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Amazon is a website that everyone knows that you can buy virtually anything from. I, however, did not start using it until I realised that some of their products were much cheaper than where I usually brought from (Play.com) which was about four years ago. Since I heard a lot about the website and my father had ordered a substantial amount of stuff from there I believed that it must be worthwhile.
When entering the Amazon website, you are greeted with a very busy front page. In the middle is the offer's they are promoting and below that is a list of recommendations for you as an individual customer. Finding the products you would like to purchase is easy - though there are two methods of doing it. The long and hard way is to click the category the product is under until you get to the type of thing you want (which sometimes even the most tech savvy person can accidently pick the wrong category).This maybe the way one would prefer to do it if one is looking for similar products of the same thing. However the easier way is to just type what one is looking for into the search bar and -hey presto- you should see the product one wants to buy right in front of you. This method also gives you alternative options below the product you are looking for.
Once you find a product you may be looking for, naturally one clicks on the page for extra information. Here, the most prominent features to load are the picture of the product you are interested in, the name of the product at the top, the price (sometimes along with the stated saving against RRP) and possibly a star rating (depending on whether it has been rated yet or not). Sometimes, Amazon has different pictures to view the product from different angles that are usually in small thumbnails below the main picture. If one also wants to zoom in on the pictures, one can hover over the pictures with the computer cursor to get a much larger image next to it. Alternatively, by clicking on the picture one can view the pictures in a larger separate window. On the right hand side of the page, you get the following options: quantity, add to basket, buy with one click (with addresses below it if you are an existing member), add to wish list and share (where you can show others by either email, facebook or twitter the product you would like). Personally, I have never used the 'share' options before because I would rather tell individual friends about certain products instead of my whole friends list. As one moves further down the product page, one comes across a product specification, product details and product description. Generally, these sections tell one just about everything one needs to know about the specific product.
However, if personal experiences with the product are what you are looking for, customer reviews are at the bottom of the page (if the product has not had any reviews, there seems to be a small picture of an oriental man in its place for some reason). When looking at customer reviews, do not simply just look at star ratings. Some customers have sometimes rated products down dramatically because they have received the order late (generally due to last year's snow) which does not indicate how good the product is itself. Before dooyoo, Amazon's customer reviews helped me decide on whether I wanted to buy a certain product or not.
Let us not forget that on the product pages, Amazon lets us know what other customers have bought when buying that particular product (generally similar to what one is looking at in the first place). They also suggest what to buy with the product we could potentially be buying giving a grand total of what you could spend if you bought the other recommended products too. Although I like other product suggestions, I get a little peeved at being given a grand total of some other products I do not generally need although I can see how this could be helpful to others especially when buying presents for others.
My experiences with Amazon have been been positive. Putting items into your virtual basket and paying for them could not be easier with Amazon. When signed up, buying gets even easier. Amazon saves your address and card details while the payment methods are completely secure. One also has the option of next day delivery or free super saver delivery (which I always request). Generally my items arrive at my house either before or within the time period specified which is great since I'm impatient. Transactions with Amazon have been completely easy. One can even keep up to date with dispatching with your own Amazon page win which you can look get details on the product you have just bought.
My experiences with buying from Amazon sellers (the companies that do not work for Amazon) have generally quite good. These sellers sometimes sell items for quite a lot less than Amazon sometimes including the P&P. Most of the time, I would recommend buying from the individual sellers if they are cheaper because they are usually reliable and send authentic, non-counterfeit products. Do look at seller rating and make sure they have had a lot of positive feedback from buyers.
I have only had one dodgy encounter with a seller when I bought a DVD and believed it was not legitimate once it had arrived. After sending an email to the seller through the Amazon system saying I wanted to return the product and get a refund due to my suspicions, I was swiftly replied to and the money forwarded back into my account (without me returning the DVD so I still have it). I was quite lucky to have all my money refunded however some others may not be as lucky as I was.
Does Amazon live up to the hype? Yes it does. With prices generally cheaper on the website, people should have little doubts with buying from the company it's self. Products are generally sent quickly and payment methods uncomplicated. Amazon has also crafted a website that is easy to search around to find the product one wants exactly. However, some should be weary of buying from a small minority of private sellers. Despite that though, Amazon has really been a life saver for my small pocket.
After years of having baths, I finally gave in to have showers at university since that was the only facility available to me. With so many products on the market, it was difficult to decide what products would compliment my new regular showering experiences. Considering I have a soft spot for fruity fragrances, I settled on buying Original Source Lime shower gel. This product usually retails at around £2 but I tend to buy it when it is on offer at half the price at £1!
Original Source shower gels come in a 250ml bottle that is clear with a black cap at the bottom. The packaging is great because the bottle is see-through because you can see exactly how much shower gel one has left which means one has to do less guess work when trying to determine when the bottle is completely empty. This is not the only great thing about the packaging since the bottle is shaped so the black lid is on the bottom of the bottle. This works with gravity meaning that the consumer gets the most out of every bottle they buy. However, as one reviewer mentioned, the bottle is not shaped with a hook meaning one cannot hook it up in the shower. This did not bother me greatly but with this small tweek to the packaging, Original Source would have created a bottle that uses has slightly less space in their consumers shower cubicle.
With a brand name like 'Original Source', one would expect that products with that name would have as many natural components in them as possible. Original source does not disappoint. The bottle clearly states all over the bottle different nuggets of information such as '100% pure and natural essential oils' which leave me as a consumer quite impressed. Each bottle has been made with the juices of forty limes and says on the back 'suitable for vegans' (which I had never thought about before use of this shower gel). All of this made me think a little bit more about what goes into other shower and bath products.
Upon opening this product, the smell hits if you squeeze the bottle even slightly. One can certainly tell that forty limes have been used to create this product! The citrus smell is overwhelming in a very pleasant way (especially while using the product). The smell also lingers because I can sometimes smell this in my bathroom for a good couple of hours after I have used the product.
