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The nunchuck is the Nintendo Wii's secondary controller which is utilised in some games but not required in others.
The nunchuck is designed to fit in the palm of your "other" hand (ie, right-handed people will hold it in their left hand) and connects to the Wiimote through a wire on the bottom of the nunchuck.
The controller features an analogue control stick similar to the ones you'd find on a PS3 or Xbox 360 controller as well as 2 buttons, use of which varies depending on the game you're playing.
The nunchuck is primarily used to control the movements of your on-screen character in games such as Resident Evil 4, although it can also be used for motion detection in games such as Wii Sports Boxing.
To be honest, I find that the nunchuck is quite a disappointing controller mainly because it isn't wireless and the wire can really get in your way. The Mario Olympics games for instance require you to quickly move your wiimote and nunchuck up and down to get your character to run - try this for more than a few seconds and the wire that connects the two will be flying all over the place and really getting in your way.
It's a pity, but then it's kind of like everything else with the Wii... an interesting idea, but ultimately disappointing.
I'm quite an avid gamer (with the Xbox 360 being my console of choice), usually buying around 6-8 games a year and play them pretty much constantly until I've completed them or until the next version is out (such as the FIFA and Pro Evo series).
As a gamer, I'm always interested in hearing about new stores and places to buy cheap games from. I'm quite active on Twitter and it's through the micro-blogging service that I heard about the 365 Games website. One of their deals had been re-tweeted by Frugal Gaming (who I follow) and so I clicked on the link and visited their website.
The site is professionally designed with a distinctive red, black and white colourscheme. The top portion of the page contains the site's logo, login links and search bar (which pre-fills your search results based on what you're typing - so if you start typing "call o", it'll immediately come up with the various Call of Duty games for you to select from).
Under the header is the main navigation bar which contains 6 buttons:
Home - takes you back to the home page.
Games - has a drop-down area which lets you quickly select the games you're looking for.
New Releases - lists all of the newly released video games.
Pre-Orders - lists all of the games they have available to pre-order.
Special Offers - lists all of the games they have on special offer (I think these change every week).
Cheap Games - lists all of the games they have available for under £10, this is a great place to pick up a cheap game!
They also have interesting highlights on the side of each page, such as their top 10 sellers and selected games from their special offers list as well as up-coming games that you can pre-order.
After being impressed with the look of the website, I decided to delve in further and see what their prices were like...
The offer I saw on Twitter was for the Grand Theft Auto Episodes from Liberty City expansion pack for £13.99 which is a game I'd been looking at getting since completing GTA IV, and was the cheapest I'd seen it for, so I quickly added it to my basket.
Looking at their cheap games, I also spotted Ashes Cricket 2009 for under a tenner and some decent PS3 games as well - it's just a pity that I only own a 360 at the moment!
Happy with Liberty City, I registered my details and proceeded through to the checkout. Payment is taken by PayPal or directly from your credit/debit card through SagePay (a third-party payment processor). A few minutes later I received an email confirming my order.
I placed my order at around midday on a Thursday and the game was with me the morning after, less than 24 hours after ordering - you can't ask for better service than that, and delivery was free too! I'm a regular online shopper and have never had such great service - even the likes of Play, Amazon and HMV can't compete with 365 Games for speed of delivery!
I've been incredibly impressed with 365 Games - their prices are great and delivery times are excellent. It's now the first place I check when I buy a new game!
The cleverly-named Wiimote is Nintendo's motion-sensitive controller developed for the Nintendo Wii games system. Unlike traditional games controllers (the Xbox and PS3 joypads), the Wiimote is rectangular in shape and works by waving it around and pointing it at a sensor placed above or beneath your TV.
The controller is ergonomically designed to be comfortably held in one hand (left or right) and is lightweight and easy to use. It comes with a detachable soft gel skin that helps your grip - this is something that I wouldn't recommend taking off as YouTube and Flikr are filled with pictures and videos of Wiimote-damaged furniture and TVs!
There are 4 buttons on the Wiimote - 3 standard ones on the face of the controller and one trigger button on the back of it which is utilised well in many shooting games. There's also a standard d-pad on the controller face which is used for navigating through menus and controlling your character on-screen.
The Wiimote runs off 2 AA batteries which fit easily into the back of the unit and seem to give a good playing time without them wearing out too quickly - although be warned, don't leave your batteries in the controller if you're not going to use it for a while, as they will gradually lose their charge. So it's best to take them out before you go on holiday/pack it away in the lift when you realise how crap the Wii actually is.
