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Novabug

Novabug

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www.thenovabug-blog.blogspot.co.uk - Read it! ;) Like video games? I write for The Pixel Empire, a retrospective game site that bucks the trend! Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook! www.thepixelempire.net

Reviews written

since 03/10/2010

138

Thrillville: Off the Rails (Wii) 14/05/2013

Thrilling and Amusing, But not for Long.

Thrillville: Off the Rails (Wii) Rollercoasters! Some love them, some hate them. Personally, I love them. So when two big interests of mine collide head-on I’m going to take notice. Construct and manage simulation titles of the 90s are like Sim City and Civilization were very kind games to me; providing great entertainment whilst claiming a good segment of my teenage life into the bargain. When the likes of Theme Park and Rollercoaster Tycoon came around, I feared that much more of my life would be wasted away in an artificial world of amusement park micromanagement. Sadly, I didn't really gel with these titles, so expectations for Thrillville: Off The Rails were not high to start with, even with it coming at me on Nintendo’s trendsetter platform. The concept sounds tremendous both for single and multi-player and cover blurbs read promising, but would it really deliver what I have longed for from a fairground simulation for all these years? It falls short by a smidgen, but like a real rollercoaster it starts out great, has its ups, its downs but then can get unexciting after continuous riding. Hands-On Micromanagement! The outlines and objectives of Thrillville: Off The Rails are actually quite straightforward, but it does seem very daunting and possibly complicated at the very beginning. A lot of tin pot back-story, a Doc Brown look-alike and garbled information about what you are tasked with does make you hesitant about it, but it really all boils down to you building and running a series of theme parks ...

War of the Worlds (The New Generation/Limited Edition) - Jeff Wayne 03/01/2013

New Breed, Same Terrifying Effect...

War of the Worlds (The New Generation/Limited Edition) - Jeff Wayne It's arguably one of the most well known blockbuster pieces of musical storytelling, with it's memorable and emotional narration, epic musical sequences and iconic artwork. 'Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds' is now 34 years old, but still is just as famed as it was then. During 2010, Wayne planned to re-record the entire piece using modern techniques, adding new vocals, adjusting effects, altering melodies and most notably, a brand new cast ensemble. This would not be a remastered re-release, it would be a new record following the same compositions and order of the original. As I loved the 1978 version, I was looking forward to hearing 'The New Generation'. I have not been disappointed. Here is my review of the excellent 'The War of the Worlds: The New Generation'. The Old to the New It pretty much goes without saying that the original 1978 'concept' album was groundbreaking for it's time. It took the classic HG Wells tale of invaders from Mars and translated it into a haunting and thought-provoking progressive rock musical masterpiece. Slight adaptations to the original text were made so to make the story more streamlined, but all the important elements of the book remain. The lead track, 'The Eve of the War' is one of the most recognisable music pieces around the globe, as are other highlighted tracks such as 'Forever Autumn' and 'Brave New World'. Due to the phenomenal success of the live tour, Wayne decided he would re-record the entire album, updating it for a new and ...

Just Dance 3 (Wii) 31/12/2012

Let's Have a Wii little Dance...

Just Dance 3 (Wii) Dancing. Not something that is normally top of my hobbies list, I’m more the type to sit on the side tables drinking, pointing and laughing hypocritically. As the years have gone by though, inhibitions have been shed and self-confidence has risen, so nowadays I’m not fazed by making an utter tit of myself all in the name of having a laugh. My little sister is the reason why I became aware of the Just Dance series, and takes the opportunity to rope me into playing using my daughters as a hook. ‘Look, watch daddy be funny!’ is the usual line to which I then submit. Reservations aside, I discovered playing Just Dance 3 is actually a bit of daft fun; it certainly brings people together for a body wriggling giggle that seems a far way from the giant intimidating dance coin-ops that frequent bowling alleys, shopping centres and such like, usually surrounded by teenage girls squealing with uncontained excitement. As a bit of family entertainment in the home however, this kind of game becomes much more approachable for the more senior of us. Care for a Dance? Following on from its predecessors of the same name, Just Dance 3 is not a complicated format to figure out. Choose one of the 40 pre-loaded songs, select a mode and mirror the dance movements shown on screen. The better you match the dance, the higher the score. The motion of your body is picked up by the Wii remote, and this tracks your movements. Well, as close as it can. As we all know, motion controllers on all platforms ...