So, what about the actual liquid itself? The lime shower gel is actually bright green (which makes me question slightly how they achieved that colour with all natural ingredients) which is eye catching and looks good in the bottle. The gel itself is also the right consistency for going on my exfoliating puff. It was not too thick you are waiting ages for it to run out the bottle nor was it so runny that you ended up with too much on ones puff. It also lathers up rather nicely too (even in the hard water area I live in) and leaves my body feeling rather refreshed after my scrub. The one thing that I am a little disappointed in is that it does not leave my body smelling of limes after a shower. The smell is so nice this would have been a bonus if it left a lingering smell on me for a couple of hours.
Should others go out and buy this product? Yes - although I would recommend stocking up when it's half price! The product itself leaves one feeling fresh and is perfect for vegans looking for products that fit in with their ethos. However I shaved a star off this product due to the fact the smell does not linger on my skin post shower. Despite this, this shower gel is really full of limey goodness!
As a student, I try to live on a budget which includes what I eat. Baked beans (like the majority of homes) are a staple to any cupboard since they are cheap and tasty. They make up a key ingredient of a fry-up, taste fabulous on toast and if one is really poor they make a fabulous evening meal on a jacket potato. Usually, I have stuck to buying either Aldi's own brand 'Corale' or Sainsbury's basics range which cost around 28p. I first bought these beans myself when Tesco had an offer offering individual tins of Branston's baked beans at the same price as their value range tins. Although I had eaten this brand before at home, I had not taken much notice of their taste before I bought these at university.
Branston's beans come in a 410g tin that requires a can opener to open the tin. 410g is the perfect size because one can get two portions out of a tin and still feel satisfied. Unfortunately, Branston's beans do not offer a ring pull on the tin unlike Heinz which means one has to struggle with dodgy can openers at times. Generally though, this is not really a problem as long as I can somehow get to the contents inside.
The beans inside the tin seem a deeper colour than other baked beans I have come across. The hue is much more of a dark orange colour in comparison to both Heinz and supermarket brand beans which to me, is much more appealing because the colour looks less artificial. The sauce is also very thick which is a welcome property of the baked beans because I have always found supermarket beaked beans have a very thin tomato sauce. The beans themselves are very regular too which means one does not get a contrast between big and tiny beans on one's plate.
Like every other tin on baked beans, Branston's beans can be heated up either in the microwave or on the hob. My preferred method is to heat beans over the hob because I have found it makes bean sauce thicker and richer. However, Branston's beans do not need much improvement as they are so tasty for the price. In comparison to other brands the tomato sauce is much more flavoursome and in my opinion, not as sweet as Heinz baked beans. Despite the sauce being thick, it does still get absorbed into my food (which is perfect for me when eating them with toast or on a jacket potato!).
Would I recommend these to others? Certainly. Branston's have made what I consider the perfect baked beans. The flavours are what baked beans should taste like and the sauce is not horrible and runny. Currently, Asda are selling these beans for £1 for a pack of four. Per tin, these work out even cheaper than Smart-price and are much tastier. Branston's beans are a must have for the food cupboard.
Compeed Blister Plasters: surely this is just another product on the market cashing in on peoples discomfort while actually making no difference whatsoever? That is just what I thought before I used these. I would see them in the shops and think 'I bet they are no better than a regular plaster'. My friend was the person to prove me wrong
After getting a blister from a new pair of shoes, my friend insisted on me using one of Compeed's blister plasters because he could see how much pain I was in. I thought it was worth a try and I have never looked back since.
The packaging of this product is in a green/turquoise box with a picture of a foot wearing a blister plaster. Underneath it says 'Compeed' clearly so one cannot mix it up with another product in the medicine cabinet (which is where I keep mine). The box just pops by bending down the flap. Those who have weak fingers may find this difficult but for most people, it is fine. Inside, you will find that each pack contains five medium sized blister plasters which in my opinion are quite sizable and will cover most sized blisters. They are clear but get yellower and thicker towards middle which I am assuming is where the medicated stuff is. The application of these plasters is simple. Just peel off the back and stick over the blister. Compeed have made this easier for their consumers as they have separated one edge which helps one avoid the tedious moment of trying to separate the sticky part from the plastic.
However the most important question is 'Do these blister plasters really work?' Yes they do. I would go as far as to say they are a miracle cure for painful, blistered feet. For the backs of the heels, these are perfect. Compeed have devised these plasters to be as discrete as possible and tend to be noticeable on the foot (unless it becomes tacky and dirt starts to slip under the plaster). These have been a must for my friends and I for a night out with new shoes (heels in particular).
On the other hand these are not particularly great for blisters on the balls of the feet. The problem is mainly that the plasters slip away from the affected area since it is an active part of the foot. However, I have used these blister plasters to ease pain on a blood blister just underneath my toes but cut slits into the plaster to fit around my toes (although on the packet recommend you should not). This worked perfectly and did stay put. I would therefore recommend that anyone considering using Compeed Blister Plaster's on the ball of the foot to only do so if they pan on making incisions in the product to put in between ones toes.
So would I recommend these plasters to others? I would most definitely. These blister plasters truly are a life saver for blister-clad feet. Although this product is not ideal for the balls of the feet, the plasters really do sooth feet from painful blister. These are a must buy for any medicine cabinet/first aid kit.
With so many earphones on the market these days, it is hard to know what to buy. You can choose from 'in-ear' to 'ear bud' style with everyone wanting good sound quality as well as a pair of earphones that last through all activities. When buying a new set of earphones, I wanted it all the quality features but without the high price tag. After hearing many of my friends rave about how great the quality of Skullcandy was, I decided to buy a pair for myself. I settled for the 'Skullcandy Dubs S2DUCZ-042' as they were in-ear (which I love for comfort) and with a £9.99 price tag from Argos, I decided they were worth a shot.
