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**Palacio de Cristal, Madrid**
During our four days in Madrid we visited countless monuments, museums and general tourist attractions. One of the museums we visited was the Palacio de Cristal.
When Palacio de Cristal was built in 1887 its design was based on The Crystal Palace which formerly stood in London until it was destroyed by fire. The Palacio de Cristal was originally home to Philippino Flora and Fauna art, I am unsure what this is but it was in my information leaflet which I picked up when we entered the museum, but it is now home to more contemporary art and has exhibits which change on a regular basis.
Palacio de Cristal is located within the main park in Madrid, Retrio Park. From the centre of Madrid it took us around 20 minutes to walk to the park and then around another 10 minutes to reach the museum within the park. This walk may have taken us a little longer as we were walking slower due to the heat of 42 degrees and taking in the beauty of the park as well.
**From The Outside**
The museum is located towards the back of the park if you are entering from the main gates. From the outside the Palacio de Cristal is very easy to recognise as it looks like a huge old fashioned green house with a beautifully designed roof. On the day we visited the museum it was very sunny and you could really see where the museum gets its name from as it was so sparkly in the sunshine that it really did look like crystals! Outside the museum there is a lovely lake which I am told is part owned by the museum and the park, with water fountains and fish, if you watch carefully you may see the fish jumping out of the water. The lake is also home to many ducks and a couple of black swans as well as many many terrapins who can be found sunbathing on the rocks around the edge of the pond. There is a decent fence around the lake to keep from falling in!
At the front of the building you will see some steps leading up to the entrance and to the left of these steps you will see a huge metal ramp which has been constructed for wheelchair and pushchair access and I would also imagine for ease of getting exhibits in and out of the building. While I see the usefulness of this ramp and fully agree with the need for it I think they could have done a little better with the design of it as compared to the Palacio de Cristal building it looks really out of place and like a metal monstrosity.
**Inside the Palacio de Cristal**
Palacio de Cristal is open from 10am until 6pm from October to March and from 10am until 10pm from April to September. If it is a rainy day then the Palacio de Cristal will be closed. Entrance to Palacio de Cristal is free and upon entry you will be handed a ticket which will then give you free entry, worth around 12 Euro, to the huge Renia Sofia art museum, this bonus is because the Palacio de Cristal is a part of the Renia Sofia museum.
Once inside the Palacio de Cristal I personally felt as if I really was inside a giant green house! This was probably due to the scorching heat outside and being inside a mainly glass building with no air conditioning. From the inside the building itself looks pretty similar to the outside with regards to architecture, it is mainly a combination of glass and traditional Spanish architecture.
At the time of our visit there was an exhibit taking place. The exhibit was very small as the Palacio de Cristal is literally one large room. There were about 6 displays included in the exhibit and they were all glass themed which fitted really well with the building itself.
The exhibits in the Palacio de Cristal do change from time to time but I will tell you a bit about a few of the exhibits we saw during our visit. As I mentioned there were around 6 exhibits and while they were all very good some were a little strange too. My first example of this is the exhibit which seemed to take up a large area of the floor space within the museum, this exhibit consisted of what seemed like hundreds of dark glass bottles standing in a large circle with an old black and white TV set standing on top of the bottles in the centre of the display, there were many wooden boards around the edge of the display although I'm not sure if these were part of it or just there as protection for the bottles. The TV had a fuzzy display and didn't appear to be showing anything in particular. Maybe I'm missing the point here but it all seemed a little strange to me!
The next exhibit which caught my attention was the other large display which seemed to take up quite a lot of floor space on the other side of the room. This display consisted of a selection of large glass panels with artwork on them to show the evolution of mankind. This was a very simple design but it looked good to see the evolution time line displayed in a more unusual way.
The other exhibit I feel is worth a mention is the hanging display of glass circles from the roof of the museum. The exhibit is located in the centre of the room and hangs low enough to see it clearly but far enough away to keep a certain curious mystery about it. The display is literally some black, white and clear glass circle shapes hanging from the ceiling, it looks and sounds very simple and it really is but in this building the effect of the light on this display is fantastic and almost mesmerising!
The other displays in the museum at the time we visited were along the same kind of lines as the three I have gone into detail about. Granted all of the exhibits in the Palacio de Cristal are a little on the unusual side but I think this is what makes them interesting.
Another notable thing about the inside of the Palacio de Cristal is the views of outside. Being located in a beautiful park makes the views from Palacio de Cristal absolutely stunning with lush green trees and the lake outside it really is a very picturesque place to visit.
Being one large open plan building the Palacio de Cristal doesn't have many facilities such as gift shops and cafes, it does however have some toilets which are located at the back of the museum down a few stairs, although after seeing the queue for the toilets we decided we could wait!
Overall I would recommend a visit to the Palacio de Cristal, I found it to be a little on the strange side but this made it all the more interesting. It was free to enter and you are given free entry to the Renia Sofia museum too which is one of the most popular art museums in Madrid, so I would say that it is worth a visit even if you only want the bonus free entry! We only spent around 15 to 20 minutes in Palacio de Cristal which was enough time to take in the exhibits and feel like we were cooking before heading outside in search of a shady area!
Overall, 4 out of 5 Stars from me :)
Thanks for reading :)
When we arrived in Madrid it was around 11pm on the night of my partners' birthday so to celebrate this event we decided to take a little walk from the hostel we were staying in and have a couple of drinks in one of the local pubs. As we walked up the road we saw a small, but rather busy looking area with a few bars and cafes and decided to take a look. After a quick walk around we decided on Malabar, the small bar on the corner of the square with a nice seating area outside.
Malabar is located within the square, Plaza del dos de Mayo and is in the corner of the square nearest the children's' playground. The Plaza is about a 10 minute walk from the Tribunal Metro station, a 5 minute walk from our hostel or around a 30 minute walk from the main city centre of Madrid.
***Birthday Beers! ***
The tables and chairs outside the pub were mainly silver metal ones which were quite small round with matching chairs. The chairs actually didn't look that comfortable however once we were seated I was pleasantly surprised at just how comfortable they actually are! Once we had chosen our table one of the waiters came over within a couple of minutes to take our drinks order, as there were no menu's on the table and the waiter gave us a blank look when we asked for one we decided to play it safe and simply order a beer each. We then sat back and enjoyed the lovely warm evening watching the activity and people letting their dogs run loose in this little square.
Less than five minutes later our waiter was back with our drinks. He served them to us along with a small plate of green olives, muttered something in Spanish and walked away. The beers were served in some rather nice slim glasses with the brand name "Mahou" on them. I have never heard of this name but I can honestly recommend this beer to you, it is really nice and not too gassy, the taste isn't overpowering and there is no horrible aftertaste, I'm quite picky about beer but I could drink this again and again!
While we were sitting enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and our lovely Mahou beers our waiter re-appeared with a menu and our bill! It seemed rather random of him to bring the menu after we had ordered but nevertheless he brought one anyway. I had a quick look at the menu but it was printed entirely in Spanish and as I only know a tiny bit of Spanish which doesn't really extend to food and drink I couldn't really work out what was on it. From what I could work out there was a mix of snacks on offer and the prices seemed pretty reasonable with nothing on the menu being more than four Euros.
Our bill for our two beers came to 5.50 Euros which we paid while we were still drinking and then sat finishing our drinks while watching the waiters beginning to put the tables and chairs away as they were due to close. Regardless of the fact that the waiters had started to clear up we didn't feel in anyway pressured into hurrying our drinks and the waiters kept themselves looking quite busy until we had finished at our own speed. As we left the table one of the waiters came over to take the empty glasses away and thanked us as we were walking away.
The overall atmosphere here, with 'here' being at Malabar and also within the square it is located in, was very relaxed and I found it very interesting to watch the people going about their business in the square. I presume most of them were locals as everyone seemed to know each other and there was a complete mix of people including a man with a guitar singing to a group of people, some young men having a friendly boxing match and quite a few Chinese people walking around with shopping bags containing cans of beer trying to sell them for 1 Euro each and they actually seemed to get quite a lot of customers!
As we were sitting outside and also because Malabar was closing at the time of our visit I didn't get chance to go inside to use the toilets as the waiters had stacked the tables and chairs just inside the entrance so we could not get through to use them. I did notice though that the inside of Malabar only had a few tables and chairs and inside the bar wasn't very exciting so we had made the right choice to sit outside and take in the atmosphere.
With regards to wheelchairs and pushchairs Malabar is fine if you want to sit outside as all of the seating area is at street level with no steps. If you want to go inside though you may struggle as it looked rather small and like it would be a bit cramped.
Overall I would recommend Malabar. If you are looking for relaxing drinks in a place where you can take in the lovely warm evening and local atmosphere then this is great. The waiters were a little strange but I think I would put this down to the language barrier more than anything.
4 out of 5 stars from me as we had a pleasant first evening in Madrid but one star is lost for blocking the way to the toilets before everyone had left.
Thanks for reading :)
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game is a game available for the Playstation 3 through the Playstation Network (PSN) and therefore can only be downloaded from the Playstation Store on you PS3 console. There is also an xbox 360 version of this game available too.
A just over a year ago Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game was available free to Playstation Plus members or at a price of £7.99 for non members, as I am a member I of course decided to take advantage of a freebie and download it.
**Download & Installation**
Downloading Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game is pretty easy, you simply need to take a visit to the Playstation Store on your console and select your purchase. Once purchased you will need to select "download" for the game to be installed on your system. Due to the fact that this installation process can usually take a while and you can't install it in the background while you do other things, I left mine downloading overnight so I am unsure exactly how long it took, but it was ready and waiting in the morning.
**Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game & Film**
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game is based on the Scott Pilgrim film. A quick over view of the film gives the base for the game so basically, in the film Scott is a geeky but loveable nerd who falls in love with Ramona, in order to be with Ramona Scott must fist defeat her evil ex's. Personally I have seen the film and quite enjoyed it, it was humours and kind of retro in a geeky but cool way so because of this I thought the game would be quite good too.
**Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game**
Once my game was installed and ready to play I was reasonably excited and prepared for a decent game. What I actually got was a retro game which does make me smile in parts but on the whole is generally very slow and extremely repetitive. So, let me explain...
The game has been made in classic 8-bit style with retro graphics, sound effects and music, for me this is fantastic and a bit of a trip down memory lane to the old school gaming days. Even the text in the game is written in a font resembling the games of my childhood.
Upon starting the game you will be greeted by the main menu screen and some classic style video game music, you will then be asked to select what difficulty you want to play and which character you wish to play as, there is a choice of four, Scott, his two best friends or Ramona. I have had a go with all the characters and I don't really see a noticeable difference between them so I usually just stick to Scott. Next you will be shown a map screen which kind of resembles the map screen from Super Mario Bros 3 (I think) here is where you can choose which area you want to play, more areas become unlocked the further you progress in the game.
