Puppets can be bought here.
Oh gosh, they got Girlock. So now this strange 'infection' will begin to spread across all of Finger Puppet Land...
Puppets can be bought here.
(Originally there an a post called "Video Call" here, but it had to be taken down and, as such, I have replaced it with a review!)
Edgar Allen Poe created a character named C. Auguste Dupin. Dupin is often called the first detective and is certainly an interesting and original character. All of the stories about Dupin and an unnamed friend of his (the narrator), and the crimes they investigate in Paris. Poe wrote three Dupin stories and all of them are collected in this book.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue, rating: 8.5/10
This is the story which introduces us to C. Auguste Dupin. It starts with a section an analysing, then goes on to explain how is was that the narrator came to meet Dupin before we find out about the actual murder. People who like to be able to solve the murders through clues in the story might be disappointed with this, as it must be almost impossible to determine the solution based only on what you're told. There are funny moments in the story, but there are also horrific moments and, at one point, it's downright surreal. All this adds up to make this a great story.
The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, rating: 7.5/10
This story seems to be a lot more serious than the first, this probably due to the fact that it involves Dupin investigating a real life murder (kind of). Aside from a few humorous moments where Dupin is very critical of false theories about the murder, this whole story is a lot darker than the first. I did enjoy the shift of tone, but what was slightly tedious was the fact that the entire story is basically one long monologue by Dupin, I felt the characters could have actually done a little more. This was a generally interesting and enjoyable story though.
The Purloined Letter, rating: 7/10
After how grim the last story seemed, there's a big change in tone with this light-hearted tale. Here Dupin is given the task of finding a letter which has been stolen, which he does so very quickly and cleverly. Still a good story, but my least favourite of the three.
(buy it here)
(I do not own the copyright of the cover image)
I was out taking my evening walk along with my brothers the other day and at the end of it they wanted to pop into Co-Op in order to buy themselves a snack. While they went in, I waited outside with the dogs. Also outside of Co-Op were a couple of teenagers who had said hello to my brothers and I when we arrived. Once the pair of them were inside, one of the teenagers came over to me and started talking to me.
"You were always so nice to me at school," he said, "so I want to shake your hand."
Now, I'm not a particularly large fan of shaking hands but I liked this very much. I must admit though, that I couldn't help but feel a twinge of guilt, because I didn't recognise or remember this person at all, but this was still a very heart-warming moment for me. You see, friends and family may give compliments sometimes, but your friends and family obviously value their relationships with you and therefore would be likely to say nice things to you. Now, of course I'm not saying that nice things people you know say should be disregarded, just that things from strangers have a little more weight to them as they have no reason to say anything nice to you. This made me very happy, anyway, because it was as if I were receiving a confirmation that I am indeed being nice in life. I quite often, as I'm sure everybody else does, question whether I am really a 'good person' and so moments like these are wonderful reassurances. This was a person I had no memory of at all, but clearly I had had quite a big impact on him.
"Do you smoke weed, mate?" asked his friend.
"Ha!" he replied. "Nah mate, not him, he doesn't."
And so it seems that he even remembered things about me! I do hope this entry doesn't seem arrogant or boastful, but this was a very nice moment for me and so I felt the need to record it.
After a fourteen year gap, this game was the fourth in the Donkey Kong Country series. Unlike the first three games, this instalment was made by Retro Studios rather than Rareware and so there are a few differences. On the whole things are the same though: it is still a side-scrolling game where you progress through levels and have many secrets to discover through exploration.
Probably one of the biggest changes is this: for the first time King K. Rool and the Kremlings do not appear at all. So, while the first three games each had a very similar set of enemies each time, this game brings with it an entirely new set (the Tiki Tribe). Other than that, though, the story still plays a very minor part, and, in fact it is very similar to the first game: the Tikis come along, infest Donkey Kong Island, and steal the Banana Hoard, so Donkey and Diddy travel across the island to defeat them.
Gameplay wise, there are quite a few additions: there are now several levels where you fly along on a Rocket Barrel, these levels are usually pretty fasted paced, often having you being chased by something, and are very welcome addition (they seem to be the only reference to the third game, too). In fact, the entire game is often faster paced than the previous titles ever were: often you have to hurry to the end of a level because the whole world is collapsing around you. You now also control Donkey Kong and Diddy together, rather than having one follow the other: they can take four hits between them, Diddy going after two (and so with him, the ability to use his jet pack which slightly prolongs your time in the air when you jump). As well as the increased number of health points, every level has numerous check-points; you might think that all of these additions make the game a lot easier, but actually even with these I would say that this game is a lot harder than the other three! With only two hit points and one check-point per level, some parts of the game would be darn near impossible!
This game has quite a change in graphic style too: everything now, while still side-scrolling, has full 3D graphics and the world looks slightly more cartoony to me when compared to the more realistic looking levels of the earlier games. Having said that, that lovely indefinable 'feel' of the past games is still there. As always for this series, this game has a wonderful soundtrack (which includes remixes of old tracks) which is very immersive.
