Archive for November, 2009

“Are You There… Are You There?”

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Ghosthouse 3Happy new week, my deranged fellows! Our pick today is Ghosthouse, a notoriously bad piece of Italian cinema with a disturbing clown doll that signs a freaky tune which will stick in your head — forever.

Remember that you can comment on articles, the Movie Of The Week and even these posts. Also, feel free to suggest movies or games that you would like to see covered!

Redefining Geekiness

Friday, November 27th, 2009

What do you do when you have plenty of time on your hands? Why, reinterpret the Monkey Island tune on piano and guitar! The quality of the sound is a bit on the lower side but these two guys show plenty of skill.

Now I dare them to make a cover of Turrican II.

Death Valley

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The first full-length movie review of the blog (sniff) is here! It happens to be a great pick because it’s both rare and very good. Lovable kid? Check. Cunning villain? Check. Setting in a lonesome, arid desert? Check. It’s all here … in Death Valley!

Link: Death Valley Review

Being Retro

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

While we’re on the subject of iPhone gaming, I will just go ahead and confess that the device has practically become my primary game platform. There’s something about the immediacy and even naivety of its games that make them so appealing. They are simple, quick to learn, yet incredibly original and entertaining. It’s what games felt like about two decades ago, remember? Indeed, the iPhone has lured a great deal of independent developers with bright ideas and a lot of passion, and yet, the retro-revival movement we’re currently enjoying is more evident on the iPhone than on any other platform. In fact, it’s the retro styled offerings such as Space Invaders Infinity Gene or geoDefense that are the current standouts of the device.

Why it often occurs that indies are associated with retro games? Is it because they can’t tackle larger projects or they know better? Sometimes, when I sit in front of my dusty Xbox 360, grab a shooter (since there aren’t much choices anyway) and try to cope with 10+ buttons, a dozen combinations, slick modern presentation, bells, whistles, in-your-face-shiny-graphics… sometimes, I really think it’s the latter. Is it because of my age? Or because I belong to an old generation of gamers? Is anybody actually reading this?

Of course, it isn’t reasonable to discuss such a profound subject on a mere update post, so this could be the beginning of a larger article. Feel free to discuss — I know that I’m not alone on this one.

Right, where was I? The iPhone. Loved by many, hated by many. Still, the games keep coming and keep getting better. Recently we had yet two other classic adventures being ported: The Labyrinth Of Time and Secrets Of The Lost Cavern. While they might have been rather average titles in their days, they play really well on the iPhone (keep in mind that Lost Cavern is being released in episodes).

The Labyrinth Of Time

The Labyrinth Of Time

Secrets Of The Lost Cavern

Secrets Of The Lost Cavern

And speaking about the wave of retro-revival, one of my recent favorites is by far Hook Champ. This game is brilliant in concept and, perhaps most importantly, brilliant in its level design. Basically, you swing through caverns with your Indiana Jones-y alter ego by means of perfectly adjusted controls. There’s also the deliciously pixelated graphics, of course. The final levels are insanely difficult though and will only appeal to masochistic gamers. Still, you can’t really go wrong at three bucks and there’s a lite version anyway. Hook Champ, you’re my hero.

iTunes Links: The Labyrinth Of Time, Secrets Of The Lost Cavern, Hook Champ

Let’s Do The Time Warp!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

First of all, if you sent an e-mail within this past week, please send it again because the blog account wasn’t working properly.

And please, check out the following video. Now that is what I call dedication! This past Halloween, about 1600 fans of The Rocky Horror Show (let’s be frank, we all love it) attempted the largest Time Warp dance in Brighton, UK. They’re still waiting the Guiness people to ratify the result, but it looks like they broke a world record. To be honest, I had no idea there was a record already, but stranger things have happened.

“V” : Victory, Visitors… Vomit

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

I think I’m getting a hold of this blog thing. The whole idea is to force-feed your meaningless opinions to your audience, which never asked for them in the first place. So let me try: the new V series suck. Badly.

Allow me to elaborate: they certainly had a lot to live up, but they can’t hold a candle match to the monumental first 1983 V episode. Heck, even the first chapter of the much maligned 1984 series was more entertaining than this. The problem to me seems to be a lack of direction, which is quite perplexing considering it’s all about an alien invasion. The characters just went by the screen without any motivation whatsoever, no chemistry, and really shoddy writing. And that’s a pretty serious issue because the original V was all about the characters and how the invasion impacted on their lives. If we don’t care about them, then what about the eye-candy and action? Well, the starships design didn’t do it for me either – nothing we haven’t seen before, just more recycled stuff, but overall the effects are good. And the action? We’re already by the third episode and, aside from the arrival of the mothership itself (surprise!) not much has happened.

Find the differences.

Find the differences.

However, the biggest problem of them all of course are the leads. I reckon Morena Baccarin who performs Diana/Anna is good, but her character is terrible. And I really came with an open mind on this one but her eternal smile and angelical face are just way too annoying. The lasting impression of Jane Badler as Diana is certainly clouding any objectivity here, yet I can’t help feeling this Diana looks like a doll. Worst of all is the priest who poses as a Marc Singer wannabe. Sorry dude, you lack the forced speech and paranoid eyes. Marc Singer might have been a lousy actor but he was an absolute beacon of cheesiness. You’re just dull. Right, Juliette also replays her role from Lost – that is, a disturbed woman with a constant blank stare on her face.

