Monday, 23 September 2013

Game Review: Animal Crossing New Leaf

Both before and when it came out, I genuinely didn't think this game would appeal to me. I expected it to get boring very quickly due to there being very little storyline to follow. And even now, I'll freely admit that, if I were to try explaining the appeals of the game to another person, it would still seem boring. But having played it for a few weeks now and having played enough hours that Animal Crossing New Leaf is already in my Top 3, I can give you the best word to describe the latest installment in the Animal Crossing franchise: addictive.

The game starts with you travelling by train to a small town that no-one except its residents has ever heard of. When you arrive, you're met by a welcoming committee of talking animals, proclaiming you to be their new mayor. Except your character has no knowledge of this. But hey, might as well roll with it.

The first few days may seem a bit tedious until you pay off your initial loan (trust me, it's not hard to pay off) that gets you a real house instead of a tent to live in and do enough favours for the locals to start making some changes in your town. 

But over time, you'll start to build up a routine made from what might sound like the most mundane of tasks. Collecting fruits from the trees, fishing for sharks in the ocean, selling loot at the pawn shop and finding the best items of furniture to suit your style. In my case, I usually end up getting the most classical items like swords, daruma dolls and statues.

After a few days, you'll even unlock access to a tropical island where you can play minigames that you'll play over and over to get the best rank and the most medals. The island is home to a whole host of new items and collectibles that you won't find back home.

Some of the most infamous frustrations present in the older games remain, like your increasing loan courtesy of the devious Tom Nook. But as long as you know the best ways to put some bells in your pockets, you'll have a sized up house in no time.

I wasn't kidding when I said you have the power to make some changes in your town. Once you have your permit, you can add new structures and buildings to add a bit of life to your town. The well-known character K.K. Slider even makes a reappearance in Club LOL once that project gets unlocked.

And if you're thinking 'oh, is that it?' you've barely even scratched the surface. Public holidays coinciding with those in the real world and weekly special events will have you switching on your 3DS to make sure you don't miss them. You can visit your friends in their own towns and explore or invite them to see the developments you've made. And even though your villagers might seem like annoying collections of data at first, you'll grow attached to them as you do favours for each other and pass gifts back and forth. Seriously, every time one of my villagers does something nice for me I want to reach into the game and hug them.

Don't expect a game that will keep you playing all day long. This is something to be sampled carefully like a fancy buffet. There's only enough to keep you playing for a few hours each day, but you'll be coming back every afternoon to examine your new fossils, and see what furniture falls out of the trees (no, I'm not kidding).

Even doing my best, I don't feel like I can do this game justice. It's something you need to experience and grow close to on your own but I can hope I've helped recommend it. Undoubtedly, it's one of my favourite 3DS titles so far, and I'll be playing for a long time to come. 

That's about all I've got to say.

Can you really resist something that adorable?

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Random Thoughts For July

As I promised, here's the first random thought record. All future ones will be longer as those will cover the entire month.

17th - The fight between Kyubimon and Dokugumon in Digimon Tamers reminds me of the fight between Amaterasu and and the Spider Queen in Okami.

18th - What would hell be like for a sadist?

19th - What if black holes evaporate and disappear over time because the black hole is slowly absorbing itself?

20th - What would happen if you shot a sachet of ketchup out of a gun?

21st - Why do people use the terms 'myth' and 'mythology' interchangeably? Mythology refers to the study of myths, not the story itself.

22nd - Voldemort's eyes are red, the signature color of Gryffindor house. Harry's eyes are green, the signature color of Slytherin.

23rd - I don't think anime developers plan especially far ahead unless they have pre-existing material to work off. After all, some anime series' just find some new, and sometimes repetitive, way to make the characters stronger every time they face a new villain. Think the levels of super saiyan in Dragonball Z and the multiple digivolution levels in Digimon.

24th - It's hard to let your mind wander when you're focused on a task.

25th - On November 23rd fans of Doctor Who and My Little Pony are going to have one crazy day.