Selecting area one will take you to a street scene where you simply have to walk along the street and fight various characters, as you fight you will receive coins every time you defeat someone. Fighting in the game is pretty easy as you simply have to press one button for punches and one for kicks, you can also do flying kicks by pressing jump first. These moves are pretty basic and seem to get you through most of the level. If you press and hold triangle for a couple of seconds you can pick up various items lying in the street to use as weapons, I soon found this a bit pointless as you only need to get hit once and Scott will drop the weapon leaving you surrounded and having to resort back to fists and feet to fight. Nine times out of ten though this is not too much of a problem as the bad guys are pretty easy to defeat the main problem I find with this game is how slow paced it is, Scott moves ridiculously slow to begin with and only gets a little faster as you level up, this is really frustrating as you end up walking slowly across the scene, fighting an enemy or two an then walking once again, maybe I'm missing something or my download is corrupted in someway, but I don't see a lot more to do in this game.
One of the features during the game is that Scott can enter certain shops and spend the coins he has gained on food to boost his health and keep him strong enough to fight. The shops are labelled well with a figure who looks just like Scott standing outside and with the speed the game moves at I would say it is almost impossible to miss these shops!
When you finally reach the end of an area you will meet one of Ramona's ex's who you will need to fight and defeat to progress further in the game. So far I have found Ramona's ex's to be a little more challenging than the street fights leading up to these parts but they are generally still quite easy and the movement is still very slow, maybe I'm just used to newer games now but I'm sure it never used to take just over 20 minutes to reach the boss of a side scrolling platform game, did it? So, once the evil ex is defeated you will have a few more coins to collect before being shown a message stating "Area Clear". You will then be given a summary of your points from the level and taken back to the map screen where you can begin the whole process again on the next level.
**Multiplayer & Online**
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game doesn't have any online options for playing but there is a multiplayer option. Personally I don't have a second controller and my partner isn't really into games so I can't comment on whether multiplayer is any better than single player.
The controls of the game are easy and mainly a case of a bit of button bashing and making sure you are facing the right direction. Scott is easy to move around using the left analogue stick, slow but still easy.
**Playstation Network Trophies**
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game is trophy compatible although there are only 12 trophies which can be won.
**Price and Availability**
As I mentioned earlier I got this game through the Playstation Network and it is a PSN game so you wont find it in the shops. When I downloaded it I got it for free through my Playstation Plus membership but it was priced at £7.99 for non-members.
Overall I do like the retro feel to this game and I do think that if they hadn't made it so slow then it wouldn't be so frustrating and would therefore be a pretty decent game, but they have and it isn't! The music and sound effects in the game are good for a trip down memory lane, the graphics are good, the scenes are quite bright with strong colours and the game itself is "playable" so I wont be deleting it from my system just yet but at the same time I am glad it was free as I wouldn't want to spend money on this one.
Only 3 out of 5 stars for this one and I will only recommend it if you can get it for free or very cheap!
Thanks for reading :)
**Moo Moo Steak & Burger Club, Krakow**
During the last year or so my partner and I have been trying to eat in as many different restaurants as possible here in Krakow. The restaurant I am reviewing on this occasion is Moo Moo Burger. At the time of this review we have visited Moo Moo burger on two separate occasions and I hope there will be many more to come.
Moo Moo Burger is "officially" known as "Moo Moo Steak & Burger Club" but I don't think I have ever heard anyone call it anything more than Moo Moo Burger so for the sake of this review I will be referring to the restaurant as Moo Moo Burger or Moo Moo.
So, Moo Moo Burger is, as it sounds, a restaurant which specialises in burgers and burger themed meals. We initially chose this place in particular as firstly the name made me laugh and secondly at the time we had planned to eat out we both fancied burgers, but something of a higher standard than Mc Donald's!
Moo Moo Burger is located in the centre of Krakow on a side street just off Florianska Street which the main street leading to the main market square. It is about a 10 minute walk from the central train station and shopping galleries. It is located on ul. Swietego Krzyza, number 15 and is about a 5 minute walk from the nearest tram stop. We found the restaurant quite easily as it is clearly signed with a Moo Moo Burger sign above the entrance and there are a couple of nice blue neon signs in the windows with "Moo Moo Steak & Burger Club" lit up.
Getting seated in Moo Moo burger is really easy. There is no greeting at the door, you simply walk in and choose a place which suits you best. The first visit we had to Moo Moo burger we chose to sit to the area on the left of the entrance, near the cooking area. This was a mistake as Moo Moo burger has the grill area where all of the cooking is done in an open area next to the bar. This is great from one point of view as you can watch your food being made, however we found the smell of the burgers being cooked was a little too overpowering for us and on the next occasion we chose to sit in the seating area to the right of the entrance.
All of the tables are spaced a decent distance apart from each other so there is plenty of elbow room and space to get up and put your coat on without bumping into people trying to eat. There is a variety of table sizes available, everything from your cosy couple through to your large groups.
Once we were seated the waitress brought us printed menus. The menu's were written in both Polish and English so I had no problems understanding what was on offer.
The menu in Moo Moo consists mainly of burger dishes, with the option to order chips or potato wedges on the side if you wish. On our first visit to Moo Moo we ordered wedges to share, however when we discovered the size of the burgers we realised that this was a bad idea as the burgers are enough to fill you up.
Now then, lets talk about the burgers! Moo Moo burgers seem to come in one size only... Huge! And, there are a variety of different burgers available including your more traditional beef burgers, cheese burgers, chicken burgers and veggie burgers right though to burgers topped with goats cheese, cranberry sauce or even a breakfast burger! There is a small section of the menu which offers steak too, however as I had come here for a burger I didn't really pay that much attention to the steak part of the menu.
At the back of the menu you will find the usual selection of drinks including beers, wines and a few cocktails as well as soft drinks and tea or coffee.
I can't remember the prices of everything exactly, but I do know they were reasonable, if they hadn't been then we certainly wouldn't have returned a second time!
**My MooMoo BaaBaa Burger!**
After browsing the menu and myself feel even more hungry, I finally decided on what I have now named the "MooMoo BaaBaa Burger". This burger consists of a 100% beef burger topped with sheep cheese, bacon and cranberry sauce and a load of salad on top, all served nicely in a slightly toasted burger bun. My partner ordered a cheese and bacon burger with chilli sauce. For drinks my partner chose a large beer and I went for a nice cool glass of Fanta.
After the waitress had taken our order we had to wait around 20 minutes for our food to arrive. During this time we were brought our drinks and the atmosphere was really nice and relaxed so we took the time to simply chill out and chat. I also took time to take a look around the restaurant and noticed that the decor in Moo Moo is very nice and quite stylish and in a way it upgrades Moo Moo from being simply a "Burger Bar" to being a nice quality restaurant. The walls are painted a nice white or maybe slightly off-white colour. There are various pictures around the restaurant, mainly of cows and bulls and then a few pictures showing how to draw a bull! There is a large window running along the long wall of the restaurant, this looks out onto the street and is really nice as the restaurant is located on one of Krakow's more scenic streets so it is nice to sit and watch the world go by with a nice setting.
When my MooMoo BaaBaa Burger arrived I was rather happy, firstly because I was very hungry and secondly because the burger was so huge that it had been cut into two halves and filled the plate which it was served on! So the first question was how should we eat these monstrosities?! Well, I opted for the method of picking it up and attempting to bite into it, while my partner went for the knife and fork option... its not rocket science to work out who made the most mess!
Before I attempted to eat my burger I removed the masses of salad as I simply don't like salad, once this was done I was ready to get munching. Of course due to the sheer size of the burger I ended up with the situation where everything was falling out of the opposite side of the bun, and after only a couple of bites I caved in and picked up the knife and fork. The burger itself was cooked lovely, it was a really thick burger and was cooked nicely all the way through and there were no burnt areas on the outside of the burger, or at least not that I could taste! The bacon on the burger was nice, but the bacon is also where my biggest and possibly only complaint lies because during our first visit to Moo Moo I also had the MooMoo BaaBaa burger and on this occasion I actually removed a piece of the bacon completely as it was one huge lump of fat and there was no way I could stomach eating it, thankfully though on our second visit the bacon was lovely and just how it should be, not a fatty lump! The sheep cheese was nice, it is hard to describe the flavour as in my mind it didn't seem to taste that much different to your regular cheeses but there was a certain tang to it which just made it that little bit special. The cranberry sauce was delicious and really went well combined with the sheep cheese and bacon. The bread used for the bun tasted nice and fresh and it had been toasted a little too so it had a slight crispiness to it.
Overall we both really enjoyed our food here and we will be going back again. The burgers are delicious and the restaurant itself is really nice, just so long as you remember to sit to the right of the entrance. While I can't remember the exact price of each item we ordered, the total of our two burgers, one beer and one Fanta came to 42zl (Polish Zloty) which personally I think is excellent value for money.
The current exchange rate is hovering around the 5zl for every £1 mark.
The toilets in Moo Moo Burger were clean and well stocked with toilet paper. The sink area was also clean and there was soap and a hand dryer to dry your hands. There are only two toilets in Moo Moo burger, one for women and one for men, but on the occasions we have visited the restaurant there was never an issue with having to queue.
**Wheelchair & Pushchair Friendly? **
If you have someone to help you up the initial first step to get through the door then I would say Moo Moo Burger is wheelchair and pushchair friendly. The toilets are on the same level as the restaurant area, although there isn't too much room in them. The restaurant itself is well laid out with plenty of space, however you would need to choose a table to the left of the entrance as there is a couple of small steps leading up to the tables on the right.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Moo Moo Burger, we have been here twice now and to be honest our second visit was much better, we sat in the nicer area and the bacon wasn't a lump of fat. There is a large variety when it comes to burger options and I will definitely be going here again!
5 out of 5 stars from me. It would have been 4 out of 5 after the first visit but the second visit saved them the extra star.
Thanks for reading :)
**Vancouver 2010. Xbox 360**
Vancouver 2010 is the Official game of the Winter Olympics which were held in Vancouver in 2010. I bought this game around 4 months ago when I was looking for some more "wintery "games to play as I was coming close to completing my favourite snowboarding game and I knew I was going to need a nice snowy replacement for this.
So, does Vancouver 2010 fit the bill?
Well, not really. While I do enjoy the game and I find it great fun to play I do feel that there is "something" missing as I will now explain.
