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Fred (London)

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Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo 3DS)
Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo 3DS)
Price: £32.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Polish, Heart and strong reverence for the Franchise, 10 Mar. 2014
It has felt to me that the last few years Nintendo have been over-milking their main franchises (and ignoring some others)- including the many iterations of the "New Super Mario Bros." series. This game however does not fall into this trend, and is a true red-and-blue 3D Mario game heaped with innovation, ingenious level design, tight game-play and all the magic Nintendo can muster in charming visuals and absorbing audio touches.

The level design seems to be a tribute to all that the main Mario games have offered before it- levels are inspired by classic 2D Nes and Snes versions, we have the large explorable levels seen in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine and the sparse pure platforming sections seen from Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. The 3D visuals have been implemented very well to increase precision (and are actually required in some challenge levels which draw inspiration from classic optical illusions). There is plenty of challenge and whilst the first 8 worlds of the game are relatively simple there is some serious challenge to be found once you beat the main story.

In terms of sound and vision this game delivers- the game looks crisp and colorful whilst maintaining the soft charm of many Mario games. The music is a mixture of reference to classic Mario music as well as new compositions all of which blend together seamlessly. There are also so many visual and audio flourishes (including a few cheeky references to other Nintendo franchises) which bring the levels to life and will put a smile on many Nintendo Fans' faces.

The only criticism I can level against this game is a slight feeling that it lacks some cohesion that would bring the whole thing together thematically- We are not in space, or on a tropical island, or running around surreal paintings in an intimidating castle... sometimes we could be doing one of those things, or all of them, but never enjoying a single adventure. This might not be a valid criticism against a portable game intended to be picked up and put down regularly, which is a valid way to play with this game's easy and instant access to replay any levels you want to go back to.

Despite the above lack of theme, you could consider the theme to be a celebration and exploration of Mario through the ages! It has so many references, builds on so many strengths and offers plenty of new innovation that all work together for the perfect portable Mario experience. If you like Mario, or any 3D platformers (or even normally only 2D platformers) this game is a must.

Nicely done Nintendo!

Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS)
Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS)
Price: £30.85

16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Perfect, but it is fine!, 20 Mar. 2012
Most of us know the Mario Kart franchise by now- various characters from Mario games race with comedic weaponry around large, colourful and often challenging race courses. It is a winning formula that has proven more than worthy time and time again, yet for some reason this offering doesn't quite feel substantial enough, despite new weapons, new courses, and new features.

It is true that the gliding and underwater sections on some of the race tracks do a very good job of breaking up the race, and provide a slight twist on the normal kart racing, the problem is they don't seem to change the formula enough to make a meaningful impact. Gliding feels rather lonely- there rarely seems to be any aerial combat the likes of which you might expect whilst powersliding around a tight corner dodging green shells, the other racers tend to float away. At the same time although the gliding sections feel faster than when on the ground they don't feel at all tense- I feel an opportunity was wasted for some more tight aerial maneuvering and dare I say it, dogfights? Like wise the underwater sections seem to cause only very slight changes in game play.

As with all Mario Kart games of recent years, we are given 16 brand new tracks and 16 classic tracks to race on. Again the problem with the new tracks is that they have very little impact. None of The new race courses, with the exception of rainbow road, really jump out and wow me like tracks from previous installments have. Don't get me wrong they are challenging and well designed but something is just lacking. Luckily the selection of classic tracks is sublime, specifically the choices from the Snes, Wii and DS versions of the game are colourful, require skill to excel, stick in your mind and are a lot of fun! I think my problem with the new race courses is that I don't quite like the aesthetic design, or it might be that I do love the design but they are a little too similar to past race courses. Either way I feel that there is something for everyone here and many of the problems of pacing in the new tracks is less noticeable when playing the multiplayer.

We all know the core items of the game, green shells which bounce around, homing red shells, the dreaded blue shell which homes on the leader of the race and explodes... We have banana peels, bob-ombs, flower power, lightning clouds, blooper ink, mushroom speed boosts, invincibility stars and the terrifying bullet bill! The let down is the new items- that is to say item. Mario Kart 7 introduces the racoon/tanooki upgrade. This adds a tail to your kart with which you can hit enemies, reflect shells (although not blue shells) and clear the road of banana peel. The problem with the items though is that the new item doesn't pack enough punch, doesn't really do anything new or game-changing, whilst the balance issues of the previous items seem even more ridiculous in this game. Never in any Mario kart game have I felt so plagued by blue shells when miles ahead of the CPU players to the point that I can't make a come back. At the same time it seems almost impossible to outrun or ditch red shells(with a strategic boost or tight turn) as I remember learning to do in Mario Kart:Double Dash or Mario Kart DS. This is even more frustrating when playing multiplayer- never do I feel more cheated than when 3 blue shells in a row removed my incredible lead on the competition when I am so close to winning the race. It should also be mentioned that certain items are even more unbalanced if heaven forbid you should be gliding over an abyss (as you are sometimes required to do) when you are struck. Don't get me wrong, the game is still a lot of fun but I just wish that certain items could be disabled from matches (such as Smash Balls in Super Smash Bros. Brawl) so that the competition was purely down to skill and not bad luck with items!

