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My reviews also live on Dooyoo, as do I on occasion.

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since 24/09/2006


Sony PlayStation Vita (Wi-Fi) 05/03/2012

Great device and great games, shame you have to pay through your nose

Sony PlayStation Vita (Wi-Fi) Note: This is a pretty lengthy review, if you'd prefer a bitesize version then I'll be summing up in a few hundred words at the end. Ah! Another year, another game's console. The PS Vita launched at the end of February and is Sony's successor to their PSP console. The device retails at around £230 for the Wi-Fi model and £280 for the 3G version, but if you shop around you can beat those prices by at least £20. This review will not cover the features of the 3G model, but I will cover why I chose the Wi-Fi model. In marketing the PS Vita, Sony have boasted of some of the best graphics on a handheld device as well as two analogue sticks and double touch inputs. The Vita is being pitched as a real gamer's device, and retailing at the same as the 3DS did at launch, Nintendo could be looking at some serious competition if the device lives up to Sony's claims. After taking the time to play about with it as much as possible, I'm ready to give my thoughts and they're mostly very positive. - - - Construction and Quality At first glance the device looks a lot like a PSP. It's somewhat bigger and sits comfortably in a two handed grip. The central feature is the big shiny screen which is larger than most phones and takes up most of the face. Either side are the D-Pad and face buttons to match any Playstation controller along with the two little analogue sticks which are much smaller than they seem in pictures. Honestly, the buttons feel a little cramped but it doesn't take too long to ...

Professor Layton and the Curious Village (Nintendo DS) 19/04/2011

Layton's apprentice saves the day!

Professor Layton and the Curious Village (Nintendo DS) It took me far longer to play Professor Layton and the Curious Village than it should have done. Arriving from Japan after a lengthy localisation process in 2008, the puzzler mystery series failed to grab my attention. It seems I was in a minority there and after three major successes Professor Layton finally won me over. I have initially been put off by the emphasis on brain teasers. The box proudly claims the game contains "Over 130 Puzzles!" Unfortunately, I have owned nearly that many puzzle games on the DS and Wii and most of them have been little more than useless shovelware. Still, I couldn't argue with the sales figures and so, with a little trepidation, I plugged Professor Layton and the Curious Village into my DS. The game impressed me immediately with its style, greeting me with a beautiful hand drawn title screen and some whimsical, very French sounding music. Getting the game started I was very impressed to find the story being revealed through some beautifully animated scenes with full voice acting. I was introduced to Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke, a puzzle solving pair of not-quite-detectives in a world that seems take from the heart of an Agatha Christie novel. Soon I was prompted to solve a simple little puzzle involving a roadmap and rewarded with some local currency for my trouble. Despite its Japanese origins, the game has a distinctly European feel. Both the Professor and Luke speak in hammy English accents that seemed only to improve the ...

Amazon Kindle Keyboard Wi-Fi Only 18/04/2011

Like books, but clickier.

Amazon Kindle Keyboard Wi-Fi Only In a world of iPhones and iPads, the Kindle seems like it would be a tough product to sell. Costing over a hundred pounds, and featuring a utilitarian design; the Kindle seems to offer little in comparison to a device that offers bright colours, multimedia playback and touch screen interfaces. However, spend a little time with Amazon's best selling e-reader and it soon becomes clear why the device is so successful. - - - What is a Kindle? The Kindle represents's push into the e-book market; selling books online has been a steady but small market for many years now, yet it has been restricted by the lack of comfort required to read, for any serious length of time at least, from a computer screen. With the first edition of the Kindle, Amazon gave the e-book industry two things it desperately required. Firstly, a well designed handheld device for reading e-books, and secondly, a digital publishing platform with significant financial backing. The results speak for themselves, and now both the Kindle and Amazon's e-book store represent a significant part of the company's income. The device itself is in its third iteration; a lightweight grey tablet that features a selection of buttons on the face and a matte screen. The buttons include a small QWERTY keyboard with responsive, clicky buttons, a few system buttons for accessing the system's various menus and navigating and, finally, matching buttons on either side of the screen that allow you to "turn" pages. The ...

