February 2012

King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella on Apple IIgs (8/10)

King's Quest IV - Apple ][gs

This game has been lying dormant in a plastic bin in my basement for more than a decade. Back in the nineties I made many attempts at completing this game but I always would get stuck about a third the way through the game, usually because of the frustratingly unfair (even for a Sierra adventure) whale puzzle. Mind you those were the pre-Internet days, when your only hope for a hint was Compuserve, a BBS or the official 900 number hint line. At some point in around 1996 I made the switch from my Apple ][gs to a Windows 95 machine and the game got packed away with the rest of my Apple stuff. But today, thanks to DOSbox, ScummVM and walkthroughs I can finally finish my questing.

Wolfenstein on PC (8/10)

Wolfenstein

I have just been plowing through the sequels of nineties FPS's lately. This time it was back to Castle Wolfenstein for me... although, technically, I am not sure if that castle in the distance is actually the Castle Wolfenstein, you know the one I escaped from (with the plans) back in 1981.

Linger Ficken' Good and Other Barnyard Oddities by Revolting Cocks (5/10)

Format: CD

By the time this record came out, RevCo had lost much of its lustre for me. I guess I like a few of the tracks well enough, but, for the most part, they all are just too repetitive (yeah, I know. "Industrial music" and "repetitive" are pretty interchangeable) and overly long. The record just feels like one long brainstorming session with too many cooks and too much heroin.

All the Colors of the Dark (7/10)

This was a strange, dreamy giallo that reminded me a lot of Bava's Lisa and the Devil. At any moment you don't know what is real or imagined. Eventually the film takes a wild turn into the world of witchcraft and paganism that, like just about every plot point in this film, never seems to make any sense. Even when the truth was finally revealed at the end I was still scratching my head. But I stuck with it all they way through mainly because of the stunning visuals and incredible soundtrack (one of my absolute favorite Bruno Nicolai scores).

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (2/10)

This sci-fi classic starts off interestingly enough: in an authoritarian society on the Moon, an engineer befriends a self-aware computer who has taken to practical joking. There are hundreds of different speculative fiction pathways this concept could have gone, instead Heinlein devoted the remaining ninety percent of the book detailing the administrative ins-and-outs of planning a revolution. Literally administrative minutia like how many members per sleeper cell and parliamentary rules. This makes for some severely dull reading. What an overrated piece of garbage.

Space Quest on Ms-DOS (8/10)

Space Quest: Bar It's been quite some time since I tackled a Sierra 3-D adventure game (See my reviews of Kings's Quest I, II & III and Leisure Suit Larry). I've said it before, but I just love the unique pixelated artwork and animation of all these games.

I don't think I ever finished this game as a kid, but I must have gotten pretty far since I was able to progress through most of the game this time without much trouble (if only I had a video game blog when I was 13 years old).

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (7/10)

This was a beautifully shot Sergio Martino giallo. We soon find out what Mrs. Wardh's (no that's not a typo) vice is and then quickly forget it since it has little or nothing to do with the convoluted plot. There are some nice twists and turns, none of which are even remotely believable. But the film is never boring and, in addition to the early 70s swinger vibe, there is also plenty of George Hilton euro-stud badassery.

Duke Nukem Forever on PC (8/10)

Duke Nukem Forever: Lil' Duke in Duke Burger

The original Duke Nukem 3D was perhaps the best of the first wave of FPS games. I also really liked Rise of the Triad and, of course, Doom but Duke was filled with tasteless humor, pop-culture references and a richly interactive world. For some reason Duke Nukem Forever has only a 53 Meta Critic rating and I can't for the life of me see why. Sure its was released about 8 years too late and it doesn't really bring anything new to the genre, but everything that was great about the original game is still here.

Beers, Steers & Queers (Remixes) by Revolting Cocks (5/10)

Format: CD

File this one under the "What were we thinking back then?" column. In 1991, this was the bees knees in and around my campus apartment but it has since lost much of its luster. The titular track is a rap parody, I guess? Or ironic rap? In any event, it's poorly executed and clumsy (perhaps on purpose) with forced lyrics. The song mocks closed-minded rednecks and such, but, in hindsight, I get the feeling that RevCo were the close-minded ones with their myopic view of Southerners. Musically, this stuff hasn't aged well either.

The GO Sound of the Slots! by Revells, The (7/10)

Format: CD

This is the original 1965 record that inspired the Phantom Surfers to create their great slot car themed record. The Go Sound was conceived as a way to cash in on the early 60s popularity of slot car racing. Once you get past the ridiculous thematic hook, this is really just a great, classic surf and drag record by The Hondells. The best line is from "My Baby Dig Slot Car Racing" when they sing (without a hint of irony) about a girl with "a heavy hand on a rheostat."

Far Cry 2 on PC (5/10)

Far Cry 2

This is the game that forced me to update my video card last year. I remember playing the first Far Cry and thinking that that was about as close to reality as games could ever get. The sequel leaps and bounds ahead of the original in the looks department. Unfortunately, the game-play does not match the quality level of the visuals.

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett (8/10)

The story picks up right where The Colour of Magic with our heroes tumbling off the edge of the world. Book two in the Discworld series is more of the same easy, light-hearted reading as book #1. I wouldn't call it a "page turner," but there's enough imaginative characters and situations to keep it interesting.

Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed by Lou Reed (3/10)

Format: CD

I think this is pretty much the antithesis of the kind of music I like. I find Lou Reed (at least this solo stuff) mind-numbingly boring. I suppose he turns an interesting phrase lyrically, but, if that's what your interested in, read a book or go to a poetry slam. Ah, the joys of having merged my CD collection with my wife's.

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