26th - Perhaps the dæmons in Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' series relate to the metaphorical demons we sometimes refer to in conjunction with our emotions.

27th - In Twilight Princess, five out of the seven howling stone songs are from Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask. So the Hero of Time's spirit recognises the melodies from when he was alive  and that's why he's called by the howling stones.

28th - If you think about where certain words come from too much, the words often start sounding ridiculous.

29th - Sunset is probably my favourite time of day. The colors you see in the sky at that time are amazing.

30th - So clown fish apparently change gender naturally. That'd make an interesting sequel to Finding Nemo.

31st - It's surprising how often Fridge Horror makes sense once you read it.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Random Thoughts

This short post is purely for update purposes. You see, sometimes I find that random thoughts that pop into my head for no apparent reason can actually be quite interesting to dwell on. And sometimes, those ideas linger for quite a while.

That's why I've decided to do something with them.

In what I'm hoping will become a continuing monthly post, I'll be posting a list of one random thought I come up with each day throughout the month. Sometimes they will be ones that are interesting to think about, other times they might just be random nonsense, but that's the nature of the game. 

Because I only decided to start this project in the middle of the month, this month's post will be shorter than normal but all future ones should cover every single day.

The hard thing about doing this is that random thoughts are just that... random. I can't actually try to think of them otherwise that'll defeat the purpose, which is way some will make less sense than others. Of course, if I come up with a few in the span of one day, then I'll just stick with what I think is the most interesting one, or maybe hold onto others as backups for boring days.

The first of the monthly posts will be up later today. Of course, doing this doesn't mean this will be all that appears on my blog from now on. I'll be putting out a new opinionated post and a movie review in the next few days.

That's about all I have to say.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Television Review: The Great British Sewing Bee

As my new-found addiction to cross-stitch gets more and more intense (seriously, I pretty much can't look at a cross-stitch kit on the Hobbycraft website without wanting to buy it), The Great British Sewing Bee seemed like a good program to watch over my last experience of an Easter holiday. And as much as sewing clothes and cross stitching are two very different things, I've found it to be an enjoyable way to kill an hour.

The eight contestants, plus hosts Patrick Grant, Claudia Winkleman and May Martin in the middle.

A good deal of the reviews I've been reading for the show liken Sewing Bee to nothing more than a rip-off of The Great British Bake Off. While the two certainly follow the same formula and the newer program may even be filler to tide us over until Bake Off starts up again, that's not a valid reason to instantly dismiss the new show on the block.

A lot of those same reviews said that Sewing Bee was indeed less worthwhile than Bake Off and frankly, I disagree. Let me explain why. The argument of those other reviewers was that the clothing judges could only inspect the items that the contestants painstakingly put under their sewing machines, whereas the confectionery reviewers can taste, touch, smell and do whatever else they want with a measly little biscuit. Their main argument is that you can't eat an item of clothing. No duh. But allow me to point out something that those people might have missed. You can't wear a slice of cake either. 

Something else that I feel I must call into question before moving on. Answer me this, people. How long does a cake last? On average, I would say a few hours. Maybe even a day or two if nobody's that hungry. Now, on the other hand, how long does an item of clothing last? Years! Now, which product is more worthy again?

Before I move on, I feel like I should clarify my position on both shows. I have watched both. In fact, I've watched more episodes of Bake Off than I have of Sewing Bee, not that that's a difficult task right now. But I find no hesitation in saying that, personally, I find Sewing Bee, to be considerably more entertaining. Bake Off is purely factual but as well as enjoying the subject matter, I find genuine enjoyment in watching eight amateur sewers duke it out. So please people, don't jump down my throat thinking that I'm making assumptions about my less-liked show. That is not the case. 

In the past, specifically in watching Strictly Come Dancing, I've found Claudia Winkleman to be somewhat of an annoyance, but here, her air of wackiness is quite fitting. As for the two hosts of Bake Off, I find them to be extremely un-emotive. They are very much background personalities, barely even reacting when one of the contestants accidentally ended up with a chocolate upside down cake on the rocks. Sorry, that should read on the floor.

