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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror Of Fate (Nintendo 3DS)
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror Of Fate (Nintendo 3DS)
Offered by gavingriffiths
Price: £22.50

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best 3DS games that I own, 15 Mar. 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am currently playing through this game. It's my first Castlevania game, and was purchased after trying the demo available for free on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. The demo had excellent presentation, with impressive artwork featuring diverse locales of the macabre genre, such as graveyards, spooky castle halls and so on. So when I got the game I already had an idea that this is a platforming game with some combat, featuring also puzzle-like humongous bosses.

What's surprising in the final game is how good the combat is. You see, in many games, combat tends to be about rapidly pressing one single button, like in "Heroes of Ruin" (also for the 3DS). That gets old fast.

Well, the combat system in this Castlevania game has more in common with fighting games. The whip has horizontal and vertical attacks, like in the "Soul Calibur" series. Just like in "Mortal Kombat", you need to watch your distance from the enemy and know when to stay away or get close. Enemies can strike low and you can jump to escape their attacks. They can strike in the middle and you can block their attacks in different ways. They can also strike high, and you can evade with dodge rolls. There are different combos to be learned, each with their different power and speed properties. Moreover, some combos allow you to lift certain enemies in the air and juggle them. And sometimes you get cool cinematic finishing moves like in a "Dead or Alive" game. It's amazing how well this works, against multiple characters on screen or against foes that are ten times the size of your own character.

The combat feels so exciting that one of the first things that I did was to set the game on "Hard". This makes even the simplest enemy fun, before even getting to the clever, varied and challenging bosses. So you can play this game in multiple ways. You can set the game on "Easy" and take it as a exploration game with some combat... Or you can do like I did, and see it as primarily a combat game, where the reward for the awesome fight is that you get to move on to the next creepy location. This is one of the few games that make me want to play it on the "Hard" mode as much as possible (and usually I am not a good player, even though I play many video games).

Oh, by the way, this game has been developed with the glasses-free 3D effect in mind. During the game, the camera and the perspective changes in very surprising and enjoyable ways.

Nintendo Wii U 32GB Premium Pack - Black
Nintendo Wii U 32GB Premium Pack - Black

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wii U is the Wii done right, 12 Feb. 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
The Wii U is the HD successor to the Wii. Right now, it is not very well known outside the small circle of videogame enthusiasts. The videogames community is passionate and vocal; it contains many nerds who tend to write a lot online about products that they don't actually own. I own a Wii U console since launch (at the start of December 2012). As such, I could see that there is a lot of misinformation around. For some reason, it is very easy to spot when somebody actually has the product, and when they are just regurgitating things that they read on the Internet. And I am still shocked how many posts about the Wii U are written by people who obviously did not even try it (let alone purchased it).

So I decided to write here my own introduction to the Wii U.

The original Wii was good for local multiplayer games. But lack of HD capabilities and a rather limited online infrastructure meant that many of the recent HD, single-player and online games would not be released on it.

The Wii U is a high-definition console, capable of graphics on par to other modern game consoles. For example, there is a Wii U version of the game Assassins Creed 3, which looks the same as the game on the Playstation 3.

At the same time, the Wii U has some original technologies of its own.

The Wii U controller, called the GamePad, has a large touch screen on it. This screen is capable of wirelessly streaming the image and sound from the TV screen. So this means that you can plug your headphones in the controller and listen to the stereo, high quality sound without bothering others in the living room. Or you can take the controller in another room and continue playing there, while people watch something else on the TV. This depends on how each game chooses to implement the new controller's functions.

Some games are specifically designed to make use of the two screens. For example, in the game ZombiU, you can use the controller to look around, inside the game word - left, right, and behind you - to reveal hidden clues. This works very well because the motion controls are extremely precise. The GamePad has a geomagnetic sensor. As such, it always has a point of reference and doesn't require a sensor bar, being able to register very fine movements. Some of the games in the Nintendoland collection highlight this feature: you look around you and shoot enemies with excellent precision.

