Every video game version of the Philosophers Stone

The Harry Potter video games stand out surprisingly well when compared to other licenced properties, not only by quality but that almost every console had a unique version of the game, I have already reviewed the PC version on this website and I feel its time we take a look at all of other versions of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, these wont be full on reviews but I will discuss what I like and dislike about each version, I own all of them apart from the PS2 game mainly due to the fact that it costs and arm and leg to purchase but I have managed to at least lend a copy from a close friend so without further ado lets get into this.

PC version

The PC game was developed by Knowwonder and was released in 2001, it followed the plot line of the book and had a linear level based system.

The game stands out for heavy use of the computer mouse, in order to learn spells you needed to trace shapes representing them and you would even use your mouse to aim and fire your magic, I feel this gave the game a unique although very slight realism which only the PC port could offer.

You moved and flew using the WASD keys which also work very well and I feel that this version controls a lot more smoothly to the PS1 game which I will cover next.

My biggest complaint with this version is that the collectibles are pretty lame, you can collect different coloured beans that can be traded with Fred and George to buy Wizard cards, some of the cards are also hidden throughout the game, the fact that all the twins do here is sell you cards it is a bit disappointing compared to other versions.

The PS1 version

This is the version I have most recently finished so I am going into this with a fresh mind.

Again this game follows a linear path however it does differ in its collectibles, you still grab beans but this time not only can you get wizard cards but you can also unlock a more powerful knockback jinx as well as the nimbus 2000 and better quidditch armour. I will say that the areas are very guided as there is very little room for exploration, the enemies can be interesting but the game auto selects spells for you so defeating them requires very little skill.

Flying really takes some time to learn here, I found it very difficult to control, the broom stick feels very slippery and trying to get all of the hoops takes some proper skills, there is a part in the final challenge rooms that really had me struggling at times. The actual quidditch matches in the game are quite boring as you simply follow the rings and grab the snitch, I wish there was a little more to it but the I suppose that’s what the quidditch world cup video game is for.

There are a few different types of gameplay here including sections similar to games likes Crash Bandicoot, other areas needed stealth gameplay as well even racing, there is really something here for every gamer although at times I did feel like there was a few too many different game types.

GB Version

I will be honest with this one and say that I cant really give a proper opinion here because I have never got far enough in this version to even get into Hogwarts.

But what I can tell you is that it is a traditional turn based RPG which is very challenging and follows the events of the book rather than the movie, I would like to finish the game one day and I think its is deserving of its own full review but that is for another day.

So apologies if this one was brief but I just haven’t experienced this game enough to go into more detail or fairly critique it.

GBA version

This is my personal favourite version of the Philosophers Stone.

This game is very challenging for new players because unlike other Harry Potter games, in this version you can actually lose the house cup! yes that’s right at the end of the game you may not actually beat Slytherin, you gain and lose house points based on your performance in the games tasks.

The main game requires Harry to learn new spells and successfully complete tasks from the book, a lot of the time puzzle solving is required to complete the areas, some inspiration from 2D Zelda games was definitely used here as this has a very knock off feel of those games. Of course this is no where near as good as a AAA title but it has a lot of charm and is very difficult the part where you have to sneak around Hogwarts castle avoiding the prefects always has me puling out my hair but trying to beat your house points score every time you beat the game will keep you coming back. I highly recommend picking this one up if you get the chance.

And here we are at the very expensive one, the reason this game costs so much is because it was released after the Chamber of Secrets video game so not many people bought this assuming it was an older game and now its worth quite a bit and is a game I am desperate to add to my personal PS2 collection.

The first thing I want to point out with this game is that it looks great, Hogwarts is huge and is full of colours and things to see, I love that you can explore the castle after bed time to find secret passages and collect hidden wizard cards, there is a lot to do in this game and most of the time its more fun to explore than stick with the main campaign.

You can now set spells to specific buttons for quick uses and thankfully the game controls very well, this made flying a lot of fun, due to the advanced technology of the PS2 when you were flying you could see far beneath your broom and flying around the castle was really satisfying as it helped to show how large the in game maps actually are.

The Bertie Botts beans are back and this time they are used as currency in Fred and Georges shop, the only complaint I have with the game is Harry shouting the beans flavour every time he picks one up as it gets annoying very fast.

And that’s all of the video game adaptions of the Philosophers Stone, which one is your favourite? I think mine will always be the GBA game but the PS2/ XBOX/ Gamecube version is a close second !

Perhaps one day I should go over all versions of the Chamber of Secrets as well 🙂

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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess 2006 – 2016 Review

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the 13th instalment in the Legend of Zelda videogame series, it was both developed and published by Nintendo for the Gamecube and the Wii.

It is a much darker and serious take on the series compared to its predecessors and can technically be considered the third game in the Hero of Time trilogy.

The game was remade in HD for the Wii U in 2016, the three different versions vary, both the GameCube and Wii games are mirrored while the HD remake follows the maps of the GameCube and has slightly improved visuals and Gameplay, the mirrored maps are instead included in Hero Mode in the HD version. I tend to play the Wii version myself but all are so similar any will do nicely just note the original GameCube game can fetch a high price these days.

The plot follows the adventures of a young farm boy named Link who is dragged into a twilight realm after trying to rescue the village children from goblins.

Since he is no longer in the light world Link is transformed into his spiritual counterpart, he takes the form of a wolf and is rescued by a cursed princess of the spirit realm Midna, they escape his prison cell and find Princes Zelda who explains that her kingdom had been taken over by Zant the King of the Twilli and she tasks the two heroes with restoring the light guardians and bringing peace back to the realm.