The bottom of the Wiimote features a port which allows attachments to be added such as the nunchuck or Wii Motion Plus accessory that has been released by Nintendo.
The Wiimote comes free with your Wii console and is sold separately for around £30, or bundled with the Wii Play game for around £35.
Is it any good? It depends on which game you're playing really. The controller give a fairly accurate representation of movement although the accuracy has recently been improved with the release of Wii Motion Plus. Some games work brilliantly, especially shooting games and sports such a golf, bowling and tennis while others just don't seem to work on the Wii - football being a prime example of having to point at the screen for the sake of it.
I don't spend a lot on the cards I buy as I think they're a waste of money, instead I usually just head down to Card Factory and pick one up for 89p.
Last week was our first wedding anniversary but to my horror Card Factory failed me - there were no "to my wife on our first anniversary" cards (which she'd said she specifically wanted), not one. And so it was decided to trawl the internet for the perfect card...
Everyone's seen the Moonpig ads and so that's where I started. The website itself is fairly messy and doesn't look particularly professional for a company that can afford to advertise on national TV. Saying that though, it is easy to use.
Simply choose your occasion to view the cards that are available. Clicking on a card allows you to view it in more detail including a larger image and the verse inside. Some cards can be customised with the text you require - I managed to change a "to my wife" card to a "to my wife on our 1st anniversary" card with little trouble.
After you've chosen your card, simply enter your details and pay with your credit/debit card.
My card arrived a couple of days later and I must say, I was very impressed with my Moonpig experience. I'm not one for buying expensive personalised cards but I was quite happy to make an exception for this special occasion.
Oh, the wife loved the card too! Which was good seeing as I'd spent £2.99 on it!
The Xbox 360 controller is used to control Microsoft's Xbox 360 video games system. It's ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in the palm of your hands, is wireless and takes its power from 2 AA batteries.
I bought my 360 just under 4 years ago, having owned a PS2 beforehand. At first, the 360 controller seemed a little on the large side - it's much more bulky than Playstation controllers, but nowhere near as big as the original Xbox controllers were, which I actually found quite difficult to hold on the odd occasion that I used them.
The 360 controller features a d-pad and 2 analogue sticks for controlling your character on-screen as well as 7 buttons on the face of the device. These buttons are the usual Xbox A, B, X and Y buttons which are used in most games as well as Start, Back and the Xbox Guide buttons which are used to pause your game and bring up sub menus.
The controller also features 4 buttons on its shoulders - 2 standard buttons and 2 trigger buttons that are good to use for shooting games as it feels like you're pulling the trigger on a real gun.
For me, the best feature of the controller is the fact that it's wireless, easily connecting to your console and meaning that you don't have wires trailing all over your living room.
The controller retails for between £25 and £30.
Ah the Nintendo Wii, where would girls and child gamers be without you?
The Wii balance board is a wireless board that is used to control some Nintendo Wii games. It's not like a traditional games controller as instead of holding a pad in your hands, you actually stand on the balance board and control the game with your feet.
While this may sound quite interesting and different, the novelty soon wears off for 2 main reasons:
1. There's very few games that use the balance board.
2. It turns out that nobody actually enjoys controlling a game with their feet.
Quite simply there's only so much fun you can have leaning slightly to the left or slightly to the right. Sure it can weigh you and tell you you're fat, but I don't need an over-priced plastic set of scales to do that when I want to play a game!
Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh on the balance board though, as my issue isn't really with it as such, it's more with the whole motion controller thing in general. God gave us thumbs to play video games and by using the other parts of our bodies we're making our thumbs useless almost up to the point where they're not needed!
The board is wireless and runs off 4 AA batteries which will need changing quite regularly (presuming you use it more than once, that is). It retails for around £70 but can be picked up a little cheaper from places like eBay.
It comes with Wii Fit a game designed to make fitness fun but which ultimately fails dramatically. The collection of mini games are mainly boring with only a hula hoop and skiing game worth even looking at.
There are other games that are balance board compatible including Super Monkey Ball, Wii Ski and Mario & Sonic Winter Olympics but these are unlikely to keep you entertained for more than a couple of hours.
In short, the Wii Balance Board is a novel idea, it's just not very good.
The wife and I both have laptops that connect wirelessly to the internet but it has always annoyed us that we had to get up, take the laptop upstairs and plug it in to our old USB printer to print things off. Lazy, I know but we'd both said how much better it'd be if we could just press and our document magically print out on the printer upstairs.
