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Guild Wars to many is considered the poor mans World of Warcraft as there are no monthly fees attached and it is a smaller game in many respects. The game combines the action RPG genre with co-operative and competitive gaming.
Guild Wars Factions can both be used as a standalone game or an expansion to the main Guild Wars game. It takes all of gameplay and features the first game presented and throws it into a vibrant and bleak Oriental kingdom, mixing various folklore and eastern culture to create a hellish and yet beautiful landscape for the player to explore. The game expands on the ability to pursue a solo game as well as the co-operative and competitive aspects.
The expansion is best suited for those already familiar to the game as it is a degree harder than the original and also slightly more complex.
The game takes us to the Kingdom of Cantha, which is made up of jewelled frozen seas, Gothic forests, beautiful temples and diseased, overcrowded shanty towns. You have the option of starting out as a Role-playing character in this land or you can skip all of this and go straight for the player versus player combat. Personally I find the RPG side of things far more interesting and rewarding to the somewhat flawed PVP system.
Factions builds upon the already existing original game, adding surther skill sets, equipment and throws two more classes into the mix, the Ritualist and the Assassin. These new character types are as balanced as the older ones each with their strengths and weaknesses. If you start off on a RPG campaign you will be taken through the rather expansive story mission that is split in two separate paths allowing for a lot of replay value. Once completed like the standard Guild Wars there is also then a veteran mode, which presents a much harder challenge. To complete all of this will takes days off of your life literally, in total I think I pumped a good six or seven days into it all as my main character whilst on break from uni.
The solo game is easier and more fun when playing with friends, however it can be played all the way through with Henchman, which are computer controlled companions that are designed to help you on your quest. Due to the fact that your character never dies and suffers a minus to their stats when killed it is possible to slave through every level of the game solo if you are skilled enough. However if your whole team is wiped out down to a -%60 you are spawned back to the nearest town.
If you do own the original guild wars the two games are very much interconnected and one allows you to visit the other via a port halfway through the game. Through this port you can also visit the Nightfall expansion where you can recruit customisable NPC's which are very resourceful.
Where the first game is set in Tyria a medieval landscape and Nightfall an African inspired series of Islands, Cantha is very Oriental in its style. Like both of the other sections of the game it mixes beauty with the bleakness of struggle and war against evil races. The characters in Factions are all distinctly Asian in both their style, surroundings and physical appearance, making for a nice mix of cultures if you have all of the games.
In the middle of all of the Islands lies the Battle Isles which is where all the PVP comabt is carried out, no matter what game you have you can play within these arenas against other people, fighting for honour, faction and prizes that are all used to improve your characters.
Like the main game you must always be connected to the internet whilst playing there is no offline play. The advantage of this is everything is backed up continuously, meaning that if your computer explodes all of your data and characters will be safe. The disadvantage is that you cannot play if your internet connection dies or is unreliable.
The RPG aspect of the game while still strong is much shorter than that of the first instalment. You can reach the maximum level of twenty within a handful of hours and the tutorials are less clear than that of the first game. It is quick to throw you into the bleak story and throw you into combat with the aberrations that are the mutated forms of Cantha's population infected with a magical plague. Imagine mutated demonic zombies that burst into clouds of disease when killed and you pretty much have it spot on.
During the game you will be faced with a choice of siding with the Luxons, pirates of the frozen wastes or the Gothic Kurziks of the Fossilized forests. Siding as one will mean fighting the other, both in the story's campaign and in PVP combat. There are unique items skills and armour to be had playing as each side, meaning that to get everything you must play as both.
The story is a bit more vague than that of Tyria's story, with less cutscenes and poorer voice acting. The campaign holds less interest than that of the first however you do gain levels quick which allows you to search the continent for more impressive Elite skills, weapons and armour. This makes the games campaign less important really than the free roam of the continent, as there are so many parts of the map that you never required to set foot in. This makes exploring the continent far more interesting than it at first may seem, trying to hunt down the Elite bosses and elusive skills is where most of my fun in the game came from and where most of my hours were spent.
Despite my love of the game I would say that it is mainly for those that already are familiar with Guild Wars and those that wish to expand on their existing character. Newer players are likely to be put off of the game as the story does feel a little rushed and the learning phase is shorted heavily compared to the first game.
I have been on DooYoo for a good while now and have never participated in any Lounge activites, this one seemed popular so I thought I would give it a shot.
1. What is the wallpaper on your computer screen? Why did you choose it?
Mine is a photograph of some little LED pumpkin lights that my fiancé took last Halloween, I think it is one of the best photos she has taken, so to prove that I keep it there.
2. Mexican food, Chinese food, Italian food, French food or American food?
I cannot have dairy or large levels of Garlic so Indian is a miss. I like Mexican, French and Italian but Chinese food I am horribly addicted to.
3. Do you have any tattoos and piercings?
No I do not although I have always considered getting a tattoo at some point.
4. Do you have any siblings?
Yes I have one younger sister
5. Have you ever broken a bone?
Thankfully not but I did chip a bone on the underside of my knuckle slipping in a public toilet.