Now, onto what I think of the judges. Neither pair are perfect, but Patrick Grant and May Martin are certainly preferable in my opinion. One of the sillier comments I've seen about the show criticizes the fact that both sets of judges have the same (first) initial. Patrick and May versus Paul and Mary. Ever hear of the word coincidence? I don't doubt that all four of them truly are experts in their respective crafts and know their stuff inside and out. But, in all honesty, I found Paul Hollywood to be insufferably harsh. This is not to say that Patrick and May don't point it out when the sewers screw something up, there's no doubt they do. But if they find something to be 'unwearable' they generally keep that little nugget to themselves. Don't think of this as naive, I know that you have to receive criticism to improve, but there's limits to it, and I think that Hollywood crosses that line and then some.

Next, the contestants. Since I'm starting to think this review is becoming too much like a comparison to Bake Off, I'm sticking to the contestants of Sewing Bee this time. The group of people they found to participate are enjoyably varied, my favourite in that regard being Mark, the steampunk pirate mechanic. And even though, like most viewers, I've had favourites that I've rooted for and usually had a good guess at who would be eliminated each week, I was never really happy to see any of the contestants go. Especially Tilly, Jane and Stuart. Even though I know that Jane has made a full recovery thanks to Tilly's blog, I keep wondering what illness was so bad, that it caused her to leave so suddenly. The banter between the contestants and the insight into what they do normally was interesting to me and bumped up the entertainment value, especially Sandra's little witticism's. 

As for the clothing, even though little of it is something I would like to wear, since I practically have to be bribed into wearing a dress or skirt, I can still appreciate the craftsmanship that went into every piece and why the participants chose to do what they did. Example, Ann is the oldest contestant, so her materials are rather plain or old-fashioned. And speaking of Ann, how does she manage to hang upside down in yoga? And as for Lauren, who is rather waify, chose fittingly floral fabrics for her pieces. But without a doubt, my favourite piece of clothing to come off the sewing machines, at least without having watched the final yet, is this:

I could never have thought of something that creative to do with a pocket if I thought for three hours. Thanks Stuart.

I have yet to see the final that aired tonight but I look forward to finding out who will win, although I have a good idea. One of my few criticisms for The Great British Sewing Bee is that it's just too short. Only four episodes? I need more! But with over 1,000 original applicants and having read somewhere that a second series of the competition will take place, I hope to see it return.

Again, this is just my opinion so if you disagree, don't let it get to you and don't flay me for thinking something different, please? And that's about all I have to say.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Unnecessary Complications

Quick Update Before I Get Started on the Real Post: That super long post I promised in my Pokemon X and Y analysis is still in the works. Something went wrong with it which meant I had to start all over again, but I promise it is coming.

Now for the real rant:

So, I'm in the final few weeks of university, with my dissertation due next week, and although it's very nearly finished, I'm panicking. Over the next few months, I'll be handing in my final assignments, applying for jobs and GRADUATING. But now, just as the most important deadline of my whole, entire degree is getting scarily close and I'm stressed to the point of breaking, other things start to go wrong...

First off, it's time to pay my bills again, which is probably going to sap a decent chunk of money from my bank account. Although since it's nearly the end of the semester, that won't be too bad. 

But the second thing, which is what made me want to vent now, is the fact that our boiler has decided to break. On the day that the snow has made a comeback. So I have no heating, and no hot water until the gas company hopefully turns up tomorrow. Plus I spent half an hour on the phone with my landlord trying to find out every possible way to fix it on my own. So, this could be  a cold night involving me being curled up on the sofa with my double duvet.

Hope all you folks out there in internet land are enjoying March, and if you need cheering up, I recommend listening to the Bremen Mask march from Majora's Mask. See you next time.

That, is about all I have to say...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Pokemon X and Y Announced

Hey there everyone. There's another new blog post in the works but it's by far my longest yet so it's going to take a while. Let's just say if you like this post, you'll like my next one. And with this morning's announcement which I watched live online, I decided I had to say something about it. 

