Bard’s Gold: Throw Down The Gauntlet (And Your Controller) In This Instant Classic

Bard's Gold Logo 

If you remember way back when games didn’t hold your hand at all or you’re a newer gamer who wants a game that’s going to test your skills while teaching you some patience, welcome to Pixel Lantern’s Bard’s Gold. Available NOW on Steam, this retro platformer is neither another “Metroidvania” retread nor some speed-runner’s dream frenzy of the week. The game is a deliberately slower-paced side-scroller with an extreme difficulty that the developer (or at least the PR guy working for them) claims it’s the “hardest game on Steam”.

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Now, I can’t say whether or not this is true, but that trailer below sure doesn’t make it look anything close to “casual” at all.

Anyway, color me sold on this one. A request for a Steam code has been made, so we’ll see how tough this one is. Given the comments I’ve scanned so far, I’m expecting to be needing a new controller at some point.

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3D Gunstar Heroes Out Now on Nintendo 3DS: “Blast Processing,” Indeed

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3D Gunstar Heroes logoFor those of you who’ve never played it, Gunstar Heroes is quite simply one of the best 16-bit games ever made, period. Japanese developer Treasure made itself a household name among gamers with this 1993 Sega Mega Drive/Genesis release that seemed to use every bit of processing power the console had and then some.

While the game has popped up in a few newer console ports over time, it seems that the 3DS just may have the “definitive” version thanks to Sega’s remaster team, M2. Here’s a fun extra credit read from the Sega Blog on how tricky it was to get the game up and running on the handheld in stereoscopic 3D. The plot is nuts if you try to make total sense of it, but you won’t be playing this for the story. It’s a total run ‘n gun with killer boss fights, a “board game” level that’s worth an entire game in itself under the right developer, and a great soundtrack that drives the action from beginning to end.

Anyway, if you have a 3DS, BUY THIS GAME. If you’re thinking about getting a 3DS, see that last sentence. Hopefully Sega has plans to get this on the Wii U as well as an HD version at some point as it’s a total no-brainer that this is a game that really benefits from a larger screen. We’ll see if that ever happens (it would be nice, Sega), but for now, this one’s a must-buy that still packs quite a few wallops.

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Forbidden Zone (Finally) Gets The Deluxe Home Video Treatment

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While I didn’t to catch Richard Elfman’s bizarre Forbidden Zone in theaters during its limited release in 1980, I finally saw the film around 1985 on a loaner VHS tape and it made for quite an outrageous experience. Taken out back and shot by many critics of the time, the film has since become a cult favorite and now, thanks to MVD Entertainment Group, it’s back. This time both DVD and Blu-Ray owners will get to snap up this crazed classic in a Special Edition format complete with some new Bonus Materials:

– Audio commentary with director Richard Elfman and writer-actor Matthew Bright
– “A Look into Forbidden Zone” featuring extensive behind the scenes documentary featuring interviews and archive footage, including scenes from Elfman’s lost film “The Hercules Family.”
– Outtakes and Deleted Scenes
– Original Theatrical Trailer
– Wild new video intro by Richard Elfman with teaser clip of upcoming Forbidden Zone 2.

Blu-Ray owners can also buy the film in an Ultimate Edition that adds the Danny Elfman/Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo soundtrack. I’m going to introduce a few people to this one and let the sparks fly. It’s certainly a film that’s both a product of its time and still packs a kick in the head or three from some of its more offbeat moments (as in the entire film). Check out the kind of NSFW trailer and expect to have your eyes pop out of your skull at some point.

But that’s just the film doing what it needs to do, folks. It worked back then and I’m betting it’ll still work today.