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PS3) 18/04/2011

It ain't heavy, it's my brotherhood.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PS3) It is rare that gamers are treated to a franchise as original or well developed as Assassin's Creed. Arriving on consoles in 2007, the series has manifested in six incarnations on four different systems and each time it has surpassed expectation. The world Ubisoft Montreal are building is fleshed out with every release while the story becomes more captivating without become incomprehensible. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is probably the finest entry in the series so far. For all the newcomers, Assassin's Creed is a cross between period adventure and futuristic science fiction. Each entry follows the journey of Desmond Miles, a drifter from the not too distant future. A man with a distinctive pedigree, Desmond is the latest in a long line of significant, historical assassins. Using a device known as the Animus, he is reliving the memories of his ancestors, searching for clues to a puzzle unfolding in his own time. Eventually both Desmond and the player will discover an ancient conflict between the Assassin's Order and the Knight's Templars, each side fighting since the crusades over some oddly anachronistic technology. It's a compelling setup that allows the series to approach both narrative and gameplay in ways quite different to many modern games. Brotherhood presents itself as an epilogue to Assassin's Creed II. Once again we follow Desmond's renaissance ancestor, Ezio Auditore and return to the rooftops of 15th Century Italy. Where Assassin's Creed II turned some ...

Lego Star Wars III (Nintendo DS) 12/04/2011

Do Lego men even have DNA?

Lego Star Wars III (Nintendo DS) Traveller's Tales' Lego titles have earned a well deserved reputation among gamers for being original, well designed and family friendly. Combining action/adventure with puzzle solving gameplay, the series has been a model example of excellent game design for both children and adults. Starting with Lego Star Wars: The Video Game in 2005, the series has introduced its unique brand of parody to franchises as wide ranging as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, Harry Potter and later this year, Pirates of the Caribbean. This title sees Traveller's Tales return to the particular fusion of Lego and Star Wars that has made the series a success. Released across a range of platforms, it is a launch title for Nintendo's new 3DS console and so carries the burden a helping to sell the concept in its early days. - - - The Game - - - For those new to the series, the gameplay is simple yet unique. The player controls Lego versions of their favourite characters through a series a levels based on famous sections of the licensed property.Where Lego Star Wars and its sequel explored the films, retelling the story with some very funny cutscenes and intricate level design, this game follows the recently made Clone Wars TV series. I should say right away that I am not overly familiar with this series and so had quite limited success following the plot. This doesn't matter too much to enjoying the game but you'll get more of a kick out of the little cutscenes if you're more familiar with its ...

Nintendo 3DS 27/03/2011

Easy, peasy, more than 3D.

Nintendo 3DS It has been a long time coming but the successor to the DS has finally arrived. When the DS first appeared on the scene it was the first handheld capable of rendering 3D graphics, something that was totally overlooked by the innovative dual screen approach, touch screen controls and a great games library. It made it's mark by offering games unlike anything we'd seen before and competed with the PSP, a far more powerful system, by consistently offering great games. While it was probably not a surprise to anyone that Nintendo would eventually unveil a DS with a true hardware upgrade, I don't think anyone could expect just how far beyond that they would go. Now the 3DS has arrived and it offers the impossible, 3D without glasses. However, it also offers something far more exciting, a new DS. The chance to take the things that sold the DS and apply them to a new generation of games. 3D is an eye catching feature and one that is sure to shift a fair few consoles but if you look past that you'll see that not only are the DS' trademark features still working but Nintendo are developing new ideas that really are game changing. - - - Unboxing: The console arrives in a tightly packed box, upon opening you'll find that little space has been wasted. Inside you will find the unit itself wrapped in protective wrapping, including a slip of foam between the two screens. Various pamphlets and instructions will greet you, a quick start guide for those easily intimidated by the ...

The Royal Road to Card Magic - Jean Hugard, Frederick Braue 22/03/2011

The first word in magic literature.