On the whole, while this is a fresh new instalment to the series, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of certain elements: Funky Kong does not appear at all, Rambi is the only Animal Buddy that appears and there are no underwater levels. I also felt that, while the first three games very much felt connected, this one seems unconnected to the rest. Nonetheless, this is very good and equally as good as the first in the series. Rating: 9.5/10
(I do not own the copyright of the screen capture.)
(There are three versions of this game, one for DS, one for PSP and one for iOS. They are all mostly the same, but have some minor differences, this review is based on the DS version, the only one I have played)
This instalment in the Grand Theft Auto series is set in the world of Grand Theft Auto IV, but it is entirely standalone. In this game you play as Huang Lee who has recently moved to Liberty City following the death of his father, he has brought with him a sword which is a family heirloom and intends to deliver it to his Uncle Kenny. Sadly, assassins come along kill a bunch of people and steal the sword. From then on, you do missions for Uncle Kenny (and various other people you meet throughout the game) in the hope that you will eventually find out who stole the sword and how to get it back.
This game gives you an almost (but not quite) top down view of the large world of Liberty City. There are icons on your map of where to go to find yourself new tasks, but there's no hurry to go to them and you can basically do whatever you want and on your own time. Outside of progressing the story, tasks include: go karting, drug dealing, finding and destroying security cameras, joy riding, or even more peaceful things like a stroll in the park or at the beach. Liberty City really is quite an immersive world, and you can have a lot of fun just driving/walking around it and exploring; there're lots of secrets hidden in all kinds of places. Sometimes you're given tasks such as constructing a sniper rifle, and in these instances you have to use the touch screen in order to put things together, I always enjoyed these small touch based tasks.
Basically, this game is a bit of an over the top crime romp. You can drive around fighting enemies in tanks or bulldozers, tossing grenades at them, setting them on fire with a flamethrower, or just completely hacking them to pieces with a chainsaw. But one thing I felt the game lacked was the inclusion of helicopters or any other airborne vehicles, they would have been nice additions. One thing to bear in mind, though, is that this game is very explicit: as well as sometimes being a bit gory, there are also instances of bad language and many overt drug references.
(It can also be downloaded from iTunes.)
(I do not own the copyright of the image.)
This is the second Smash Bros. game and I look at it as a huge improvement over the first. The core gameplay is exactly the same: various Nintendo characters fight in a 2.5D arena with the goal of knocking each other off the stage, but basically everything about the game is better.
First, the characters and stages. I felt that the first game suffered due to the fact that there was quite a small selection of playable characters and stages, which meant that it felt as if it really lacked variety. In this game you START with more characters and levels than there are in the other even after you've unlocked everything! Plus there is still, of course, a large number of other characters and stages to unlock. One nice new feature in particular is the fact that there are now levels that take you through a route, rather than being stationary platforms, and these are often very fun. Also, all these levels and characters look much better too, the graphics are very nice (last time everything was ugly).
Secondly, in this game there is a lot more to do than in the first. Much like the first game, you can fight various characters before eventually reaching a boss (Master Hand), but while that was the only feature in the first, there are lots of other things to do too in this one(and even just doing this takes longer now, as there're more characters to do it with). This game has an 'Adventure Mode' which doesn't really have a story, but has whichever character you chose going through various levels based on areas from other games (The Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule etc). Another nice new feature is the large list of missions you can play through: basically in each one you are put into a certain situation and you have to make things go a certain way, sometimes they're very hard, others very easy, they aren't fantastic, but they're good. There is also a third exciting mode that you unlock later, but, I wouldn't want to spoil it, but needless to say, it is quite fun. The target mini-game (where you are put in a level with target in it, and you need to break them) also returns (with all new levels) and there's also another mini-game called "Home Run Contest" where you have to hit a character named Sandbag as far as you can, the further he flies, the better your reward.
Another new feature which I find absolutely fantastic is the addition of 'trophies'. These trophies are basically hundreds of different models of characters from throughout the history of Nintendo, all of which are accompanied with a nice block of information about them. You unlock these trophies for all kinds of different things, and they're a real motivation to at least try everything. It’s a real joy to take a look through your large collection of trophies and to recognise all the characters.
On the whole, an excellent game and, possibly, the game that I've gotten the most hours on ever. Rating: 9.5/10
(I do not own the copyright of the box art.)
This is the second Banjo-Kazooie game (here is a link to a review of the first). It takes place two years after the first and starts with Gruntilda's sisters Mingella and Blobbelda coming along and using magic to rescue her from underneath the boulder she'd been trapped under since the ending of the last game. Gruntilda (now a mere skeleton) destroys Banjo's house, kills Bottles, wrecks spiral mountain, and then heads off with her sisters. Gruntilda heads to a giant tower where there is a big gun which she plans to use to suck the life out of people so that she can put it into herself and grow her body back properly. Banjo then sets out across the Isle of Hags to get to Gruntilda so he can stop her and her sisters.
