Amiibo – More Characters Incoming…

Following on from the successes of Skylanders and Disney Infinity, amiibo is the name for the latest product range to capitalise on the fact that children love toys as well as video games. What makes amiibo stand out is just how powerfully the system works across multiple games and platforms. The toys interact in fun and innovative ways in games such as Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros., on the New 3DS and 3DS XL and the Wii U.

The way it works is simple, just tap the toy to the touch point on your game machine while it’s running a compatible game and new features will be unlocked, whether its new playable characters, weapons or game modes. The interaction can be two way as well, with games helping to level up the toy to make it more effective in that game and elsewhere. It’s the perfect match of collect-ability, and customisation.

Amiibo_Group

For example, Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS and Wii U allows you to train an amiibo up as either an ally to fight alongside you, or the ultimate foe if you’re looking for a new challenge. The more you use a figure, the more experience it gains, with Nintendo even boasting the figures are capable of learning tactics from the opponents they fight!

Customise Your Game

The two way interaction also allows for a whole new level of customisation, with new themed costumes being opened by using your amiibo with the correct games. These costumes are not only usable in game, they can also be transferred over to your Mii.

However, for many gamers the real appeal of amiibos is going to be the new game content it unlocks. Many games now are shifting over to a model of bringing their existing customers back for more with DLC, but amiibo makes the same trick seem fresh by adding collectible figurines into the mix.

For example, steampunk strategy game Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. allows you to use amiibos to bring in Fire Emblem characters from the Super Smash Bros. collection. The key here is that each new character is more than just a cosmetic redress of the existing gameplay mechanics. When a character is wielding Marth’s sacred sword, Falchion, or the blessed blade Ragnell it will have a real impact on how the game is played.

The latest round of amiibo characters has had mixed press so far, less to do with the actual characters than with how Nintendo has been bringing them to market. Orders have been cancelled, release dates changed, and retailers have been struggling to keep figures in stock (some particularly creative gamers have even written a song about the troubles of amiibo fans). To add insult to injury, several of the characters, Lucario, Shulk, Rosalina & Luma, and Meta Knight, have only been available through specific retailers, forcing many to queue from early morning outside the right stores or to hunt for them on eBay.

A Range With Character

But ignoring the delivery method, the products themselves are a solid addition to the series. As well as the exclusives, the new wave of amiibos include Toon Link, a cartoon-ish version of the Zelda character, Fire Emblem’s Ike, King Dedede from Kirby, Sheik, again from Zelda, and characters like Sonic, Mega Man and Bowser who need no introduction.

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Some of these came out not long ago but recent news tells us about Jiggypuff, Dr Mario, Charizard, Zero Suit Samus and many more… so keep an eye out (hint I’d say around September).

YouTube Over Television?

Firstly sorry for being quiet on my blog but I've had surgery so haven't really had time to write or do much. But today I'm feeling a bit more human and so wanted to write this blog post that I thought would be interesting.

Everyone owns a television, nearly everyone in the UK has access to the Internet these days, but soon it will be the norm to watch the Internet on your TV. We have an Xbox One which has a number of apps (much like Windows 8 looks funnily enough) including Twitch, YouTube and Netflix to name a few. So now we have access to stuff normally accessed via our computer right here on our television.

My son has his own XBox account, we have set it up so he can access Minecraft and Netflix (Kids only) but to gain access to YouTube he needs an adult. For a long time he has used this console for Netflix and Minecraft but he realised he didn't need the iPad to watch YouTube (which was only with me nearby to be sure he watched safe stuff) he could do it on the Xbox One with our permission.

We had found some child friendly YouTube channels over the time and recently he is glued to two channels: Stampy Cat and iBallisticSquid. Since he started watching them he has gone on to his world in Minecraft and created all sorts. He's made his own home, made torches, smelted iron, turned the iron in to armour and even figured out what tools are for what. I have to say I'm impressed!

So is YouTube going to take over the TV? Well I have to say it could well do so. Whilst we pay our TV license I've not watched BBC or TV in general for 6 months now. Infact when I go on iPlayer I see nothing I want to watch but I go on YouTube and there's channels who are so professional they are essentially a TV channel with their own shows.

I will use one of my favourite channels as an example: Geek & Sundry. I'm hooked on their channel and they do some great shows. Some stuff is similar to The Guild (also a Felicia Day creation which I enjoyed) and others are Let's Play videos. But they are professionally done to a level you'd think this was essentially a TV channel available on the Internet. With the bonus of you can watch shows whenever you feel like it. There's no schedule, you don't have to watch Table Top followed by Co-Optitude. You can free to watch whatever, whenever and however.

What do you think? Are the likes of YouTube bringing content that TV channels just don't have? Are your kids still in to Television shows or is there a Netflix or YouTube channel they love? Leave a comment, love to find out!