6. Do you believe in superstitious things such as breaking mirrors?
When I was a kid but I grew out of it.
7. Do you like those 'end of the world' movies?
It depends, if it is good then yes but sadly the majority are pretty crud.
8. Do you eat more fruits or vegetables? What's your favourite fruit and veggie?
That is a tough one I do most of the cooking at home and always use a lot of veg but then I always eat fruit at work. I guess it would be veg.
9. Who were you most likely to play during school nativities?
I was in the choir when I was younger so I was always in the back, usually an angel or a peasant.
10. What's your opinion of the dentist?
I always used to look forward to the dentists until my mid teens (I have no idea why, I just did) but then I had a stand in oriental woman, that made my mouth bleed and yelled at me calling me a lair, when I told her that I flossed my teeth. She was sacked afterwards but I haven't been the same since.
11. Have you ever had a speech impediment?
No although I suffer from slurring when tired.
12. If you had to choose, what is the worst movie you've ever seen?
House of the Dead or Epic Movie, both were seen in our bad movie nights at uni.
13. Do you like meeting new people?
Yes, I am a confident speaker and I like meeting new faces and finding common ground.
14. If you could, which celebrity would you date?
I have always had a thing for Naomi Watts but then that was when I was a teen, there is quite an age gap. Not sure if I could sit in a date with someone double my age, but if I could time travel back 20 years then sure, why not?
15. Who would you take with you on a deserted island?
My fiancé as I think she is the only person I could stand being alone with 24/7
16. Do you know how wide your hips are in exact inches?
No can't say I do.
17. What would you say is the worst part of high school?
The idiots and the quality of my teaching on a whole.
18. How old will you be on your Mother's 68th birthday? Is that 'old' to you?
52 we shall be pensioners together.
19. Ever through you were dying or something you were not even close to having?
Once i thought I was going to die in a restaurant, turns out I was allergic to garlic and the food had tonnes of it in. I couldn't breath properly and I had massive chest pains for about five hours, I got home passed out and woke up still feeling crappy.
However I didn't figure it all out until a year or so later.
20. Have you ever wanted to be a doctor?
No I couldn't have other peoples lives in my hands
21. If you were dying who would you say goodbye to first?
My parents and sister
22. Do you like to babysit children?
Well I work in a school so I kind of do it everyday, but babysitting a friends kids is different. Yes and no it depends on the day and the kids.
23. Do you often forget where you put things?
Every bloody day :(
24. Do you go on a lot of holidays?
No not at all, I went on my first holiday in four years this year, it would be nice to go more, but I lack the money.
25. Have you ever met someone with the same 'biggest fear' as you?
Yeah heights is a pretty common fear and I have met a few people afraid of dogs.
26. Would you rather write with a pen or pencil? Why?
Pencil because it can be rubbed out.
25. What is your favourite number and why?
8, because my favourite number changed every year I got older until at 8 my mum said it can't always be the same as your age. So it was settled, from that day onward it was 8.
26. Are you afraid of being kidnapped when you go outside at night time?
No, mugged possibly
27. Where was the best school trip you ever went on?
To see the play Journeys End when I was in secondary school, it was great fun and a good play.
28. Are you a controversial person?
No not really, I generally keep my opinions to myself about topical matters I don't see the point in trying to sway or convert peoples beliefs, let them believe what they want.
29. What would you say your average word per minute count is on a keyboard?
Pretty crap I am a very average typist
30. What was your favourite and least favourite subject in school?
Favourite was history and my least favourite was Science
31. Do you bite your finger nails?
Yeah if they are long and I haven't got clippers nearby
32. When is the next time you'll go to the library?
When i take the kids there on a school trip, I have my own library at home.
33. Do you like fiction or non-fiction books more?
Fiction because it allows me to immerse myself somewhere else.
34. Do you treat other's as you'd like to be treated?
Yes all the time.
35. What type of child were you?
I was very shy and weedy, then at about the age of 15 I started getting into personal fitness and suddenly became far more confident.
36. Are you someone who likes to get into arguments and fights a lot?
No I generally only get involved if it is to defend someone else.
37. Do you swear a lot?
More than I used to but still next to nothing
38. If you had to get a tattoo, what would it be of and where would you have it?
Somthing to mark a big event, probably on my shoulder, it would be personal and self designed.
39. What's your favourite TV show?
Dexter I think.
40. Does personality weigh out the sense of 'good looks'?
In friendship: Yes very much so
In relationships: not 100% I think there always has to be some kind of physical attraction.
41. What is your favourite thing in your bedroom?
42. If you could change 1 thing about you, what would it be?
My stomach so I could eat all the foods that I cannot.
43. Do you have any regrets? If so, what are they?
A few but then what is the point really, you can't change the past.
44. What colour hair do you have?
Brown with flecks of grey coming through
45. What colour eyes do you have?
It varies brown, to hazel to green. I don't know why they change but they do, as do my mothers and sisters.