In Argos, these earphones come in 6 different colours: black, white, blue, green, gold and purple. I settled for the purple since it was the most feminine colour available. However I must warn that the catalogue and internet did not show the true colour of these earphones and it could be the same for others. The catalogue displayed a light purple colour but these were in fact a very deep purple which actually looked quite masculine. The set of earphones came with 3 sets of bud sizes which are easy to change depending on the size of your ear. Then black cable is supposedly at a length of 1.3m (which I have not measured but it seems about right). Each earphone has a small silver Skullcandy logo and the logo is also located just above the jack too. The jack plug itself is of regular size and will plug into any iPod or laptop etc. This means one does not need to go out and buy an adapter for being able to use them with MP3's. Argos offers a three year warranty for this product for £1.99. After my experience, I highly recommend buying it.
After plugging these earphones into my iPod, my ears were in heaven. The sound quality was amazing with the earphones strongly enhancing the bass in my music (which was helped along a little by my iPod being set to bass booster). Unlike most other cheap earphones I have owned, the sound has not been at all tinny and sometime I forget how cheap I bought these as I would say my music quality matches that of other more expensive earphones I have tried out. However, this is coming from an ordinary person who does not know the technicalities of audio and sound equipment. They are quite loud earphones too. I only have to have my iPod on half volume to satisfy my ears. Also these buds are great for people what want earphones that block out background sound which I know is a plus point for many teenagers.
For comfort, these earphones also score top marks also. With the three different ear pieces that are changeable, generally you can find a pair that suits your ears best. My favourite were the smallest pair however I now have to wear the medium sized ones because I lost one of the small ear pieces when in the supermarket. One of the disadvantages of the changeable ear bud pieces is that they can easily be lost as they are not fixed and slip off the earphones easily. This means I would not recommend keeping these in your pocket. However the buds are very comfortable because the soft black rubber seems to mould itself to the shape of your ear and does not easily fall out.
However, the biggest flaw of this product is how long they have lasted. I have only owned these earphones for about four months and the left earphone has already stopped working. Since music is usually in stereo now, I have to put up with hearing only half my music and missing the best parts of some songs (like guitar solos). This has been a real pain and I have not had a pair of earphones that have become broken in such a short space of time. This could be resolved by Skullcandy by fixing the design to have an L-shaped jack. If one is thinking of buying this product, I highly recommend buying the three year warranty.
Would I recommend these to others? I believe these should only be bought if one is looking for 'disposable' earphones. When fully working, these are fabulous earphones that are comfortable to wear with great sound quality. However I feel the most important criteria has not been fulfilled with this product since this is not a product that will last someone for years. I find it such a shame for a pair of earphones that could quite easily been the perfect for general consumers. I warn others to buy this product with caution.
After sampling this in a small bistro for a desert, I was desperate to find the recipe. Although I trawled the internet for successful recipes, I had to adapt my own. This is an absolutely delicious desert and a must try for lovers of chocolate and Baileys.
284ml double cream (NOT whipping cream, though Elmlea Light Double Cream does work)
200g milk chocolate
25g dark chocolate
50ml Baileys Irish Cream
1. Gently heat the cream in a saucepan on a low heat until the cream starts to 'shiver' (make sure the mixture does not start to bubble and boil)
2. Add in all the chocolate and stir in until all the chocolate has melted. Take off saucepan off the heat.
3. Pour in the Baileys carefully and stir into the chocolatey mixture. If one feels 50ml's is too strong, add 25ml and taste the mixture to determine whether more Baileys needs to be added.
4. Pour mixture into the ramekins and chill for 3 hours minimum. For best results, chill overnight for a firm chocolate pot.
For presentation, one may want to serve with whipped cream on top and/or grated chocolate.
I have used this recipe in conjunction with a biscuit base to make a Baileys chocolate cheesecake. This is also a dinner party pleaser.
I hope this recipe is of use to some people :)
Despite being twenty years young, I remember the days when internet was simplistic and one had to make tough decisions over which program to watch and record if two programs you wanted to watch were on at the same time. With the current internet technology, one does not have a dilemma since the BBC has brought us BBC iPlayer - the BBC television catch-up channel.
To me, the catch-up services available for most channels have been a godsend. The best two in my opinion are 4OD (Channel 4 television) and BBC iPlayer. Each of these services has their merits and downfalls. I will be reviewing BBC iPlayer with only occasional references and comparisons to 4OD.
When first visiting the BBC iPlayer website, the most prominent colours that stand out are black, pink and white. It seems to give the BBC catch-up service a somewhat gloomy feel though this does not detract from the purpose of this page. The page has a number of ways you can search for programs. One can look alphabetically, categorically, through the most popular or even through the past TV listings for the last week. Not forgetting you can search for something through the 'Search' bar provided. The BBC even has a 'Featured' part on the screen which dominates the page which is there for people to watch a program/film they may not have watched if it had not been pointed out to them.
With BBC iPlayer, you can watch almost everything that has been aired on any of their television or radio programs. This was a lifesaver for me in university since I did not have a TV license and it is not illegal to watch programs that are not being watched live. The BBC does allow one to stream live programs, but will alert you before streaming to ask you if you own a TV licence. Many programs tend to be put online straight after the program has aired. Television that has been recorded live is usually put online quite a while afterward I have found (such as Crimewatch and the live episode of Eastenders last year). BBC iPlayer out of all the catch-up services is the quickest to upload television content which makes using it more appealing.
However despite programs being quickly uploaded, they are also quite quickly taken down too. Episodes such as Crimewatch are taken down after just 24 hours after the program has aired (even if it has not been uploaded for 12 hours) and the majority of programs only stay up about a week. There are some program episodes that are kept up for longer (such as The Apprentice) but this is nothing in comparison to 4OD where some of their shows are kept on the internet for years. I understand this is down to funding but this does not stop short term uploads being quite irritating.