After putting the game disc into your Xbox 360 console and going through all the usual manufacturer logos and Health & Safety warnings you will finally arrive at the title screen. It is at this point where I was expecting to be launched into some kind of story line about being an Olympic superstar or at least be given one of those annoying tutorials which you cannot skip as it turns out to be quite useful! But as it turned out, when you press the start button from the main menu you are swapped from menu to menu until you have selected the sports you wish to play and unless you decide to select training mode then the only tutorials offered are just at the beginning of each sport where you can press the B button to activate the tutorial. As a result of this I have quite often flicked past the tutorial and ended up having to reload the event as I had no idea what I am doing in most of them!
From the main menu you will have the choice of Training, Olympic Games, Challenges, Leaderboards, Options and Credits. So lets get the simple options out of the way first, personally I have never viewed the credits but they are there just in case you want to. The options menu gives you a chance to adjust the volumes of both the sound effect and music in the game as well as the display and control options. Leaderboards is as it sounds, a chance to compare your scores with those of your friends or if you have an Xbox Live account you can compare how you are doing with other Xbox Live players.
Beginning with the option of Training from the main menu we are about to jump into our experience of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. As with any sport you need to train hard to win that gold medal, so is this the case for Vancouver 2010?
Yes and No. Some sports in this game I find ridiculously easy and others ridiculously hard and no matter how much "training" in partake in I still cannot even come close to obtaining that shiny gold medal. For example, when I play a Snowboarding or Bobsleigh event I find them reasonably easy to complete and the controls are easy to grasp, however when I attempt something like the Downhill Ski events or even the Speed Skating I seem to have issues with tricky controls and pressing the buttons at the perfect moments, as you can imagine this soon becomes rather frustrating and ends in me swapping to a different game!
The sports featured in Vancouver 2010 are Alpine Skiing which has both men's and ladies events, Ski Jumping which is a men's only event, Freestyle Skiing which is a ladies only event, Snowboarding which is featured as men's events, Speed Skating for ladies and finally the Bobsleigh, Skeleton and Luge, these are all events which use the Bobsleigh track and in this game they are all featured as men's events. This is my first grumble about this game, in my opinion there appears to be only a few events available and they seem to be restricted to men or women meaning that for each event you will be playing as a different character, personally I would prefer to create one character and use the same one in each event, I feel this would create more of a challenge as the character would need a variety of traits as well as strengths and weaknesses in order to compete in each event.
Once you feel you have done enough training you are then ready to move on to the Olympic Games option, you can of course skip the training if you prefer and dive straight in, I did this but I found I was having to go back to the training in order to attempt to master some events in order to progress.
Playing the Olympic Games is almost like playing the training mode, the only difference is that the Olympic Games offer you medals and achievements for doing well. When you select Olympic Games you are given the chance to choose your country and then you can choose which events you wish to take part in. This is the part of the game which I feel is a bit of a let down. In the past I have played the Nintendo Wii version of this game featuring Mario and Sonic and on that version there is a kind of story mode where you have to compete in predetermined events on a day to day basis with some training mixed in and random challenges thrown at you. This is the kind of thing I would have liked to have seen in the Xbox 360 version of the game, obviously not with Mario and Sonic as this is the "human" version of the game, but definitely with some kind of story or at least order to the events rather than having to pick and choose your own as I feel this takes some of the enjoyment and challenges from the game and therefore makes it that little bit less enjoyable.
The Olympic Games option can also be played in multiplayer mode either on one console with 2 controllers or on Xbox Live however I have not done this as there never seems to be anyone online to play it with and non of my friends have this game. To my knowledge though the servers for the game are still working so online play would be possible if you know someone else with the game.
The final play option for Vancouver 2010 is the Challenge Mountains. In this area you will find 3 mountains, Easy, Intermediate and Advanced. Each mountain consists of 10 Challenges which you need to complete in order to unlock the next mountain. The challenges are more fun orientated than the Olympic Games and they are my favourite part of the game. Challenges can be anything from a speed challenge or a simple Ski or Snowboard race to Downhill skiing where you need to hit or avoid as many of the snowmen as possible. There are also challenges which involve winning a race with reversed controls or gaining as much Air Time as you possibly can. I prefer these to the proper Olympic Games as they have much more of a fun element to them and I do still feel let down by the main story of the Olympic Games.
**Graphics & Sound**
The graphics in Vancouver 2010 are generally really good. All of the sports play smoothly and so far I have experienced no glitchy moments. The scenery looks reasonably realistic however in comparison to newer games there is quite a big difference but for the time that the game was released I would say the graphics are of a pretty decent quality and I have no complaints.
The sound in the game is also good. The menu screens are filled with a nice upbeat and purely instrumental soundtrack which I find easy to listen to and although it is quite repetitive it isn't really that irritating. The sound effects during the sports are also quite good, the noise of the snow crunching under the snowboards and ski's is definitely realistic and I would say the ice skating sound effects are reasonably realistic but maybe emphasised a little too much. Other sports such as Bobsleigh and Skeleton I have never tried but they do sound how I would imagine travelling at high speed along a slippery track would be... although I would probably be screaming all the way down if I tried those sports!
**Xbox 360 Achievements**
As with the majority of Xbox 360 games, Vancouver 2010 has Achievements which you can earn to improve your Gamerscore. There are a total of 50 achievements in this title worth a total of 1000 Gamerscore, most of them are unlocked by winning medals in events or completing challenges throughout the game.
**Price & Availability**
I bought my copy of Vancouver 2010 from Amazon for around £3 plus postage and packaging around 4 months ago. It is currently on there from £1.99 plus P&P. CEX are selling it for £3 and it appears to be on eBay starting from 99p in auctions.
Despite my grumbles about Vancouver 2010 I do still enjoy playing it, especially the Challenges option. For the price that it is available for I would recommend buying it as it is a pretty decent game if you are into your winter sports. I would have liked to see some more events available or at least the option to pick and choose your character. I will only be awarding it 3 out of 5 stars as I feel that the lack of a story mode in the Olympic Games option really lets this game down and also the controls for some of the sports are very hard to get to grips with even with the settings bumped down to the easy setting.
Overall this is a generally enjoyable game and it comes at a decent price. I think if I had paid full price for this when it was released then I would have been very disappointed but I didn't so I am only a little disappointed.
3 out of 5 stars from me :)
Thanks for reading :)
During an overnight trip to Warsaw for a friends birthday we took a visit to a small pub called Karmnik.
Karmnik is located in the Old Town area of the city on ul. Piwna 4a, this is a small side street leading off the main square of the Old Town. The pub is well signed so you shouldn't have too much difficulty finding it.
**We Speak English**
The first thing I noticed about Karmnik was a small sticker in the window next to the door stating "We Speak English". My immediate thoughts were "really? I'm going to have to test this one out!" As you will read later in this review, the staff did indeed speak excellent English and were actually quite chatty.
**In the Pub**
The second thing I noticed upon entering Karmnik was the ceiling is very low. I am a staggering 5 ft and 1 inch tall, or rather short, and even to me the ceiling felt quite close. The whole pub is painted mainly white with some random colourful swirls and patterns dotted around the walls. The nice bright walls did make the pub feel larger than it actually was, which was good with the low ceiling.
The layout of the pub is quite good, it has been designed to have lots of little nooks and crannies and what I would describe as 'cosy corners'. I like these in particular as they give you privacy without taking you away from the atmosphere of the pub. We chose to sit in one of these cosy corners as we all agreed they looked good. Our corner contained a reasonable sized table with a couple of plastic seats on one side and on the other three sides you were sitting in the alcoves of the wall. These alcove seats all had nice thick red cushions, get for my bum but a little too comfy when I was so tired!
On the table we found a shots menu, apparently this bar is famous for serving 106 different shots. After a bad experience in the past with shots I am very reluctant to have them these days, so needless to say I didn't try any of them, but other members of our groups told me that the ones they tried we delicious, however, the look on their faces said otherwise!
There is no table service in Karmnik, so once we were seated I made my way to the bar to test out that "We Speak English" sign. On my first trip to the bar I was served by a young man who initially greeted me in Polish but instantly changed his language to almost perfect English the moment he realised I was English. I ordered a Budweiser with raspberry syrup in it and was charged 11zl (Polish Zloty) I should point out here that this Budweiser wasn't the King of Bud's version, but actually a Budweiser brewed in the Czech Republic. This Budweiser has a stronger flavour, hence my desire to have raspberry syrup added to it, and it is apparently the original Budweiser as they began brewing it years before the Budweiser we all know was even thought of. How true this is, I don't know, this is just what Mr. Chatty Bar Man told me when I commented about the bottle being a totally different design.
They had a variety of beers available and many different flavour syrups for me to experiment with having in my beers, my current favourite being Vanilla syrup in this Czech Budweiser I have told you about. In the UK I usually drink Fosters with blackcurrant in it as I really don't like the larger taste that much. The beers were all priced around the 10zl to 14zl mark. On the back wall of the bar was a large selection of vodkas, whiskeys' and other spirits used for making their 106 shots. I didn't drink these drinks so I am unaware of the prices. They also serve a variety of wines at around the same price as the beer for a large glass.
Upon returning to the table I sat quietly drinking my drink and let my eyes have a little wonder around the pub, I wasn't really listening to the conversation much as it was mainly in Polish and my Polish is still disastrous! While looking around I could see the pub was starting to get rather busy, this was around 9pm, so obviously this is one of the popular pubs in the area. Regardless of how busy the pub was though there never seemed to be too much of a queue at the bar and the couple of times I went up to get drinks I was served pretty quickly. One thing I did notice while looking around was what seemed to be unfinished work, by this I mean that about halfway up the wall just out of reach, was some kind of socket sticking out of the wall with a plastic bag covering it, further up the wall and in various places around the pub I could see random wires which had been tied up and covered with the same plastic bags, kind of like food bags. While I could see these were protected from harming people as they were out of reach I still thought they looked terrible and brought the otherwise high standard of the pub down.
We eventually left the pub at around 1am, I was seriously fighting the urge to curl up in the corner and sleep on the big comfy red cushion at this point as I had been awake for almost 20 hours.
The toilets in Karmnik could definitely do with improving, for a start there was only one male and one female toilet, so I did have to wait a good 5 to 10 minutes at times. The toilets were stocked with toilet paper at the beginning of the night, however by my 2nd trip to the toilets there was no paper at all and it wasn't replenished at all during the course of the evening.
There is a small step to get into the pub, however once inside, the pub is all on one level. There are no specific toilets for wheelchair users and the toilets which they do have are rather small so you may struggle here.