46. Favourite Sound?
The sea sloshing about
47. Favourite Quote?
"Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone." from Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
When I first discovered iSlash I got pretty excited, as I soon realised it had the same principles as the arcade game Qix that I loved playing as a child. In Qix and iSlash the aim is to cut the surface area into smaller and smaller pieces without drawing a line through any of the objects bouncing around inside.
The innovation with iSlash is of course the touch screen aspect. The lines are now slashes drawn with your finger, therefore making it have a feudal Japanese style theme, because clearly Japanese Ninjas would be the only people capable of slashing such items. It does work with the game but I personally feel it is a cheap move, the go to themes are either Ninjas or Zombies and both have been done to death. Still it is only a theme and it is pretty slight as the objects could be anything and it would play the same.
The slicing much like in Fruit Ninja, makes you feel like you are in total control, the slashing is fluid and easy to manipulate. Against the wooden backdrop of the level the game looks superb and brings something actually very basic to a whole new level. It allows for you to become immersed into the environment. However this immersion is necessary in order for you to concentrate enough to slice through the wood avoiding the throwing stars, whilst at the same time keeping them all contained within the same area.
The game takes both the players maximum level of patience and speed in order to complete all 80+ levels. New content and star types have also been released in an update and more will follow in good time I am sure. While having so many levels at your disposal is nice, the game does not let you skip a level if it is too frustrating. This aspect did make me stop playing the game for a while as a few of the levels are very tricky. However the reward for progressing is not only the level unlocks and the achievements but as your progress, new power-ups are unlocked. Later on you can slow down time, remove hazardous stars and invoke a few other powers. The trouble with the power ups are that they require you to make a large slash and it is unclear on whether you will get them or not.
iSlash is a great reflex puzzle game, however if you were expecting a game in the lines of Fruit Ninja you are likely to be highly disappointed. Whilst it is simple in concept the vast amount of levels will keep you occupied for a long time and while it is frustrating it is well worth the investment, at the equivalent of 99 cents you cannot go wrong here.
This review also features on my blog here: http://appkingdom.blogspot.com/
A Link to the past was not only my introduction to the Zelda series of games but it was also an amazing game, easily one of the best SNES games of the decade and some people say the best Zelda title of all time. While you may not agree with the last statement there is no denying that A Link to the Past was a great title of its day.
A link to the past pays homage to the original Zelda whilst blending elements from the Adventure of Link. The whole game is designed in a forced top down perspective. After the start of the game is over you are free to explore Hyrule, unlocking new items as you go, which allow you to access different areas of the vast world map. This world is laid out in a way which allows Link to venture into every area yet stops the player entering a lot of them, revealing some access to add temptation and increase curiosity.
However this is not to say that exploration is not rewarded, many of the games items come from hidden areas and not all are essential to completing the game, however all will improve your abilities and aid you in your battle against evil. However once you have all the items and you progress further within the game, you have access to not only thew whole world map but a dark reflection of it as well, known as the dark world.
This world is not just a cheap reflection of the first one but an involved and twisted brutal version of the first. this idea later formed the basis of the dark world in Ocarina of Time, which is essentially the same plot line as A Link to the Past.
The SNES allowed for there to be many more dimensions to gameplay and A Link to the Past was, therefore a bit more involved than its predecessors. The game allowed players to access different equipment from the sub-menu, most of which had different abilities. Some of the classic Zelda items returned, such as the bomb, boomerang and the bow and arrow, while others were introduced such as the magical flame rod, the Magic cape and Bottles for holding potions, catching insects and faeries.
Link is no longer just restricted to a standard cut with his sword either. The game introduced dash attacks, a spin as well as a unique attack which fires swirling blades of air from it when you are on full health.
The system upgrade allowed for vast and complex multilevel dungeons to be created. The improvement in graphics and memory alone allowed for many more on screen sprites, meaning more enemies and better special environmental effects in cut scenes and boss fights. These dungeons are where the game really shines, they are superbly designed and very intricate. All of them are challenging from the first to the last and there are plenty of them throughout the game, getting gradually more devious as the adventure progresses.
Unlike the previous games you have to think to solve these dungeons. They are no longer about slide puzzles and killing but about switches, trickery and hitting enemies strategic weak points. Those who can surpass all of this are rewarded with boss fights. The bosses are generally at least ten times larger than Link and very deadly. Like all Zelda games to date, the boss battles are always unique and impressive, A Link to the past is no different. Throughout the game you will fight epic creatures, ancient demons and evil magicians all of which present a real challenge and will test your patience.
The game controls the same as the original game but smoother. Link now can dash and use special items as well as swing his sword, all of which are easy to use and adapt to. Whilst simple and easy to handle there are still strategies to learning every single weapon, specifically the trustworthy bomb and the boomerang.
The audio in the Zelda series has always been very impressive but it was A Link to the Past which put most of the Zelda tunes we know today into place. The Dark World theme still reminds me of my first journey there, the amazement and horror of my eight year old self still resonates with me whenever I hear it. The tune of Hyrule Castle and The Great Fairy Fountain music have both been in a lot of other Zelda games too just to name a few. Most of these themes have now become hardcore fan favourites and most are recognisable to anyone that has played even one Zelda game. Each tune is distinct and uniquely Zelda, this is due to the composer Koji Kondo, world renowned for his work with Nintendo. His music touches the heart of gamers because it links in so perfectly with the atmosphere of the game, drawing you in and suspending disbelief.