The biggest difference between this game and the first, is that the first is a very happy game, whereas this one can be a lot darker at times. I mean, I've already mentioned that Bottles is killed right at the start (though his ghost hangs around), one side-quest involves you having to KILL two innocent non-playable characters (and this has to be done if you want 100%!), you meet a perfectly nice happy person who is shortly afterwards transformed into a zombie which tries to attack you, you find the ruins of a house and read about how the whole family was killed when their home was destroyed, and lots of other things like that! None of it is taken too seriously though. It's also a lot aesthetically different too, there aren't as many colourful 'happy' worlds anymore: now you're going through places like an enormous toxic factory, an abandoned amusement park or an old mine.
The different places to visit are one of the biggest changes between this game and its prequel. Whereas in the first game you go through Grunty's castle and find doorways which are basically portals to completely unconnected areas, the Isle of Hags feels like one big world, rather than lots of smaller worlds connected by a hub. In this game, you might meet somebody in one world, and then do something for them which then prompts them to go somewhere else and then you'll later find them in a different world. There're even physical connections between the worlds (such as going down a corridor in one world, leads to another) and even a train service between them!
Gameplay-wise, though, things are mostly unchanged from the first game, the only difference being that you slowly learn additional moves not seen in the first as the game goes along. You can also occasionally play as Mumbo now, which adds some nice, but minor (since he can't do much), variety. One interesting thing, though, is that there are now first person shooter style areas. There aren't many of them but there inclusion brings a fresh new way of playing to the game, and there's even a very fun multiplayer shooting mode (and also several mini-games you can do on multiplayer, which are quite nice too).
Rating: 9.8/10 (just as good as the fist, but for different reasons)
(This game can also be downloaded from the Xbox Live Arcade.)
(I do not own the copyright of the screen capture.)
This is the thirteenth game in The Legend of Zelda series, and takes place a few hundred years after the events of Ocarina of Time. This game is quite a bit darker than others in the series (aside from Majora's Mask) and also is the game which has the most realistic art style of any of the games in The Legend of Zelda series, which I find very aesthetically pleasing.
The story starts with a new Link living happily as an average teenager in Ordon Village where he has fun with some younger kids and spends his time doing his farm duties. But his happy life is brought to an end when some monsters kidnap two of his friends and he is transformed into a wolf. Link must then set out on a quest to get himself turned back into a human and to rescue his friends and, along the way, he finds himself on a journey to save Hyrule itself. Sadly, I did think the game was a little slow starting and that you do spend a little TOO much time as Link living his normal life, but it quickly picks up afterward!
Being able to play as a wolf is a very welcome addition to the game. As a wolf, Link has a variety of new abilities: digging, fitting through small holes, talking to animals, following scents and whatnot, but he also has various disadvantages such as being unable to open doors or use his items and humans being terrified of him. So the game then presents you with various challenges that require you to use a mixture of human and wolf abilities in order to solve them.
As always, this Zelda game brings with it a large number of likeable and memorable characters. The best thing this game brings with it, is Midna, Link's new companion. Midna is an uneasy ally at first, she is only helping Link because she has to, but she and Link grow to be good friends. I think I would go as to say that Midna is my favourite of Link's companion from all of the Zelda series. Furthermore, this game is one of the most emotional of all the Zelda games, some of the scenes in this game are very sad indeed, this is especially helped by its wonderfully emotive soundtrack.
On the whole, this is a fantastic instalment in the series; its tone, graphics, characters and storyline are all excellent. Rating: 9.4/10
(I do not own the copyright of the screenshot.)
Take a listen to this song. Wonderful isn't it? But for me, there's a really strong emotional attachment to it. I first heard this in December 2012: I was having a lovely 'Goodbye Day' with a very good friend of mine who would be heading home for Christmas soon after. It was lovely, she bought me a yoyo, we went to Nando's and all other nice things. The day before I had a similar day with her house mate (another very good friend of mine), David Tubb. It was a lovely time, really. But, very sadly, various things happened and David (and Naomi, another housemate) had to move away from my nameless friend, and now that circle of friends is broken. At the time, I was unaware that any of this would happen; I really loved the fact that they all lived together. Staying at their house was a delight. I so often think that I, as the one who stayed on good terms with all of them, could have done so much more to keep the stitches of their relationships held together, but I never really realised the seriousness of things, and so was utterly useless, meaning that several people were left very sad, myself included and it climaxed in things being completely severed between them. I know I SHOULDN'T blame myself for this, but I do believe that I could have 'fixed' things, if only I had realised the extent of things, and I just miss these times so terribly badly. But in the end, there was nothing to be done and things cannot go back (none of them should feel bad for my sad feelings towards it, either, nor should they interpret this entry as a message to any of them). Anyway, I'm writing this because when I listened to this song again (I think, for the first time) I remembered EXACTLY how I felt, how happy I was with everything and how good everything seemed. Ironically, I was probably the only person happy at the time. So, yes, I apologise for such an angsty post, the point of it was, that music can have an incredibly strong impact on us and remind us of exact emotional states in the past. I really wanted to write this down, and so, I figured my blog was the best place for it, and so there we go, a nice extra entry for you.
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