Theo, Lily, and rookie Casey, members of the secretive kung fu academy Pai Zhuq (Order of the Claw), are chosen to become the latest guardians of the ancient imprisoned spirit, Dai Shi. However, Jarrod, who was rejected from becoming a chosen guardian for his arrogance, accidentally unleashes Dai Shi before fleeing. When Dai Shi destroys Master Mao’s physical form, the trio head to Ocean Bluff, seeking their new Master only to find he is actually the seemingly inept owner of the Jungle Karma Pizza parlour, RJ. When Dai Shi attacks, Casey finds himself struggling to find his Tiger spirit. Jarrod turns evil.
Traditionally, Power Ranger pilots are very weak. The very first episode for example was a glossed over script that ran extremely quickly just to introduce the characters and most series’ that followed did the same. Jungle Fury benefits from having a two-part opening however and this really…
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Two astronauts come across a space dumpster and when they open it, the evil sorceress Rita Repulsa and her minions Goldar, Squatt, Baboo, and Finster emerge from a 10,000-year captivity. Rita decides to conquer the nearest planet, Earth, and rebuilds her palace on the moon. In the city of Angel Grove five teenagers – Jason, Zack, Billy, Trini, and Kimberly – are teleported to the Command Center of Zordon who explains who Rita is and declares them as the first Power Rangers to fight evil and defend the Earth.
I can barely remember seeing this episode for the first time way back in 1993 but watching it again I quickly realized that the whole thing is pretty much retold at the beginning of every episode in the intro. And that’s all this episode really is; one long intro section. Little bit of trivia; this was not the first pilot episode…
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Well, it’s been a nearly a year now since my mid-life crisis kicked in and I got hold of a Sega Mega Drive to relive my more innocent youth. While I have spent most of my efforts in getting hold of the games I used to own I have also started getting hold of the games I wanted but never got and this in turn has opened me up to the world of retrogaming at large. YouTube has been the key to this with channels such as the Angry Video Game Nerd and Classic Game Room being among my favourite things to sit down and watch while the wife indulges in her soaps on TV.
One thing that has cropped up repeatedly though is this belief that the retro gaming console is Atari’s 2600. Now, I was born on a rainy day in November 1984 and by then the Atari 2600 had already been around a little while. Now as far as I am aware the Atari 2600 was not nearly as successful over here in the UK as it was in the US. I vaguely remember playing a friend’s Atari 2600 when I was about 8 that his parent’s had got him for next to nothing at a car boot sale but at that time the Sega Master System and NES were the dominant consoles and we were never bothered with it. It just sat there gathering dust in the corner of his bedroom while Sonic and Shinobi battled the forces of evil in 8-bit glory (we were both Sega boys).
Now that I am more aware of the retrogaming culture I have been forced to ask myself; having not really played the Atari 2600 can I really consider myself a retrogamer?
Well this week I got a call from my brother-in-law and guess what? He’s got a hold of this classic console and a box load of game cartridges (no boxes though so putting in the games was a bit like playing Russian roulette). Now one thing you need to know about me and my brother-in-law is we are both extremely competitive with one another. I think it’s a primal thing. When I got in to RC helicopter flying a few years ago he had to go and get his own helicopter (click here to find out how well that ended for him). Retrogaming is another field with which we duel it out and we have had many a night where we have got a few drinks in and battled it out on Paperboy or Sonic. So to have the chance to do the same on this classic console required little persuasion.
My first impression of the console before I even switched it on was how retro it looked. It looks like a lot of old record players with that wooden panel at the front and has a rather friendly feel to it. It seems like ever since the Mega Drive nearly all serious consoles have had to be black, aggressive looking boxes while this one almost seduced me to play it. One of the things that is almost always mentioned in any Atari 2600 review is how you can plug the Sega Mega Drive’s controller in to it but I didn’t put this to the test as I wanted that original experience.
So we started playing. Thinking of writing reviews for these games I decided to do a review in bulk and give them a score out of five. So here are the six games I played in my first Atari 2600 session.
