take is Vic Tokai’s Socket or Time Dominator 1st.

Our bobcat picks up speed, bounces on stock wildlife and causes banal nuisance in colourful environments.

Riding rollercoaster and boarding moving train in fairground and canyon respectively adds limited variety.

Just like Dr. Eggman, recurring boss ball of wool in a UFO (yeah really), returns with new abilities on various occasions.

Mainly down to theme, Jaguar exclusive Fractured Furry Tales was the best of a lamentable franchise.

Bubsy 3D?  Oh God, please no.  I can't bear it.

Inindo: Way of the Ninja, Koei 1993

Originally released on systems such as MSX2 and X68000, expect a fictionalised account of evil warlord Oda Nobunaga's conquest of the Iga Province in 1581.

Although forces of Iga ninja were predominantly overwhelmed, a small portion survived.

The game ends when party is defeated or if Oda isn’t destroyed before 1601.

Enemies can poison, inflict dizziness, cause blindness and even put the hex on.

Wielding weapons, casting magic and buying equipment is pertinent in your quest.

Ninjas, monsters and samurai are bosses out to destroy vengeful ass with random battles largely occurring inside dungeons.

A medic heals providing you have item but doing it yourself is cheaper.

Its core is all about establishing the nature of trust and a minimum level must be reached before other chars will join your party.

Belief is gained by chatting with NPCs in towns and sometimes, asses must be kicked before being able to enlist.

Classes include wizards, warriors, sages and numerous ninjas.

Some are better than others and as progress deepens, expect to befriend those with greater power.

Members of rival clans will tell you exactly where to stick your throwing star.

Time passes from day to night and is not affected whilst in town, dungeon or when chatting shit.

Keeping a track on things is easily accessible via menu screen.

Aside from dungeons, castles not only give a further opportunity to recruit, but also invite those feeling lucky to chance their arm at bingo.

“COME ON!”, yelps an excited voice.  “GET IN THERE MY SON.”

Call on Kelly’s Eye.

Audible gasps reverberate across the arena and confusion reigns.

I wouldn't mind but he only won a fiver…

Visiting the richer minority reap greater prizes but is reflected in stake.

Strategy is embraced when trust is developed with Daimyo (warlord in old money), and extra cash can be earned at a specific time of month by completing spy and sabotage missions.

War updates are given when each month begins and conquering provinces does more good than harm.

So providing gambling hasn't addicted and a loyal army is established, storming Azuchi Castle and defeating that asshole Oda secures victory.

Beneath its prehistoric appearance, lies a deep and interesting role-playing gem.

A shopkeeper asks “What’s your pleasure?”

If you expand and end the above with ‘Mr Cotton’, this becomes a direct quote from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, when pain and pleasure seeker Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) buys the box.

His purchase leads him to being hooked…

Breath of Fire, Capcom 1993

12 megs and unbelievably, their first RPG.

Square was responsible for translation and is a derivative of Capcom’s original work.

There are some discrepancies but overall, they did a fantastic job. 

After the dragon clan empire faded, Dark dragons plunged the world into chaos.

Due to appearance of Tyr, the Goddess of Desire granting wishes like they're going out of fashion, dragons fought each other for the right to acquire such power.

The bitch just sat back on her fat ass eating chocolate and dunking doughnuts until the world was at near destruction.

Oh yeah, your bum does look big in that dress…

She found herself locked up by a warrior and six keys were then scattered throughout the world and/or hidden away.

Light dragons balanced power and normality returned.

A dude named Ryu needs to obtain the power of the dragon and prevent Dark dragon King Zog from conquering the world.

Usual RPG rules apply but being able to shapeshift into dragon types attacking with lightning, ice blast and such like sounds appealing.

Along with Ryu, Nina (who’s a dab hand at healing), is equally important.

Incidentally, drinking clean water completely restores HP.

Eating up ground on foot is classic top-down but when those annoying bastard random battles kick in on map, dungeon or main area, an icon driven, turn-based isometric viewpoint is employed.