Overall, I will be giving Karmnik only 4 stars as I really didn't like the unfinished fittings sticking out of the walls and the toilets we not looked after. I would visit this pub again though as the staff were fantastic and the atmosphere was generally lively and good.
*Review originally posted on Ciao under my username gingelou.
Thanks for reading :)
**Shaun White Skateboarding (Xbox 360)**
Shaun White Skateboarding is, as it sounds, a skateboarding game for the Xbox 360. I bought this game because, as some of you may know, I am a big fan of snowboarding and this has also lead me to become quite a fan of skateboarding too, although I cannot skateboard in real life! Anyway as a result of these sports I am always interested in the skate and board themed games so this was a must have purchase for me.
**Defeat The Ministry **
So, we shall begin with the story mode of Shaun White Skateboarding. When the game first begins you will need to first of all select whether you want to play as a male or female character and then design your skater. Once this part is done you will be taken to the beginning of the story where you will be shown a couple of videos introducing you to the story and informing you that the city has been taken over by an organisation called The Ministry. The Ministry believe that everything in the world should be grey and that colours are bad for you. The also require everyone to wear the same dull clothes and conform to The Ministry way of life. People in the city are influenced by The Ministry through the use of Influencers, Skate Blockers and many forms of advertising. The Ministry also believe that skateboarding is dangerous to health and they have banned it and kidnapped pro-skater Shaun White.
This is where you come in. Your job throughout the story is to complete quests and challenges in order to infiltrate The Ministry Headquarters and rescue Shaun. While you are doing this you will also need to skate around the city and de-influence the citizens so they will return to a normal and colourful life against The Ministry. De-influencing most people is pretty easy as you will simply need to do tricks of a certain standard to impress them and they will snap out of The Ministry way of thinking. Some people are harder to influence and will require a higher trick level or special challenges to be passed. The requirements are always displayed for you before you complete them and one thing which I find really good about the game is if you fail the challenge you will restart it with no penalties other than having to re-do the challenge itself.
The people of the city are not the only ones under the influence of The Ministry, buildings have also been influenced and have all been turned to a lovely shade of grey. As you make your way around the city you should aim to do as many tricks as possible and grind your board along every surface possible in order to de-influence the city and return colour and normality to everything possible.
Tricks, jumps and grinds can be performed on almost anything, the city literally is your playground. There are numerous pipes, half pipes, bowls, ramps and rails for you to utilise and there are even special ramps and rails which you can reshape and use to your advantage to help you get to those harder to reach areas.
**Multiplayer and Online **
Shaun White Skateboarding can be played in multiplayer mode, both online and offline. However, I have not yet tried this mode as my partner doesn't enjoy playing games and I bought the game after my little brother came to visit so the opportunity has not yet arisen. The online mode looks to be pretty decent from what I can see, however the online community for Shaun White Skateboarding is virtually dead so unless you have a friend with the game or you can find a boosting partner from somewhere then chances are you wont be doing much online play, this will also result in you missing out on 12 of the achievements available.
Ok, so far, so good. Shaun White Skateboarding sounds like a really good game, however, the controls for the game are what I can only describe as ridiculous! I have played many skateboarding games in the past so I am very familiar with how the controls for these games usually work, but Shaun White Skateboarding is the worst I have ever played with regards to controlling your skater. I find that moving the skater around is simple enough, but often the skaters reactions are quite slow compared to when you press the buttons and therefore you quite often miss the chance to perform good tricks or you end up crashing into things and loosing any boost you have built up or even worse, falling from a high place, dying and having to start the challenge you were on all over again. I often find the controls to be so frustrating that I can only play the game for short periods of time and not very often either as the frustration builds up quite quickly.
I also find the idea of pumping the left stick to gain height in half pipes a bit annoying as in other skate games I've played you simply need to have the correct amount of speed to gain the relevant height which leaves you able to concentrate on your tricks, this is not the case with Shaun White Skateboarding and again I often end up missing tricks or falling off where I need to be because there are too many buttons to press all at the same time and this really takes the fun out of what is otherwise a decent game.
**Xbox 360 Achievements**
Shaun White Skateboarding has achievements, in this particular title there is a total of 1000G (Gamerscore) to be earned. A lot of the achievements are story related but there are a fair few which are won by collecting a certain amount of collectibles throughout the game and there are also 12 which are online ones and due to the online community being virtually non-existent you will need to find a friend who has the game to complete these ones.
**Price and Availability**
I bought my copy of Shaun White Skateboarding on Amazon for around £4.50 plus postage. The game is still available on Amazon and also from places like Game and CEX for around the same kind of price.
Overall I do enjoy playing Shaun White Skateboarding, however I do get very frustrated with the controls and I find the characters to be quite slow to respond to commands given for various tricks performed or for simply swapping from one grind rail to another, as you can imagine this adds to the frustration of the controls and as a result I often find I can only play this game for about an hour at a time.
I do enjoy the story mode of the game and the idea that you have to free everything from the Ministry to return the world back to normal and I think the challenges which are set in the game are a nice mix of simple through to quite hard which keeps the variety alive.
Overall I think I would just about recommend this game, I will be giving it 3 stars as I do get rather frustrated with it and there definitely are better skateboard games available, but for the price you can pick this up for I would say it is just about worth it.
Thanks for reading :)
**Happy Feet Two. Xbox 360**
Back in May I was feeling the need to play a nice happy go lucky game and set of in search of something aimed more towards kids rather than the usual selection of games I seem to own.
While browsing through one of the few stores here in Krakow which actually sells video games I came across Happy Feet Two priced at a reasonable 49zl (Polish Zloty) which is around £10. I was in luck because the game is also in English (another issue I have with trying to buy games here!).
The game comes in the usual green Xbox 360 case which contains a game disc and an instruction manual printed in English.
**Getting Those Happy Feet Tappin'!**
When you first insert the game disc you may need to download any available updates, this will only take a moment and then you will be taken to the title screen and get your first taste of the music you will enjoy at first but then most probably come to despise after a few hours of playing.
Happy Feet Two is based on the film of the same name. I have never watched the film so I don't know if the story is the same, but, in the game you are playing as Mumble. Mumble is the baby penguin from the original Happy Feet film, he is now grown up and he and Gloria have a young son, Eric. Mumble and Eric have had a little father son fall out and Eric has run away. Mumble and his best friend Ramon must go in search of Eric and bring him home safely.
To find Eric, Mumble will have to dance his way through 8 Chapters of dancing to the beat and collecting musical notes as well as defeating a few enemies along the way. Each chapter has around 8 or 9 levels each, some have bonus levels and others have little races to complete. When you first start the game you will only have the first chapter and the first level unlocked, as you play you will unlock more levels and more songs to dance through the levels to.
**Gather the Penguins & Dance to Save Eric!**
The first level in the game is a kind of tutorial level and will introduce you to all the controls you need to play the game. The main part of the controls is pressing the X button in time with the beat of the music. This is really simple as the beat bar flashes at the top of the screen to help you get your timing perfect. Other than this you will simply need to press A to jump on ledges and Y to power slam blocks of ice to make them either crumble or move.
In each level you need to collect musical notes as you progress towards the exit and you will also need to collect a certain number of penguins along your way to be able to exit the level and also to join you in the final battle at the end of the game. To collect a penguin you will need to dance to the beat to impress it and then it will join you and follow you dancing to the level exit. Each level is reasonably short and takes usually around 2 or 3 minutes to complete. The boss levels are much longer as you have to dance for longer to the beat and also use more than just the X button. The buttons you need to press will be a combination of X, Y, B and A and these will be displayed on the screen when you need to use them. The boss levels are, in general, quite easy with just a few tough cookies thrown in.
There is no physical fighting in the game, all of the bosses are defeated and battles are won by simply dancing to the beat. As you can imagine, this is pretty good fun at first but soon becomes rather repetitive! Especially with the songs in the game all sounding pretty similar!
After so many levels of dancing to the beat you will be challenged to a race by Ramon. Personally I like the race levels, I think they are a nice break from the usual dancing levels and they provide a bit more action and competitiveness. The races are simple to control once you've had a bit of practice. There is a boost button, a slow down button and one button to launch yourself off a ramp to earn extra boost.
The first race is in Chapter 2 and is definitely a welcome break, as with the dancing levels you will need to win the race in order to unlock the next level. This isn't too hard as long as you control your speed enough to avoid hitting obstacles.
**Disco Fish Bonus**
The bonus levels in the game are few and far between, but they are still fun to play. In a bonus level you must collect as many musical notes as possible and reach the exit before the timer runs out. Most bonus levels with have a "Disco Fish". The Disco Fish is great, he looks like a Disco Ball, but in a fish shape and when you collect him the music changes to a nice funky tune and Mumble becomes a musical note magnet which makes it very easy to collect a lot of notes. The effect of the fish is only short term but it is enough to bag a decent bonus.
**Multiplayer & Online**
Happy Feet Two can be played in multiplayer mode with 2 controllers and there are a couple of achievements related to multiplayer mode. I've only played multiplayer once with my partner but I gave up as I got frustrated when one penguin was one side of the screen and one the other and it made it difficult to play smoothly as you both play on the same game screen, not split screen. As far as I can see there is no option to play the game online.
**Xbox Achievements & Gamerscore**
Happy Feet Two has a total of 45 achievements to be won and they are worth a total of 1000G (Gamerscore). I am currently at the frustrating point of winning 42 out of 45 with the multiplayer ones being the ones I need to win to complete then game. The achievements are generally easy to get and if you have the patience then this would probably be a nice little booster of a game too.
**Graphics and Sound**
The graphics in the game are nice and smooth, the game is set in the snow so I wouldn't exactly describe the game as colourful. All of the levels are a mass of white and various shades of blue along with the black and white of the penguins. The sound in the game is good, however it is extremely repetitive and can become very annoying very quickly and unfortunately due to the nature of the game it isn't as if you can mute the sound and carry on.
**Price and Availability**
I bought my Happy Feet Two here in Krakow back in May, as I mentioned above the price worked out to be around £10. I can see on places such as Amazon or CEX this game can currently be purchased for around £6 or £7.
Overall, I do enjoy playing Happy Feet Two, the music is extremely annoying and yes, the game does get very repetitive, but at the same time is it fun, it is easy and it is generally a nice game to play. I am 30 so I have played and reviewed this from an adult gamer point of view, but I can definitely see how this game would appeal to children and after living with my little brother when he was young I can definitely see that the music most probably wouldn't annoy kids in the same way that it would adults! I think children will enjoy playing along to the beat of this game and taking part in the races, even more so if they enjoy the Happy Feet films.