The Royal Road to Card Magic - Jean Hugard, Frederick Braue The Royal Road to Card Magic will often be the first book a learner magician encounters, frequently found on recommended reading lists and in conjurer's libraries everywhere, its reputation has survived since its first publication over sixty years ago. For aspiring magicians, the book promises to teach you the skills needed to develop a routine of smooth, skilful illusions with any ordinary deck of cards. However Royal Road goes beyond card tricks, effectively communicating principles valuable to all forms of magic. While there have been a multitude of books covering card magic in the years since, Royal Road remains the most prominent. What sets Royal Road aside from its competition is its progressive nature. From the first page the books restrains itself to a step by step method, choosing to emphasise technique over tricks. Your first task is to master a simple shuffle, paying great attention to finger position, and practice it until perfection. From there you are taught simple card controls and urged to make them instinctive and invisible. Only then does the book broach the topic of tricks, presenting a small selection based on the learnt skills and encouraging the reader to learn no more than two (and learn them well). The whole process should take a few weeks at least to perfect, once the tricks have been mastered you move on to the next shuffle and the process begins again. With a few deviations along the way this is the method adopted throughout the book, a slow ...

Marvel Trading Card Game (Nintendo DS) 21/03/2011

You can't even play snap.

Marvel Trading Card Game (Nintendo DS) t is probably very telling that the deciding factor in my purchase of Marvel Trading Card Game was price. This was a very cheap game, in fact it is easily the cheapest game I have ever bought for the DS at a very impulse friendly £3. Of course there were contributing influences. I enjoy Marvel's various franchises and I still have pleasant memories of the surprisingly original Pokemon Trading Card Game on the Game Boy. However, having never played the card game upon which this is based and having heard very little about it, I wasn't suffering from any high hopes either. Marvel Trading Card Game is a very complex game spawned out of a very basic concept. A computer version of the real life game is worked into a loose story involving famous Marvel characters. This story is told through some very pleasant comic book art that is clean and sharp on the DS screen, always looking authentic and well put together. Each "Chapter" of the story contains a few card battles and progressing through them will unlock new cards, "puzzles" and continue the story. The story itself is not very deep, serving as little more than a framework to put the player into increasingly difficult matches and that's about it. The card game itself lost me early on, unfortunately. I do not intend to go into great depth with the rules, they are numerous and intricate even at the earliest stages. It involves taking turns picking cards, placing them, placing things on them and drawing new cards through multiple ...

Assassins Creed II: Discovery (Nintendo DS) 17/03/2011

Discover a great handheld transition.

Assassins Creed II: Discovery (Nintendo DS) Assassin's Creed has to be one of the most interesting franchises to spring up on the current crop of consoles; a sci-fi/period mystery that borrows heavily from The Da Vinci Code school of historical accuracy with a bit of Phillip K. Dick thrown in. Despite a somewhat mixed reception it has been blessed with fairly solid sales on home consoles and I can happily count Assassin's Creed II for the PS3 and Xbox 360 as one of my favourite games in years. However, as is so often the case, the series has had a difficult transition to the portable market. The series' PSP outing stands out as a truly excellent console to handheld adaptation, 2008's Altair's Chronicles on the DS and iPhone, on the other hand, left quite a lot to be desired. And so we arrive at the latest challenger to appear, Assassin's Creed II: Discovery. For those unfamiliar with the series, the plot follows Desmond Miles, an assassin in a secret order of assassins that has been kicking around since well before the crusades. Desmond is also fortunate enough to be descended from a long line of very successful and historically significant assassins who look and sound remarkably similar to him. In the not too distant future Desmond is being plugged into The Animus, a high-tech easy chair that allows him to relive the memories of his ancestors and work through a conspiracy that stretches back centuries. Each game explores another chapter in the secret war between the assassin's and the Knights' Templars as they ...