The sound effects in the game also resonated with charm, while they are not all very realistic they are of their time. As far as sound effects went they were some of the greatest on the SNES. The bows hitting foes armour, the squeal of a rat in a dungeon and the explosion of a bomb were all good and satisfying. The muffled cries of enemies in conjunction with the music really added to the atmosphere creating a more intense experience, especially in the dungeon sections with no light.
As a Link to the Past was pretty much a first generation title its graphics are outstanding. The game designers and artists made sure to exploit the SNES' ability to render layers and scale objects. The overworld looks impressive and it moved along well, seeming very rounded and natural compared to its somewhat blocky predecessors
The overworld was bright and colourful whereas the dungeons as well as the Dark World later on were stark and bleak in contrast. Each dungeon having it's own theme, whether it be stone, sand, ice, darkness or water each added to the games massive scope, making the game feel like a whole world huge and all encompassing.
The animations and presence of so many NPC's and enemies was something new to the series as well. Each of these were rendered superbly well with a lot of cartoony character. Link as a bunny in the Dark world was as cute as he was ridiculous and the skeletal chickens were horrific while strangely sad. The animations of all the enemies, bosses, link and the NPCs are all fluid and impressive, still to this day and add to their individual character.
Graphically even compared to the 2D games of today, it still holds its own. While dated it does remain impressive and the sheer scope and size is hard to rival. It is clear to tell that a lot of love and effort went into making such a game world appear so strongly unique.
Even though I loved a Link to the Past I never thought I would go back and replay it after my initial few times as a child, yet only last year I found it in a drawer along with my SNES and gave it a play. Those that like a good 2D adventure will still get a kick out of this gem, but those of the new generation that like their games less than 15 hours in length, with little to no challenge will probably be highly frustrated here. Even now a lot of the puzzles make my brain hurt despite having done them multiple times.
What also separates this from modern day Zelda titles is that Link is also really weak, his hearts disappear like he is made out of paper and you will often find yourself teleported back to the start of a dungeon. For many dungeons it is a painful and lengthy process but then the reward for success is so much sweeter. the epic boss fight followed by further progression.
The game has a good amount of replay value for the story alone. There are still some things to locate around the map such as hidden items and heart containers but nothing too vast that will take up another huge chunk of time. A Link to the Past is driven by a long story and does not rely on cheap collectables to keep the game prolonged, like a lot of modern day games.
I fimly belive if you have not played A Link toi the past you cannot call yourself a proper Zelda fan as it is the mother of the Zelda we know today. Not just in theme but in both music and style as well, the dungeons influenced all of the newer games and most of the weapons feature in the modern Zeldas too. This is the grail of the Zelda series. A lot of fans grew around The Ocarina of Time yet it is basically a remake of this game, so while the 2D may put a lot of new breed gamers off, it is still a must play for any fan.
It is hard, frustrating but it sent the benchmark for every Zelda game to date in a very big way.
Hired gun is yet another sub-standard game that has been released by Triniti interactive on the iOS market. There have been multiple games released by the company involving the same stick characters, all have been fairly poor and Hired gun is sadly no exception.
You can tell that Hired gun is trying to adapt a comic book style, like the stark black and white art of Frank Miller's Sin City series. This is complimented by the music track and the seedy street view that you are searching for your target in.
The only spots of colour in the game are in your scope and the blood of your targets, which are both a vibrant red, everything else is back and white. The visuals of the game are not amazing but equally they are on par with most app games. The loading sounds and the sound of your gun firing are very much what you would expect and the soundtrack does its job.
Where this game fails is the control mechanism and the ludicrous time limit in which you have to kill all of your targets.
In the game you see a street with lots of people moving about within it, some in buildings others outside. In the corner you have a picture of what all of your targets look like. Every stickman has a hat by which you can identify them. There are nine targets that you must kill on your first level and all are wearing the same hat.
To do this task you only have a mere 60 seconds. While this may be possible if you were able to quickly snap to your targets you cannot. In order to line up a shot you must move your cursor slowly and lazily in line with your target, by which time they have moved on. At this point you are faced with a choice, wait and see if he comes back or try and find another target.
No matter your decision you will either lose to much time waiting around or have to come back and kill the guy anyway, hoping that he is back when you next visit.
If you do pass somehow you get to progress, however if you fail your score is based on how many targets you killed in what time. For every target you kill you gain seconds and time, for ever civilian you kill you lose both seconds and time. It is all very basic and if it was smoother it has the potential to be a fun little game.
If being a hit man is your thing, check out Contract Killer, which does this simulation more justice than Hired Gun, Contract Killer is also free, so you will be saving yourself time and disappointment. Removing the slow and frustrating game play and replacing it with achievements, leaderboards and level progression, as well as varied missions.
