A Golden Wake on PC (6/10)

A golden Wake... don't be deceived by this screenshot. There is no dancing in this game.

Although I'd give them props for creating a game with a truly unique theme, this Wadjet Eye adventure falls a bit flat. The game is set during the 1920's land boom of southern Florida and focuses on the player-character, Alfie Banks. Essentially it's a character study, but, unfortunately, interactive storytelling doesn't lend itself to well so such narratives. Games excel at mood and environment but creating riveting characters just doesn't seem to fit the medium all that well. Without a strong narrative plot focus (i.e. save the princess or defeat the evil villain) it's hard to justify the extra time spent clicking options and parsing dialog trees to get to the same point that a short paragraph of exposition would.

Apocalypse Now by Coppola, Carmine and Francis Coppola (9/10)

Format: 
CD

Not so much a soundtrack as it is an abridged version of the movie that you can listen along with, the double CD Apocalypse Now focuses on narration and dialogue instead of music. Sure there's "Ride of the Valkyries" and that stupid (aren't they all) Doors song, but for the most part the atmospheric synth sounds are limited to background here and there. That's okay by me.

1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) by Eurythmics (9/10)

Format: 
CD

Although technically speaking this is a soundtrack, I don't think any of these songs made it into the film 1984. That's fine. The dance floor beats don't really fit the tone of a dark and cruel dystopian future. Nevertheless, I have always really liked this CD (with the exception of the overly long "Julia"). Along with the attempts at police-state pop music, there is a nice mix of instrumentals where Lennox's voice is just there for atmospheric effect.

Martial Arts of Shaolin (8/10)

The final movie in the Dragon Dynasty Volume 1 DVD pack is probably the best of this set. The film banks heavily on the skill of its star: a very young Jet Li. Li is just so much more dynamic and skilled than most of the other martial artists in these older films. However, his skill might be a cinematic trick. It feels like they may have sped the film up for the fight sequences. In any event, this is another mostly comedic story that relies on over the top acting. Despite this, the story and character development work.

The Plainsman (2/10)

Gary Cooper stars in this black and white western about Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill Hickok. It's a very boring movie and much of the main dialogue consists of the two leads calling each other "Bill" every few seconds. There are tons of politically incorrect depictions of native Americans and hero characters defending "the white man."

Mad Monkey Kung Fu (7/10)

Mad Monkey Kung Fu is all about the acrobatic fight choreography and feel a lot like a Nineties Jackie Chan film minus the crazy stunts. There is even a bit of drunken fighting. It's a colorful film and plays as a comedy for the most part (if you can forget that the hero's wife is being held as a slave girl by the villain the entire film).

Executioners from Shaolin (7/10)

A Shaolin monk on the run vows to avenge the death of a friend and, over the course of many years, he gets married, has a girlish son, and attempts his revenge twice. Unfortunately, his white-haired nemesis Pai Mei is also a master of the tiger style and the task of vengeance falls on the aforementioned girlish son. There is a lot of humor mixed in and the husband/wife dynamics are far more interesting than the kung-fu plot. It's a fun movie but may be a bit to simplistic for my tastes.

King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow on Ms-DOS (6/10)

King's Quest VI - Pawn Shoppe

While this game was a pretty big improvement over KQV, it still was just too mired in Sierra adventure game brutality for me to really enjoy. There has been some attempt to make the puzzles a bit more forgiving here, including allowing for the player to take multiple paths to victory. I did alright through about the first third of the game then it just gets nasty.

At Home With Satan's Pilgrims by Satan's Pilgrims (7/10)

Format: 
CD

Competent and straightforward surf music from this Portland group. This record isn't the most exciting stuff this band has done but it has its moments. Unfortunately, most of the moments are the covers of "Mr. Moto" and "Squad Car."

Big City After Dark: Missing Links Volume 2 by Wray, Link (9/10)

Format: 
CD

Discogs.com has been nagging me for months that this was available for cheap from a number of resellers and completing my collection of Missing Links was just five dollars away. I got it and it is exactly what I expected: another great collection of (mostly) fuzz guitar instrumentals from the master.

Magrunner: Dark Pulse on PC (6/10)

Magrunner: Dark Pulse

This was a freebie from GOG.com that I went into knowing nothing about it. The first thing anyone who plays the game will think when they begin is, "Wow, this is a complete Portal rip-off." Then you get about halfway through an you'll think, "Wow, this really is a complete Portal rip-off!"

Five Shaolin Masters (4/10)

I just bought another Shaw Brothers box set and am watching the films in chronological order. This one has a few familiar faces from Blood Brothers. However, I was quite bored by the movie. The plot is way too simple. For example, within the first moments of the film the main characters discover there is a traitor in their midst. In the next scene they reveal the traitor as he collaborates with the baddies. Not even an attempt at suspense. The rest of the film revolves around recruiting allies with hand-gestures and tea cup orientation.

Replaying Nox, Again

I have never bothered to create a top-ten list of my all-time favorite video games. Maybe I should since it seems the only way to get people to read your Web site is to organize everything into numbered lists. In any event, were I ever to compile such a list Nox would be somewhere in the top five for me.

After a recent upgrade to Windows 10 (excellent by the way), I was going through and making sure all my treasured old programs still worked. In the process I booted up my GOG.com version of Nox and noticed it had some issues. After much searching and fruitless forum posting I finally found a workaround. In case you are wondering, you need to install a game mod called "Nox SDL." You can download the patch here. Once I got the game running, it wasn't long before I was sucked back in to my fourth play through of the game.

This game is so great. I don't know about you, but I immediately realized that when I could play with my character stripped down to his briefs:

Nox in Underwear Mode!

Beating the game would be difficult, but you could play the entire game running around like a crazed streaker if you so chose.

Come Drink with Me (9/10)

Come Drink with Me is heralded as the film that defined the kung-fu genre in the early sixties. I am unfamiliar with martial arts movies that where popular before it, so I can't vouch for its originality, but I can say that, although it is less kinetic than most of the kung-fu movies I've seen, it feels fresh and exciting. This is mostly due to its well-defined and interesting characters and a pacing that builds from one fight to the next.

OlliOlli on PC (9/10)

OlliOlli

One of my favorite games of the coin-op era was Atari's 720°. It had a simple, but unique control scheme that's pretty much impossible to replicate through emulation. You would basically jump then spin a knob (dressed up like a joystick), and the more times you spun the dial, the more points you got. As abstract as it was, this felt like skateboarding.

OlliOlli is the only skateboarding game that I have played that comes close to matching the rhythm and feel of 720°.

Pages