File:Pokémon XY logo.png

I must admit, I wasn't expecting the new generation so soon. But holy crap does it look amazing! Let's start off with the names. Admittedly the announcement hasn't had that much time to circulate completely yet but I think the names are going to get a lot of criticism. Why is that? They couldn't keep going with colors forever. I tried to think of myself and I came up with pink and purple. That's not likely to sell to the male market.

Next up, I'll talk about the starters. First though, a generalization, if any genwunners try to whine that they've gone too far from relatable animals now, I'm going to freak. I don't care if they're like real animals, they're still cool, and the developers can be even more creative that way!

First up, is this little critter, Chespin. Obviously he's some kind of grass type chipmunk, and his design reminds me of something from Happy Tree Friends, except less psychotic. He's pretty cute and I imagine his evolutions will fall somewhere between cool and tough. I'm not seeing evidence of a secondary type for this one quite yet but if I had to pick something it'd be Flying. Why? Those things on his hat remind me a bit of leafy wings.


Next up is Fennekin, the cutest and my favourite of the lot. She's a fiery fox/dog probably based off kitsune along the same lines as Vulpix and Ninetales. Honestly, I love this one so much I don't even care if it's final evolution is a carbon copy of Ninetales. And I imagine they're going to look beautiful. Odd as it sounds, this is the first starter Pokemon I could imagine having a high female-male gender ratio rather than the other way around. Given the likely basis in kitsune, I'm going to predict it's possible second type being Psychic, Ghost or Dark.


Last of the starters is Froakie, the water type. Even though he's quite cute, fluffy and that mark between his eyes reminds me of a blue rainbow, this is my least favourite of the bunch. That's just cos I'm not a big fan of frogs though. His evolutions are most likely going to look like big, tough frogs but given how those white bits on him look a bit like clouds, it'd be nice if I was proved wrong. Even though I already called this type for Chespin, that cloud-like design definitely makes me think this one could be Water/Flying.

File:XY Prerelease mirror.png

Next up, I'll talk about the player characters. The boy looks pretty cool although quite similar to Hilbert from Black. The way he's looking in that mirror makes me think that character customisation might finally be an option, although I'm fully open to being wrong, and I don't mind if I am. And you can already tell the graphics are a vast improvement. I'm shocked they were able to refine them so much inside just one generation, even if it is for a whole different console.

File:XY Prerelease Paris.png
This could look awesome in 3D. And the way he's moving, is he skating instead of running? That's cool.
File:XY Prerelease deer.png

The first new legendary and my favourite. Something which I only just thought of even though first saw it 12 hours ago, if there wasn't Keldeo, this could very well be a master of the Legendary Musketeers from Gen V. Everything about this Pokemon looks cool to me, especially those four pairs of glowing antlers.

File:XY bird.jpg

The second of the new legendaries and the first thought that comes to mind is: 'Oh, it's another bird.' Not that I think it looks bad, I'm just more of a cool blue type than a menacing red. Those black lines running through it's wings and tail remind me of some relation with electricity or plasma. That's pretty cool.

File:XY Prerelease jungle.jpg

This is probably the game screenshot that intrigued me the most. I don't know if this will be a huge gym puzzle or in the overworld. Personally I hope it's the latter. Swinging on those vines every time I visit the area looks like a lot of fun.

File:Xy fireattack.jpg

Dear God, did they ever ramp up the attack graphics for this game. It's hard to show just how incredible they look without video but there seems to be even more motion than was added to fifth gen. From the few scenes in the video, it looks like the Pokemon might be moving around while they attack and the camera will follow the path of the attack until it collides with your opponent. Seriously guys, go watch the video. It's amazing. 

For the first time, the international countries will be getting the new games at the same exact time as Japan. Thank you Mr Iwata, thank you. The games are set to be released in October of this year so write that on your new 2013 calendars Poke Fans!!