Since the Wii U recognizes your existing Wii controllers, this can often create situations where the person playing on the GamePad has a completely different experience than the people playing with the Wii controllers. So the information being streamed to the GamePad is not just static - it can mirror the TV screen, or can display a totally different image, and interact with it using the touchscreen. In Call of Duty Black Ops 2, you can play local multiplayer while one person has the entire TV screen for himself, and the other player uses the GamePad - no split screen.

For me, a major benefit of the Wii U is that, through the new controller, games can better include other people in the house (who are not gamers). In New Super Mario Bros U, my girlfriend enjoys using the touchscreen to create blocks that help me finish a level. Or, in the game Trine 2, she controls the Wizard character, summoning boxes and arranging them for us to jump on them. I look forward to more games that would use the touchscreen to provide additional forms of interaction, that would either a) allow my girlfriend to do something with me as I play, or b) give me the opportunity to help her play.

If you have a Wii U, you will greatly benefit from connecting it to your wireless network. At any time during a game, you can pause it and access the Miiverse. This is a combination between a message board and a social media service. You can post screenshots from the running game and a short message asking for help or hints, for example. You can also read people's impressions about games that you might not have heard about. The good part is that, on Miiverse, a small sign lets you know if the person in cause actually owns the software in cause. The community is curated - meaning that an eventual unpleasant post will be soon removed. It's a good way of making gaming friends. Speaking of friends, you can use a video chat app to talk to them, using the camera integrated in the GamePad. There is also a shop, from where you can choose to download digital versions of the games (I prefer to buy the disks) or download demos and digital-only games. Another feature that I use a lot is the web browser. It allows you to have up to six different tabs open. It also works very well with YouTube, and lets you play a videoclip on the TV screen, while on the GamePad screen you are browsing to a completely different web page. This works very well when you have visitors, since you can show things to them on the big TV screen, while easily manipulating the browser on the touch screen.

My impression so far is that the Wii U has a lot of potential. It exceeded my expectations, and I've been using it daily since I got it. This is more than I can say about the original Wii.

The Wii U comes in two editions - a white "basic" one and a black "premium" edition. The black edition seems a better bargain to me, since it includes the Nintendoland game and some useful trinkets - among them, a charging cradle where you can always drop the GamePad when not in use.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2013 3:14 PM GMT

James Noir's Hollywood Crimes (Nintendo 3DS)
James Noir's Hollywood Crimes (Nintendo 3DS)
Offered by GameExplorers
Price: £7.18

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More involving than the last Layton game, 17 Jan. 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have just finished the main story mode of this game. It took me about 17 hours, spread over a period of some good weeks. During the story mode, you can choose which puzzles to tackle, with no penalty if you decide to skip one. This means that you never get stuck, and that there are still many puzzles left at the end of the game. Once you play the story once, you can go to the "replay" menu and play the puzzles that you skipped during the story (about 50 new puzzles).

The 3DS is perfect for puzzle games. You can play a bit, then close the lid, and open it again to resume the game when you have some spare time.

The marketing blurb on Amazon for this game is hilarious. This is not really the "FIRST EVER INTERACTIVE 3D MOVIE".

It's a collection of puzzles, made with an obviously much lower budget than a high-profile release like "Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask" (which I also have).

And yet the puzzles in this game are much better.

I also appreciated that the story bits were short and to the point, and never got in the way of the puzzles.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (Nintendo 3DS)
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (Nintendo 3DS)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £8.20

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay puzzles, but nothing more, 26 Nov. 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is my first Layton game, and I understand that the series is quite popular.

It is indeed an exquisitely well-polished game. But it's not really what I was looking for. I'll write down the reasons, in case you are like me and you don't exactly fit within the target audience.

1. The story has some interesting twists, but unfortunately takes itself a bit too seriously. I felt that it is drawn for too long. While moderately interesting in the beginning, the story throws rather irrelevant details at you, which are not very fun on their own and do not help move the story forward. I wish that the puzzles appeared faster.

2. The puzzles themselves are okay, but not very exciting. They are too easy, for the most part. And when they are difficult, they are not difficult in a "hard, but fun" way.