However, I'd always seen wireless printers as being expensive (£100+) and couldn't really justify the expense to save a few steps upstairs. That was until we used the last of our current printer's ink cartridges and before ordering some more, I decided to have a quick look online at how much wireless all-in-one printers were.
What I found was incredibly pleasing and surprising - all-in-one printers had become very affordable with the price dropping to around £50. A quick surf later and I came across this beauty, the HP Deskjet F4580 on HotUKDeals for less than £40! I immediately took out my credit card and (after going through Quidco) ordered my new printer from the Dixons website.
A couple of days later the printer arrived and I eagerly opened the box and began the install. The printer comes with a nice easy-to-understand set-up sheet that gives you a step-by-step guide on how to install the printer on your computer - it's a pretty easy tasks that involves you plugging the printer into your computer (via the supplied USB lead) and installing some software. The printer then copies your wireless network settings from your computer and the installation is complete! Easy-peasy lemon-squeezy! :)
After installing, it's a simple case of clicking the print button and then fetching your document from the printer tray.
The print quality is fairly impressive and it is pretty quick and responsive to button presses - it's only a few seconds after you press print that you'll hear the F4580 power-up and your document begin to print.
This printer has the added advantage that it can also scan and photocopy your documents - all to a fairly good quality level. Photocopies are handled by placing your desired document face down under the flap and pressing the copy button on the printer's beautifully-finished sleek black plastic shell.
Scans are a little different with you having to initiate the scan from the HP software that was installed when you first installed the printer. The software will give you a quick pre-scan of your document, with a fuller scan taken when you press the scan button.
All-in-all, we're very impressed with our HP wireless printer and think it was an absolute steel for less than £40! The only downside so far is that it sometimes doesn't respond when you click print - although a quick re-boot of the wireless router usually fixes this with little fuss.
I've wanted a Seat Leon ever since I passed my test (which is over 10 years ago now, dear God I'm getting old)! I don't know what it is about Leons, but I've always liked them - the shape of the body is beautiful and sporty and all-round is just looks like an excellent car.
Unfortunately, I've never been able to afford one... until this year that is!
Having gone through a Nissan Micra (which I killed), Renault Clio (which I didn't) and Peugeot 207 (again, still alive) I decided to get a new car at the beginning of the year. I wanted to take a step up in the world and the wife wanted a 5-door (possibility of trying for kids within the next year/18-months).
Looking round, we narrowed it down to 3 cars, the Leon, New Astra and Renault Megane. We did a bit of research online and decided that the new Astra was just too much starting at around £18,000 and that the Megane still looked a little weird with its big rear end. And so, it was off to the Seat garage in Chesterfield we went...
It was only supposed to be a fact-finding mission - how much would it cost? How much would they give us as part-exchange for my 207? Which model did I like? In the end, I walking out of the showroom having put a deposit down on a £15,000 shiny new Seat Leon. I loved the car on the test drive and when offered a good discount and an acceptable part-exchange price, I snapped their hands off.
Now, I'm not the biggest car man in the world - I have no idea how many cylinders the engine has got, in fact, I could barely even change a tyre on my own. So apologies if this isn't the most technical Top Gear-esque review in the world, but I'll let you know what I've found out in the 3-months or so that I've owned my Leon...
- She looks beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I opted for the standard red (Sheffield United fans have to own red cars) and I'm glad that I did. It's the colour I associate with Leons and I'm incredibly happy with it.
- The interior is great too, with the rally-like bucket seats and beautifully sleek black and grey upholstery.
- The stereo system is easy to use thanks to the handy steering wheel controls and sounds fantastic - stick some T.I. on and roll the windows down on a hot summers day! My 1.6 SE came with a USB port which is great for plugging my little 4gb memory stick in and just chilling out to my favourite tunes!
- She drives like a dream, purring along which so much power under the bonnet that I can give most cars a run for their money! :)
Are there any downsides? Well, only one that I've noticed so far - my MPG isn't great... I'm currently only getting about 30 miles per gallon which means filling up is pretty expensive... but she's worth it!
An all-round excellent 5-door car that look beautiful and performs pretty well too!
This was one of the highlights of our trip to New York - right up there with the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, the city night lights cruise by Circle Line.
The cruise runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 7pm from pier 42 which is around 20 minutes walk away from Times Square.
We got to the pier at around 6pm and bought our tickets from the ticket booth. Again the wife had excelled herself and found a voucher to buy one ticket and get another for half price, saving us $15.