There Goes The Neighborhood: Death of The American

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There used to be five movie theaters within walking distance of my place, six if you wanted to hoof it along a nearby highway for a spell to hit a former drive in turned multiplex. Now there are a mere two movie theaters total in the entire Bronx area, which is a shame and a sham simultaneously. When it abruptly shut down last year, The American (which was originally a Loews theater before passing in to a few hands over the years) wasn’t exactly a grand theater. Well, at least it wasn’t for the last decade or two. But it was close by, cheaper than going into Manhattan and even if the movie you saw stunk, at least the audience could be somewhat entertaining and annoying as they tend to be when all one desires is to hear what’s on screen without any peanut gallery antics. Continue reading

Retro City Rampage REALLY Goes Retro: 486 – MS-DOS / Windows 3.1 Version Now Available


 

Vblank Entertainment’s head honcho Brian Provinciano is a truly mad genius in the best possible way. His single-minded obsession with his hilarious “retro” game Retro City Rampage has led to it being released on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS over a few short years. Now, he’s gone and reprogrammed the instant classic and has gotten the game onto a 3.5″ floppy disk for 486 computers along with a Windows 3.1 prototype as a free bonus. If you still have an old PC lying around with a floppy drive, you can (and should indeed) snap up one of the limited edition boxed versions (there were only 1000 total made) and prepare for a nostalgic trip down memory lane with a game that probably wouldn’t have existed back then and if it did, it would be hailed as a fine slice of comic genius or something like that.

Retro City Rampage 486
 

If you happen to own the more modern PC version of the game already and bought it from the developer directly, guess what? You should probably check your Steam account for a nice freebie surprise. Everyone else, run or click like the wind HERE and hope for the best. Like the PS4 and Vita retail editions, this will probably sell out ridiculously fast. Yes, the game will also run on DOSBOX if you have a newer PC. I almost forgot to mention this, so now you don’t need to hit up eBay looking for some aged system to run RCR 486 on.

Random Art: Lost Weekend Or Future Gold Mine? It’s Your Move, Hollywood

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A few years back I was sitting in a diner listening to some folks at a nearby table debating some recent Hollywood remakes that were terrible (what else is new?) because they were basically updated version of the original films with more modern jokes. One of the guys at that table made the point that it would be better to remake a film that kept the title for familiarity but yanked the concept into new territory. A light bulb went off in my nosy little head and later at home I whipped up a poster idea for an old film I hated, Weekend at Bernie’s, re-imagining it as a dead serious zombie film of some sort with some of the same cast just to mess with the minds of those who recall it as a comedy.

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For some reason, this idea keeps popping in and out of my head every few months or so. Recently, thanks to more remakes that don’t need to be made at all getting some funky not so fresh trailers (like this one. Seriously? WHY?) But I’m not about to suggest any budding to veteran screenwriter tackle this for real. Well, unless you’re willing to deal with those who somehow hold this stinker “sacred” lining up at your doorstep (or on some message boards) to take you to task for desecrating their nostalgic memories of this flick.

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Anyway, that first piece above is my latest revision of the idea, the one below that has a font I like better, the third is an old piece I just added some lettering to and this link goes to my horrible-looking original poster concept. I even worked up a plot outline at that time, but it didn’t have much of an ending. Or a middle for that matter. Hey, I just come up with ideas, ladies and germs. Someone toss me a sack of money and yeah, I’ll come up with the rest of that movie in a heartbeat. Inspiration comes from the strangest of places. Like a sudden sack of money, for example.

Book Review: Film Noir 101: The 101 Best Film Noir Posters from the 1940s-1950s

Film Noir 101 Fantagraphics
 

Thanks to a colorist probably following instructions to the letter about the use of the color red, Both Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall wear lipstick on the poster to The Big Sleep. The poster for White Heat almost looks like the one for the aforementioned film. Edward G. Robinson’s face is Hulk green in the poster for Scarlet Street. Richard Widmark doesn’t even appear on the poster to Kiss of Death, but in the one for Night and the City he looks as if he’s doing a “jazz hands, down!” pose. You miss these details when poking around online for some classic film posters, but in Fantagraphic’s beautiful Film Noir 101: The 101 Best Film Noir Posters from the 1940s-1950s, all you see is some amazing poster art for arguably some of the best film noirs of the era. Film Historian Mark Fertig has compiled quite a healthy list of films and their respective one-sheets here and the big 10.75″ x 14.25″ hardcover book will thrill film fans while possibly promoting a bit of discussion about some of the choices among others. Continue reading

BUY IT! Silver Scenes Sells Stellar Stills

"Let's see now. If I sell this dog and kid, I can buy ALLLL those movie stills!"

“Let’s see now… if I sell this dog and kid, maybe I can buy ALLLL those movie stills!”