This really is the crux of Mario Kart games, and Mario Kart 7 does not disappoint. Despite my criticisms of the items and tracks lacking punch something keeps me coming back to battle my friends. There is nothing like landing a hit with a green shell on your best mate, only to powerslide into them and knock them off the course! It feels fast, frantic, and is just a joy to play! You can play with friends locally or online, as well as strangers, and this is all easy to set up and do.

I've already mentioned that a lot of the new courses seem to lack impact. I think the 3d effect washes out a little of the colour, but the effect is pleasing and immersive. Turn the 3d effect off and the colours really come alive. I think considering the selling point of this Mario Kart version is the 3D effect this is a little disappointing, but again I think that personal taste is a large factor in this and that we have a choice is brilliant.

This is Mario Kart, we know what to expect. It is fun, funny, tense and well designed. It also has limited single player, and some frustrating moments. Although it is no incredible innovator like Mario Kart DS, it does have enough new features and improvements on old titles that I feel it is worth a purchase to fans of the series, anyone who has never played a mario kart game, or anyone really itching for some good multiplayer on the 3DS.

Be well, and happy gaming!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2013 6:55 PM GMT

Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD)
Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD)
Offered by Digitalville UK
Price: £5.45

88 of 103 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buying this game is only the first step..., 19 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I'm sorry that I can't actually review the game. Unfortunately I am unable to play it, as such I will be talking about this product as purchased software. This review may seem a little wordy, so please feel free to skip to the second from last paragraph for the gist. Please also keep in mind that I am unsure as to the actual legalities of that written below and as such these are my opinions and interpretations of my rights.

I was given a physical copy of the game as a gift. I inserted the disc and started installing. I was then told that in order to install and use Mass Effect 3 I would have to sign up for EA's Origin service (which involves agreeing to Origin's End User License Agreement).

In order to use origin (and in turn play the game) I must forgo the rights given to me under the UK Data Protection Act of 1998. I do not want to give any personal information about myself to EA, and the fact that I would have to give them this information to play an already purchased piece of software is highly distressing. It seems I cannot install Origin without consenting to them processing my data in such a way, and as such I cannot play the Game which has been bought for me.

Secondly, the type of data EA will collect, and pass on, may not be limited to the personal information we would voluntarily hand over (such as name, address, phone number, birth date etc etc). There have been concerns that the Origin software scans an individuals hard drive, and the End User License Agreement actually states that we the user would allow for Origin to take note of our stored media (amongst other things). Without knowing exactly what this entails I would not feel secure using this software.

This leads onto the bigger problem; I own the disc and I believe legally, in the UK at least, I have the rights to use the content on the disc in anyway I see fit. EA as company have denied me this; I cannot use my purchased software without first installing Origin.

To put it simply, being unable to play Mass Effect 3 without using EA's Origin service is like having had a dvd bought for me; Unfortunately the company who made the DVD have made it impossible for me to play the DVD unless I phone them up, give them personal information I do not want to share, and then allow them to take inventory of all the objects in my home and agree to them storing and using this information for their own purposes. They have added this stipulation after the DVD has been paid for, after money has changed hands.

I feel that this is an intrusion of my privacy and rights as a consumer. Until I can find a way of playing this game without using Origin I will not play it. I am very upset about this and therefore will be writing letters to both the UK Information Commissioner's Office and The Office of Fair Trading in pursuit of information regarding the legality of having to use Origin and the functions of the Origin Software. If you want to play this game without your rights as a Citizen of the United Kingdom potentially becoming compromised I urge you to do the same (in other words, do your own research too!). As consumers it is our right and our responsibility to be informed about our choices. Be well and good gaming!
Comment Comments (24) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2012 2:07 PM BST

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Nintendo 3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Nintendo 3DS)
Offered by Game_Front
Price: £21.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic 3D Innovator, now in 3D!, 22 Jun. 2011
There is little that can be said about this game that hasn't been said before. It is near perfect, and easily one of the best games of all time.

Explore Hyrule searching far and wide for hidden dungeons, lost temples, eerie caves or towns and villages full of character. Battle monsters from tiny and humorous Deku Scrubs, Skeletal Knights and even Monstrous Dragons. Collect exotic and legendary equipment in order to solve puzzles, reach new areas of the world, and defeat enemies. You will become so engrossed in the world you will want to play this game over and over.

But, we all know the game. If you don't, buy the game. If you have never played this before, just go out now and buy it. If you have played Ocarina of Time before, this is the definitive version. The improved graphics allow the game world to look like the original 1998 art style, but fresher, more vibrant. The 3D graphics pop out at you, give the world greater depth, Monsters seem bigger, mountains seem further away... It just looks stunning. The motion controls are so well integrated and so natural I didn't even realise I was using them until I already had! The music is the same as in the orginal version- which is by no means a bad thing; the musical score and sound effects are still incredibly rich even by today's standards. The music and effects also sound wonderful coming out of the 3DS speakers.

If you love Zelda, buy this game. If you've never played Zelda, buy this game. If the last time you played this game was in 1998, buy this game.
This is a little piece of gaming history, and one of a handful of titles which can be described as magical. Go enjoy!

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