You can warp to previously visited areas which is always handy.

The overworld map is animated and moving from day to night complements detail.

Visiting a Dragon Lord saves game via battery back up and flashing GP at a weapon shop will please the owner.  Of course, trading in expendable items gets something back.

After speaking to whomever, you’re told where to go and what to do.

In short, beating a boss completes objective and/or claims item, which is needed to access other places and helps NPCs.

As you trudge through the levelling up motions, eight can join your party but a maximum of four are used in battle.

Chars can be replaced so it would make sense to use only the strong.

Dubbed field ability, each boast their own particular forte and range from Karn (lockpicker), Bleu (sorceress) and Bo (archer).

Gobi the fish and Mogu the mole adds ‘what the fuck’ to any situation.

Wait a minute, is this where Jill Valentine’s ‘master of unlocking’ originated?

No, because that came from Sweet Home on Famicom (based on 1989 J-horror of the same name), the inspiration for Resident Evil.

Bleu is a descendant of Ryu and helps to defeat vessels of Dark dragons by giving an old egg that when warmed in the volcano, out hatches bug and causes a typhoon.

Ha ha ha.  That's brilliant.

Nina is captured by a nasty wizard who used a potion to turn peeps into zombies.

Okay, these Umbrella references are getting weird now.

On a serious note, there is a town called Romero (west of Karma and north of Agua), and surely must be in homage to the work of a certain undead maestro.

Chun Li hiding out in the Town of Thieves is a done deal.

Time and space begins to distort as shit hits a whirring fan.

Emperor Zog assumes the guise of dragon but wait - he is not the real enemy.

The Goddess keys are destroyed and Zog’s head general Jade, casts a spell over Ryu’s sister Sara who becomes the next battle.

Kicking scaly ass brings her back but oh no, Jade not only resurrects Obelisk (a flying fortress); but also frees Tyr.

Jade is represented as a blobby alien thing and when trounced, it was apparently his destiny to lose when Tyr’s shackles were released.

Sore losers always offer pathetic excuses in defeat...

Providing the Goddess of Destruction is overwhelmed (a troublesome mouthy dragon tailed beastie), it marks the beginning of a new legend.

While not by any means the best example, one must appreciate an admirable debut from those synonymous with all out arcade action.

Attractive environs include village, forest, rock, sand and space.  Water ripples and mist wobbles so detail is far from neglected.

Instruments packing an appropriate punch produces a sexy soundtrack.

However, enemy sprites lack oomph and boss choice such as octopus, gremlin, moth, slime, toad and crab are fairly limp in their approach.

It came to GBA in 2001 with new artwork but tunes were horribly compressed.

Breath of Fire II, Capcom 1994

24 megs later...

Ryu Bateson enters a dream that feels so real; the voice of a demon begins to take shape and endeavours to destroy our world.

We portray a new geezer and Nina's appearance has also changed.

Ten years pass.

Expect much of the same but with added cream.

Chars fight side on but opposition sticks isometric.  Also, conversation and comments rage with commands replacing the icon system.

So most of the time, you're not even facing threat which makes no sense.

During combat, four new formations open up different strategy.

Countless NPCs are commonplace but new chars Baba, Jean and Bow boast magic and abilities needed to access otherwise restricted areas.

Additional chars Sten has to deal with a monkey curse and I think Rand is a muscular anteater?

Later on, a whale and bird provide alternative travelling arrangements.

There are two new chunks of pie to feast on.

In the township section, we're gonna build a house or several.

Once done, it benefits to search the world as tenants will run a dojo, teach the party spells, make weapons stronger and open item shops containing unique items. 

I’d suggest the God section from Actraiser inspired an epic and entertaining side-quest.

Finally, chars can be fused with beings known as Shamans that alter appearance, add muscle and improve stats.

The power of devil, fire, water, earth, holy and wind should satisfy the strongest of elemental needs.