After boarding the boat we purchased a plastic cup that gave us free refills of soft drinks and hot chocolate which was well worth the $7 we paid. Beer was available on board too, priced at a rather hefty $7 a bottle.
The cruise itself is a fantastic experience. Lasting for 2 hours you'll get to see the city lit up in all its glory as well as cruising under the Brooklyn Bridge and around Lady Liberty.
We did the cruise at the beginning of March when the weather was cold but it was also quite empty. This meant that we wrapped up warm, but we got our pick of the seats on the top deck of the boat, giving the best views of the breathtaking skyline.
The cruise guide was knowledgeable and friendly often welcoming questions from the audience and regaling is with stories of the areas we visited. The rest of the staff we friendly and helpful too.
I'd never heard if this film before the weekend, but saw it was on after flicking through Sky's TV guide. I read the synopsis, saw it was a romantic comedy and sat down with the wife to watch it.
It starts off with a fairly common concept, Connor (played by rom com veteran Matthew McConaughey) is a ladies man, only ever after one thing, never committing to anyone and breaking hearts along that way. That is until he's invited to his brothers' wedding where he is visited by the ghosts of his girlfriends past present and future.
These ghosts show the major parts of Connor's life that have made him turn out the way he is. But will these visions be enough to see him change his lifestyle and get together with his childhood sweetheart?
I must admit, I did quite enjoy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, it was an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes and there were a few twists and turns along the way, coupled with some funny scenes and romantic moments. Looking back through Connor's life enabled you to emphasise with the lead characters and you really do care if everything turns out well in the end or not. Although a but of a jerk, the lead character was well portrayed by Matthew McConaughey and it was nice to see the leading lady as a normal-looking person than one of the stunning girls that he'd been with before.
It's not the best romantic comedy ever made (that's 50 First Dates in my opinion), but it is very good and well worth watching.
A great way to see New York is above ground on one of the many hop on hop off bus tours that run throughout the day. There are only really 2 companies who run these tours and after researching the routes online the wife decided that we should go with Gray Line.
Gray Line run 4 different guided tours around New York these are: Central Park and Harlem, Downtown, Brooklyn and the City Lights tour. The tours are $44 per person per tour or you can do what we did and pay an extra $10 for 48 hours unlimited travel.
During our 2 days we did every tour available and learned many interesting things about New York City its history, architecture and culture. The quality of the tour guide varies depending on who you get on your route, we found them to be generally pretty good, with one guy being particularly funny and informative.
For me the best two routes were downtown showing you the skyscrapers in the financial district and the excellent city lights tour which shows you the Big Apple in all its night time glory.
Each tour lasted around 90 minutes to 2 hours and some buses even have open top roofs which give you a great view of the city - just remember to wrap up warm on the cold winter days!
Tickets can be purchased from the street or online beforehand which I think gave you a $4 discount.
It is worth remembering that the bus tours aren't the quickest way to get around the Big Apple - if you're in a rush you'll be much quicker if you use the subway. This is however a great way to find all about this fantastic city.
I'd been looking forward to playing House of the Dead Overkill ever since a mate cane to work one day saying how brilliant it was. However, I'd never actually got around to ordering it as I'm generally too busy playing on my Xbox. That was until I saw it in gameplay.co.uk's January sale for just £9.98, I clicked the order button and a few days later the game arrived.
I'd played the old House of the Dead arcade games and was very much looking forward to firing the Wii up, and I must say I wasn't disappointed.
The game is presented in a grindhouse style and even the menu systems reflect this. You play as Agent G, an American government agent whose job it us to go around and shoot all manor of zombies, mutants and monsters. The graphics are pretty decent for the Wii (obviously they're not as good as the PS3 or Xbox 360, but they're certainly not bad for Nintendo's under-powered machine).
The game is played in 1st person view with just your crosshairs and your enemies visible on-screen. The simple aim of the game is to shoot anything that moves without dying. Levels last around 10-15 minutes and the better you do on each level, the more money you're rewarded with and the better gun you can buy for yourself.
It's a really fun first person shooter and in my opinion it's the 2nd best game that there is on the Wii after Resident Evil 4. However, there are one or two problems with the game...
For a start, it's way too short. There's only around 8 or 9 levels meaning that the game only takes a couple if hours to complete which us criminally short for a game in this day and age. There's also no replay value at all - the Wii doesn't have achievements or trophies and for me this made it a complete-once, then put on PlayTrade kind of game.