I am giving this game 4 out of 5 stars. It was tempting to award only 3 stars but in all fairness this isn't a bad game, for kids!
Thanks for reading :)
**Shake & Bake, Krakow**
A few months ago my partner was crazy enough to take part in a 5km race around Krakow, me being the sensible one in the relationship decided to sit and enjoy the sunshine rather than get hot and sweaty! After the run we decided to visit Shake & Bake. Shake & Bake is a small cafe in the centre of Krakow, Poland. It is located near to Teatr Bagatela bus and tram stops and is around a 5 minute walk from Krakow's main market square.
Shake & Bake is easy to find as it is clearly signed with a nice logo. This was actually what caught our attention in the first place when we went past one day on the tram.
**A Warm Welcome**
As we entered Shake & Bake we were greeted by a nice lady who welcomed us and showed us the offers they had on and gave us a menu of drinks and cakes to look at. The lady who greeted us spoke excellent English and as far as I could tell she seemed to understand me very well too so there were no problems regarding ordering and a couple of questions I had.
While looking at the menu and trying to decide between so many sweet flavoured cakes and drinks I took a little moment to take a look around. Shake & Bake is very small cafe with only a few tables and chairs and a very comfortable looking beanbag in the corner. The decor in Shake & Bake is very light coloured which take away the small feeling a little bit and at the same time creates a nice relaxing atmosphere. In the corner near the door there is a small bookshelf which has a selection of books, magazines and other information leaflets. Most of these texts are in Polish but there were a few leaflets in English for tourists. The ordering area is directly in front of you as you enter Shake & Bake and has a counter filled with delicious looking cakes. One cake in particular caught my attention, The Milkyway Cake, which I will go into more detail about in a moment. On the walls behind the counter there is quite a few containers with lots of lovely looking sweets and chocolates. At the time we visited we were told there was a promotion where you could buy a normal undecorated cupcake and they would help you to decorate it like the professionals. I liked this idea however the Milkway Cake had already caught my attention. I'm not sure if this is a regular promotion but if it is then I will definitely be doing it one day.
**Shake & Bake me a Milkyway Cake! **
After taking probably around 10 minutes to read the menu and change my mind about 20 times I finally made my mind up about what I wanted to order. My partner had also decided so I went to the counter to order our cakes and drinks. I had chosen a Hot Fudge Milkshake with the Milkyway Cake and my partner chose a cold Vanilla Milkshake with the Milkyway Cake. The total of our order came to 26zl (Polish Zloty). I paid for our order by card with no problems at all. The exchange rate is currently hovering around 4.7zl for every £1. The menu had consisted only of drinks and cakes and the theme with all of the items on offer was most definitely chocolate and sweets. Most of the drinks were based on different chocolate bars or combinations of sweets and chocolate bars. There were coffees available too, these were available as regular coffee or coffee with a nice sweet addition! The cakes ranged from muffins and sponge style cakes through to extremely sweet chocolate concoctions which I would never have thought of!
After placing and paying for our order I was then given the slices of cake to take back to the table while the lady made our drinks. Being rather excited about this cake I decided not to wait for my drink and to simply get stuck in! So, what exactly is a Milkyway Cake? Well, its a little slice of heaven for chocolate lovers! The base of the cake is made from a lovely crumbled biscuit, in a way it is very similar to some cheesecakes. The topping is exactly as it sounds and made from Milkyway bars. I'm not sure of the exact process for making this topping but they have used Milkyway's to make a deliciously smooth topping which has been spread over the top of the biscuit base. I'm not sure if they baked the cake at all but either way it was amazingly delicious! My partner commented that it was a little too sweet but I said there is no such thing as "too sweet!" I am a chocoholic through and through! Overall my verdict on this cake is a full 5 out of 5 stars and I would more than recommend you trying it if you are ever in Krakow!
While I was enjoying the delicious cake they called our drinks order so I went to collect them from the counter. Our drinks were served in what I would call traditional milkshake glasses. My drink was the Hot Fudge Milkshake. I'm not sure exactly what they used in this drink but it was also very sweet and quite smooth and creamy. I loved the fact that it was served hot, or rather warm, as I have never had a heated milkshake before so I was curious as to how it would be and in actual fact it was really nice! My partner had the vanilla shake and wasn't so impressed and commented that it had no flavour but when I tried a bit of it I thought it was quite nice and had a distinct vanilla flavour so I think this is just a question of taste.
After we had finished eating a drinking we took our plates and glasses back to the counter, I doubt that you have to do this but with the service we received and the cakes being so nice we were happy to help! We said a friendly goodbye to the staff and left with an intention of definitely returning one day soon!
Shake & Bake also offers a take away service so if you are simply passing by and don't have time to sit and relax then you can grab your shake or cake and take it with you to eat on the go.
The toilets in Shake & Bake are located at the back of the cafe. There is only one toilet, which usually I would have a little moan about but with the size of the cafe I don't think this one toilet would cause too much of a problem and it certainly didn't when we were there. At the time of our visit the toilets were clean and tidy with soap and paper towels provided. The toilets were also decorated quite nicely and even had some artificial grass on the shelf behind the toilet which made it look that little bit nicer.
**Wheelchair and Pushchair Friendly? **
Due to the size of the cafe I would say it would be a tight squeeze for wheelchairs and pushchairs however I wouldn't say that it is impossible as the tables and chairs could easily be moved around a little bit. There are a couple of small steps as you enter the cafe but they aren't too big and I would think with a little assistance both wheelchairs and pushchairs would be able to enter with little or no problems. Wheelchair users my struggle with the toilet as it is very small.
Overall, I would 100% recommend Shake & Bake, the menu may be limited to drinks and cakes but this is the whole appeal of this cafe. Shake & Bake is a place which is perfect for relaxing and reading a magazine or meeting up with friends. I would prefer to go here than a coffee place any day! This is also the kind of place I would feel comfortable visiting alone if I had time to fill between going back and forth to my students. Overall I will definitely be visiting here again and I will be rating it the full 5 out of 5 stars!
Thanks for reading :)
**Doritos Crash Course (Xbox 360)**
Doritos Crash Course is one of the many Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) games available to download directly to your Xbox 360 from the XBLA store. I downloaded Doritos Crash Course back in March of this year as I had only just got my Xbox and I was looking for some fun, but cheap, games to play. Well I couldn't really go wrong with Doritos Crash Course as not only is it fun, but it was and still is completely free!
Doritos Crash Course is quite often described as the game which resembles the TV show Wipeout. This is due to the fact that this game is basically a series of assault courses split over many levels and set in different countries. When you first download Doritos Crash Course you will start with only a certain amount of levels you are able to play, I think USA was the first ones, although I cannot be 100% sure as it was a while ago that I played for the first time, anyway, as you play through the levels you will unlock more levels which get more and more challenging the further you progress.
**3, 2, 1... GO! **
Once you have been through the usual selection of set up menus and chosen the course you wish to play you will be taken to the start of the assault course. This is where the game becomes fun because you will be playing as your Xbox avatar, who, at the beginning of the level will be doing some warm up exercises or a funny little dance in preparation for the challenge ahead!
Once you hear the 3, 2, 1... GO! Its time to race! If you are playing single player you will simply be racing against the clock, there is also an option to play multiplayer but I will go into more detail of this in a moment. So, the clock is ticking and you must race your way through the course as fast as possible. Sounds pretty simple? Well, yes, once you are familiar with the courses it can be quite simple. However, to begin with I personally found these levels to be rather challenging as you race through them you will have various obstacles including conveyor belts which can either speed you up of slow you down, swinging hammers which will knock you straight off the course, moving platforms and my personal most hated obstacle, paintballs which knock you into a daze and slow your avatar which will often result in you falling off the course. Should you get knocked off the course, then just like in the game you will end up going for a swim in the water below, or in some cases your avatar will be thrown against the screen, either way you will then be transported back to the last checkpoint where you can begin your struggle again.
If you find there is a part of the course you are stuck on then after 5 failed attempts you can use the "Chicken Out" option which will fast forward you to the next checkpoint. This option is ok if you simply want to get a general idea of the course you are playing, however if you choose to chicken out then you wont be able to progress and unlock the next level until you have completed the level in full.
Once you reach the finish your avatar will happily jump and celebrate their success and you will be ready to move to the next level. Each of the levels takes roughly 2-4 minutes to complete, although the harder levels, such as those set in Japan for example have often taken me around 7-9 minutes to complete.
I find the controls of the game are really easy, especially as you only really have to push the directional stick in the direction you wish to run and press "A" to jump. You can also use the "RT" button to run faster but you must be careful not to hold it too long as you will stumble and fall. The hardest part of the controls in my opinion is getting your timing just right for the jumps and moving platforms, this can be quite frustrating but at the same time it is the fun part of the game which keeps it quite addictive.
I also quite like the music and sound effects in the game, they are light hearted and fun. I find that in general I can keep the sound turned up and unlike some other games the music and effects don't really bother me, the only time I would say this changes is if I am playing one of the more challenging levels, such as any of the Japan ones and I find that because they are really rather challenging the music and sound effects can become really annoying, but this isn't very often as I don't tend to play the Japanese levels that often for the simple reason that I can't do them!
**Multiplayer and Online **
Now for what I would say is the best part of Doritos Crash Course, multiplayer and online play. Doritos Crash Course can be played split screen with 2 controllers, which I have to admit I haven't tried as I only have one controller at the moment. Or, it can be played through Xbox Live online with your friends. This option is possibly my favourite part of the game as I love playing this with my little brother and his friends. My brother is 10 years old and very competitive so I quite often receive a text message in the evenings asking me if I'm going on Xbox and want to play Doritos Crash Course with him and his friends.
Playing multiplayer is almost the same as playing single player except, of course, it is more competitive and therefore, in my opinion, much more fun. When you play multiplayer you will see the players you are racing against appear in the background of your screen as little flying cards with a picture of their avatar, this is good as you can see how close you are to them. When I am playing online with my brother we are almost always in an Xbox live party too so we will have our headsets on and be able to talk and taunt each other throughout the game which overall just adds to the fun even more.
**Xbox 360 Achievements and Download Content**
Like all Xbox 360 Doritos Crash Course has achievements, in this particular title there is a total of 200G (Gamerscore) to be won and most are won for completing levels. There are a few achievements which are won by completing the download content levels, which I think are London and Las Vegas. Personally I don't have these levels because as much as I enjoy Doritos Crash Course I would prefer to use my money for purchasing other games rather than extra levels on here, especially as Doritos Crash Course 2 is also now available and is also just as good, if not better.