The new iPlayer (which has been around for over a year now) is not all that brilliant in comparison to their old one. One feature that I still miss is the 'Last Watched' column which showed one what programs I had viewed on the website. This was very handy if you had started watching something and for some reason could not finish it until later on. Why the BBC decided to remove this feature I do not know. This would be one of the features that would improve the website.
The quality of streaming is quite good (if you have a decent internet bandwidth of course).The picture is always clear and the fabulous thing about the BBC is that it provides programs without the interruption of adverts (unlike 4OD and ITV Player). With iPlayer having no adverts, I find that it has the edge over other catch-up services available to the British public.
The BBC does not only allow you to stream directly from the internet, by downloading the BBC iPlayer download centre one can download programs and watch them without being connected to the internet. This is helpful for anyone who has dodgy internet r wanting to download programs on their laptop for long journeys. However I find after downloading iPlayer to ones laptop, it constantly appears on your screen when you start up your computer or laptop.
Lastly, the beauty of BBC iPlayer is it is not restricted to viewing on ones laptop or computer. It is now available to be used on a variety of media devices. It is downloaded onto my Wii and my PS3 and I find that it is useful having them on these consoles because I can catch up with the television I have missed in bed or when there is nothing I want to watch on the television. I have also seen that iPlayer is available on Virgin Media and BT Vision boxes (owned by my Grandma and my Mum respectively.) This means one does not have to miss out on catch-up television in ones living rooms either.
Overall, I personally find that services such as BBC iPlayer incredibly useful in a society where the internet has grown to satisfy our needs. With iPlayer, one does not need to record everything on Sky+ or on a recordable DVD player because it is all online for us to watch. This service really has improved modern day television watching.
After being partial to Katy Perry's earlier songs such as 'Hot n' Cold' and 'Waking Up in Vegas', I decided to purchase the Teenage Dream album off Amazon. This is her second album (at the height of her pop career) and I expected a CD filled with bubblegum filled songs to bop along to. It did not fail to disappoint though many of the songs appear to be far more than just catchy pop tunes. This was such a good album that it reaffirmed me as a fan and led me to buy tickets to her 'California Dreams' tour. Here is a list of the tracks:
01 - Teenage Dream
This is personally one of my favourite songs. 'Teenage Dream' starts off very light and delicate with minimal instruments playing in the background with it moving into a quite punch, heavily instrumental chorus. This song is essentially about someone making her feel like she is living out her teenage dream - a perfect romance. I enjoy listening to this song because it is a love song without being overly soppy which can be quite generic in the pop industry. 5/5.
02 - Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)
'Last Friday Night' stood out for me as a really good album track before it was released as a single quite recently. This is a song that is not out of character for Katy Perry. This song is very much typical pop and is a very light hearted song. It is about Friday night antics and how it is hopefully going to be repeated again. This is a great song for parties for people to sing along to. Unfortunately, I have overplayed this as well as it getting a lot of airplay after being released as a single. 4/5.
03 - California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)
Again, Katy Perry does not fail to deliver what typifies modern pop. 'California Gurls' is in no way a deep and meaningful song and was probably produced to be a hit single and to be a song of the summer (2010). I love this song because it is a feel good, shallow song. Snoop Dogg (although not a fan of rap) improves this song and does not detract from its hit single qualities. This song is for anyone that enjoys a catchy song. 5/5.
'Firework' is the song on the album which is supposed to be one of those meaningful songs that should deliver the message of 'no matter who you are, you are fabulous'. It is in the same vain as Christina Aguilera's 'Beautiful'. In my opinion, many of the lyrics do not make sense but it is quite a different song with heavier use of string instruments (e.g. violins) than in most pop songs. Initially, I enjoyed this song before it was released as a single and was one of her better album tracks. However, this song has started to grate on me because it has been overplayed as a feel-good song. This song will probably be appreciated when you need a pick me up. 3/5
This song is definitely one of the reasons why you would not buy this alum for your 7-year-old child. Full of sexual suggestions and innuendos with a chorus repeating 'Peacock' with much emphasis and repetition on the latter half of the word and singing the lyrics 'Come on baby, show me what your hiding underneath'. Initially a very catchy song when you listen to it through the first few times but then it will start to get annoying due to its heavy repetition. I would think this would be a popular choice of song for girls in their mid-teens as they would enjoy laughing at the lyrics. Because this song is so repetitive and too suggestive for all age groups, I cannot rate this highly. 2/5.
06 - Circle the Drain
'Circle the Drain' is one of the better album tracks on 'Teenage Dream' because one can tell how personal the song is to Katy Perry. The rockier tone compliments the relatively angry lyrics which are written about her ex-boyfriend Travie McCoy (of Gym Class Heros) and his drug addiction. The lyrics explain why she left him and if his relationship with drugs was different there could have been a future for them. I really do enjoy this song as it is quite different to the other songs on the album due to its rockier nature. 5/5.
07 - The One That Got Away.
Following the same tone as most of the album, this is obviously about one of Katy's teenage sweethearts. The song title gives you a pretty good idea of what the lyrics are about: the past with her ex-boyfriend and regret that things did not work out. It has an upbeat tempo but is not heavy on the instrumental which perfectly complements the singing. I like listening to this song but I would not recommend listening to this if you have just split up with a partner. 5/5.
08 - E.T.
For those of you who have heard the single version with Kanye West, the version on the album is just Perry's singing on the album without West's rapping. This song is about an 'alien lover'. This song has very odd lyrics with a very strange (yet fitting) electronic background. This song had to grow on me. To begin with, I hated this song and wondered why on earth was this going to be released as a single. The more this was played, the better it became. I personally find the album version better than the version featuring Kanye West. Still, this is not the best song on the album. 3/5.
09 - Who Am I Living For?