I am especially disappointed by the large number of puzzles that rely on "thinking out of the box", rather than straight logic. For example, one later puzzle asks you how many packages of a given size can be fit in two wooden crates. The obvious answer is wrong. The final unlockable hint tells you: if you were to break open the two wooden boxes... and join them together into one larger box... then you could fit two more packages. Honestly, I don't enjoy it when a puzzle depends on misinterpreting the rules!

Of course, not all puzzles are like that. You can add your favorite puzzles to a special list, and I added there about four genuinely good puzzles - out of 80 puzzles completed.

My "Activity Log" on the Nintendo 3DS shows that I have played the game for 19 hours. Mind you, much of this was reading the story. It's good that the game kept my attention long enough. But, to tell you the truth, I did hope that the puzzles got better later on.

I have another puzzle game, "James Noir's Holywood Crimes 3D", which is a superior puzzle game in many respects. The puzzles are more interesting, more replayable, and utilize the Nintendo 3DS hardware in surprising ways. There is just enough story content to provide some context, while allowing you to jump into puzzle solving right away.

Again, this Layton game is okay... just maybe not for me. It has great production values and seems very accessible to a younger audience.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2013 12:23 AM GMT

Nintendo Wii Remote Plus - Black
Nintendo Wii Remote Plus - Black
Offered by Base
Price: £42.09

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These are original remotes, 17 Nov. 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As I type this, Amazon still lists the black remote as " Wii Remote Plus - Black by JHGames". After checking the Amazon identification number against the same product listed on other Amazon sites, I concluded that there must be an error and this is an original remote by Nintendo, and not a clone. I placed an order for two remotes (direct from Amazon, not from other merchants) and I can confirm that the products that I received are original remotes manufactured by Nintendo.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Frozen City (Nintendo 3DS)
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Frozen City (Nintendo 3DS)
Price: £9.31

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 30 Oct. 2012
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I preodered this game based on a couple of screenshots, which were oozing steampunk atmosphere and graphic style.

Unfortunately, this project did not receive the polish that it deserved.

Allow me to jot down here some complaints:

- Low-resolution images butcher the otherwise lovely 2D illustrations. The images lack the sharpness needed for the 3DS screen. Compression artifacts are visible. The 3D scenes are composed by cutting up the 2D illustration and setting them on different layers, but the final composition is rather messy and not really very interesting. The 3D just doesn't convey depth.

- The background music is muffled, repetitive - and in mono sound! There is virtually no voice work. What a shame, since the 3DS sound hardware is capable of such crisp sounds.

- The character design is rather generic. I mean, we're talking about Sherlock Holmes. Surely he can convey personality a little better. I am sorry, but it is hard to tell who is who.

- The story is poorly paced. The intro presents multiple (preposterous) plot elements in literally a couple of seconds.

- The writing is plain boring. For example, at the clue gathering stage, the game encourages you to explore a scene. But when you tap on a drawer, Sherlock says: "Why would I need to open it anyway?" Haaa! Why does Sherlock arbitrarily decide that for me?! I want to tap the screen and see interesting things happening! Instead, you have interactive areas that attract you attention, but the character informs you: "I don't need to go there". That's lazy writing, in my opinion.

- The interface for the few puzzles that I got to see was rather annoying, for some reason. It seemed simple enough - but it just didn't FEEL fun.

So maybe this game would be fine for the iPhone, or as a web-based game. Yet it costs almost as much as an ultra-polished game like "Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask"!

As you could see, I am writing here mostly about the presentation. For me, story and presentation is important in such a game - it makes or breaks the game.

If you're in a mood for a casual, yet engrossing non-violent storytelling game that makes you use your head a bit... then I can recommend to you instead the underrated "Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights", with which I had a lot of fun.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2013 6:02 PM BST

Doctor Lautrec and The Forgotten Knights (Nintendo 3DS)
Doctor Lautrec and The Forgotten Knights (Nintendo 3DS)
Offered by Trade-N-Go Gaming
Price: £42.75

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful surprise, 2 Dec. 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an adventure game set up in a turn-of-the-century Paris. It features a professor of natural history who likes to solve mysteries, and surrounds itself with other interesting characters.