It’s the closest thing to Tron I have ever played. This then is the game that catapulted me in to the world of Atari 2600 and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a vertical shooter although it’s arranged so it has a 3D effect with your ship at the bottom firing at alien ships charging at you. The gameplay is smooth and it feels like its running on rails. Each level increases what’s on the screen including objects you have to avoid and at the end of each level is a boss who hurls scores of stuff at you. It’s simple unadulterated fun. A good start then.
The world is at war and it’s down to Lieutenant Tony Wilkins of the United Good Guys Navy to take his Korean War vintage MiG-15 (wait…a MiG? Well that’s what it looks like to me. Am I really the good guys then?) and battle air/sea forces for control of the oceans. The MiG has at its disposal an arsenal of guns (bricks) that shoot forward and torpedoes (long bricks) that drop forward at an angle. While it’s nice to be in a more traditional setting rather than just in space fighting aliens the biggest problem this game has is the Atari’s lack of a second button on the controller. In order to fire the gun you have to push the stick right then hit the button but this also sends you shooting across the screen and if you miss this will often send you hurtling in to a kamikaze-style attack. You kill the bad guy but you die too. It’s a big problem and I didn’t like the game as a result.
This wasn’t actually the second game I put in to the console. I put several games in but none of them seemed to work. I thought they were all crashing. As it turns out a lot of these games require you to hit RESET to start the game and I found this out purely by chance. Anyway back to it.
Daniel-san…Avoid this game. Now I am not going to harp on about the bad graphics. Being a retrogamer bad graphic design holds a certain charm for me. What I hated about this game was it was almost totally unplayable. I nearly smashed the controller trying to get my guy to kick or punch the other guy but all that happened was a feeble arm movement before I got my arse handed to me. Also why is my guy on the right? Almost every beat’em up I have ever played starts with your guy on the left.
Aliens have invaded Earth and it’s up to Lieutenant Tony Wilkins of the Earth Defence Forces to protect you all. Boy are you in trouble! Defender is one of the more well known Atari 2600 games and my justification for that is its one I have heard of. It’s a side scrolling shooter where you pilot your Viper from Battlestar Galactica over a cityscape against flying saucers that look like they are from the Adamski sighting (look it up). It’s pretty run-of-the-mill but what really endeared me to it was that gun you fire. The bolts are long and fast and make you feel like anything that gets in its way is going to be vaporised – not like those little “bricks” you shoot in Space Invaders.
The 21st century: mankind has colonized the last unexplored region on Earth; the ocean. As captain of the seaQuest and its crew, we are its guardians. For beneath the surface lies the future…So goes the forgotten 90s science fiction show of the same name. Obviously this has nothing to do with that show but it does feature a submarine and hostile sea creatures. The best way to describe this game is an underwater version of Choplifter. You have to take your submarine under the water and rescue divers all the while defending yourself against hordes of enemy submarines who are ably supported by Jaws’ extended family. When you rescue six divers you have to surface for them to disembark and then you progress to the next level. Every so often you have to surface to replenish your oxygen or your crew suffocates and at first this is quite safe but as the game progresses surface vessels attack you as well. It’s simple. It’s challenging. It is enjoyable but it’s also quite forgettable. Just like the tv show.
Bomb on Pixel City
Little known fact; since World War II the Royal Canadian Air Force has lost more planes to birds than accidents or combat. Just saying. This game holds the distinction of being the one that brought out that competitive spirit in me and my brother-in-law. The premise is simple; you are flying a bomber over a city and have to drop bombs on the buildings to demolish them. As you progress the buildings get higher and tougher to destroy and eventually you have to contend with anti-aircraft fire. The first couple of goes I thought I had no control over the bomber and I kept getting blasted out of the sky until I realized I did have a zoom capability that hurtled the plane forward to evade incoming fire. You also have to dodge pesky birds that probably have a number of Canadian kill markings tattooed on their wings. The bomber is also constantly descending so you can’t miss the buildings too many times or you will go smashing in to the side of them. Once you get the hang of it this is surprisingly enjoyable. In the ensuing competition I did lose to my brother-in-law however who is gloating even as I write this. Probably the most fun I’ve had so far but I can’t really give it a full 5 yet because it’s only the 6th game I’ve played so far.