Earth, Wind & Fire are of course a famous band.

In terms of story, it breathes far more emotion so here’s masterful meat and detailed veg.

High priest Habaruku founded the religion of St. Eva and worships evil God Eva which gains strength by feeding on the souls of its followers.

Anybody who doesn't tag along must die and he demands for any non-believer to kill him.

Err, each to their own.

Energy is sent via a machine and when suitably topped up, powerful demon Deathevan will awake.

Father Hulk explains that when the dragon clan trapped God, demons appeared to break the seal on gate.

Disguised as Hulk, Habaruku informs the gate leads to Infinity and we’re powerless to prevent its rebirth.

Only the life of a dragon clansman will do so when prevented from sacrificing Patty to open sesame, the high priest is fought.

Habaruku is similar in look to Jade and after his defeat, a mighty dragon reveals the demon was controlling him.

He may not have a key or sacrifice handy, but Ryu is the ‘destined child’ and growing balls should see the prevention of possible resurrection.

Going Underground, bopping with the Jam is an added bonus but ultimately meet the Dragon Clan in Dologany.

The Elder and I have something to say so pay attention.

When the Goddess was defeated, she left something, the seed of evil.  Swallowing fear, desperation, hatred, jealously and thriving on other negativity, it grew into behemoth Deathevan.

Her spawn spread throughout the world and after forming a physical shape, they managed to subdue it.

The Dragon Clan went underground but because the demon was still expanding, hadn't yet exposed itself to the human world.

You see, he’s vulnerable out in the open.

The product of St. Eva sent so much energy to Deathevan, this bad old bastard must be destroyed before he gets any bigger.

Basically, Ryu must acquire the power of great dragon Anfini.

It is what believes in you most, the lifeforce, self-belief and strength from your friends.

In other words, someone’s for the chop.

Try as you might, the game won't allow you to make a sacrifice as instead, selecting ‘no’ several times will eventually gain Anfini.

Honestly, what’s the fucking point?

Armed with the omnipotence of ultimate dragon, it’s time to confront your demons.

The only thing more frightening than a nightmare is when it becomes reality and unlike the beginning, this is no dream.

After Barubary takes so much damage, Ryu must finish the job himself…

In the guts of Infinity, the team butt heads with Evan (God), the humanoid form of Deathevan.

During which, he encases your friends in crystal and kills them.

What an asshole.

After giving chase, Ryu sends him to hell but his actual guise rises from the depths of depravity.

Taking the part of huge, multi-eyed purple monstrosity with second mouth located on chest, Deathevan possesses enough destructive power to snuff out all concerned like candles.

Assuming his might is defied, crack open that vintage shampoo and enjoy the moment.

The memory of his friends in Ryu’s heart brings them back.

Such sentimentality is enough to make one puke…

Depending if father is rescued, two endings are possible.

Building on their impressive debut, praise must be heaped on a forgotten classic.

Graphics simply smash the original and importantly, bosses are given much needed beef.

Music takes a nosedive but generally pleases.

It's also aggressively larger so thank shit for Dragon Lords and internal battery.

Soon after the first, the GBA port added cut scenes, the ability to save at will and new dash command streamlined the experience.

Despite these improvements and increasing the meg count to 32, palette and bleeps offended.

Before evolving into Dragon Quarter, adventures three and four moved onto PS1.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Annabelle - The scoop and digest

Miss me?

You did? Aw, that's sweet, but I haven't been away for that long...

Oh, you meant the creepy doll slapped with enough make-up to shame a discount hooker with a confidence problem.

In this prequel/spin-off to The Conjuring, John R. Leonetti is promoted from cinematographer to director, and along with James Wan; Peter Safran produces.

Plot details and/or spoilers are expected to take a supernatural turn.

Those with souls to protect include:

Annabelle Wallis - Mia
Alfre Woodard - Evelyn
Tony Amendola - Father Perez
Ward Horton - John

We begin as per The Conjuring, with young peeps telling who we know to be the Warrens about their experience with possessed porcelain.