'Who Am I Living For?' is the album's most forgettable track and because of this my least favourite. This song is about war and the feeling probably felt by a soldier. Many who know someone in the army may enjoy this song because of its meaning. The prominent sound of this song is Perry's vocals where at various points in the song she demonstrates her vocal range. Unfortunately, despite its deep meaning, it is a song on the album I always skip. 1/5.
10 - Pearl
'Pearl' is a very meaningful song which I feel many women can relate to. Perry sings the lyrics about a woman who has been changed by a man who does not want her to be in any way superior to him. The 'Pearl' is symbolic of what the woman was. For me, there is an equal balance of vocals to the tune which makes the song somewhat uninteresting without listening to the lyrics. This is a song I listen to on occasion when I am in the mood. 3/5.
11 - Hummingbird Heartbeat
'Hummingbird Heartbeat' is an incredibly upbeat song and one of my favourite songs on the album. The melody is heavy but is nicely complimented by Perry's punchy singing. The song's lyrics are not really very deep and personal. Perry basically sings about sexual relations with a lover which again (like Peacock) shows this is not your regular pop album you can give to children. Despite this, 'Hummingbird Heartbeat' never fails to put a smile on my face on a bad day. 5/5.
12 - Not Like The Movies
No word describes this song better than 'delicate'. 'Not Like The Movies' is definitely what I would presume to be the most meaningful song on the 'Teenage Dream' album to Katy Perry. The song uses piano and gentle vocals which really gives you a feel of the importance of the song. As one could guess, Perry sings about how love is not how it is portrayed in the films. Although this song is a great one, I cannot listen to it on a bad day. 5/5.
Overall, this album is worth a listen to any pop fans. It is a mix of pop anthems as well as meaningful songs. If I were to put a theme to this album, it would definitely be romance and relationships. I can firmly say with this album, it is staying on my iPod.
Most Disney games released for the new consoles have been linked to new movies (e.g. Toy Story 3, Bolt, Up). However, Epic Mickey has been created from an original story and a new chapter to Mickey's story. The first Mickey game I have ever player was Mickey Mania for the Super Nintendo but the creators regurgitated the same game a few years later for the Playstation One only with a slightly different name. Disney obviously needed a new way of making money and without releasing the same game for a third time, they have created a different story and used the Wii controls to their full capacity.
As a fan of games that are based around cartoons and worlds full of colour, I asked for Epic Mickey for Christmas after seeing that is had won gaming awards. I clearly understood from reviews online that I was to expect an adventure game with a very strong storyline - and I was not disappointed.
The story begins where a mischievous Mickey discovers he can go through his mirror and starts painting and thinning a land that a wizard style character has created. Mickey then accidently creates the Shadow Blot Monster which sucks him into the 'Wasteland'. Here, is where game the game is played. The player soon learns about Oswald, the character that has been replaced by Mickey in the early 20th Century. Oswald at the start of the game tries to sabotage Mickey's adventure as revenge for being Walt Disney's favourite. Epic Mickey almost has two storylines running through the game because of both Oswald and the Shadow Blot. This is not to say this does not work since I found the story engaging and leaving me wanting to play it for longer.
The basis of game play in this game is using paint or thinner to determine the outcome of game play. Squirting thinner (green) and paint (blue) is done by aiming the Wii remote at the screen and pressing the appropriate button. Paint is seen as a 'friendly' type of weapon because it lets monsters become your friend and can attack other enemies on your behalf. Thinner however is seen as 'unfriendly as this dissolves enemies so they will not disturb you again. I personally like the idea of this as it gives the player the opportunity to decide how they want to play the game rather than having to do certain things in order to progress.
Epic Mickey also allows players to do mini tasks for other characters in the game. Whether it be proving Small Pete's innocence to the Gremlin's or finding Electronic Goofy/Daisy/Donald's missing body parts around the worlds, many of these tasks are optional. Many even have two paths of either a 'Thinner' (evil) decision or Paint (good). Using Small Pete as an example, the task is to find his log to prove he is not a bad guy. Players have the option of giving the log back to Small Pete (and reap the benefits later in the game) or give it to a Gremlin who will offer you a 'Pin' (which are essentially collectables). Again, this gives one options on how they would like to determine the outcome of the game.
However, one of the downsides of this game is the game designers have not checked out camera angles properly. Sometimes the camera can zoom in or out causing game play to be very difficult especially when you are trying to fight some of the blot monsters. The player has no options on changing the camera angles at times when they most need to. I feel this is one area where the creators should have considered manual camera control.
One thing Epic Mickey has tried to do is combine both old-school platform gaming and the more modern seamless format. The majority of the game is played in the 'seamless' style where you run around splatting paint and thinner everywhere. However, going between worlds you have to go through platformer style levels. These parts are quite fun - for a short while. The levels then become tedious toward the end of game play because you have to go to in and out of several worlds to complete certain tasks you have to go through these levels several times. The creators could have improved this by only having to run though the platformer levels once each stage of the game.
Overall, I feel that the previous review on this game has been a little harsh on it. Epic Mickey is not for the serious gamer, it was made for those who like a good story and like familiar characters. The story running through the game is strong and keeps you hooked and gives players options throughout game play. The only downside to this game is (eventually) tedious platform levels as well as shoddy camera angles. This is a great game for children since the controls are not hard to master and because it's Disney they will know a lot of the characters! This game is not a must buy but it certainly is not a game people should be put off from buying.
As Mario is one of Nintendo's biggest stars, they are always trying to find new ways to incorporate him and his friends into games for their newest consoles. Although Mario Kart is not a fresh concept for Mario (as they had previously done a Mario Kart for the Gamecube), Nintendo have managed to develop Mario Kart into something quite different by effectively integrating the new Wii controls.