Sight Training (Nintendo DS) 28/12/2012

Keep An Eye Out for This.

Sight Training (Nintendo DS) The practice of casual gaming was a concept that had a huge growth spurt in the mid 2000s. The Nintendo DS was a major champion of this, with early titles like Nintendogs and Wild Crossing having a big impact. The DS latched onto the more grown-up individuals, with busy hectic lifestyles not having the time for a 3 hour gaming session amidst the pressures of work and family. The ability to play a little bit each day in bite size chunks greatly appealed, and so a direction away from virtual pets to tricky puzzles was inevitable. Sight Training came a year after the steamroller success of Dr Kawashima's Brain Training, with a similar idea, interface and presentation. At first it came with connotations of improving your vision and reactions, although Nintendo have clearly stated this was not the case. As such Sight Training should be taken as merely puzzling entertainment and doesn't improve your eyesight radically. Also in keeping with a more relaxed tone, it comes across as a little more fun and approachable with the inclusion of sport based games and overall far less daunting than the aforementioned Brain Training, but keeps the casual element essential for that trip on the bus or a break at the office. Ageing Eyes? Sight Training has a basic set up with a predominantly menu based presentation, bold text and basic shapes. You create a personal profile in one of the four available slots, perform a few adaptations of the included activities to ascertain your 'eye age', and ...

Daisy Original Washing Up Liquid 03/12/2012

Fresh as a Daisy

Daisy Original Washing Up Liquid Kitchen essentials appear to have skyrocketed in price over the last few years, so its no wonder that big brand names are being replaced by cheaper budget products, none more so than supermarket own brands. Daisy is Tesco's lower range washing up liquid and provides a good alternative to a certain other brand which shares its name with Peter Pan's nagging companion. Here are my thoughts about this very average but usable dish washing liquid. Wait for the Squeak... Since being subjected to those horribly cheesy Fairy Liquid ads of the 70s and 80s, When I do the washing up I have an ingrained habit of running my finger over a plate to listen for the squeak. This is a sign that any grease residue has been fully removed. As slightly OCD as it may be, it does work and this is the thing I look for most in a decent washing up concoction. Fairy has always worked for me, but using a cheaper brand can sometimes produce similar results. So with greasy water abundant, in goes a plate and out comes my squeaking finger to test weather Daisy is as good as the more expensive stuff! Does this pass my litmus test? Price and Packaging The traditional Blue Peter style washing up liquid bottle shape made a departure some time ago in favour of a flat container with flared top edge and a wider nozzle. This shape varies from brand to brand and its pretty much this shape with Daisy. The plastic is quite thin but holds up well, even though the nozzle is susceptible to shattering if dropped. The ...

2nd Law (Limited Edition) - Muse 20/11/2012

Not Abiding by the Law

2nd Law (Limited Edition) - Muse One of the bands responsible for my submersion into the modern rock genre has to be Muse. I first heard one of their tracks in 2001, and from that moment I was entranced. That track was called 'New Born' and provides fond memories of me and the girlfriend's first trip to Austria. Initially, I was not blown away from the band, but as I heard more of their material, I realised they were something special. They are currently one of the worlds hottest tickets for live shows, and are still producing some excellent music 13 years on from their debut album. Here are my thoughts of their latest long play record, The 2nd Law. Muse-ic to my Ears Although I discovered Muse just after the release of their second album "The Origin Of Symmetry", I became aware that many others were in the same boat. This album was the breakthrough record, and tracks like the aforementioned "New Born", "Bliss" and "Plug in Baby" being big fan favourites. The following album developed and refined their style even more, with the fourth album "Black Holes and Revelations" took a slightly different electronia-enhanced approach but resulted in their finest work so far. This style was toned down a tad for the next record, and "The 2nd Law" attempts to combine both their classic and more edgy compositions with an even more different direction. Formed in 1994, originally going by the moniker "Rocket Baby Dolls" and hailing from Devon's own small town of Teignmouth, Muse are one of the most popular and well-known ...

Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Game Console 11/11/2012

A Hard Handheld for the Kids

Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Game Console Last Christmas we decided to get my eldest daughter a more advanced gift, and as 2012's holiday season is looming towards us now, I thought it would be good to share my thoughts about this nifty little device. She was always wanting to play with the girlfriends Nintendo DS or our smartphones, so we bought her her own handheld console designed specifically for young children. This is not only for games, it's also education and provides an excellent alternative to damaged mobile phones or destroyed adult consoles. Here are my thoughts about Leap Frog's Leapster Explorer handheld console, the PSP equivalent for toddlers. Leap Frog, 21st Century Style! Gone were the days when Leap Frog meant jumping over your friends back in the playground. Today's ridiculous H&S rules would more than likely prevent that simple innocent fun anyway. The modern day brings a new Leap Frog, a US based educational entertainment company that produce specially designed interactive books, consoles and tablet computers for children aged 3 to 9. These systems mirror the adult counterparts and thus make your children feel more involved with the common household technology. During the early years, Leap Frog merged with various technology and educational firms, and in 1999 released the Leap Pad educational computer book which became their flagship product. They have also developed strong connections with reputable entertainment companies like SEGA and Macromedia, and develop the machines and software ...

Henbrandt Grim Reaper Costume 06/11/2012

Death Becomes Him...

Henbrandt Grim Reaper Costume Ah yes, it's one of my favourite times of the year again, Halloween! Now my daughters' are old enough to get excited about it too, I thought it was time that their old dad donned a fun and spooky outfit for the day. All my previous costumes of yesteryear have long since been confined too a local land fill somewhere, so I thought it was time to buy a new one. I saw this on amazon and just died for it! Over the top dramatics aside, here are my thoughts on this simple but effective grim reaper costume from Henbrandt. Bloody Hell! You Look like Death! Over the years I have normally stuck to the method of making my own Halloween costumes, highlights would be my head-shot zombie and Jason Vorhees, the latter was taken a bit too seriously in Leicester Square one year. Anyhow, this year I thought I may as well buy a costume with time being limited, and so opted to Amazon for a cheap simple get-up with a good look. I choose a Grim Reaper gown and hood combo with cheeky plastic scythe from Henbrandt. It looked like it was easy to put on and remove, and also not restrict my movement as I was going to be busy on Halloween night. There is also a range of similar Grim Reaper costumes available from different suppliers on Amazon, but this was the only one which came with a toy scythe for added effect. A British small toys and novelty goods supplier, Henbrandt started up in Harrowgate in 1971, before moving offices to East London a few years later. Now, with other offices around the ...

Intenso Memory Board 320GB 24/10/2012

Smart, Secure, Small, Speedy and Slick, and it's German!

Intenso Memory Board 320GB With the endless amount of music, pictures and video files we all seem to acquire nowadays, the thought of running out of computer memory space is an all to common problem. Also, computers have a habit of going wrong more frequently nowadays, at least for me, thus you could end up losing precious pictures or valued home videos. Backing up the files is a wise thing to do, and I do this several times over just to be sure. I recently required additional space for my music files and backing up my family pictures, and so went for the portable option of this Intenso USB 320GB external hard drive. Here are my thoughts about this smart little memory board. Intensive Storage! Recently I had been trawling the on-line sites for an external hard drive for a while, but I was not really impressed by the look, value or description of the Seagate or Buffalo models. I was looking for something not massive in capacity, but more than 250GB, so the 1TB units costing close to £100 did not tempt me. Forgetting about buying one altogether, I wandered into a store of Maplin's and noticed an offer on their external drives. I honestly had not heard of the brand Intenso before, but after a quick check on my phone, their products seemed to have a good reputation. So the impulse-buyer in me took over, and that was that. Intenso are a German based technology company with a whole range of computer peripherals such as UBS flash drives and SSD memory cards, but they also manufacture stand alone units ...