Thanks for reading!

 

How I Met Your Father

After a few interviews and whatnot I shall post this up in case anyone misunderstands or I get questioned any more about our relationship and how I met the man who is father to both my children and my fiancé.

I was a gamer girl and a big fan of Sonic the Hedgehog. Sorry to Mario and Nintendo fans but Sonic was my true calling to video games and SEGA was pretty much all I owned for most of my childhood. We got dial-up internet (we lived in the middle of no-where I had never even heard of cable TV!) and found a website dedicated to Sonic and even a forum to talk with fellow blue hedgehog fans. This is where I met my best friend. No this isn’t my fiancé, we’ll get to him soon!

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When Sonic was cool.

 

Flash forward and my friend was looking for a house mate to live with her and her male house mate. I had met her a few times by this point but not the guy. I knew a bit about him from what she had told me and said I’d like to move in, I wanted to get out of the countryside and in to the city life. Okay Birmingham isn’t London but moving to London would have crippled me unless someone told me the lottery numbers in advance. Anyway I got there with all my gear and met this guy. We said hello and what not and got my stuff in to my new room.

That night I decided to mingle, I knocked on his door and he was playing World of Warcraft. We chatted about one another and I even told him stuff about my past that I usually don’t talk about and even had a bit of a cry. I didn’t know this but apparently that moment he realised he felt something for me. It was a good night and he invited both of us gals to play World of Warcraft. Which we did!

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It’s only been 10 or so years… wait HOW LONG?!

 

Time went on, many Halo multi-player games later (those huge controllers really hurt my tiny hands!) and late nights playing Warcraft and I got a whisper. It was from my house mate whose bedroom was actually downstairs. We often whispered each other online, this wasn’t abnormal but looking back at it was kind of funny. Any way he told me he had something to say but was scared. I dunno what he was going to say though I remember being worried, mostly for him. But then he said this: I think I love you.

My memory is a bit blurred here but I think he came up to my room and we kissed, or I went to his room and we kissed. One of those things happened and it was like a gamers version of a romantic movie, y’know if someone had a music player set up to begin playing those stereotypical “oh yay they’re finally kissing!” tunes in the background. Only the music didn’t happen. But it totally did in my head.

So that was when I was 19 years old and I’m just days away from my 29th Birthday. Sadly I’m celebrating my birthday this year by coming out of surgery and asking why pain killers don’t come in drinkable form.

Sorry Elsa I’m an Anna Fangirl

If you haven’t seen Frozen by now you must either be living under a huge rock or have no heart or soul. It’s a great movie and lovely to see that even after the brilliant Wreck-it Ralph Disney can still make movies without needing to stamp Pixar’s logo on to it to just make a successful film. But Elsa… why do children all love that woman?

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I love Anna, the younger sibling of the two Princesses in this film and the little girl who sings Do You Want to Build a Snowman is adorable. Oh and For the First Time in Forever I just loved the tune, the words and the scene itself just showed the audience what present day Anna is truly like. And you know what she kind of reminds me of myself. A little.

Anna is a bit quirky, ditzy and has quite a thing for expressing herself. She doesn’t just express how she feels with words, she expresses with her body. And some times her singing voice which sadly I do not own. I love her for all of this and more.

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Elsa is a big part of the film. I mean without her the movie would just be… A Day in Arendelle. So no I’m not saying I hate Elsa, Let it Go is not only a beautifully sung song and Disney did a fantastic job with showing and expressing Elsa’s transformation from the scared Princess (and Queen as she just became the Queen of Arendelle) into a Queen who is cool (sorry bad pun) with who she is, confident and loving her powers. I studied movie live action films but that scene is just fantastic, bravo! But I just find myself more in love with Anna.

I guess the bonus of being an Anna fangirl is that her merchandise takes a bit longer it sell out. Admittedly by that I mean about 10 minutes longer so enough time for you to refresh the page for stock, get it in your cart, put your card details in and by the grit of your teeth just get hold of the last Anna doll. Which is better than Elsa who you blink and she’s all sold out. So perhaps I should keep Anna all to me?

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Happy World Book Day! This was actually a post because whilst taking my Gruffalo boy to school I saw 8 girls dressed as Elsa and not a single Anna. I did see an adorable Dorothy from Wizard of Oz with the cutest ruby slippers ever so had to give her outfit (and her Toto!) a shout out. High five, girl!

What outfit did your child dress as for World Book Day? What’s your favourite book? And naturally… Elsa v Anna which is your favourite Arendelle Princess? Thanks for reading!

Heroes of the Storm

I have the HotS (get it?) for the latest Blizzard Entertainment game which is currently in closed beta right now. Heroes of the Storm mostly got my interest because it mashes two games I like in to one. My love for World of Warcraft and League of Legends.