Even though Hired gun has style, no game can ever receive a good rating if it fails at actually being playable, let alone an enjoyable experience.
This review also features on my blog http://appkingdom.blogspot.com/
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest aslo known as Mystic Quest Legend to those of us in the UK, was a role playing game for the SNES. (Never actually released on the PlayStation, despite the DooYoo title, however it is on the virtual console for the Wii)
The game was a spin off of the Final Fantasy series of games made by Square. It was intended as a game for people not used to the RPG genre of games and therefore a simplified version of Final Fantasy. Those who are familiar to Final Fantasy will recognise the battle system which is shared with other RPGs to, even games like Pokemon, turn based combat allowing the player to use different abilities and level up.
As the first Final Fantasy to be released in Europe elements of the game would have been unfamiliar to a western audience, such as the blend of Action Adventure with Role Playing Game. It was the first RPG I played and it is what got me into RPGs and deeper gaming alike.
In the game you play as a hero called Benjamin (Although you can change his name) in his journey to save the world from demons, who have stolen the worlds elemental crystals. Along the way you meet other heroes with similar goals, such as Kaeli the Axe wielding forest girl, Tristam the roguish treasure hunter and many more. All of these heroes help you out through the duration of the story aiding you with their various abilities.
While the story is far from complex and a bit cliché it does its job. The games length is also satisfactory having a play time of on average 27 hours, however seasoned players have managed to complete the game in 10, which is still the average of most modern day games.
Graphically the game is superb, a fine example of cute forced perspective sprites with nicely rendered, detailed battle scenes. The game was developed with the same graphical style and gameplay as Final Fantasy Legend III. The game even takes a lot of the enemy sprites, terrain and weapon icons from Final Fantasy Legend III and upgraded them. As the game was never released in the UK or the US at the time, this was obviously a quick way of cutting down the game development time.
The audio in the game is what you would expect from a Final fantasy game, it is crisp and adequate for a game made in the early 90's. Plus the games soundtrack was released on Compact Disc in 1993.
Despite Mystic Quests attempts to pull in new RPG gamers it failed and also caused Square to lose it's Final Fantasy Fan base back in Japan. It caused a huge loss and the company did not recover until the release of Final Fantasy V.
Mystic Quest legend was the game that got me into RPGs, while it is a simplified Final Fantasy without as much customisation and tweaking it did what it said on the tin, it introduced me to the world of RPGs and got me hooked, spreading me onto other titles in the same genre.
While I have never really been a fan of Final Fantasy I did love Mystic Quest, it is not for everyone but it is certainly a game that deserved more attention back in its day.
This review also features on my blog here: http://retrokingdom.blogspot.com/
I have a variety of pen drives from my years at uni, college, school and various jobs, I just seem to always amass more and more.
I received my integral Courier 4GB drive on my first day back to work after my summer holiday, one was issued to all members of staff. To be honest my day very rarely even consists of using a computer at work and for what I do use computers for (the odd word document) it does seem awfully excessive.
Still this is the largest pen drive I have owned and while it may not be the most useful for my work it is certainly reliable and useful at home. Not that I did buy this flash drive but I had a much smaller Integral Flash Drive that i used for my last few years at school, it was far more reliable than other less recognised cheap brands and it served me well. This integral Drive lives up to my expectations.
It had a nice translucent blue hard plastic exterior, with a loop at the top to presumably tie it to you keys or something. The trouble with tying this to anything is that once the cap has been taken on and off a few times it does get loose, causing it to slide off. When it gets to this stage tying the cap to anything is rather pointless as the stick will not actually stay connected to the cap and you will be likely to lose it.
While aesthetically this may not be as pleasing as some flash drives it is not offensive to the eye either. It does the job for what it is intended. The plastic that it is made from is not exactly of the highest quality but it does not seem to chip or crack.
The stick itself is slightly larger than the old one I own and most of my other pen drives but then memory wise it is the largest, so this makes sense. However this size difference is barley noticeable unless you hold one up against the other. The important thing is that it is comfortable to hold and does not look silly sticking out of the side of your computer.
It is now £5.45 from Amazon which is rather cheap considering the 4GB size, which seems unbelievable as I paid £7 for a 2GB drive only seven months ago. For the price this Flash Drive does remarkably well and can store an adequate enough. Considering that it used to be almost thirty pounds a few years ago to get a drive of this size, the drop is remarkable or the advancement of technology, maybe both.
The flash drive should work on entry to your computer unless you are running a very old version of windows. It is compatible with both Apple Macs and PC's as it works in my macbook as well as my PC. It's connection time is not overly fast and it is not amazingly fast in transferring files.
All in all the Flash Drive is not amazing in any area but it is reliable and it does the job. So far I have had no issues or memory loss with this Drive and I can vouch for Integral in the past. They seem to be a reliable and cheap manufacturing company.