1 year before.

Expectant mother Mia is delighted when husband John buys her a certain doll to complete a full set.

After murdering her parents with the help of male scroat, Annabelle Higgins commits suicide by slitting one's throat while clutching the doll

When found, the recently deceased leaves a curious looking symbol and before her blood is even cold, the doll's eye absorbs a drop of the red stuff.

Guy and gal are said to be part of satanic cult Disciples of the Ram.

Could they have been trying to conjure something?  An inhuman spirit, perhaps?

Remember, demons only claim people and use 'objects' as a conduit to manipulate.

John dumps doll in the old bin and when popcorn 'accidentally' heats the kitchen, Mia is rushed to hospital.

Baby Lea is born and relocating to Pasedena is done without hesitation.

They think it's over, but the games have just begun.

Like a bad penny, Annabelle follows and buying brown trousers seems like a shit hot idea as circumstances escalate.

Research leads her to bookstore owner Evelyn who informs that a supernatural presence isn't likely to shoo until it claims a soul.

One night in the basement, the lift refuses to budge and the horny demon leaves its mark on Mia's arm, which later vanishes.

Almost inevitably, help is sought from the church and Father Perez's offer of taking Annabelle away is snapped up without hesitation.

Father is given a lift and Annabelle's ghost reclaims the doll.

He survives the ordeal and tells John that Mia and her soul are in grave danger

Back at the apartment, the demon takes Lea and wax crayon eventually answers desperate pleas.

'Her soul' or 'your soul', it matters not.

Mia is ready to take the plunge from window with Annabelle but suicide is foiled by John.

Evelyn is more successful and consequently makes peace with daughter Ruby.

As Lea is found playing merrily in her cot, the doll disappears...

6 months later and ahead of opening scene, the mother naively buys Annabelle as a gift for one of her daughters.

For the benefit of the less eagle eyed, a reproduction of the real raggedy plaything is seen perched on shop shelf.

To shield the public from dormant evil, we're told Annabelle is blessed twice a month by a priest in the Warren's museum.

Even with James Wan's influence, this is pretty run of the mill.

Our demon charred in black is very Insidious and unlike Bathsheba, entity is a missed opportunity.

Actress sharing the same first name with Annabelle is a great coincidence and while others are decent, one must pour scorn over Ward Horton's lifeless performance.

Ignoring the unchanged depiction of Annabelle, to more pressing matters.

The stink of rotting flesh is clear evidence of demonic activity so with or without the Warrens, how come nobody complains?

I guess the overbearing aroma was masked by pretentious perfume.

Also, Ed tells us their room packed with cleansed trinkets is only blessed once a month in The Conjuring.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson will reprise their roles next year in The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergiest.

If that's not a hot date with floorboards creaking, doors slamming, catatonic behaviour and explosive reaction to deceitful innocence, what is?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Dracula Untold - The scoop and digest

Over the years, we've flashed crucifixes, hammered stakes and sunk our teeth into the silly, sexy and occasionally sublime.

Bram Stoker's novel inspired a generation, just like Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.

Focusing on how Dracula came to be, Gary Shore puts a new spin on the classic story.

Plot details and/or spoilers may leave with a tan.

Those with a dislike for Turkish delight include:

Luke Evans - Vlad the Impaler/Dracula
Sarah Gadon - Mirena
Charles Dance - Master Vampire
Dominic Cooper - Mehmed

In 1422, the narrative tells of how an enslaved child rose to prominence and became a Prince.

He is Vlad the Impaler, son of Dracul (pronounced 'Dracool').

Or how about Son of the Devil or Son of the Dragon.

Holy shit.  This guy has more aliases than Apollo Creed.

Vlad leads the loyal against the Turks and when believing a scout has entered Broken Tooth Mountain, his men are killed by a monster.