I have mostly been trying to find characters I enjoy, but there's still many I have yet to play. So far Li-Li and Diablo are my favourite but Valla is also one I may purchase soon. I played Demon Hunter on Diablo 3 plus I'm a Hunter on World of Warcraft so duh of course I'm going to like a character who shoots arrows from afar.

I'm also still trying to get the hang of what characters have what role. Diablo is a melee warrior, he's built like a brick house only with more spikes and fire breath. Li-Li is support, she heals her team mates. I've only played her and Malfurion as support and so far Li-Li wins. Sorry Malfurion but you did act like a dick to your brother and you look like a Moonkin during some sort of plastic surgery gone horribly wrong. But if someone asks me about Sgt. Hammer or Kerrigan's roles are I will just look blankly and guess.

I played Diablo 3 but not Starcraft, I have seen the story and watched it be played out but it never interested me to play the game, though my first character I played was Raynor. Pretty much the character the tutorial seems to want me to like and it kind of did exactly that.

So have you been playing? What characters have you been enjoying the most? Comment below and tell me!

The Gift of Caring with Care Bears

I’m a child of the 80’s and loved a lot of the cartoons of that era, still do if I have to be truly honest. One of those was Care Bears. I had a few favourites… Actually think I loved them all but we remember one with a symbol on their belly of a love heart. Tenderheart.

It’s Valentines Day very soon and what a perfect and cute gift would a Care Bear be specially for a fan of the original TV show? You have a choice of small 8 inch toy, the medium which is 14 inches or the huge bundle of fluffy goodness which is 20 inches.

This is the 20 inch Tenderheart. In the large range you also have Share Bear (purple), Cheer Bear (pink) and Funshine Bear (yellow) each with high quality and well detailed symbols on their tummy. The large bears are £24.99 and perfect for cuddling up to.

The medium size bears are the same bears as above but also include Grumpy Bear and Harmony Bear. These are £17.99 and for a bonus come with a DVD with an episode from the new animated series.

Finally the smaller beanie style bears are Grumpy Bear, Funshine Bear, Share Bear and Cheer Bear and cost only £7.99 each.

I felt a size comparison was required to show how big the 20 inch Tenderheart really is so here is a picture of me with my best buddy. His head is almost as big as my own!

Are you a fan of Care Bears or have a child who likes the new show? Love to hear which bear is your favourite! Check out any of the following stores:

Amazon
Tesco
Smyths
The Entertainer

Disclosure: I was sent the Tenderheart bear to review, however my opinions are my own and unbiased. Amazon link is an affiliate link, any sales made through this link I will receive a small percentage.

Teaching with Twinkl – Room on the Broom

Continuing with our trial of Twinkl from Gruffalo work sheets we have moved on to a new theme but by the same author, Julia Donaldson. This time it’s the lovely story Room on the Broom

We printed out the word mat to help him look up words related to the book and placed it on his table to check out. We discussed the words, sounded them all out and pointed them out in the book. Afterwards we did some Trace The Words related to the story. The words were things like Witch, Wand and Broomstick. He didn’t need my help and was able to sound them out as he wrote each word out. He was very chuffed with his work and wanted to do more!

Next was some addition using images related to the book. We counted the, up and wrote how many there were above them just to help with his writing as he went from being able to write numbers to forgetting some numbers in a short space of time so thought could help him doing this. This is additions of up to 20 but the highest answer was 11 so didn’t feel quiet like additions up to 20. He loved counting and adding with his and again very proud of his work.

You can find loads of Room on the Broom themed worksheets and more on Twinkl. You can choose between free account, Gold account or Platinum. It certainly is worth it whether you’re kids are at school, a childminder, home educator or a teacher.

Disclosure: I was given access to platinum account, some resources I may show on my blog are not accessible to free accounts. My opinions are unbiased.

Guilt Of Being a SAHM

We are a single income family, we get buy but we’re one of those families that earns enough to not need benefits but barely enough. We can pay the bills, we can feed the family and all that but if the car breaks, a pipe leaks or the washing machine packs in we don’t have anything left to deal with that. And I blame myself for that.

See whilst some people may think it’s great that I get to stay at home with the kids and be looked after by my man I actually feel guilty. I feel guilty for being a Stay At Home Mum. I went to college wishing to get in to the media industry and was very strong with working with the BBC. That was 12 years ago, ask me now if I want to work for the BBC and I’d laugh so hard I would have tears in my eyes. But I still love media, but felt my studies were a waste of my life and now I’ll never get a job.

I haven’t worked a proper job. I had a Christmas part time job at college which was only for a few weeks. Then years of nothing. Finally I got myself a paper round, I was clearly too old to do it (on cold and dark days I took the car, yes I could drive that’s how old I was) but no kid wanted the job and I needed the money. And my last job was in the Bullring which was another Christmas part time job which ended on New Years Eve about 6 years ago. That’s my employment history.