**Price and Availability**
Doritos Crash Course is available for free from the XBLA store on the Xbox 360. To my knowledge this game is free for everyone, not only Xbox Gold members, however I'm not 100% sure of this as I already had my Gold membership when I downloaded the game.
Overall I am a big fan of Doritos Crash Course, it is simple, fun and addictive. If you choose to play multiplayer it is also very competitive too. I would say this game is suitable for all ages really as it isn't violent, the worst thing which happens is your avatar getting thrown into the TV! There is no blood and guts and this is generally a really good and fun game.
I would definitely recommend this game and I will be giving it 4 out of 5 stars, one star is lost due to the fact that some achievements require you to pay extra for the levels and also because the Japan levels are so hard I think I would have to practice for years in order to beat them all!
Thanks for reading :)
**El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Xbox 360)**
A few months ago I was extremely lucky when a TEFL student of mine was given an Xbox 360 and due to the fact that he doesn't like games he then passed this gift on to me, for free! Included with the Xbox were a number of games which personally I wouldn't even have thought about purchasing if I had seen them in the shops. One of these games is El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, which will now be shortened to "El Shaddai" for this review as it is a bit of a lengthy title to repeat over and over!
The story of El Shaddai is for me a little unusual and one I haven't really heard of in any game I have played in the past. The game is set at the beginning of the human race as we know it, the earth is still a strange and mysterious place and because of this God has sent 7 angels to keep watch over the humans and protect them from harm. However, seeing the way humans behave in their lives full of freedom and no worries or cares the angels turn against their God and they leave Heaven, or as it is put in the game, they fall from Heaven and are known as the Fallen Angels, which at the same time betrays their God and the powers above. Obviously this angers God and the powers that be and they set upon a plan to cause a huge flood on Earth, thankfully this plan is discovered and this is where you, the player, come into the story. Playing as the character Enoch you will need to work your way through the worlds fighting against the fallen angels to purify them and return them to heaven. Along your way you will be assisted by a man who always seems to be talking to someone on his phone! This character is named Lucifel, it is not made entirely clear in the game but from what I can gather he is some kind of assistant to God and he will help to guide Enoch (you) through the levels and in the direction of the Fallen Angels. Along your way you will encounter many smaller enemies who have been put upon the Earth to protect the Fallen Angels, you must fight these enemies and not give up on your quest.
Fighting your enemies is an interesting part of the game as you will begin the game with very limited resources when it comes to weapons and the weapons which you do have at your disposal will become dirty and require purifying! After all you are cleansing these enemies of their evils and the dirtier your weapon then the less effective it will be and the harder it will be for you to defeat them. As you defeat enemies and purify Fallen Angels you will gain new weapons to aid you in your quest. Each time you acquire a new weapon Lucifel will guide you in the use of the weapon and which controls you must press in order to use the weapon successfully. In total there are only three weapons within the game but you may only carry one with you at any given time. Each weapon has its good and bad points and it is up to you to choose which one will suit you best for the area of the game you are playing. You are only able to change your weapons at certain points in the game where you see a special icon, or by defeating an enemy and stealing their weapon which will then replace the one you are currently carrying. I have found this to be a little annoying as I will sometimes have a good weapon and after defeating and enemy I accidentally press the button to steal their weapon instead of the button for purifying my own weapon and then I am stuck with something which is no where near as helpful!
As you work your way through the levels you will be thrown into worlds where the scenery is very random and weirdly wonderful! Some of the levels are set in 3D form where as other will have you jumping around on a 2D side scrolling platformer style level, either way the visual side of these levels is fantastic albeit a little random and in some areas even psychedelic! I really like this aspect of the game as it makes it a little unusual compared to other games I own or have played in the past. Some levels are very frustrating as they are quite challenging, but not in the sense of fighting enemies but more in the sense of trying to jump from one platform to another and completely missing and falling off the edge which, if you do it too many times, means you have to redo the whole area again! I do like the music in El Shaddai as I find it quite relaxing and in a way quite soothing which is great when I have to defeat enemies as I'm not wound up and on edge and I don't have the same amount of tension as I do when playing a game like Call of Duty for example. This soothing effect doesn't take anything from the fun of playing the game or the excitement of it, it just makes it a little different.
I find the controls of the game to be generally ok, at first I struggled a little to get used to which button did what but after a couple of levels I felt pretty confident with them and as I previously mentioned the only real problem I have is accidentally stealing a weapon instead of cleansing the one I have.
**Multiplayer and Online **
El Shaddai is a single player game so there is no possibility for multiplayer. As far as I can tell there is no online play for El Shaddai, there is one online achievement but this is related to the scoreboards and not actually playing a game online.
**Xbox 360 Achievements**
Like most Xbox 360 games, El Shaddai has achievements to unlock and improve your gamer score. The achievements in El Shaddai are worth a total of 1000G (Gamerscore) and are earned mainly for completing levels and defeating certain amounts of different enemies.
**Price and Availability**
El Shaddai can be purchased on Amazon for around £7.50 for a used copy or around the £14 mark for a new one. There is also a Playstation 3 version of the game available for around the same kind of prices.
El Shaddai has an age restriction of 12+. In my opinion the game isn't blood and gore, in fact I don't recall seeing any blood, it is however a lot of fighting and some people may find the storyline unsuitable for children. My brother is 10 years old and when he came to visit he was playing this game and he took no notice of the storyline and simply enjoyed the fight scenes and the general gameplay with no problems at all.
Overall I do enjoy El Shaddai, it is a fantasy style game, which isn't my usual style of game yet I find it very enjoyable to play. I originally only played it because when I was given the Xbox with some games this was one of the few games which was in English and as it wasn't anywhere near payday I couldn't really take myself on a games shopping spree, but after playing the game and getting quite into it, it is still a game I keep going back to as I enjoy the challenge, I think the visual effects are fantastic and it is generally completely different to all of the games in my collection.
I would definitely recommend this game and I will be giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
Thanks for reading :)
**Harm's Way (XBLA). **
Harm's Way is a game available for the Xbox 360 through the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) for download only. This game is not available to purchase on a disc in the shops.
The game is produced in co-operation with Doritos and the main menus feature a little Doritos logo but other than these there are no other references to the brand during the game, or if there are then they are so small that I missed them. I downloaded Harm's Way for free a couple of months ago and to my knowledge it is still free to download now.
**Download & Installation**
Downloading Harm's Way was a very quick and easy process. The download speed will vary depending on your internet speed but as it is a relatively small file it still shouldn't take too long. I think mine finished downloading and installing and it was ready to play within the time it took me to make a cup of tea.
**Getting Into Harm's Way**
Harm's Way is a racing game which has been combined with a shooter style way of play which makes it slightly different to most racing games I have played in the past. In the game there are four teams competing in each race. Each team has two players and you can play as either a Driver or a Shooter.
Upon starting the game and going through the usual manufacturer logos and safety warnings, you will eventually reach the main menu screen. This is where you will be able to choose your preferred method of play. In all honesty there isn't that many options to choose from. There are offline modes and online modes or you can choose to take a look at the options menus or if you want to earn an achievement for basically doing nothing then take a quick look at the credits. I have played both offline and online mode and in my opinion they are essentially the same with the only main difference being the difficulty levels. Playing offline you will be playing against the computer however playing online you will be playing against other people and depending on their skills this could help or hinder you quite a bit. Luckily most of the occasions where I have played this online I was playing against my brother and his friends and their skill levels are around the same as mine so it was all pretty fair.
Once you have chosen your play mode you will be given the chance to choose which team you want to be on, whether you want to be a Driver or a Shooter and then finally if you are a driver you will need to choose your vehicle and if you are a shooter you will need to choose which style turret you would like to use, personally I had no idea what any of the different names meant so I just selected the standard one! All of the vehicles in the game look quite cool and are all off road vehicles of some description including quad bikes and 4 x 4 trucks. I also like that the vehicles do handle themselves in different ways so you need to allow for this when you are selecting which one you want.
So that's it! All of the settings are complete and you're ready to race... or shoot! The first race I played on this game was quite honestly a disaster, this was due to the race maps being a little hard to distinguish exactly where the road is and where the boundaries are. The races are set in a desert style setting and due to this you can often find yourself racing through a sandstorm with visibility down to almost nothing. Personally I found this a little off putting but at the time I didn't have many Xbox games to play so I stuck with it and I'm pretty glad that I did because it was a short and sweet game which earned me a nice 200G (Gamerscore) within 2 days! Not bad for a free game!
As I have just mentioned racing in the game does take a little getting used to as things like sandstorms can disorientate you quite quickly and also other drivers can give you a pretty hard knock and send you flying off in the wrong direction in a split second. Once you are used to having to be aware of this though you should be able to race quite well, pick up various power ups along your way including speed boosts for you and turret upgrades and downgrades for the shooter on your team as you are doing all of this you will hopefully get yourself out in front where the only hazard you will really have to be aware of are the shooters hiding away in their turrets firing a selection of bullets, rockets and mines at the drivers on the track. But this is all part of the fun... Good luck!
Now we've been racing, shot at, blown up and thrown off the track let's turn the tables and have a go at being the shooter! Revenge is sweet! Those of you who are interested in improving your Gamerscore may find it useful to know that the majority of achievements in the game are won as a shooter. In my opinion being a shooter is quite boring compared to being a driver as most of the time you are sitting in up your turret at the side of the track simply waiting for the racers to come into view, you can swap to a different turret if you want to get closer to the racers however I found this to be a waste of time as by the time you have got your self facing the right direction the racers have come and gone and you will need to move to yet another turret so for this reason I find it easier to stay in one place. When the racers come into view it is at this point you will get some action as you will need to select your weapon of choice and aim at the moving vehicles, this is another thing which can be quite tricky as you need to aim your sight and allow for the second or two that it will take the bullet to reach the target. It took me a good few attempts to master this before I was able to hit the drivers. Once you get the hang of it though it is relatively easy and I would say it is only a matter of time before you either complete all of the achievements or get bored of the game. I would say the achievements will come first as they really are so easy! One thing to note when you are playing as the shooter is that you can damage your team mate so in amongst the confusion of trying to aim accurately you will also need to be sure you are aiming at the right players!
Finally, this is what I meant when I said that the game is short and sweet as that is basically the whole game summarised in those two paragraphs. For me my game time was over once I had hit the full achievement score as I feel that there simply isn't enough about this game to hold my attention when there are so many other racing games to choose from, the majority of which offer much more in terms of graphics and game play. Don't get me wrong though, this is by no means a bad game, in fact for a free game it is very good. If it wasn't free then I doubt that I would have downloaded it as I would rather spend my money on bigger and better games. For my brother, who is 10 years old, Harm's Way is a great game. I often see him playing on it even though he completed it back in March at the same time as me. He likes it because he can play online with his friends as they all have it because of it being free.