At Castlevania, oops Castle Dracula, he's told what we already know...

Sent by the Sultan Mehmet, the enemy demand 1,000 boys to join their army.  It soon becomes 1,001, as Vlad's son Ingreas is also required.

He's not having that and promptly dispatches several during the handover.

Before setting off on a crusade against the Turks in The Blackadder, Brian Blessed's King Richard IV states:

As the good Lord said: "love thy neighbour as thyself, unless he's Turkish, in which case, kill the bastard."

Knowing that Mehmet will retaliate by sending thousands to destroy his empire and people, Vlad pays Mr. Vampire a visit.

After chewing the fat, the power to protect is served on a plate.  All he has to do is drink...


1. Strength of 100 men.
2. Speed of a falling star.
3. Wounds are healed instantly.


1. Three day time limit.
2. Insatiable thirst to feed.
3. Sunlight and solid silver don't mix.

Giving into temptation equates to eternal damnation and the Master Vampire's curse to permanently reside in stale darkness will automatically be lifted, so he can pursue revenge against the devil who betrayed him.

Extra abilities include transforming into a clutch of bats and like he, I Can See For Miles.

The Who?  Where?  Oh yeah, there.


Single-handedly cleaving through the Turkish army is all fine and shandy but as time walks on by, resisting becomes unbearable.

Loyalty turns to hate as when people learn of vampiric persuasion, they realise a burning ambition.

Ungrateful bastards.

Vlad commands a plague of flying mammals to destroy Mehmet's forces, but Ingreas is kidnapped in the process and Vlad is powerless to prevent Mirena from plummeting to her death.

With the war far from won, he feasts on his dying wife, much to the delight of Master Vampire.

He sets about transforming the wounded into fellow blood enthusiasts who happily gorge on the Turkish remainder.

Vlad and Mehmet clash swords and although overpowered, Vlad uses speed to kill him.

Sunlight consumes the rest and not wanting his son to become a vampire, Vlad effectively commits suicide.

Ingreas is crowned king and courtesy of receiving blood from fanatical follower whom he earlier spurned, Dracula is resurrected.

Centuries later, he charms a dead ringer for Mirena and Master Vampire follows...

As subconsciously predicted, this wasn't a steaming pile of horseshit and met mediocre expectations.

Before his date with destiny, Luke Evans makes a decent fist of principal protector.

Dominic Cooper makes an atrocious villain but as ever, Charles Dance makes his screen presence count with a typically capable display.

Shore's directorial debut ultimately falls down because 90 minutes just isn't enough for chars to be fleshed out and inexplicably stumbles towards to hurried conclusion.

This recipe contains the briefest ingredients of action and horror but we're left punch drunk with a mundane domestic drama on par with a Coronation Street omnibus.

Rip offs and influences.

The whole sequence and subsequent reaction of becoming Dracula is practically identical to Blade regaining strength by feasting on N'Bushe Wright.  Of course the circumstances are different, but the principle remains.

During the bat invasion, Vlad's gesticulation is straight from X-Men or when Imhotep creates a facial sandstorm in The Mummy.

Another thing that flaps wings is Batman Begins, as the Dark Knight releases thousands of bats to evade the police in a disused building.

Master Vampire utters "Let the games begin."

Just in case it hasn't clicked, swap 'games' for 'game' and you're left with how Jigsaw's Billy the Puppet closes a pre-recorded spiel for each victim to ponder from the Saw franchise.

Did anybody think of that?  Ha ha ha!

Intentional reference or bizarre coincidence?  Who the fuck knows?

Setting up a possible sequel in our era is stupider than clipping the wrong wire when diffusing a bomb, so let's hope this doesn't come to fruition anytime soon.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Titles, taglines, subtitles and miscellany - Eager and elegant

Riding this harder than Seabiscuit should go some way in appreciating such glorious content.