Memory cards develop so fast, back when I got my sandisk SD memory card it was brilliant. On my little 4MP camera I could get near 1000 photos. However with the progression of technology I can now only get around 300 to fit on it with my more deluxe camera. Still ample for a day out but if I was going abroad or on a long holiday it would not be so sufficent. While it may be a vast improvement from the cameras of old this just is not adequate enough for someone who loves taking pictures or those that do not have regular access to a computer.
If you have a passion for video recording, this SD card is also probably to small for you, as videos take up a lot more space than your standard photographs.
Back when I purchased mine it was around £8, now for one pound more you can get one that is 8GB of the same brand.
As with most SD cards they are fairly easy and straight forward to use. While it is small and I always fear I am going to lose it, it is not as small as some brands of SD cards. At least if I am changing cards and I drop this one in the grass or somthing I will be able to quickly see it, unlike the micro SD cards that come with some compact cameras or newer phones. The deep blue colour also helps to distinguish it from what may be surrounding it.
The card itself just pops into your PC or camera with ease and unless you have a dated computer, it should instantly identify it and allow you to access it. Even after using my card for a few years it still has not got any signs of wear or tear. There is a little nick in the side where I dropped it in a car park once, but it survived with no interior damage.
I have been talking about the use in cameras a lot but they can also be used in a large variety of products nowadays. You can get electronic photo frames, in which you put your card and it does a slide show of all of your pictures. Mobile phones often use them and most smart phones for storing any information. The new 3DS and the Wii can also use them for transporting data and game saves between consoles.
Overall having an SD card, even one of this size is very preferable, it saves time and effort much like a pen drive but an SD card is more discreet, hidden within the technology itself and not jutting out of the side. On this SD card there is also a write protect feature that you do not get on most pen drives, that stops you accidentally deleting what is on the card, which can be a life saver at times, especially if you have filled the card and are just waiting to offload the pictures when you get home.
The only thing that I dislike about this product apart from its small size is the nail bitingly frustrating packaging that it comes in. It is completely encased within a plastic case that is impossible to open without scissors. Even when you have scissors in hand be careful because the scissors grip is likely to slide and the cut open packaging is razor sharp.
There are various brands of SD cards but Sandisk are without a doubt a reliable manufacture. If you are not happy with the size they come in many variations all the way up to 64GB, which is quite frankly a little obscene just for a camera card and can store more than my first desktop computer.
This Sandisk 1GB card is worth the purchase if you are starting out and at around £2 - £3 you really cannot complain, it does its job well and is extreemly robust and reliable.
I haven't reviewed food in quite some time but Tesco Wheat Biscuits were calling me as I have a bowl in front of me.
While I was at university I scrimped as much as I can on food shopping despite being a passionate cook. One of my largest regular savings had to be these Wheat Biscuits. Even though there is a large difference in price between the official Weetabix and these Tesco Wheat Biscuits, they taste exactly the same. The texture both when dry and in milk is identical to the official Weetabix, so much so you would not be able to tell the difference between the two.
Weetabix currently stands at £3.72 for 48, whereas Wheat Biscuits stands at £2.00 for the same amount which is just under half of the price of Weetabix.
I often have it with fresh banana or strawberries and it tastes just as good accompanied by these as your standard Weetabix. It is well worth the money and really unless your are sickenly loyal to your brands you would be foolish not to at least try out this alternate to Weetabix.
Cheap versatile and just as good as its counterpart, if you are a fan of Weetabix this is a sure fire money saver.
I kept seeing paper toss everywhere in the top app lists so I finally decided to get it and give it a go this week. It is a silly and addictive game that has taken the app marketplace by storm and still pops in and out of the top app lists.
Paper Toss is dead simple all you need to do is flick a crumpled ball of paper into the bin. While this may sound easy, each level has its own challenges. These challenges come in the bin's distance from the player and the bins size. On some levels you also have fans that blow your paper ball in different directions, affecting your accuracy.
While I really did not think a game like this would appeal to me, it has won me over. It does feel like you are in an office, as the games sound effects replicate the bustle of a busy office, complete with co-workers who just cannot wait to throw some abuse at your poor skills.
Sure the game may be simple in its design, but then that is the appeal of a lot of good iOS apps. It will entertain you briefly in a lunch break or on the bus. Paper Toss is highly addictive and complimented by it's nice 3D rendering. There are seven different stages that take place in different surroundings. Once you get bored of your office surroundings you can visit the bar, a toilet, a basement or an airport, all of which have their own surroundings and charm.
The beauty of this app is that it is free. With this version you have to put up with adverts but they are barely noticeable, however if this gets on your nerves you can purchase the full app for a mere 69p, which is well worth the price if you ask me.
Overall the app is addictive and fun but it could do with more levels or variations to increase it longevity. Still as it is it will keep you busy for probably much longer than you intended.
Super James Pond takes place straight after it's predecessor, James Pond. The game is a typical 90's platform romp, in which you play a fish that is a parody of James Bond. The villain from the first game Dr. Maybe, survives and not content on spoiling water any more, travels to Santa's Grotto and holds all of his workers hostage.
Many of Santa's helpers have fallen prey to Dr. Maybe's wicked experimentation and are now his evil minions. It is up to James Pond to free all of the hostages, get the toys back and most importantly save Santa.