So there you have it. My first impressions of gaming on the Atari 2600. Am I about to give up my beloved Sega and become an Atari fanboy? Not yet but what I will say is I have had such a great time playing these games (and there are plenty more in that box) that I don’t think I will turn my back on the 2600 yet.
For anyone who might be interested in seeing pictures or videos of me crashing RC helicopters
I just thought I’d take a moment to invite you to join my newest site about my passion for flying RC helicopters.
“Home Drones” will cover my experiences and lessons as I indulge in one of my favourite pastimes.
If you think you would be interested or just fancy take a look then click here.
Otherwise thanks for just following Defence of the Realm.
There’s always a problem with adapting a game designed for the latest consoles to an earlier console and that is you are left with a shell of the original game. This does not necessarily translate in to a bad game however. I know a lot of Sonic fans out there don’t like the Master System version of that game largely because it was developed by a subcontractor and not the original design team but I quite liked it. Sure it wasn’t as fast as the Mega Drive version or as glitzy but it was certainly playable and was an apt substitute if you hadn’t saved up enough pocket money to buy a Mega Drive yet but had a Master System. The Master System adaption of Wolfchild however goes entirely the other way.
First some history. Wolfchild was developed by Core Design for the Amiga and the Atari ST. It was then ported on to other consoles including the SNES, Mega Drive and Sega Mega CD. The plot revolves around biotechnology researcher Kal Morrow and his son Saul. When his father is kidnapped by the evil Chimera organization, Saul uses one of his father’s inventions to turn himself into a wolf-human hybrid (so a werewolf then) to defeat the Chimera and rescue his father. Given how much of a debate there is amongst zombie fans over whether medically created zombies are “real” zombies I am sure that a few werewolf fans would be equally divided by Wolfchild’s approach. The game was launched in 1992 and by that time the Master System was well in to its death robes in the US and Europe so its surprising therefore that the game was developed for the ageing system. Development time meant that the more modern versions had been out a full year before the Master System’s European release of the game which arrived in 1993. So was this just a quick buck for Core Design and publisher, Virgin?
First let’s talk about the good. My first impression looking at the case was that thank God the old clip art cases had gone the way of the dinosaurs by the 1990s. Check out the Sega Does boys’ pages who are currently working through the earlier Master System games and you will see just how uninspired some of them were. It has always been my biggest criticism of what is otherwise my favourite games console ever. This was a good looking cover that showed that the Master System’s appearance on the shelves at least had matured. At this point an Obi-Wan style voice over is reminding me not to judge a book by it’s cover. Starting the game up and it is still looking good although the developers really wanted to build you up with their one- or two-word title screens leading to the main menu.
Then from the moment you start the game things go downhill. The first thing that I noticed was that there was no music. What kind if game like this has no music? I was expecting to be thrown in to a world of horror and action but instead I have just little blip sounds as he walks and the usual paper crushing sound when a weapon is fired. I know the Master System wasn’t exactly known for its audio capabilities but there were far better sounding games out there well before 1993. I was so stunned by the lack of music that I thought the cartridge was broken (it is 19 years old after all) and so I took out my phone, went on YouTube and looked for videos and sure enough there is no music on the Master System version. This was a big let down and made the game feel flat.
Playability-wise, things are a bit up and down. It’s a classic platforming game and in this respect it does have quite an extensive level design with which to traverse as well as a plethora of secret caverns to discover. I will admit that a few times I did get immersed in it but it never lasted and that was thanks largely to the terrible controls. I know he is supposed to be a werewolf/Wolfchild, an untamed creature of the night, but I swear sometimes the game decides to just keep him running even when you have taken your thumb off the D-pad. Naturally this can lead you to all kinds of problems and takes a bit of getting used to. You have to keep collecting power ups which allow him to transform in to the werewolf/Wolfchild and I can’t help but feel a bit of an Altered Beast vibe at times. There are a variety of bad guys that stand in your way but most of the time they don’t move. They just stand there firing the odd round in your direction like some kind of robotic sentry. Your biggest threat comes from things like exploding plants but even these are relatively ease to doge.