Alice in Wonderland (Nintendo DS) 27/02/2011

Just on Time

Alice in Wonderland (Nintendo DS) I'd like to begin by telling you that Alice in Wonderland is one of those rare treats in modern gaming, a genuine surprise. That the game is original, stylish, suited well to the console and fun to play is impressive enough, that the game is also a box office tie-in is astonishing. As gamers we have grown accustomed to the "game of the film" releases, events usually so devoid of effort and creative spark that they serve no purpose but to waste our time (See "Alice in Wonderland" for the Wii.) All too often we are the victims of an industry that sees the video game market as little more than an extension of their marketing campaign, I am pleased to say that the handheld Alice in Wonderland stands proudly as one of the best tie-in games ever made. Alice in Wonderland follows the rough plot of the recent Tim Burton remake. Alice has returned to "Underland" via rabbit hole where she meets an array of bizarre characters. Surprisingly, the game does not place you in control of Alice. Instead you are given the White Rabbit, Caterpillar, Mad Hatter or Cheshire Cat to control. each has its own range of abilities and you will be expected to switch between them to solve puzzles. Alice will obediently follow the player, waiting upon request. Get too far away from her however and the Red Queen's troops will arrive and kidnap her. Eventually she will confront the villainous Red Queen and save the world. Larger details from the film are ignored and instead the game tasks you to stop ...

Super Princess Peach (Nintendo DS) 15/09/2010

Mario is Missing!

Super Princess Peach (Nintendo DS) Super Princess Peach is tough to review when you're placed so firmly outside of the game's target audience. Still, I've had this game for some time now and I suppose I do have a few thoughts on it I'd like to commit to "paper" as it were. The title should tell you a lot about this game. Princess Peach, infamous damsel in distress from the Mario series takes the lead in a charming role reversal that serves as a nice commentary on what we've come to expect from the series. Princess Peach has been kidnapped by series villain Bowser so many times now that it's not exactly clear what his ultimate goal is. This time he seems to have had the much better idea of kidnapping Mario, the one person who always foils his dastardly schemes. Princess Peach rises to the occasion and sets off on her own adventure to rescue Mario. The game is an old school platformer with beautiful 2D graphics that really impressed me. I've often said that it's a shame games were in such a hurry to get to the 3D era. While 3D games added whole new gameplay styles they dominated the gaming world for the next ten years and we lost a lot of ground in 2D games. Super Princess Peach uses stylised and attractive sprites with a nice natural tone. The worlds are pure Super Mario World from the SNES, with strong outlines and a good cartoony feel. Two things are clear straight away. Firstly, this game is aimed at a distinctly younger audience than other Mario games. The difficulty level is rarely challenging even ...

Resident Evil 4 (Wii) 14/09/2010

Shooter, survival horror, puzzler.

Resident Evil 4 (Wii) I have often expressed mixed feelings about the Resident Evil series. While I happily count myself among the segment of population that enjoys a good bit of horror, I've never found that the series meets that definition. Rather, my experience of Resident Evil games usually left me feeling they were awkward, dull and somewhat laboured affairs that were permanently wedged in the past. This made me very dubious about Resident Evil 4 from the start but I was surprised to find that it was a breath of fresh air, redefining the series completely and actually making me more open to playing its predecessors. Resident Evil 4 gets things off to a good start by not requiring any knowledge of the previous entries. The main character is left over from Resident Evil 2 but aside from a bit of brooding opening narration, that's largely irrelevant. So, former cop but now freelance good guy Leon has been assigned to rescue the president's daughter. A few leads have drawn him to an anonymous European village in an anonymous part of Europe, it soon becomes clear that all is not well in Generi-town and Leon soon finds himself being swarmed by brainwashed peasants straight out of Bride of Frankenstein. I'm not kidding, this game regularly sees you attacked by pitchforks. As you explore you'll discover that the whole town is a festering den of evil with locals like puppets on the string of shady masterminds looking to rule the world. It's loosely connected to the primary plot of the series but ...

Doctor Who - Dalek War (Box Set) (DVD) 13/09/2010

Dalek and Ogrons and Thals, Oh my!