It’s not that I haven’t looked, I sure as hell have but then had to look at cost of nursery for Petit Girl which in our area isn’t cheap, plus food for her and with Petit Boy at school I need to have a job that allowed me to work around school times which are doors open at 8:45pm and school finishes at 3:15pm. Not many jobs seem to work around this, not many that do which could pay for nursery costs without us losing money.

So now I’m thinking of ways I can actually bring a reasonable amount of money in to the family home that I can do at home, without costing us a small fortune. I’ve not found it easy but I have some ideas, but I’m scared to do anything incase I fail.

Perhaps I’m just meant to be a SAHM for life. Perhaps I’m forever a non-worker. And I guess that means I’ll be stuck with this guilt for the rest of my life.

Teaching Kids We Should Lie and Cheat?

Some of you will know I’ve been battling and stressing over my son’s school, also the lack of any other decent schools nearby. Those new to my blog then basically the school is a Nursery to Sixth Form Academy, one of the first of it’s kind in the United Kingdom, currently in special measures and failing. There’s so much wrong there and having to tell a 4 year old the difference between bullying and accidentally bumping in to someone was not an easy discussion, nor were the days of finding new bruises that a bully had left on my son’s body.

Yesterday my son came home with a letter. This one was interesting as it had a staple, meaning it was a pretty long letter so probably very important. It was windy, cold and starting to snow so I put it away, he held the pushchair and we walked home as usual. We had the normal chat of what he ate in his lunch box, did he play outside today and the usual curious questions a 4 year old asks like “why is the snow falling on me?” and asking when we get home if he can share crisps with Petit Girl.  The first not so easy to explain to a child his age but I did my best for an on-the-spot rather science-y question and of course he shared crisps with his sister.

I warmed my hands up and started to read the letter. New sponsor? Why is that? Who is this sponsor? Whose this Dame woman? She must be important to have the title Dame but why haven’t I heard of her before?

I rung my mother and we chatted the usual stuff about how the kids are doing, how the rest of the family are and what we’ve been up to and I slipped in about this new sponsor thing. It just so happened she was at her laptop and so did a quick Google. Her response was a bit concerning so I gave the kids a biscuit each to keep them quiet for a bit longer (dinner was still in the oven) and rushed to get the iPad out. I Googled this woman’s name. Dame Mo Brennan and Google suggested “Dame Maureen Brennan news” to me.  Okay that’s odd but I figured Mo was short for something. Anyway she has a Wikipedia page and yes she is head of one of the other schools the trust is part of, she also happens to be the Director of this trust. But then there’s a large section on the page titled “Attendance manipulation charges”. Words I wasn’t expecting to see from someone who was given an honour started to stand out like the biggest sore thumbs I’ve seen in a long time. It talked about GCSE results, attendance records, stuff to basically make the school look good by lying and cheating the system.

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I was stunned to say the least. Angered that we consider this okay. Why should children think it’s okay to cheat and lie and be rewarded for it? The line that she did it “for the children” gets used over and over. Really? That’s the sap story we all going to accept? No she didn’t, this was done to make her look like a good person, sod the kids. I dislike how schools are marked down for things often out of their control but cheating the system isn’t the way forward and we shouldn’t accept this nor allow it. If there’s a problem and schools feel the constant need to lie just to get a better report then the system is flawed.

I often saw this trick at my secondary school. Telling kids who should have been excluded to “study at home” and be marked in that fashion. But all those kids did was come to the school gate and bully other kids, throw things over the gate, they didn’t care and the school sure didn’t either. If they cared they would have helped those kids learn, not let them stand at the gate, smoking cigarettes and throwing empty cans at anyone who walked by. And if they got bored of that then they’ll go elsewhere and be a menace elsewhere. “For the children” my arse.

Currently  I’m in contact with the school as best as I can be, the letter had an email although addressed to someone of the old sponsor but they replied and shall forward my concerns to the school. I’ll also be contacting our local MP to see what his thoughts are. He’s been in power here since the late 70’s and proud of many choices he’s made, including voting to allow gays to marry.

Setting Up Twitch

I'm mostly a computer gamer these days. World of Warcraft and Minecraft are my two currently playing games and both are on the PC. I had considered for some time running Twitch but was shy at first so kind of sat back for a moment, hoping I may slap myself around to doing it.

So now I've installed what I need the only issue I noticed during my test run was sound was bad. So before I go totally out there I will need to fix that first, probably just a setting I've messed up. But in the mean time my twitch channel does exist and hopefully I will get some stuff running.

You will find me on Twitter for any announcements of going on air so please follow me over there to keep in touch. See you soon… Hopefully!