Saturday, 24 July 2010


Part 1: The Relic
Year: 1997
Director: Peter Hyams
Starring: Tom Sizemore, Penelope Ann Miller, Linda Hunt
Based on the book "Relic" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The Plot: an anthropologist in South America is poisoned by a mysterious tribe. Six weeks later, two odd crates turn up in a Chicago museum along with an empty cargo ship at the docks. When a security guard is brutally murdered shortly afterwards, the police shut down the museum before (in classic Jaws style) the mayor "persuades" them to re-open it so a large exhibition can go ahead. Bad decision, as a huge monster, the Kothoga, goes on a brain-eating frenzy.

The Actors: Tom Sizemore is his usual gruff, moody self, as the cop strutting around and mumbling about his estranged wife getting custody of their pooch. Linda Hunt is as reliable as ever (although wasted) and Penelope Ann Miller is fine in the brainbox good girl role. Everyone else melds into the background as potential Kothoga-fodder.

The Monster: not the late Stan Winston's finest hour, let's be honest. It's size is impressive, and it's a quick mother with razor sharp teeth, ideal for ripping off heads and extracting the desired part of the brain. The monster is kept firmly under wraps until the last third of the film when perhaps it would have been better to only show fleeting glimpses as the special effects, even for 1997, are not the best.

The Film: Despite some ludicrous plot twists (there just HAPPENS to be a mad axe killer living in the basement ALONG with the monster who gets framed for it's murders - yeah, right), The Relic is an enjoyable movie for lovers of this genre. It explores some mildy innovative theories, but you can't help feeling the book it's based on is far superior. The tension builds up nicely, but overall the film feels rushed, with some abrupt editing and a terse, unsatisfactory ending. Ultimately, however, it's worth a look for some classic Sizemore and the perky Ann Miller.

Monster! Monster! Factor: six out of ten

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Best 5 Megadrive Shooters*

I don't think my friend Retro King Simon quite knew what he was letting himself into when he listed - in his opinion - the best 5 shooters on Sega's finest, the Megadrive. There are so many classics shmups for this 16-bit wonder that any list is bound to tweak the nipples of controversy before cheekily pinching the bum of Thunderforce 3.

So, with little fear in my heart, but trepidation building by the second, here's my top 5 megadrive shooters!

Admittedly I have fond memories mainly because this game was bundled with my first Mega Drive, but having played it again recently can confirm it is a playable, addictive and original little shooter with good (if slightly twee) graphics and some top music. It's a good all-rounder: it doesn't do anything magnificently well, but it's a solid game with some nifty (if unoriginal) power-ups and a nicely balanced difficulty curve.

4.Twin Cobra
An amalgamation of several other games, notably 1942 and Fire Shark, this conversion of the vertically-scrolling arcade parent is nonetheless an excellent title. With the slightly horizontal scrolling landscape adding an extra dimension, Twin Cobra set the bar one higher for all vertically scrolling shmups on the MD.

3.Bio-Hazard Battle
Winning star points for simply boasting a superb variation of enemies, BHB is a horizontally-scrolling shooter of effortless class. The Megadrive has rarely been put through it's paces more as it chucks tentacled alien after alien at your poor spaceship.

2.Jungle Strike
Of course it's a shoot 'em up! That's the main basis of the game isn't it? Shoot, shoot, shoot then shoot some more! OK, there's an element of "rescue the general" in it, but that's only a brief diversion in this game. Just because it's open-ended and free-roaming is no reason why it shouldn't be included in a list of shoot 'em ups. So there.

Shooting is shooting. Ranger-X may be classed as a platform shooter, but it's still a shooter in my book. Utilising a twin vehicle (a bike and flying, um, robot thing) offers the variation, the exquisite graphics and sound the icing on the cake. It's Japanese roots are clear with intense gameplay and some outstanding bosses; at the end of the day, Ranger X is quality through and through.

You can view Simon's choices here:

Let's be honest, they're all great games!

*in my opinion