Superdry Pop Zip Windcheater 21/10/2012

Superdry in Name, Superwarm in Nature...

Superdry Pop Zip Windcheater I'm not a big buyer of jackets, I normally only have two, one for the summer and one for the winter. Unfortunately, i adorned my old winter jacket to attend to a jump start in a rainstorm. In the dark. The resulting mix up of cables and an exploding 12 volt battery rendered my then jacket with more holes than a colander. So with the winter just around the corner, I choose to finally buy something with a designer label. Liking the look of this Superdry Windcheater jacket, I bought it on line and found I was pleasantly happy with the money I had parted with. Here are my thoughts on this smug and smart wind cheating coat. Super Branding, Super Pricey, Super Dry You wouldn't believe it, but despite the American styling and Japanese designs of their clothing, Superdry is one the brand names of Supergroup PLC, a British fashion company based in the humble surroundings of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Over the last few years they have become a major designer label all over the world, rivaling America's own Hollister Company brand with a range of T-shirts, jackets and hooded tops. They have dedicated branches all over the UK, mainly in the larger towns and cities, with a flagship branch in London's regent street. Just take a look around the next time you are wandering your local shops, and you are bound to see at least one item of Superdry clothing, they are very popular. This popularity also comes from a bit of naff-ness about it, the bright colours and logo, but mostly from the ...

Gylly Beach, Falmouth 15/10/2012

Beach Gold!

Gylly Beach, Falmouth On my recent excursion to Heaven's county, AKA Cornwall, my family met up with some of my good friends and were looking for a place to dine for lunchtime. I had been to Gyllyngvase Beach before many times in the past, and seen this little cafe perched on the face of the beach, but never eaten there. We decided to finally take luncheon at this unique cafe, recommended by my friends, and we were not disappointed with the service and food they had to offer. There are my thoughts on the Gylly Beach Cafe, Falmouth. Are you Gyllyng to the Beach? Cornwall is renowned for its various beaches, with most of the limelight getting put on the north coast. The likes of Watergate, Fistral and so on are popular and well known, but on the south coast there are some wonderful beaches for a bit of relaxing away from all the surfing and parties. Gyllyngvase beach is one such a place. It's a well visited spot for the locals of Falmouth, and once the tourists get to see and hear of it, they are there like a shot! It's a lovely fine sand beach with a blue flag commendation, with rocks and land banks either side. With the tide out, it's quite large in depth too, and is a hotspot for families and the elderly. The beach is in close proximity to the town, not tucked away in the slightest, and is host to a modest ice cream establishment, a beach goods shop and of course the Gylly Beach Cafe. This has been there for many years, and has developed in statue as the years went by. Gylly Beach is a Bar, ...

Isles of Wonder (Music for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games) - Various Artists 06/10/2012

Outstanding Sounds of an Outstanding Show!

Isles of Wonder (Music for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games) - Various Artists In 2008, the common soundbite doing the rounds after the Beijing Olympic games was "How are we going to top that?" At the time, it did seem a daunting prospect, none more so than the spectacular opening ceremony the people of Beijing put on. We all had a certain amount of worry heading into the 2012 Olympics in London, and a lot of this focused on our very own opening ceremony. Apart from the show itself, the music that accompanied it had to be right out of the top drawer, and as we all know now, the show was an utterly brilliant triumph. The soundtrack, which was mostly put together by the progressive dance outfit Underworld, had a CD and download release the day after the ceremony. Here are my thoughts on this excellent soundtrack that played such an important part at the start of the London 2012 games. Seedy Drug Dens, Teenage House Parties and The Greatest Show on Earth When Danny Boyle was commissioned to organize and direct the 2012 opening ceremony, it shouldn't have been a surprise that he turned to Underworld to head the music selections and produce original compositions. He previously had worked with the band to write the soundtrack for his hit film Trainspotting, and the title track 'Born Slippy' became a massive hit as a result. Underworld are the duo of Rick Smith and Karl Hyde hailing from Romford, London. (Very close to the actual Olympic site as it happens). They are known for their movie soundtrack work as well as their huge underground dance scene ...