Doctor Who - Dalek War (Box Set) (DVD) Dalek War is a box set comprising of two stories from the Jon Pertwee era that form a twelve part arc involving the Doctor's greatest foes. Featuring the Katy Manning as Jo Grant and Roger Delgado's last appearance as the Master, Dalek War offers a good look at the highs and lows of Pertwee's time in the Tardis. The first story in the set, Frontier in Space, is quite well regarded; though perhaps more for the Target novelisation than the story itself. It sees the Doctor and Jo in the far future as Earth's space trade routes are being attacked on a regular basis. The humans believe a rival spacefaring race, The Draconians, to be responsible and the fragile relations between the two races are strained further. The Doctor and Jo soon discover that things are not quite as they seem with both sides being manipulated from the shadows. It's quite an original plot and we visit a variety of different settings through the story. One Earth metropolis looks surprisingly like a prefab University building usually the settings are quite effective. Delgado's last appearance, for all its charm, feels very much like it was taken straight out of the Master's first year; it keeps the story moving though. Unfortunately while there are a lot of good ideas here and some great scenes, it has real trouble keeping things going for the full six episodes and ultimately drags. Picking up directly after Frontier is Planet of the Daleks, this story has come under a lot of fire for being a rehash of ...

Rayman Raving Rabbids (Wii) 13/09/2010

Bunnies just want to have fun!

Rayman Raving Rabbids (Wii) I suppose Rayman Raving Rabbids has a lot to answer for. A Wii launch title, it kicked off a new generation of gaming with a charming, bizarre and very funny collection of minigames in which the titular hero Rayman is abducted by a collective of unhinged rabbits. These insane little bunnies have trapped Rayman in an arena and force him to compete in their many events for their entertainment, day by day you leave your cell to compete in the games. These usually take the format of four varied events followed by a final round that is most often a sort of Time Crisis, arcade shooter in which you defeat the Rabbids armed only with a sink plunger gun. All the games have been designed with serious thought to the controls, a rarity for so early a release (though we didn't know it at the time.) The design work is all very effective and some time even seems to have gone into making it look nice. On top of all that, it's fun. There are the range of all too common waggle games here, milk a cow by flicking the controllers up and down or peddle a mine cart, the sort of thing we got sick of a few months into the Wii's life. But, the game also incorporates a lot of variety into the mix aswell, one small round involves racing boars around a small island, another has you riding a pterodactyl and snatching up pigs. By the end of Raving Rabbids I'd experience just about the width and breadth of different gameplay styles on the Wii and it really gave me high hopes for the future. Four years ...

The Conduit (Wii) 12/09/2010

Shady dealings in Washington D.C, I'm shocked!

The Conduit (Wii) The Conduit is a first person shooter title from Sega, designed from the ground up for Nintendo's Wii console. It follows the exploits of secret agent Michael Ford as he discovers a mysterious alien conspiracy unfolding in the shadows of Washington D.C. Taking orders from "The Trust," a covert (and very patriotic) branch of the secret service, Ford must save the day while visiting a series of D.C's most famous landmarks. Of course, The Conduit is Sega's answer to gaming's biggest mystery; why is the Wii so devoid of decent first person shooter games. As a big fan of the genre, I can say that shooters were one of the deciding factors in my Wii purchase. Unfortunately, the dismal reception of launch title, Red Steel, and a run of further poor responses has killed off the Wii-shooter. It's a bit of a surprise when you consider that the pointing and aiming function of the wii-mote is the one area where the Wii fully delivers on its many promises. Some of the most immersive titles on the console are arcade style on-rails shooters. The Conduit built up quite a bit of hype pre-release by promising to change all that, boasting a game engine designed for the Wii from the ground up, anticipation was high. Sega also promised to turn the tide of cheap, ugly games slumping on to the Wii with an engine capable of sophisticated shader effects and mapping techniques, somewhat ambitiously promising "comparable to Xbox 360 and PS3" visuals. So, does The Conduit deliver on its many ...
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