Screw the terrible box art because if you thought the original Resident Evil moved like a malfunctioning tank, check out this piece of shit...
Even Die Hard 'stole' its climax.
Files and folders can get corrupted, but on this occasion...

Concluding the 'Prime' trilogy...
Unrelated game and film.

As you portray a stockbroker, the 1988 text adventure was probably inspired by Oliver Stone's Wall Street.

This time, game and TV series share nothing in common.

Ending with subtitle.

Despite some awful slowdown and frequent loading, the original Blood Omen was a bloody great excuse to feast on unfortunates.

D'yer know what?  I fucking hate Steven Seagal (and his films).

Under Siege was made famous for a bird bursting from a cake with huge tits.

Great legacy, right?

Dark Territory had all the action ingredients to be half decent but...

Anyway, plonk 'city' ahead of 'under siege' to create identical subtitle and three different experiences.

Overshadowed by Shinobi, ESWAT is considered one of Sega's rare arcade failures.

The Mega Drive game wasn't a sequel, but a mash up of the 1989 original.

Three words - six taglines.

Okay, Cloned is the odd one out for also possessing 'you will be replaced' but still counts.

The day after tomorrow, The World...

Same title, different artist.

Whether intentional or not, all share the same subtitle as this pseudo video game sequel to Scarface.

Of course, the above stemmed from an image we should all remember from the 1983 film.
The Cornetto trilogy ended with sci-fi and booze but laughs were in short supply. 
One of 007's worst modern day outings.
This action adventure RPG enjoys an innovative battle situation as chars exist in both zones, help each other out and fight the same enemy simultaneously.
Monkey Island: At World's End
The Dog Days are over; and

The Dark Days are under.

Screw the sun as Moon possesses the power of five.

Van Damme playing twins?  That's Double Impact.
As usual, Bolo is good value as a formidable villain.

Snowbird - (Moon)
Activating Regeneration.

I could reel off hundreds of songs but instead, here's a cocktail of my own mix.

Porn? Not really.  Art? Probably.
Seven Swords for Seven Romans.

Frank Frazetta was a genius.

There's also 7 Blades, a cheap clone of Dynasty Warriors 2.

Differing from the rest, the original was a 1997 weapons-based head to head fighter.

Although very similar in title, Koei's spin-off series to Romance of the Three Kingdoms has jack shit to do with Capcom's arcade scrolling fighters Dynasty Wars and sequel Warriors of Fate.

Double the amount of blades and you have...

Sharp stuff.

Despite Donnie Yen starring in Seven Swords and 14 Blades, both are standalone.

The same principle extends to Ving Rhames featuring in Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead and the shitty 2008 'remake' of Day of the Dead.

Of Snyder's impressive 2004 directorial debut, Romero's 1978 original remains omnipotent.

Mr. Rhames is back in 7 Below.

It would be rude not to include albums 7Fingers and Seven Dials from Nils Frahm/Anne Müller and former Aztec Camera frontman Roddy Frame.

Finally, 7 Sins and Helloween's album 7 Sinners.

Same tagline, different film.

Tinkering with grammar doesn't alter a bastard thing.

Original poster (left) and VHS Special Edition (right).

Along with a host of extras, theatrical or alternative versions are automatically included on DVD/Blu Ray but back in the days of VHS, we had to pay through our noses before minds could be made up to see if what was left out deserved its place on the cutting room floor.

Have a megablast on me.

Nobody remembers the original but with its stunning graphics and kick-ass music, the sequel was good enough to eat.
The Tribe and The Tribes.

If you let slip that Tribes are a band, remember to sleep with One Eye Shut.

Rival Swords (subtitle) and Rival Schools (franchise).

Finale, The Final and R-Type Final.

Inside and The Inside.

In Sides - Orbital
Come closer and see...

No wait, just ...look closer.

I'm not one to take liberties but nobody's perfect.

Sons of Liberty
Fall of Liberty
Wings of Liberty
"They're here."
Depending on what you believe, much of Poltergeist was down to Spielberg and not Tobe Hooper.