On the whole not a very good game but I can see the lost potential from the downgrading. I have checked out some more videos on YouTube of the versions for the newer consoles such as the Mega CD and it does look far better. Maybe this was too much for the Master System to adequately replicate or the publishers just wanted to make that quick buck in the final days of the Master System. Either way this felt like a step back to some of the 1980s era games of the Master System albeit with a slightly better look.
The Enterprise is summoned to a space station where Dr. Richard Daystrom installs his revolutionary computer M-5, to take control of all systems of the ship. The computer soon turns out to be superior to a human crew, in normal ship operations as well as in a simulated battle against another starship. Then, however, M-5 destroys an unmanned ore freighter, and a crewman is killed when he attempts to cut off the computer’s power. Unbeknownst of the situation on the Enterprise, as M-5 has disabled any communication, a task force of four starships under Commodore Wesley continues the simulated attacks. M-5 takes the battle seriously, cripples the fleet and kills hundreds of crewmen. Daystrom has programmed M-5 with his own engrams, and Kirk uses this knowledge to convince the computer that it is guilty of murder and has to shut down. Wesley is authorized by Starfleet to destroy the Enterprise but he breaks off the attack when he notices that the ship is dead in the water.
This episode has largely been categorised as one of the better action episodes of the original series. This is thanks largely to the eye candy of seeing more than one Federation starship and the subsequent wargames. Indeed, back in the day it was one of the best looking episodes that helped finally give the series the genuine feeling that there was more than one ship in Starfleet. In the digitally remastered version we get even more eye candy in the form of the ore freighter that wasn’t seen properly in the original episode for budgetary reasons. Now we see none other than a recreation of the freighter we saw in the Animated Series. That alone is enough to make the most avid Trekkie’s heart beat just that little bit faster.
However if you scratch away this glossy surface we have one of the most philosophical episodes of Star Trek ever; long before Star Trek: The Next Generation’s classic “Measure of a Man.” The question the episode asks is an old one; should machines do the work of man and if so what becomes of the man? This is Kirk’s question more than anyone else’s in the episode as the M-5 is aimed directly at replacing the decision making capability of a starship. Kirk feels useless in this episode in the face of the M-5 hence Commodore Wesley’s “Captain Dunsel” remark but alas we can’t have a TV show about a computer piloting a starship and so naturally the computer goes bad. One thing that does pop up briefly is that the ore freighter is unmanned which tells us already that some of the more mundane yet essential jobs in space are already entirely mechanised so it would appear starfleet has been heading toward an unmanned future for some time before the M-5.
But the thought process behind Daystrom and his creation make us ask intriguing questions not just about this fictitious universe we like to sit and watch of an evening but also about our own future in space travel. Even if we discard the distances and time involved in space travel we are still left with an extremely hostile environment in which to go gallivanting around in cooped up inside a metal box. Is it wise therefore to say “What the Hell; we can go there so let’s go.” Science fiction is filled with examples of how this can be a bad idea not just for the crew of whatever ship we are travelling on this week but also for humanity itself. Death, disease, war, alien influences on human culture – it seems we don’t need to leave our planet to be affected by what goes on out there.
This was touched upon briefly in Star Trek: Enterprise’s 4th season when there are Humans who believe that Starfleet’s exploration of space is advertising Earth’s presence to hostile aliens that didn’t seem bothered before warp flight. This is something Daystrom seems to have forgotten since he envisions a future where nobody dies in space exploration because machines are expendable.
“Men no longer need die in space or on some alien world! Men can live and go on to achieve greater things than fact-finding and dying for galactic space, which is neither ours to give or to take!”
– Daystrom, defending the need for the M-5
This leads him to fall in to the trap of many a scientist in science fiction who develop supercomputers or robots – he builds a machine that learns but still considers it expendable. Therefore surely there is the danger that this machine will learn that it is not expendable or, like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it may judge its own importance in completing a given mission to be greater than the survival of a few humans in an unfortunate circumstance.
Ultimately, what this episode concludes is that the human spirit will always have a place. It was a foregone conclusion and is something that continues throughout all of Star Trek. As Captain Archer onboard the Enterprise NX-01 will later (or already said in canon);
“Starfleet could’ve sent a probe out here to make maps and take pictures, but they didn’t. They sent us so we could explore with our own senses.”