Argos Value LW-619 03/10/2012

The Soggy Toast Maker...

Argos Value LW-619 After recently seeing an episode of Man v's Food, it reminded me of my over fondness for toasted cheese sandwiches. So craving some lactose goodness, I hot-footed it to the kitchen, sliced some cheese, got out the ham, put it on the bread and popped it in the sandwich toaster borrowed from my parents. It didn't work. Cursing, I left to go to shops hungry and returned with the cheapest of cheap sandwich toasters. Here is what I have found out about this pretty rubbish product from the Argos value range. Deadly Cheese Blisters! We all know the situation, much like the hidden lip-burner qualities of the McDonalds apple pie, the toasted cheese sandwich has damaging talents of it's own. That seemingly innocent pillow triangle of bread loves nothing better to dribble its molten contents over the tip of your chin or the back of your hand. It's a trait of the snack, and one that we forgive because many of us have a fondness for these sandwiches fresh out of the Breville toaster. I have vivid memories of my parents management of the pub they owned, with a massive 6 slot sandwich toaster. It got stupidly hot, it was a bugger to clean, but my it made damn fine evenly cooked toasties. I suppose it was foolish of me to think I could regale this from my childhood with a tiny plastic machine that cost's less than the ingredients in the sandwiches themselves. A Breville this is not. Price and Packaging The Argos Value range sometimes has some excellent stuff in it's ranks, and even when ...

Kingston DataTraveler G3 - USB flash drive - 8 GB 27/09/2012

Flash! Ahh...ahhhh! It Saves Every Bit of it!

Kingston DataTraveler G3 - USB flash drive - 8 GB After having a total calamity of a situation trying to copy all my files from one PC to another, I sternly told myself I needed some extra portable memory. I swiftly did a bit of searching, and found myself a good exterior hard disc and a new USB flash stick for convenience. My previous USB still works fine, but I needed something with a little more zip and bulk. Taking cost into consideration as well, I bought this Kingston Technology DataTraveler 8GB. Here are my thoughts on this neat and tidy little stick of memory. Ur' Data on your Travels The majority of USB flash sticks are simply a case of plug in and drag files to the relevant window. This Kingston USB drive includes a piece of software called UrDrive. This is basically an automatic updater. If you choose to install the software included on the stick, you're computer will synchronize with the stick every time it's plugged in. You can set the program to transfer the files you want automatically without the need for manually copy and pasting and so on. In principle, this is a great time saving idea, but as I have found out with other software packages that claim to do this, weather it be a mobile phone, Sat-Nav or notebook, things don't always run smoothly. Personally, I prefer the manual method of transferring data. I feel I have piece of mind that it's done correctly this way. However, I did try the software on my laptop and it did work rather well without any installation problems. The interface is simple enough ...

National Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, Helston 14/09/2012

Gets my Seal of Approval...

National Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, Helston One of my favourite holiday destinations within Britain is the wonderful county of Cornwall, and until I move to live there, I try to visit it as much as possible. I also try to take in and visit new places around the county, and this time we choose to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in the village of Gweek. I'm a big fan of locally based animal havens such as this, and think it's great that they open to the doors for the public to view, creating an attraction and whilst having the added bonus of bringing essential funds in to continue with their work. I thought it would be an enjoyable day for both myself and my family, and it certainly was. Here are my thoughts on the Sealife Group's National Seal Sanctuary in Cornwall. Sealed with a Kiss The origins of this sanctuary lie in the coastal town of St Agnes on the Scilly Isles, and is one of those little caring stories that make you proud to be a part of the human race. Ken Jones and his wife lived there, and one day in the winter of 1958 found a baby seal stranded on the nearby beach. He took this seal in and cared for it, and subsequently began to grow his own small save haven for more seals and injured sea birds. News spread about his caring work and both local and mainland people contacted him about other injured and abandoned seals. In 1975, with more funding available and expansion desperately needed, the sanctuary moved to Gweek near Helston on the mainland, just on the mouth of the river Helford. The sanctuary is ...
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