Due to the greater risks involved with this case, James Pond has been given a robotic suit as well as the title of, "RoboCod" (As if the first pun was not bad enough) This suit then allows James Pond to stretch his midsection to reach new heights. This ability allows James Pond to move around the map in all directions, much like Ladd Spencer's Bionic arm in Bionic Commando.
The game was originally released in 1991 on the Amiga, DOS and Sega Megadrive in 1991, but then was later released on numerous platforms, most recently the DS and PS3 network. All of these ports retained the orginal game play and graphics.
Unlike most games of today, James Pond 2 hosted a large sum of fifty levels. Each section of the game boated new art for the backgrounds, enemies and a unique boss. There are items to collect and secrets to uncover along the way making the games experience very long indeed.
The most charming part about James Pond 2 and the biggest draw had to be the artwork. The graphics within the game were not only cute but very well detailed and animated, each little creature having its own personality and some of the giant bosses looking brilliant.
James Pond offers very little to the platforming gaming genre apart from his gimmicky ability to stretch upwards and grab things above him. Much like the classic Mario games, each level is about stomping on heads, amassing points and getting to the exit in one piece. Each level is fairly vast an expansive allowing often for some exploration and some fairly annoying puzzles from time to time.
Overall James Pond 2 is an visually athletic and vast platformer that does prove to be a challenge. The game is well designed but does, like all standard platformers get very tired and boring after a time.
The Super Nintendo was where my childhood gaming addiction started, before then I had access to other games platforms but none grabbed me as much as the SNES. I had many favourites back in the day but one that stands out strong is the original Super Mario Kart.
It seems common place now to have game characters star in other spin off games, such as sports or beat-em ups, however back then you would never have dreamed of it. So imagine you are a six year old boy who loves the Mario games and you suddenly are presented with a game where they are all placed in super fast go-karts, it is a kids dream come true.
This is not saying that the game is only appealing to kids. While it is presented in bright colours and all of its its protagonists are all cute characters, the game is highly addictive and presents some of the deepest game play and strategy that was offered on the SNES.
Mario Kart sold over eight million copies worldwide and held the title of Nintendos highest selling game on the SNES.
The game allows you to play one of eight characters from the Mario Brothers universe, each one possessing slightly different abilities. You can either race against the computer or go head to head with up to three friends via a split screen mode, racing or duking it out in a battle arena, where players fire various objects at each other.
Like most games of it's time, Super Mario Kart is a hard game to master. In order to pass the 150cc cup against the computer one must learn all the short cuts, techniques and player attributes. You have to learn how to powerslide and when to jump, the best time to use those red shells. After many hours of investment, you will find yourself skimming water and pulling off feats you thought were impossible, only to still be beaten by the computer.
The graphics in Super Mario Kart are by todays standards dated, however they are probably the best example of Mode-7 on the SNES. Despite all of the sprites on the screen and the frenetic action the graphics all stay nice and smooth, without flicking or clipping out. The racers are animated wonderfully and have a nice amount of expression, when dazed or victorious they pull rather amusing faces. But the main draw of the game graphically is the rich race tracks, their hazards and backgrounds. From the cactus like enemies, to the thomps and the amazing but harsh Rainbow Road, the graphics are simply superb and are some of the best the SNES had to offer.
Like all classic Nintendo games, Mario Karts sound was amazing and well thought out. The audio in conjunction with the various sound effects all make the games atmosphere complete. The background music is in part revamped versions of existing Nintendo music and part new creations, yet they are all distinctive and crisp in their own right. No matter how relaxing the track may be when the final lap begins the music speeds up, suddenly making the game far more intense. Whether it is the background music, the coin sound effects or hearing the triumphant cries of the characters you can hear the quality of the audio. So clear is the audio that it is always possible to distinguish one characters yell from another even if they are not on screen.
To most kids nowadays all of this will seem like old hat, yet it was Super Mario Kart was what layed down all of the foundations that modern novelty racers build upon. Others may see the features offered as mundane or boring, yet still to this day if you pick up a controller and give it a spin, it retains the same addiction and charm as it offered back then. There is a reason that this game sold eight million copies world wide and that is due to the games innovation and charm.
While there is no need to go out and get a copy as the newer versions of Mario Kart do the same thing, Super Mario Kart is an important piece of not only Nintendo's history, but of gaming history in general.
This review will also feature on my blog here: http://retrokingdom.blogspot.com/ in some form or another.
Zombies (originally known as Zombies at my neighbours, in the US), was released by LucasArts on the SNES and Sega Genesis, back in 1993. While the game received little to no attention on release it became a huge cult hit over time. Since then its fan base has grown considerably. Due to this new found fame it has been re-released on the Wii and finally received the attention it deserved all of those years ago.
Zombies is an co-op shooter, in which players can select to play as either Zeke or Julie. The game spans across shopping malls, haunted, castles, pyramids, deserts and more. In every level you must rescue civilians that are in peril from a huge host of evil, that threatens human existence.