No, you won’t be like Marc Singer. Never. EVER.

No, you won’t be like Marc Singer. Never. EVER.

I know, you’re probably thinking that we should give the series some more time (I am after all basing my comments on very few chapters) but some things are definitely here to stay, such as the uninspired acting. Visual effects and slick production can’t beat great direction and writing, which were constants in the first miniseries and even The Final Battle. The first time we saw that looming mothership in that sensational war sequence, we knew it would change TV forever. There’s nothing remarkable about this new incarnation though… it’s like they didn’t even try. If it had been named “The Alien Encounter”, then it could have passed as just another average TV show, but such a lousy attempt to reboot this hallmark series makes me feel angry and very sad.

ScummVM 1.0.0 Is Out!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

I can’t believe I missed these news but I haven’t seen any mention aside from their homepage. This outstanding multi-platform engine makes a shiny 1.0 debut with an amazing batch of new and glorious games: the Discworld series, Return To Zork, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, Delphine Software games, AGI support… along of course with the usual LucasArts and Revolution games support. It really is a goldmine for adventure game fans and I even dare to say it’s the best software ever. Really. I’m deadly serious on this one (sorry DOSBox).


Link: ScummVM Homepage

Also, you might want to check out a branch of the project that sadly didn’t make it to the main release which plays Infocom adventures very faithfully. Unfortunately, it only works on Windows right now.

Link: ScummVM Misc

(my, just look at the amazing in-progress engines they got there… makes me feel all giggly)

Another Somber Update

Monday, November 16th, 2009


Edward Woodward

Following the recent post about the death of Spanish actor José Luis López Vázquez, I have yet more sad news for you. Edward Woodward passed today at the age of 79. He will be probably most remembered for his sensational role as the stuck-up religious officer in the all-time classic The Wicker Man (and I’m of course talking about the 1973 movie, not the recent travesty by Nicolas Cage). He was also known for his roles in TV series The Equalizer and Callan. If by some odd reason you haven’t seen The Wicker Man, then this is your chance to see a movie that transcends the horror genre and still remains shocking to this day.

Transylvania Adventure

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Until now, the Nintendo DS was arguably the best handheld for adventure gamers with a modest but terrific selection of software: the outstanding Phoenix Wright series, Hotel Dusk, Trace Memory and a few others were more than enough to justify giving off the cash for the lovely device. But the tables have turned and now the iPhone/iPod Touch have seriously become the absolute best choice to play adventure games on the go, and this seems to be only the beginning. Those of us who enjoy playing vintage adventures will especially make the most out the platform. While some games already present on the DS such as Myst are on the iPhone as well, several other outstanding classics have been ported to Apple’s device: Beneath A Steel Sky, Simon The Sorcerer, Inherit The Earth, Return To Mysterious Island, the remake of Secret Of Monkey Island and the future looks even brighter as developers keep being lured to the platform (annoying issues with the App Store approval process aside). Whereas adventures on the DS have been waning, their presence keeps extending on the iPhone.

Today, I’m going to bring to your attention a really cute game that sadly got lost amidst the continuing tide of Apps being released each week: Transylvania Adventure. The older ones will surely recognize this primitive text adventure that was initially released for the Apple II by PolarWare and then ported to Commodores, DOS, Amiga and all those vintage systems we all seem to love. The iPhone version is excellent, with plenty of options to play through the game (you can even avoid typing a single word) and overall great production values. The sounds for instance have been entirely reworked and there’s a curiously satisfying feeling to see the gloriously pixelated yet sharp graphics on the small screen. Also, the game can be played both in vertical or landscape modes, so it will really fit your gaming preferences just fine. If you’re fortunate enough to already have an iPhone and like classic adventures, then at one measly dollar this is a must-play.

Transylvania Adventure

iTunes Link: Transylvania Adventure

The Phone Box

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Recently one of the most prolific Spanish actors, José Luis López Vázquez, passed away at the age of 87. With over 200 movies and TV appearances in his portfolio, as well as many theater roles and several awards, his loss was a huge blow. Sadly, he was largely unknown internationally. While his work on eccentric movies is quite limited, they’re definitely worth a look – besides acting in the sequel to cult romp Torrente, he appeared in a TV short from the 70’s that to this day remains a hallmark of Spanish television: The Phone Box. Being masterfully executed, this unique story of a man that becomes trapped inside a phone box managed to reach levels of claustrophobia and desperation rarely experienced on TV. It very deservedly won an Emmy award.

To homage his death, the short has been posted entirely on one of Spain’s major media corporations. Although the film is obviously in Spanish, it can still be universally appreciated since there is barely any dialogue and the situation is perfectly understandable by anyone. You should seriously check this out as it’s definitely one of the creepiest shorts you will ever see.

The Phone Box

Link: La Cabina (1972) (TV)

(keep in mind the actual short begins at exactly the 9:25 minute mark of the video)