The constant swearing can get a little annoying too, especially when there really isn't any need for it.
However, these are only minor flaws in what is otherwise an excellent game.
You can get House of the Dead Overkill for around £10-£15 if you're lucky. My advice is to spend the same amount again on a gun for you Wii too, as it'll make the shooting a little more authentic.
We flew into and out of John F Kennedy International Airport on our trip to New York in March. The airport seemed to be pretty large and had flights landing and taking off every couple of minutes - as you'd expect really seeing as it's one of the busiest airports in the world!
After landing, we departed the plane fairly quickly, although we did have the usual 'stand up for 5 minutes while we wait for somebody to open the door' routine like you seem to do on every plane - why does it take them so long to open the door? After the doors were opened, it was a quick run down to security where you have your photo taken and fingerprints scanned. Luckily for us, it was quite quiet when we landed and we only waited around 10 minutes to be called forward.
A couple of nervous minutes later we were let into the country (I say nervous as technically I should have had a Visa to travel to the US, but luckily I didn't show up on any of their checks) and made our way to baggage reclaim and then to the airport sky train.
The sky train circles the airport's terminals, connecting them with the car parks and the New York subway which was where we headed to. We probably had to wait around 10 minutes for our train and the journey to the subway takes around 15 minutes if my memory serves me correctly. However, on the way you get a fantastic view of all the beautiful buildings in this amazing city. The views alone make it well worth the $5 fee.
Coming back, the departures area is much like any other airport with several fast food outlets, a couple of sit-down restaurants and a few shops thrown in too. There's not really much to comment on, but I must advise you not to use the "free" wireless broadband on your iPhone, as being on it for around 5 minutes cost me over £3 - I dread to think how much it'd have been if we'd been delayed!
A week after watching the first Legally Blonde the wife decided that we should sit down together and watch the sequel, the imaginatively-titled Legally Blonde 2. Or as I like to call it, Legally Blonde 2: Dear God, Why?
The first film was a fairly decent film, nothing special but nice to put on and snuggle up to your partner with. It had a few funny moments and I did quite enjoy it. The same can't be said for the sequel though.
Legally Blonde 2 is set a couple of years after the original and sees Elle and Emmett planning their wedding. Elle is still obsessed with her horrible little dog and wants to invite its mother to the wedding (and I'm not joking here). After a bit of research she finds out that the dog's mother is at a cosmetic research facility and so travels to Washington to try and make animal testing illegal.
It's a stupid storyline that sees a lot of boring scenes in court and lots of confusing American terminology including bills and senators.
It's an incredibly dull film that drags on and makes the 90 minutes seem like 90 hours. It's not funny, it's not romantic and it's an absolute bore for the entire duration if the film.
The last weekend of the football season gave us a long away trip to Ipswich and deciding to make a weekend of it, the wife and I booked a couple of nights away at a country lodge in Norfolk. The lodge came with its own DVD player and so the wife wanted to get a new DVD for the trip.
The trouble is, we're quite into our romantic comedies and so we've seen a lit of what the Internet has to offer. That was until the Mrs found the Legally Blonde double pack for £3.99 from Play.com. The DVD was ordered and arrived just in time for our weekend away.
Legally Blonde stars Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods - a stereotypical dumb blonde who only ever thinks about shoes, shopping and puppies. She has the perfect boyfriend and is expecting a marriage proposal from him.
Sure enough he invites her out to dinner where he turns her world upside down - by dumping her! It's quite a funny early twist and one which I didn't see coming! His reason for dumping her are quite simple - she's a dumb blonde and he wants somebody with a bit more substance.
Annoyed by this Elle enrols in a law course at Harvard in order to prove her ex wrong. What follows is 90 minutes of silly entertainment that's light-hearted and funny in places.
Reece Witherspoon plays the dumb blonde role quite well and certainly looks good in some of the outfits they put her in. However I couldn't help but think the role would have been perfect for Isla Fisher, but that's just a personal opinion as I have a bit of a thing for Mrs Ali G!
The supporting cast isn't really explored as the vast majority of the film is centred on Witherspoon's character. This is a pity as I would have liked to have seen a little more of Luke Wilson who plays Elle's new love interest.
Overall, I'd say that it's not the worst film in the world, but it's certainly not the best either. It lacks the romance of the likes of 50 First Dates and the comedy of Knocked Up, but if you're into your romantic comedies it's certainly worth a watch!