While all of this may sound horrific, it is very tongue in cheek. Zombies is influenced by every B-Movie from the 50's to the late 80's, throwing in references to Childs Play, Friday the 13th, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and many more. It is clear to see from the games level design and artwork, that a lot of love and care went into making it. With 48 stages including seven bonus levels the game will keep you occupied for a long time.
Every level in the game has at most ten civilians which need to be saved in order to end the level, however if you do not catch them in time, that number is reduced by the amount that are killed. If this total hits zero, you fail the game and must start over or use a password that you unlock as you progress, however in doing this you lose all of the weapons and items that you had at that point in time. Only the level number, life count and number of civilians remains.
As a child I was never able to complete the game. This was due to a mixture of the games difficulty and intensity. After a while all of the soulless eyed babies, killer lumberjacks, bleak surroundings and haunting music woukd take its toll and I would have to turn it off. Now in adulthood I have completed the game a number of times, while it is still a far greater challenge than most games that are released presently, it is by no means as hard as some other titles.
For 1993 the graphics are very refined, there is plenty of character and detail in all of the sprites and backgrounds. the animations of all the enemies and civilians are superb, especially that of the elusive Dr. Tongue and his fly-headed son. As the game progresses these surroundings get bleaker and more remote, while the horrors within become larger and nastier.
The music and sound effects accompany the game well, blending horror with wacky and wild comedy. The ghoulish screaming of dying civilians in juxtaposition with the intense music never fails to make the heart sink a little, knowing that you are a step closer to inevitable faliure.
Zombies is a classic that I am pleased to see has not been forgotten, I have my copy and still dust it off from time to time. While it is not quite the same experience on the PC, (due to a lack of a controller) it is widely available and easy to find.
To any fan of retro gaming, if you have not played Zombies, aka Zombies ate my neighbours, you should as it is a classic that has stood the test of time. While there are games that handle in a similar fashion, there has not been a game like it since.
This review will also feature on my blog here: http://retrokingdom.blogspot.com/
When Tetris was first released as an App it was sold at a whopping $9.99 price mark, however due to competition and the cheap prices of most apps now days, it has dropped to 69p.
While Tetris is not the most creative thing that EA have ever brought out, they are well know for trying to make a quick wad of cash where ever they can. EA's Tetris lives up to this low standard. EA have not only released Tetris here, but filled it with a truckload of content, so much so that the game does occasionally lag out or crash.
The visuals within Tetris are very bright, much more vibrant than most Tertis games. Sometimes these colours create more of a distraction than a lasting appeal. The game offers a variety of different modes for players to play, yet they are redundant. The majority of people will just want to play the classic Tetris, that they know and love. Those that want to check out these other game modes will be highly disappointed, as they are thrown together with little thought or care.
While the touch screen controls are not as good as having actual buttons, it would be a good game if it were not for the large multitude of errors.
Due to EA being a mainstream company, one would expect a hallmark of quality here, and yet you can see far stronger games, made by independent games designers. All of the extra features are hindered by the games appalling execution, combine this with the long loading times and it makes the game almost unforgivable.
There are far greater puzzle games out there some of which are even free. Whether Tetris is a personal favourite or not, I would give this version a miss.
This review also features on my Blog: http://appkingdom.blogspot.com/
I swear by flash drives and the largest one I had before this was 2G. Whilst 2G is fine for images and files it can't handle more than a few presentations and videos, so I needed to upgrade. Sure you can use email or burn CD's but I tend to use a net-book laptop that lacks a CD drive and Email is not efficient in terms of its transfer rate. With a USB you can transfer files fast and it allows you to transport information to any computer with the greatest of ease.
When I saw that this USB was 8 Gig I could not believe my luck, especially at £7.99 as I spent around £9 on my 2 Gig stick a few years before. The stick is great value for money and 8 Gig is more than enough for most people, it will even hold a few films on it if necessary. The only people this may not be so useful are people that rely on a memory stick to hold everything they have ever done or as a complete back up of their computer. For such a task you will need to spend a bit more and get a larger USB stick or maybe even an external hard-drive.
The stick is dead easy to use as you just need to plug it into the USB port on your computer. Usually a window will pop up asking what you want to open the files with, select what you like and then you can start browsing. Alternatively you can click on my computer and then your external device (the USB) will be found within. Click on it to then gain access to your files.
The memory stick to look at is blue in colour and has a slick design, with a loop at either end. I guess these could be used for securing them to your keys or something so you don't lose the top or the stick itself. I generally keep mine in my pocket or in my wallet, allowing for easy access. One problem like with most USBs is losing the lid. Maybe if I did secure it to something I wouldn't lose it, however I blame myself for this not the USB. The lid is very secure and even once saved my USB from a sink full of water.
I was thankful that my USB had been saved but I would still not advise throwing your stick into water, with the lid on or off. Play's USB is very sturdy having fallen onto the ground on multiple occasions and still being okay apart from a few scrapes and dents in the plastic.
The Play.com 8GB USB Flash Drive is well worth the money you would pay for it and is a reliable piece of equipment, that can be used by all.