“Dos huevos, por favor. Oh, que lastima.” – Bumblebee Man
“I gotta steal that bit.” – Krusty the Klown
Late last week, it was announced that Chesperito, a/k/a Roberto Gómez Bolaños, a/k/a the inspiration for Bumblebee Man had died at the age of 85. Reader Alex from Chile, writes in:
He and his characters were loved in all Latin America and it’s easy to compare his shows rise and fall with the Simpsons, being the 70s the golden years of “El Chavo del Ocho” and “El Chapulin Colorado” and then from the 80s until now having nothing but the zombification of all his programs. Luckily in Chile we only have reruns of the best years of Chespirito’s career, but that’s another story.
We’ve got a couple of Chesperito links for you, along with some excellent usage, a giant tattoo, more fashionable clothing, quite a few .gifs, and the odd bit…
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As amazing as it seems (at least to me) it is 20 years ago today that Star Trek: Generations hit movie theatres. The last on-screen outing for William Shatner’s Kirk and the very first big screen outing by the crew of the Enterprise-D has become on of those Trek movies that has polarized fans in that either they enjoyed it or absolutely loathed it. It is certainly true that the movie won’t ever make any Number 1 spots on the lists of best Star Trek movies but is it really that bad?
I don’t know.
I don’t think it is as bad as some people try to make it out. Sure it had its faults with a rather topsy-turvy story and obvious questionable decisions made by the characters; the classic being if Picard could return to any point he wanted why not return to the point where he first meets Soran and spare us the rest of the movie (and the Enterprise-D)? What always annoyed me was how much of the film felt recycled from previous movies. In some instances they were directly recycled. I am of course talking about the fact that the Duras Sisters’ Bird-of-Prey exploding is simply the reused footage of Chang’s ship exploding in the previous movie. Eeep! I do wonder also why if a ship with its shields and hull would get ripped apart getting close to the Nexus why doesn’t the same happen to Soran and Picard on that hillside?
But what did the film do right? Well, Malcolm McDowell as Soran was an inspired choice and I will say that not since Khan in Star Trek II did we have such a genuinely motivated enemy. He was actually quite sympathetic in his cause and actually does a pretty good job of convincing the audience why he is doing it. How many films can claim to give you a dose of Helsinki Syndrome while you are watching it?
A lot of fans (and I mean a hell of a lot of fans) hate how the Enterprise-D was destroyed in this movie and I really can’t see why. Their argument is how could the ship have survived so much throughout the series only to get taken out by a single Bird-of-Prey? Well in the series the ship faced enemies trying to destroy it conventionally and the Galaxy-class was just too tough for that. So how do you destroy a tough ship you can’t match? Well you cheat obviously and thats what the Duras sisters did. I don’t see the problem. Also with the Enterprise-D out of the way we got to see the incredible Enterprise-E that was much more suited to the big screen. Interestingly, ILM actually put NCC-1701-E titles on the Galaxy-class model in preparation for Star Trek: First Contact before they were told they were given a budget to make a new ship.
Well anyway. Love it or loathe it this movie did get the TNG crew we all loved so much on to the big screen and that’s not a bad thing. The movie certainly had a tough job acting as the intermediary between the 23rd and 24th centuries and for that we should cut it some slack.
The 80s produced a great deal of awesome cover and poster artwork, which we have shared in previous posts. There are some exceptions however. Here are some of the cheesiest VHS covers we’ve come across.
1. Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984)
I’m surprised this doll isn’t as well known as Chucky.
2. Bodycount (1986)
Somebody please tell me what the hell is happening on this cover.
3. Forever Evil (1987)
Here you go – every horror art cliché ever jammed into one cover.
4. Anguish (1987)
This art is certain to cause some anguish.
5. Night Visitor (1989)
Your guess is as good as mine.
6. Terror on Tour (1988)
One of many bad 80s metal-horror movies. The cover just screams “terror” doesn’t it?
7. Interface (1985)
Apparently they’re dead serious. You could’ve fooled me.
8. Horror Planet (1981)
I’d like a count of how many 70s and 80s sci-fi/horror movies have a…
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