Unless you buy the 'Game Only' version of Mario Kart Wii, the game comes with a Wii wheel to insert your handset in and a massive instruction booklet in so many languages that I have never bothered to read it. I would highly recommend getting the version with the official Wii wheel for two reasons: steering the controller without it is not really comfortable (though manageable) and the quality of a cheaper wheel is not as good as the official one. The Mario Kart + Wheel bundles cost around £31.99 on Amazon from new. This is a reasonable price considering Mario games in general do not drop rapidly in price.
When the game first loads, one is allowed four 'drivers licences' which you can link to four different Mii's to track their progress. This means that another player's progress does not affect your file on the game. This is a good feature for families who like to complete games by themselves without having to share progress with either their siblings or friends. This was ideal for my 8 year old sister and I because it winds me up if she accidently loses data I have worked so hard on (though she makes me play on hers to unlock stuff for her). When one has linked their profile to a licence you come to a menu from which you can pick from single player, multiplayer, Mario Wi-Fi connection (requires internet) and the Mario Kart Channel (which also requires an internet connection). Single player comes with the most race options although this is because some would not make sense to be multiplayer. To begin with, players have the option to pick from 12 different characters (that initially have three karts and three bikes to choose from) and only the Mushroom, Shell, Banana and Flower Cup are available to play until you unlock the other cups through Grand Prix mode.
Grand Prix - this is really the ultimate single player mode on the game. This option is for those wanting to beat targets and helps you develop your driving skills on the game until you become an expert. In this mode you play against 11 computer controlled racers and you all have the opportunity to grab items to either hinder ones opponents or improve your own! As I have said, only four cups are available to you initially. If you rank first (gold) in the set races, you unlock the further cups which will also allow you to unlock secret characters or vehicles. This is personally my favourite part to play because I loved the challenge of trying to unlock characters as the difficulty got harder and harder. I have only just finished unlocking all the characters and vehicles in this mode and it's certainly not a game you get through quickly (it's taken me a year!).
Time Trial - this is yet another single player part of the game. Basically, the people who have created Mario Kart have played as 'ghosts' for you to try and beat their personal best. When one begins, they are given three booster mushrooms which should be used wisely and should be looked after (that means try not to crash into things or fall off edges!). If one achieves a significantly better time than the guys on Nintendo, one unlocks an 'expert ghost' (which I have only beaten one to this day!). Time trials also allow one to unlock different character/vehicles just like in the Grand Prix. Personally, I find time trials quite frustrating at times and do not have the same thrill as a racing game. For others that want to whizz around a race track uninterrupted, this is the mode for you!
VS Race - The verses races are not just for single player, but can be used for multiplayer too. Under this option you have two options: solo race (which is just everyone against each other) and team race (players are split into two teams). In both instances, one can chose which races they would like to participate in rather than have to do allocated races like the Grand Prix. However, I personally feel that it is more worthwhile playing in the team races in both single player and multiplayer because the races always turn out more interesting because one has to use certain racing weapons against the opposing team.
Battle - Battle is my least favourite part of the Mario Kart game - because I'm terrible at it! However my sister loves this part of the game. This is where players have to attack each other to gain points for their team. For this mode, you do not have the original race courses as they are replaced by more suitable maps for 'battling' opponents. One can play this in single player, multiplayer and it is also available to play online against others. There are two options to choose from: coin runner and balloon battle. Coin runner, in both mine and my sister's opinion, is the more enjoyable out of the two. It requires players to move around the map trying to collect coins but also trying to sabotage the other team so they lose coins they have gained so one can pick them up instead. This can be a lot of fun as you see all the different characters whizzing round the map trying to steal another's coin. Balloon battle works in a similar way. Each player has three balloons attached to them and the aim is to try and pop the opposing team's balloons with weapons. This could have been a good concept for online if they had created this into a 'last man standing' style game, however one one's balloons have been popped, one gets regenerated and given three more balloons and a few lost points. As I have said, balloon battle is not the most exciting part of the Mario Kart Game. I must not fail to mention that one thing I find disappointing with Battle mode is that one only gets the choice of one type of bike and one type of car to ride. I personally would have preferred to have the option of picking from my interesting racing vehicles.
Wi-Fi - Mario Kart allowing players to use internet to play against other players around the world has been an effective use of the Wii's facilities. Players have the options to play either VS Race's (though they do not do team races) and Battles. One can also chose whether you want to challenge players worldwide, from the continent or just friends you have linked up with. The Mario geeks seems to have also set up a system where you play against players of the same ability as you by creating a points system. Players gain points for doing well in races/battle and lose points if they don't do very good. Kudos to the boffins behind the online activity because points for battle achievement and race achievement are kept separately which is a bonus for someone like me because I am terrible at battles but excel in races. Wi-fi is not only there for playing against other players from around the world. The creators of Mario Kart create unique competitions each week for players to compete in via the Mario Kart Channel. I find this a nice touch to the online community because I feel it lets users know that the creators are still making an effort constantly with the game.
Would I recommend this game to other Wii users? Absolutely. I feel that Mario Kart Wii is a worthwhile investment for any Wii owner because people from any age or gender do enjoy this game. This game offers a new style of racing gaming by combining the Wii controller and wheel so one can steer properly unlike past games that used finger pads. Mario Kart also offers many different styles of racing and allows players to be engaged and hooked by providing the right level of difficulty. Not many games have kept me playing for a whole year without completing it though Mario Kart is an exception. This game really is a classic.
As a fan of natural make up, I am always on the lookout for products that make one look pretty but give you a subtle look of not applying makeup. I have always found that many of Benefit's products do not fail to meet my requirement. Benetint does not fail to meet these criteria either as it gives me an effortless, make-up free look.
I got this product as part of a free gift coming from GLAMOUR magazine. They had three products to choose from: Benefit High Beam (face highlighter), Posietint and Benetint (both cheek and lip products). I settled for Benetint because I already owned the full version of High Beam and I was in desperate need of a new blusher. I decided for the darker stain over Posietint's light pink shade because I felt the darker colour would compliment my fair skin and chestnut brown hair.