The concept is that you get to explore the city and the catacombs beneath it.

When it comes to the surface of the city, the game gives you an opportunity to learn quite a few true facts about old and modern Paris (as well as other things too). The amount of research that went in the game is quite impressive.

When exploring the catacombs, there's a labyrinth aspect to it. You need to avoid policemen (they have patterns that reminded me of the game "Commandos"). And perhaps move some boxes to reach certain areas.

Reaching some areas of the underground will also ask you to solve puzzles. These are not very difficult. In fact, there are only a few categories of puzzles. They are easy, but still rewarding, and don't break the flow of the story. After all, you already did some work to get to the puzzles. And there's other work ahead, as you get to "tame" the spirits that inhabit the treasures.

Since this is more of a Japanese vision of Paris, the catacombs hold treasures. Some of these treasures have a "guardian spirit", which must be defeated by using the other spirits in your possession.

My impressions so far (five hours in the game):

- well-written, fun non-violent story
- unique mix of game mechanisms
- good production values, with excellent voices and nice anime cartoons

But if you are the kind of player that would skip story scenes to get to the next mega-challenging puzzle, then probably this is not a game for you.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 29, 2012 6:50 PM GMT

Ridge Racer 3D (Nintendo 3DS)
Ridge Racer 3D (Nintendo 3DS)

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent game, 2 Sept. 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had my eyes on Ridge Racer 3D since launch, but somehow I was dissuaded to purchase it by the comments here saying that the game's artificial intelligence tends to cheat. After buying and playing the game myself, it seems to me that those people did not really understand the mechanism of slipstreaming.

In Ridge Racer 3D, driving right behind the car in front of you will significantly increase your acceleration, as the wind resistance is less strong. This means that the car that you just passed can also use your slipstream to stay on your tail. That's why simply keeping the accelerator button pressed is not enough to get rid of other racers. The AI is not weird or "rubberbanding". You have to use a number of strategies to shake off your pursuers: use a well-chosen boost of nitrous to slingshot yourself to the next rival, make judicious use of corners, and adjust the map on the lower screen to keep an eye on any cars trying to ride your wind current. This is something that the lady in the game is constantly commenting on, when she says "There's somebody in your slipstream! Don't let them pass!" Getting behind a car to use their slipstream can be challenging during certain wide tracks (which is where, I think, the other reviewers on Amazon got stuck).

This game not only moves at incredible speeds, but it gives your lots of small things to keep track of, during the race. This, in my book, is the sign of an excellent game.

UPDATE: After one year and a half, this game is still a favorite.

The problem with many driving games is that, once you master the controls, you learn to shoot to the front of the pack, from where you just mindlessly circle the tracks all alone - and that gets boring fast. Not so with this game! This game keeps your attention engaged, through a clever mix of mechanisms.

As mentioned above, to take advantage of slip-streaming, you must follow the car in front of you... but if you get too close, then staying behind it will actually prevent your progress. So you need to follow the car in front, then expertly avoid it so that you do not lose momentum. Moreover, that vehicle will often fight back and attempt to use your slipstream. You earn a speed boost when you drift, but can also lose control. All this make for very tense races.

The cars handle extremely well with the circle pad joystick of the Nintendo 3DS. The glasses-free 3D still looks amazing and helps the feeling of speed.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent case, 20 Jun. 2011
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am very satisfied with this case for the 3DS. The materials are inexpensive, but the case does not look so, thanks to very nice design. The case is also practical: the console fits well and not too tight, there is place for three games, the cover can open completely, and the two zippers let you close the lid with the headphones jack plugged in (when you listen to music).

SPEEDLINK Jeans Bag For Nintendo DS Lite/DSi, Blue Jeans SL-5524-J02
SPEEDLINK Jeans Bag For Nintendo DS Lite/DSi, Blue Jeans SL-5524-J02

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not suited for Nintendo 3DS, 10 Jun. 2011
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
I have purchased this for my Nintendo 3DS.

After a few weeks, I found that the elastic band, which is very tight, causes the ridge around the bottom screen to rub against the top screen and leave permanent marks.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2013 9:34 AM BST

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