Speaking of the online side of things with this game it is worth mentioning that the online community on this game is very much alive so even if you don't have friends with this game you will most probably always be able to find random people to compete against in the online lobby. Playing online seems to be as safe as it can be, if you are wearing a headset and you are in an Xbox live party then your conversations will be kept privately in your party and if you are wearing the headset but not in a party then you will be able to communicate with your team-mate providing that they also have a headset. A headset is not an essential accessory for this game.
There is also an option to play multiplayer with a friend and two controllers on one Xbox however as I currently only have one controller I have not tried this mode and it is possible that I wont be trying it even if I get a second controller in the future.
The controls of the game are generally quite simple and they are pretty much the same as most standard racing game controls, I found that navigating the tracks was a little tricky to begin with but this is due to the setting more than the controls. When playing as a shooter I found it best to switch the inverted axis control off as this seemed to make the controls backwards for me, I pushed up, it aimed down and vice versa.
**Price and Availability**
Well, the price for this game is excellent, it is free! The availability is also excellent as you can download it directly to your Xbox 360 console from the Xbox Live Arcade. I'm not 100% sure if this game is exclusive to Xbox Gold members but I seem to recall a conversation with one of my brothers friends who doesn't have Gold but he does have this game.
Overall I find it very hard to rate this game as firstly it is a decent game, just very short and secondly it is free so with that in mind we can't really complain too much and after all if you don't enjoy it then you can simply delete it and it will be nothing lost and maybe a few gamer points gained. If this was a game I had to pay for I would have expected it to have a lot more longevity than a couple of days however as I can see that younger players are still happy to play it even after completion and also for as long as this game is free then I am happy to award it 4 stars. Plus the driving and the action sides of things were pretty good fun while it lasted!
Thanks for reading :)
When it comes to going to the cinema I have always been a huge fan. When I was living in England I had one of the Cineworld Unlimited cards meaning I paid a certain price and I could go to the cinema as many times as I wanted. Upon moving to Krakow I was a little concerned that my cinema outings would be few and far between, mainly due to the language barrier. However, after many trips to the Multikino cinema in Krakow I am pleased to say that in actual fact this isn't an issue at all.
Multikino is located outside of the city centre so you will need to take a bus from the centre to Park Wodny bus stop. From the centre this will take around 20 minutes on buses 125, 128, 129, 138, 139, 142, 152, 159 and 501. If you have internet access while you are in Krakow then you can always check your route on www.jakdojade.pl website. This site can be translated into English and used to plan your routes around the city.
From the bus stop it is impossible to miss the cinema as it is pretty huge and directly in front of you.
The cinema also has a car park, so if you have a car while you are here you can use this for free.
**Entrance & Tickets**
The entrance to the cinema is accessible by both stairs and a ramp. As you enter the cinema you will see ticket desks to the left of you, the popcorn counter on the far back wall and a small ice cream and coffee place to the right of you. As we tend to go to the cinema on a Wednesday to take advantage of Orange Wednesdays I often find that the reception area is very busy. Usually this would irritate me but as the area is so large it doesn't seem to bother me so much.
For me, buying a ticket has always been easy, most of the staff are quite young and do speak just enough English for me to make it clear which film I want to see. On the odd occasion where I haven't been understood I have simply pointed to the poster of the desired film and we've communicated this way as it was easier to understand than me trying to say the names of the films in Polish! This alone gives the staff top marks for being patient and understanding my mix of English, broken Polish and strange sign language! They have always been patient and tried to understand as best as possible.
Ticket prices are slightly cheaper here than the UK, during the week they are 20zl (Polish Zloty) which is around £4-ish and the weekend slightly more at 24zl.
**Sweets, Drinks and Popcorn**
Once the tickets are purchased it is time to choose the munchies! Now, in the UK I have tended to avoid munchies at the cinema due to the ridiculous prices, however, they are a little lower here, only a little, but this can make all the difference when you smell the hot dogs and fresh popcorn. We usually tend to have a small drink and popcorn each, this comes as a child's meal deal and 9 times out of 10 it will result in you receiving some kind of novelty plastic cup, I don't mind this but I think my partner is getting a little fed up of them piling up in the kitchen. The price for this meal deal is 17zl, which I have worked out to be around the £3.50-ish mark depending on the exchange rate. A hot dog here is 7zl and they are really nice.
**Cafe & Pub**
On the odd occasion we have arrived to the cinema a little early and found ourselves with time to spare. This time is usually spent sitting in the cafe area, although we don't usually buy anything from here there is a selection of ice creams priced at just 2.50zl with really nice looking waffle cones and a large selection of flavoured coffees, frappes and smoothies priced from 10zl upwards.
The cinema also has a small pub area where you can enjoy a beer before your film. The beer cost 12zl the last time we had one, this was around Christmas 2011. Take into mind that the beer cannot be taken into the screen with you so you will need to allow yourself time to finish it before the film.
Both of these areas have some really nice comfy seating and are quite relaxing to wait in.
**Finally, Let's Watch a Movie!**
So, the one and only reason you are coming to the cinema is to watch a movie, so lets do it. There are 12 screens or in Polish 'Sala' at Multikino, they vary in size and which one you are in will obviously be dependant on the film. As I have been here many times now I have been in quite a few of the screens so I will give you an overview of them all rather than one specific.
In general, all of the screens are the same quality and the only real difference is the number of seats available. As you enter the room you will always be at the bottom of the seating area. All of the seats are numbered and your specific row and seat number will be printed on your ticket. You must take the seat you are allocated rather than sit where there is space.
The seating in all of the screens is really comfortable. They all have a nice black leather covering and cup holders in every arm rest. The seats are non adjustable, which to me is great as you don't get the annoying people in front of you lying back and taking your leg room. Speaking of which, the rows are spaced out very well indeed and do offer plenty of leg room, I am only short but I do like to be able to stretch my legs at the cinema especially if the film is quite long.
Unlike my experiences of the cinema in England where you will watch numerous adverts before the film actually starts 30 minutes later than advertised, I have noticed here that the adverts begin before the advertised start time of the film and the films generally begin on time.
Ok, so it goes without saying, the cinema in Poland... surely the film will be in Polish? Well, yes and no! Most of the mainstream films for ages 15 and over are screened in English with Polish subtitles. When I first started going to the cinema here I found this to be very distracting, however I have now become immune. Animated films and those aimed at a younger audience are dubbed into Polish so if you were planning on bringing the kids here as a treat for not moaning about all the sightseeing, I would plan something else!
The size of the actual screens does vary slightly depending on the size of the room you are in, but it is always in proportion to the room size. I have sat in various locations around the room and I have always had a clear view of the screen even when there are tall people in front of us. The picture on the screen is always really sharp and the colours look very natural, I particularly enjoy that there are no flickery patches as these really bug me.
As for the sound in the cinema, I have found this to be generally fine. It's not too loud and certainly not too quiet. The only thing I have noticed which could do with improvement is if we are watching a quieter film we can often hear noise in the background from the surrounding screens, it isn't so loud that it distracts you from the film you are watching, but it is noticeable.
**Leaving the Cinema**
Once the film is over you will leave the cinema through the fire exit doors at the bottom of the screen. These can lead to anywhere! Most of the time they lead to the car park and it will be obvious which way you need to go. If they don't then I have always found the "follow the crowd" method works best as usually the majority of people will be heading for the main road and the bus stop.
The cinema is suitable for wheelchair users and can be entered via the ramp. Once inside the cinema there are no stairs to any of the screens and wheelchair users are given seats at the front of the screen.
The toilets in Multikino are generally kept clean, they do tend to have a slight toilet odour to them, but nothing so bad that you run out gagging. They have always been stocked with toilet roll, but the soap availability can be a little hit and miss. I do find it amusing that on the back wall of each toilet cubicle they have quotes from different films written entirely in English.
Overall I really enjoy our trips to Multikino, I have been to a couple of other cinemas around the city, but this one is the closest to home for me and in my opinion it is the best one here. The staff are as helpful as they can be and there is a nice selection of things to do while you wait for your film. The screen quality is great and the sound is always crisp and clear. All in all the Multikino makes for a great cinema experience and I recommend it to you if you are ever visiting Krakow and fancy a relaxing evening away from the pub.
It might also interest you that here in Poland we often get films a month or 2 after the UK so if you miss a film at home and just happen to be here then you may be able to catch it here instead.
Thanks for reading :)
Sonic the Fighters is a game available for the Playstation 3 exclusively through the Playstation Network (PSN) and therefore can only be downloaded from the Playstation Store on you PS3 console. I believe it was also a sub section of a previous Sonic the Hedgehog release on a different console many years ago but I am not 100% certain of this.
I downloaded Sonic the Fighters late one night when I couldn't sleep and fancied a change to my usual games. I think at the time I purchased it I paid £3.49. I'm not sure of the current price as it simply shows as "purchased" on my account.
**Download & Installation**
Downloading Sonic the Fighters is easy, you simply need to pay a visit to the Playstation Store on your console and select your purchase. Once purchased you will need to select "download" for the game to be installed on your system. Unlike games I have downloaded in the past Sonic the Fighters was very quick to download and install as it is only a small file.
**Sonic the Fighters**
Once my game was installed I was ready to play. I have always liked the Sonic games in the past so I was expecting something decent here too. The first thing I noticed about the game is that it has been made in 16-Bit style, well, I think it is 16-bit but I may be wrong, the graphics are identical to how my old Sega Mega Drive was.
Upon starting the game you will be taken to the main menu screen, here you will be given the option of playing Arcade mode, offline versus or take part in an online battle. You can also view the scoreboards as well as the Help & Options menu too. The modes are exactly as they sound. Personally I have played the Arcade mode the most so my review will be based mainly on my experience of this mode.
Arcade: Once you have selected Arcade mode you will need to set your preferences for difficulty, number of rounds, the time limit of each round, attack power and the number of protective barriers a character can have. These are easy to set by simply using the left analogue stick to navigate the menu. You will then have to choose your fighter from a selection of characters from various Sonic games. Now, I have always thought of myself as a Sonic fan, however there were a few characters who I had never heard of including "Fang" and "Barker", if anyone knows where these characters came from please tell me as I feel like I'm missing a chunk of Sonic knowledge!