The sample came in a bottle which has a third of the capacity of the full bottle. The trial size is 4ml while the full version is 12ml. The box claims the product has a 12 month shelf life. It comes in a red box with 'Benetint' written in white writing. The product comes in a clear, cylindrical bottle which has a white plastic cap and clear plastic bottle (though I believe that if you bought the full product it would come in a glass bottle). Since the container is clear, it is easy to know how much of the product you have left. I find this excellent because opaque containers can leave consumers guessing how much of a product is left and can leave one frustrated when there is none left in an emergency. For me, the packaging and bottle is very simple yet still stylish.
What about the contents in the bottle? Well it is a clear red colour that uses a nail polish style brush for an applicator which is quite effective. As stated on the box, this can be used as a cheek and lip tint. I feel many people will want to purchase this product mainly as a blusher. All you have to do is apply is put a few dots on your cheeks and rub into the apples. On other reviews on this product I have read that you have to rub it in quickly otherwise it stains in dots. I have not found this though. It rubs in nicely and gives a very subtle blushed look on either a full face or minimal face of makeup. This is one of the bonus' of this product because with some other blushers (either cream or powder) can give you clown cheeks unintentionally.
This product is also successful as a lip stain too. The finished product gives you rose-kissed lips that last for hours. It can be worn either on its own or under a nice clear lip gloss. Wearing this product with lip gloss tends to be a bonus because once the gloss wears off (which inevitably, it always does!) you still have a nice colour on your lips. I tend to apply this product direct from the brush to the lips. There are only two disadvantages when applying it this way: the brush tickles ones lips and the colour 'bleeds' on the lips. In regards to bleeding though, this problem can quickly be resolved by using ones finger to even out the colour. Overall, this product is amazing as a lip stain as well as a blush.
Would I recommend this product to others? Definitely. I find this product fabulous as it delivers what it claims. Although this product is a darker colour in the bottle than 'Posietint', this colour is not so dark as a blusher that one looks permanently embarrassed. The bottle of a full size bottle however is a down point because it is selling for around a staggering £24. However, once my trial bottle is empty, the full price will not put me off buying this product because it is one of the best blushers I have ever had.
As I have said in my previous review, I always opt for Tresmme shampoos and conditioners because it's different to other hair products on the markets. Because I have very long hair, Tresemme accommodates my needs by packaging their shampoos and conditioners in 900ml bottles. This means I don't have to buy bottles of conditioner as often as smaller bottles of things like Herbal Essences and Pantene because Tresemme last a long while.
I bought this conditioner as it was buy one get one free in Sainsbury's. I usually buy Tresemme when they do these offers because it is too expensive to buy otherwise. I settled on this along with a Tresemme Deep Cleansing Shampoo. I decided on the Tresemme Vitamin E Moisture Rich Conditioner because I wanted softer hair. It said it is for day and damaged hair but despite having normal hair, I felt there was no harm in using it.
The smell of this conditioner is really nice though does not have a particular smell. Unlike other brands of conditioner, this brand does not smell of either flowers or fruit. It just had a pleasant hair product smell. My boyfriend likes the smell of this in my hair so do not worry that it may not be appealing to the opposite sex.
For conditioner, I need to use half as much more of it than I do of the shampoo for it to fully cover my hair from root to tip. This bottle of Tresemme was quick to cover all my hair and I left it in for 5 minutes for maximum nourishment. I had no problems rinsing it all out unlike some other brands of conditioners which feel like they have stuck to your hair to cause you problems for a few days. Instead, when my hair dried it was a dream to brush and was soft to touch too.
Would I recommend this to people? Yes, most definitely. This conditioner is wonderful if following the instructions on the bottle. I really felt that it lived up to it's claims on the bottle which was soft, moisturised hair. This definitely serves it's purpose.
Many may disagree with my opinion that the PS3 is the better 'serious' gaming system on the market. With the hiccups Sony have had recently with their online gaming being brought down by security breaches, people have now become disillusioned with the Sony brand - even going as far as trading theirs in for an Xbox 360! Despite this, I am still happy with my console and would never swap it in for a rubbish Xbox!
I originally asked for a PS3 for Christmas 2008. My dad tried to dissuade me saying an Xbox would be better. My mind did not budge and I received something that I had wanted for a long while.
The PS3 box I had received came with an 80GB Playstation 3 console, a mains plug, SCART adapter, RCA connector, PS3 controller and a mini USB adaptor (about one meter in length). I also got a HDMI cable separately for Christmas too to go with the console so I could play the game is clear HD. This turned out very handy for some games.
The PS3 is easy enough to set up. Just connect the plug to the mains and console and RCA (or HDMI) cable to the console and TV of your choice. Sometimes using just the RCA can make the picture black and white so it is advisable to use the SCART adapter. You are then ready to go.
When you first start your PS3, it will ask you to create a profile. You can make as many profiles as you like and this is good because this means you can all have different save files on games without interrupting or affecting each other's progress. Each profile is completely customisable. You change the colour and can download game themes from the internet (though most of these do cost).
What I feel gives the Playstation 3 an edge over the Xbox 360 is the controller. The Playstation sticks to its classic shaped controller which is now wireless (but needs to be charged with the mini USB provided) instead of being limited to where you can sit because of the wire like its previous consoles. I would advise investing in a three meter mini USB lead (cost around £5 online) so these are handy when needing to game while the controller is charging. When holding the controller, all the buttons are easy to reach and does not feel bulky, unlike the Xbox controller. I would say that the PS3 controller is better for people with smaller hands.
The graphics for the PS3 are much better than Sony's previous consoles. The edges are smooth and they look even better in HD. Although the problem with the PS3 and a lot of its games being geared towards HD resolution, playing through the SCART can be a struggle. For example, Tekken 6 has a lot of tiny writing to read and it is practically unreadable unless you have an HDMI lead.