(photo from Silver Scenes)
 

Want a piece (or a few pieces) of Hollywood history for a potential song? Even if you can’t carry a tune at all (and there’s no need to sing for your supper here), you can carry a wallet or purse and that means you can (and should) support classic film site Silver Scenes through their an awesome movie stills auction on ebay. The auction is off and running with a few bids already, so click on over to peruse the lovely selection of primarily black and white stills (only one is in color) and bid away at your leisure.

Prices start an an affordable $9.95 for each still and proceeds from the auction will go to the UCLA Film & Television Archive. So go do some charity work this weekend and add some beautiful black and white images to your collection. And hey, if you happen to strike it rich today in the lottery, make sure to spend some of Saturday’s Millions on tomorrow’s treasures!

LEGO Dimensions Gets A Doctor (Or 12) In The House


 

Remember that Doctor Who episode where he goes into the LEGO universe and everything is turned into plastic bricks? No? Well, either you’re not paying attention or you haven’t got your copy of LEGO Dimensions yet because you can’t time travel and haven’t already played the game. Silly you. Okay, for mere mortals who don’t have the ability to travel through time (or who don’t know a certain other Doc named Brown), the game is out September 27, 2015 for PS3/PS4,Xbox 360/Xbox One and Wii U, is developed by TT Games (who else?) and looks pretty darn awesome.


 

The cool thing is not only do you get the current Doctor to play around with, expect to be able to regenerate into the eleven other Doctors (whee!) during the game. That alone should get console owning fans of the show to snap up and step into LEGO Dimensions when it ships out. Oh, as for the new season of Doctor Who, BBC has released a nice and long teaser trailer that packs in a few surprises:


 

The modern era of “Toys to Life” category started by Activision’s Skylanders has gotten even huger over the years thanks to later competition from Disney with its Infinity line, Nintendo’s Amiibo figures and now LEGO stepping into the fray. LEGO has a wild edge as the “new” kid on the block thanks to the massive popularity of the blocks and instant appeal to all ages. TT Games is also key to their success thanks to years of making some incredibly FUN games nearly anyone can pick up, play and have a total blast with. Expect Dimensions to be another winner on a few fronts. Well, it looks as if I know how my Saturday nights will be spent for a few months.

Curses ‘N Chaos: Time For The Monster Mash, Retro Style!

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Until today I hadn’t heard of Montreal-based indie developer Tribute Games or Curses ‘N Chaos (headed to the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita soon). Thanks to my inbox poking me in the eye with the game’s latest trailer above (Ow.), I’m now all over this one like duck feathers on a duck. Here’s a synopsis for you now that I have you in my clutches:

SMASH MONSTERS, ESCAPE DEATH!

CURSED! When brawny bounty hunters Leo and Lea are cursed by Algarr the Wizard King, they’re swarmed by all manners of creatures and monsters! Alchemist Allison knows one way to get rid of the curse: The Elixir of Life! But the only way to get the Elixir’s ingredients? SMASH ALL THE MONSTERS!

Hey, look! I found another cool trailer (It followed me home, Ma! Can I keep it?):


 

As you can see from the those two nice slices of game footage, the game screams NOSTALGIA in big blocky neon letters and everything from the lovely and well animated pixel art to the sound effects just plain WORK. The game is an arcade style scrolling brawler with plenty of cute but deadly monsters to kill and what looks like some challenging boss fights. Players can expect some classic couch co-op action along with online play for those of you who want to hop on the internet and make a few new annoying friends you’ll never meet in real life. Or you can avoid getting an elbow to the head from that “friend” who likes to distract you when he or she pops over for a visit and any game you play turns into an actual fight for survival.

Anyway, some gamers are tired of these bit-crazy retro games, but those are more than likely gamers who think “good graphics” circa whatever will blow up their PC’s 3D cards make a game worth buying. Foo to that. Curses ‘N Chaos will probably make some of those folks bust a controller over their collective kneecap because it’ll be too tricky for them to complete. Or perhaps some small amount of respect should be given to indie developers like Tribute that make games that keep the flames from the past burning and unforgotten? That’s a big, fat “Yep” from me. More on this one in a bit.