The debate continues to rage...

What's unique about Ghostbusters and Gremlins?

They were both released on the same day.  1 June 1984 to be exact.

In regards to these taglines, are both making reference to Carol Anne's iconic quote?

Notice how 'They're here' is considerably larger than its remainder and as for Gremlins, is it just coincidence that 'we're' rhymes nicely with 'they're'?


Something is afoot in the air.

First up, fear.

Evil is next.  I repeat, evil is next.

Thanks to the result of Ben Stiller's tug, love is very much in the hair for Cameron Diaz.

And for this film, love is in the air.

Another pair of double tags.

Hyphenation brings something near on identical.

Nobody gets out alive.

No One Here Gets Out Alive (album) and No one here gets out alive... (tagline).


Attack of the (whatever).

Too easy, right?

I agree, which is why aggressive expansion was required.

Attack of the Mutant Telephones is a stage from 1983 Matthew Smith's Speccy classic Manic Miner.
Finally, Space make obvious reference Nathan H. Juran's 1958 B-movie classic with their album Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab.

Alone in the Dark and Nightmare in the Dark.

'Something' watches as either Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood approach Derceto and begin a psychological nightmare.
Fusing Lovecraft with Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, Infogrames' influential 1992 survival horror oozed dizzying tension and dazzling camera angles.
Following SNK's bankruptcy, only a tool would say this bizarre Tumblepop/Snow Bros. clone reinvigorated the Neo Geo.
Same tagline, different film (conclusion).

I know you're nervous but please, try to remain calm.

Cast your eyes over these lovelies that 'never looked so good'.

Evil, Death and;


Concluding with 'Vengeance has never looked so good...'

Australia, Mexico and Brazil are famous for superlative stretches of sun kissed sand.

Oops, mustn't forget about Daytona Beach in Florida.

Where the fuck am I going with this?

Jet Set Willy is happy to introduce.

The Beach
Only dickheads climbed ropes in 1984.

Sound Beach in SNK's original Fatal 'piece of shit' Fury.
The home of Terry became considerably more picturesque in Fatal Fury 3.
Sirena Beach in marmite tasting Gamecube effort Super Mario Sunshine.
'Official' settings missing out include Sunset Shores (Donkey Kong Country Returns), Emerald Coast (Sonic Adventure) and Dee Jay's Jamaican paradise in Super Street Fighter II.

Catching rays ends with Strawberry Beach by Jacek Yerka.

I give you FullMetal Alchemist and Madness

DS game based on the best selling anime.
One on one fighting spin-off to CPS II 3P scrolling mech monster Armored Warriors.
Now it's a five knuckle shuffle Full Metal machine.

Nice one Private Pyle and as a reward, feast on this jelly doughnut freshly pulled from Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's ass.

Sci-fi strategy from 1990.
In Seiken Densetsu 3 on Super Famicom, the curiously named crustacean boss Full Metal Hugger must be crushed.
Live. Die. Repeat.
Adapted from Horishi Sakurazaka's novel All You Need is Kill, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) in Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow urges Tom Cruise's Major William Cage to 'find me when you wake up'.
Hey Punk! Are you tuff e nuff?


Okay, whatever.

Known as Dead Dance in Japan, this post apocalyptic fighting effort was one of the better Street Fighter II clones.
So 'tuff e nuff' is supposed to be a play on words of 'tough enough' and here's something crazier than a lorry load of psychos.

Excluding the obvious, clamping together this taunt forms part of the intro to 1995 Mega Drive boxing farce Toughman Contest which completely RIPS OFF Sega's 1992 arcade Title Fight.
I guess Visual Concepts were given permission.
Don't worry, I know all about Frank Bruno's Boxing ass raping Super Punch-Out!!

When you've fully recovered, enjoy this merry jape.

Using an archetypal visual gag, The Simpsons Movie had Homer temporarily stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Four down, nine to go.
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