In Arcade mode there is a total of 7 Stages, each stage will consist of the number of rounds you have chosen in the previous menus and to progress through the stages you will need to win every time. The stages are set to look like boxing rings and each stage has a different theme with a different character as your opponent. The stages get progressively harder as do the characters associated with each stage. Currently my record is reaching stage 5 out of 7, however when I first began playing I found stages 1 to 3 to be incredibly easy to win with 4 and 5 being a bit more challenging. The fighters controls are very simple with the left analogue stick controlling your characters movement and the triangle, circle, square and X buttons controlling which move your character will make. The left and right triggers on the back of the controller can also be used but I find them quite slow to react and by the time my character does the action they control I can quite easily do the same move with the individual buttons and a few extra on top of that!
When you win a round your character stands proud and ready to move on to the next round. When you have won enough rounds to win the match you will be awarded the Chaos Emeralds, for those who don't know the Sonic games the Chaos Emeralds are coloured emeralds which Sonic wins after defeating enemies. They seem to feature in most, if not all of the Sonic titles.
The aim of the game is simply to defeat all of your opponents and win the 7 Chaos Emeralds. As I haven't quite completed this task yet I am not sure what happens at the very end, but I wouldn't spoil the game by telling you if I ever did get that far!
So far I have had Sonic the Fighters on my PS3 for around a month and while I wouldn't say it is a favourite game of mine I do find it enjoyable to play and I often put it on if I fancy a quick match which is fast to load up and simply uncomplicated. My younger brother who is 10 years old came to stay with me a couple of weeks ago and I let him play in the hope that he might get further than me and unlock the last two rounds and therefore the last two Playstation Network Trophies I need to complete the game, sadly his gaming skills matched mine for once and he also only made it as far as finishing stage 5. I asked him for his thoughts on the game and he said it is good but when I told him that he could also download it for his Xbox when he got home he said "nah, its not that good!".
**Multiplayer & Online**
While my brother was here we did have a little go on the Offline Versus match, we found it was fun but nothing really spectacular and after a few matches we were ready to change the game for a better multiplayer instead.
There is also an online versus mode which I have tried to play but I always get a message saying that the game cannot connect or if it can connect it takes so long to search for players that I give up and go back to Arcade mode.
The controls of the game are easy, lots of button bashing and making sure you are facing the right direction. I did find it rather amusing when my brother struggled to pick up the controls straight away, he blamed it on the fact that he is used to 'new' and 'better' games! Personally though I had no problems hitting a few buttons and beating a few opponents.
**Playstation Network Trophies**
Sonic the Fighters does support Playstation Network Trophies, although there are only 12 trophies which can be won and as it is a PSN (Playstation Network Game) there is no platinum trophy. The trophies are extremely easy to win and within my first 2 days I had won 90% of them! The remaining 10% are the two for the final two stages.
**Price and Availability**
As I mentioned earlier I got this game through the Playstation Network and it is a PSN game so you wont find it in the shops. When I downloaded it I paid £3.49, I am not sure of the price today as it shows up as "purchased" for me, but I cant imagine it will be much more than this.
Overall I enjoy playing Sonic the Fighters. It is an easy game, well it is until you finish level 5! The music and sound effects in the game are the same as in most Sonic the Hedgehog games. The graphics aren't perfect but they do make me smile as they remind me of my Sega Mega Drive days.
I would recommend Sonic the Fighters if it is still available at the price I paid as I think it is a nice little game that most people will be able to enjoy quite easily. It is not overly violent even though it is a fighting game and there is no blood or gore anywhere in the game. When a character gets hit they loose some rings and the begin to flash to show they have been damaged. My brothers verdict was that he enjoyed playing it and he would play it again on my Playstation but he isn't going to spend his money downloading it on his Xbox.
Overall I am going to give this game 3 out of 5 stars, I do recommend it but at the same time it is a very short game and kids like my brother may loose interest quite fast! It isn't a 'bad' game but at the same time it isn't a great one either!
Thanks for reading :)
**Crazy Taxi Xbox 360. **
Back in the days of my Playstation 2 console I had a game called Crazy Taxi. At the time this game was a re-release of the Dreamcast console version. I played Crazy Taxi quite a lot and after many hours of game time it is safe to say I loved this game. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found it on Xbox 360 in the Arcade games download area! It was a simple must have purchase for me.
Crazy Taxi is, as it sounds, a driving game in which your character is a taxi driver. As the title of the game suggests, this isn't any normal taxi driving, or maybe it is! The basic idea of the game is that you need to drive around the city in either Arcade or Original mode and pick up customers. You then need to take them to their destination within the time limit shown.
Before you can play you will need to find and download the game. This is easy to do, I found the game while searching through the arcade games in alphabetical order. As with all Xbox 360 game downloads you will have the option of a free trial before confirming that you want to use your Microsoft points to make your purchase. As I already knew I loved this game in the past I didn't bother with the free trial and simply downloaded it. Download takes only a couple of minutes and once the game is downloaded it was ready to play straight away.
**Getting Crazy! **
Upon starting the game you will be shown the usual selection of start-up screens and developer logos before being taken to the main menu. It is here at the main menu where you will decide just how crazy you are going to be. The main menu offers multiple choices from Play Game through to Options and Credits. If you have never played the game before then it may be worth taking a quick look in options to check out the controls as I found I had forgotten them after not playing for so long. After refreshing my memory on the controls I was ready to play.
Once you have selected the Play Game option you will then need to choose how you want to play. There are two main options for this and one kind of mini games option known as Crazy Box. I will cover the main options first and then move onto the Crazy Box.
**Arcade or Original? **
The two main game modes are known as Arcade and Original. The basics of both modes are the same regarding the way the game is played, the only difference between the two is the city map is different in Arcade and also the graphics are better in Arcade mode too. Personally I prefer Arcade map as it is more fun and in my opinion it is easier to find my way around.
Once you have chosen your mode you will then need to choose how to play. This menu is the same in both modes and offers you the choices of "Play by Arcade Rules", "Work for 3 Minutes", Work for 5 Minutes" or "Work for 10 Minutes". All of these play modes are essentially the same and the only difference is the time you will have to play. If you choose to play by Arcade Rules you will have a bit more of a challenge as you will need to drop customer at their destinations very fast in order to gain more play time. I tend to choose "Work for 10 Minutes" but it can also depend on what I'm "supposed" to be doing instead of playing!
After choosing your preferred play mode you will finally get to choose your Crazy Taxi Driver. There are four drivers to choose from and each driver has their individual taxi's as well as their own style and personality. There are three male drivers and one female, they are Axel, B.D. Joe, Gus and last but not least Gina. Nine times out of ten I play as Gina, I think this is out of habit as she was my favourite driver in the past.
**So, Are You Ready To Make Some Crazy Money? **
After choosing your settings you will have a short moment while the game begins. Your game will always begin at the same point in the city. This is good in one way as it enables you to eventually remember which customers are the best ones but at the same time I would have liked an option to start from different points too just to add a bit of variety and more of a challenge. In all of the modes there are three kinds of customer for you to pick up. The customers are colour-coded and will have big dollar signs above their heads as well as a large circle surrounding them which you must stop in so they can jump in your car. I recommend trying to get as close as possible to the person as the timer keeps running and you don't want to waste time waiting for them to run to you and get in. So, firstly the three customer colours:
Green: These customers need to travel a longer distance and therefore will take up more of your time.
Orangey-yellow: These customers are the in-between-ers. Usually they have a medium distance to travel and they can be quite impatient and moan at you if you are taking too long.
Red: These customers are in a rush! They usually have a short distance to travel but this shorter distance comes with a shorter timer. I find that they are great if you don't have much time left and you want a few extra earnings.
Once your customer is in the car you will have a time limit for each individual customer shown above your car, as well as the game timer in the corner of the screen. Also above your car will be a big green arrow to point you in the direction you want to go. This arrow isn't exact and should be used only as a guide for sense of direction, especially in Original mode where I find that the arrow often directs me into walls and buildings. This is also one of the other reasons I prefer Arcade. When you reach your destination it will be highlighted with a big green box, you simply need to stop in this box to let your customer out. As soon as they are out of your car you will need another customer as soon as possible because the game timer doesn't stop and you need to earn as much as you possibly can.
If get your customer to their destination fast they will give you a big tip. However if you are slow they will kick your car and shout at you before walking off. If you fail to reach the destination before the timer runs out then they will jump out of the moving taxi and you wont get paid at all. I find this really annoying if I have arrived at the destination but haven't quite stopped the car in time.
This area is the area of the main menu where you can take a little break from the regular challenges of being a taxi driver and have some fun! Most of the challenges in this mode will involve using at least one of the "Crazy Manoeuvres" these include Crazy Drift, Crazy Draft, Crazy Back Drift and Crazy Back Draft to name a few. There are more but I haven't discovered how to do them yet... even after years of the Playstation 2 version and this Xbox 360 version!
The challenges in Crazy Box can be anything from performing Crazy Jumps to reach a certain point, knocking down flags and delivering 'X' amount of customers to various points through to crazy drifting around a field bursting balloons or even going Crazy Bowling to knock down as many pins as possible in your taxi! Personally I like these challenges, they vary in difficulty and some are really hard but at the same time they are all fun to play and because of the unusual challenges they are also quite addictive! I mean who doesn't fancy drifting sideways down a road which looks like a bowling alley to knock down some pins in a big yellow taxi?!
**Xbox 360 Achievements**
Like all (that I know of...) Xbox 360 games, Crazy Taxi has achievements to unlock and improve your gamer score. There are 12 achievements in total and they are worth a sum of 200G (gamer points). Most of the achievements are won for the different kinds of licence you can win during the game and then a few are awarded for completing challenges in the Crazy Box. There are no online achievements as there is no online game play.
**Price and Availability**
Crazy Taxi is available for download through the Games tab of the Xbox home screen. Unfortunately I cannot remember how many microsoft point I paid for this game as it was a while ago and now the price has been replaced with "Download Again". I don't think it was too many though as I wont pay too much for an old game which I just want to play for the memories. The game is also available in disc format as part of the Dreamcast Collection game. This features four original Dreamcast console games and is currently priced at around £6 in CEX.
While I do really enjoy this game and I am glad that I used my Microsoft points to purchase it, I do find it a little repetitive. The destinations always seem to be the same and even when I avoid certain customers in order to try and vary my route I always seem to end up driving to the same places. The game itself is exactly the same as I remember it on its previous consoles and the addictiveness is almost as high but only just. I think it would have been a little better if they had tweaked a couple of things to give a little more variety and maybe added an online mode to play against friends. The game play and graphics are good if you consider the quality of games for the time that this was originally released. The music is ok but a little too loud for my personal preference in comparison to the other sound effects in the game. These settings can be adjusted in the options menu though.
So, overall I will be recommending this game with a decent 4 out of 5 stars.
Thanks for reading :)