Also, Playstation has the edge over Xbox by adding in an in-built Blu-Ray player into their consoles and is the only console on the market to do so. Blu-ray players are already expensive so it is probably worth buying this console if you are thinking of buying a games console and Blu-Ray player. After watching 'Secrets of the Superbrands', I found out that Sony actually pay more than we pay to install the Blu-Ray player into the PS3 (a bit of trivia for you). The only problem with having this as your entertainment system is the controller can be difficult to navigate. Most of the actions are under the triangle button (on the PS2 it was always 'Select') and depending on the background, it is difficult to see what you are selecting sometimes.
The PS3 really does have games for everyone. Boys that love their shooters can play the Call of Duty games, light-hearted gamers will love LittleBigPlanet and there is an array of Disney games for children like Hannah Montana and Toy Story 3. They also have games that are exclusive to the PS3 such as Heavy Rain. Sony really has tried to accommodate many audiences although, like the Xbox 360, it is mainly aimed towards male gamers.
Would I recommend this to others? For anyone wanting a console for serious gaming then I would. The PS3 offers gaming in high resolution with an easy to use controller. Having a Blu-Ray player is an added bonus. My current PS3 is quite bulky so the new slim versions are probably better. I would not class this as a family console like the Wii though the PS3 has an array of games for all ages. I would suggest buying one of these over an Xbox 360.
The Internet Company TalkTalk are absolute rubbish. I have been having issues with the internet for months and they have not fixed it. Internet pages will not load half the time and I have just written 1300 words on a DooYoo review only when I submitted it it had told me there was an error on the page and wiped everything I had written. Getting on hotmail is also virtually impossible with this company. I would rate them no stars if I could. AVOID.
I am personally a big fan of Domino's pizzas. Most towns and cities have one so you know what you are ordering. They generally have a promotional pizza and many offers to entice you into buying their products and services. Domino's pizza's themselves can taste absolutely fabulous - if you pick your pizza right.
Menu - As a university student, I have noticed differences in the menus between my university city and home town. For example, my university city offers a pizza called 'Bacon Double Cheese' yet my home town does not offer this pizza (unless you create it yourself). This suggests to me that different Domino's around the country are all quite different in what they have to offer. This is not to say that Domino's does not already have a lot to offer in terms of their menu. Domino's has 4 sizes of pizza: personal (7"), small (9.5"), medium (11.5") and large (13.5") You can choose from 5 different bases (regular, thin, double decadence, dominator & stuffed crust (I believe this is a new addition)) and have have a set menu of different toppings for your pizza although you can create your own. If you feel you do not want a whole pizza of the same thing, one can opt for half and half which I feel adds to why I like ordering from Domino's. For people wanting to cut calories (though if your watching your weight, I can't understand why one would order Domino's) you can swap the cheese on your pizza for the light version (at no extra cost) which I cannot tell the difference between this and the full fat cheese. Domino's does not only have pizza to offer to it's consumers, you can pick from starters, sides, subs, drinks and deserts. However I feel these are quite expensive considering how much one is spending on the pizza already.
Food - The food on it's best occasions is some of the best pizza ever. I tend to order the Texas BBQ pizza but recently tried The Sizzler which was equally as tasty. I personally tend to order the regular crust because the dough is the right thickness and is also fluffy. I find the thin crust is a bit too much like a wafer. The Double Decadence and the Dominator also are not to much taste because the cheese sauce can tend to be on the sickly side (like bought carbonara sauce). I would recommend the stuffed crust though but the pizza looked slightly smaller than what I ordered when I received this. Taste was great though. All pizzas (bar personal ones) come with a tasty garlic and herb sauce. This is great for dipping your crusts in. All food I have received from Domino's has come piping hot and well cooked (even when delivered).
Deals - I would recommend ordering from Domino's only if you were taking advantage of one of their deals. They do 'Two for Tuesday' on delivery and always do buy one get one free on collection. A warning though: during their week long deal for BOGOF on delivery, this compromise the quality of the food they were delivering. They also occasionally do meal deals that offer a pizza, side, drink and desert for a fixed price.
Price - Prices for the food on their own can be expensive, especially for delivery. Some of the takeouts do a reduced fee for one pizza on collection and others don't. A large pizza with a few topping will set you back £15.99. Double Decadence, Dominator or Stuffed Crust bases set you back a further £2 if they take your fancy. Additional dips cost 35p. Starters can range between £3.49 (Garlic Bread, Potato Wedges) to £5.99 (Kickers Combo), all deserts and subs appear to be £3.49 and a 1.25 litre bottle of fizzy drink will cost £1.99. In my opinion, the separate costs are a bit too pricey for my pocket.
Service - My experience with my Domino's service between my home town and university city differs quite a lot. I seem to have had much better service in my home town as staff have been extremely friendly in shop and delivery has been prompt when ordered. However, in my university town I have received average to poor quality service. I was once told I was not allowed to order by card because my card was not registered to that address which was annoying considering hundreds of university students would not have had cards registered to there term time addresses. It seemed to me the man could not be bothered to take my order by card rather than it be company policy. Delivery has been ok there: not quick, yet not slow with mediocre politeness as I meet the driver at the door. I believe Domino's service (as with any chain) varies from store to store.
Online - Ordering online is very quick and simple (if you have a working internet connection of course). You just have to click what you want to order and what changes or additional bits you want and add them to your basket. You can order by card without any extra cost. The biggest bonus of ordering online is that you can track your order. It will tell you when it's being prepared, cooked and being sent out to your home. This big plus point for the Domino's online order system.
Would I recommend Domino's to friends? Only if you can order a buy one get one free deal. As I prefer to buy a large pizza, I cannot justify paying £15.99 for one, I would rather get two so I can share!. As I have said before, Domino's differs from place to place on quality of service and the variety of pizza toppings you can get. Though I do feel Domino's provide the service they intended - to produce tasty pizza!