One thing this game does incredibly well is how after the main tutorial area you have free reign to explore Hyrule to your liking, the Kingdom is quite expansive in this game so the fact that you are given a horse immediately is great, I love unlocking the horse in previous games but I think it was a good decision to just let the players use her immediately to traverse the larger areas.

The game does help you a little bit by trying to point you in the right direction but you are not expected to just follow a linear path, the majority of secrets, upgrades and even additional moves are hidden throughout the world with no hints of their whereabouts, if you want to find them “without reading them up online” then you will have to explore and that is exactly how a Zelda game should be.

The temples and dungeons are very challenging as well, this game takes second place for most annoying water temple in my opinion but that’s not a bad thing, you want to get lost and have to figure out where you went wrong in games like this, the previous title Wind Waker had very linear dungeons and in my opinion that took away from the Zelda experience for me.

For me the issues with game begin with the wolf sections, the majority of time as the wolf is ok, you are able to see spirits that cannot be seen in human form and you able to wipe out groups of enemies in as little as one attack but what I really dislike is when you are forced to collect the light of spirits, while this only needed to access three of the in game temples, the sections feel unnecessary and can affect the games pace, a similar issue can be extended to the entire world map, while it is large and impressive large portions of it are empty and can take a while to traverse.

The temples in this game really stand out not for just being challenging like earlier titles in the series but they are some of the best in terms of creativity, while the majority are quite standard with the themes of forest, fire and water the second half are really memorable for taking place inside of a giant mansion, a city in the sky and an ancient tomb.

The new items in this game are fantastic and in my opinion some of the best in the series, highlights are the ball and chain which can take out some larger and armoured enemies in a single hit, the dominion rod which can control statues for puzzle solving and finally the double hookshot allowing you to easily traverse across large and expansive areas.

The 3D Zelda games are known for having great side content along side the main plot and this is no exception, I never did everything in the game and to be honest I never do with Zelda, I only really stick with what I enjoy and in this one it was collecting all of the bugs, discovering the howling stones to get new moves and funding Malo’s shop. You can also collect all of the Poe spirits but I found this a little tedious so I didn’t bother doing this myself.

I have mixed feelings on the visuals here because while it really cool to see a realistic Legend of Zelda game I feel they could have added more colours while still keeping the realism, the game mostly looks depressing with its muddy colours and dark atmosphere and by giving it a little more life I feel it could make it more pleasant to look at and in turn more fun to see and explore.

The music is outstanding even for Zelda which has always been known to have fantastic melodies for each part of the game, the composer Tori Minegishi did a phenomenal job creating such an atmosphere and choosing to use a variety of different instruments to suit various environments and scenes, my favourite track in the game is near the beginning when Link meets Llia at the water, its a very beautiful song which lifts my heart every time I hear it.

So with all of the praise I have given Twilight Princess it might surprise you to know that it is my second least favourite game in the franchise, don’t get me wrong I do think this is a very good game but I think it takes itself a little bit too seriously, the realism actually takes away from the experience for me because there just isn’t much in the game that is memorable outside of the main quest. Apart from the bugs there are no side quests that really stand out when compared to its predecessors even the characters are quite boring with the exception of Malo and the guy who runs the cannon, everyone else is just cookie cutter normal people, The Goron elders are fairly interesting and of course the Yeti couple at the mansion stand out as some of the best in the game but they are part of the main quest, its everything else which I feel is missing a lot of the charm the series is known for. Apart from this it has an outstanding soundtrack, very cool visuals and a great plot, I do like this game but I don’t ever feel like I cannot wait replay it and that really sucks for me. 6/10

I realise my opinions here are controversial considering how beloved this game is but please remember it only my opinion and is not fact, the amount of fans this game has goes to show that many feel differently than I do so please don’t let my feeling put you off trying the game for yourself.

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Pikmin 3 (2013 – 2020) Review

Before continuing to read this review please check out my reviews of the first two Pikmin games !

Pikmin https://ragglefragglereviews.com/2019/01/23/pikmin-2001-review/

Pikmin 2 https://ragglefragglereviews.com/2019/08/19/pikmin-2-2004-review/

Pikmin 3 is the third game in Nintendo’s popular action-strategy series where players are given control of Hocatate Captains who control the adorable Pikmin creatures to collect treasures and defeat big bad bugs.

In the game our three Captains Alph, Britany and Charlie are scouting various planets seeking food sources with little luck, they eventually Crash Land on PNF-04 better known as Earth and are separated, they eventually find each other along with the Pikmin who help them find lots of food sources in the form of different fruits.

Data files left behind by Captain Olimar and his assistant Louie can also be found in the game, this eventually leads to the trio realising that the two former explorers are in serious danger and the main goal of the game becomes having to track down signals and rescue the series beloved heroes !

The Series staples Red, Yellow and Blue Pikmin return and to replace the Purple and White Pikmins from the second game, here there are two new types, Rock Pikmin which can be used to deal major damage to enemies and bosses as well as smashing crystals and Winged Pikmin which are able to fly and sprout these pink plants which often hide treasures and fruits.

The game is fairly easy due to the amount of fruits available as well as the fact that the combat has seemingly been tamed compared to the previous games, I played the Deluxe version on Nintendo Switch on the Hard difficulty setting and only really had major trouble in two areas of the game, the boss Quaggled Mireclops who’s tongue can take out large quantities of Pikmins in one swipe and the final challenge of the game before the final boss encounter.

You control three captains in the game and you can choose to have them all in one party or you can split them up and set them different tasks, It was very rare that I chose to not keep them together because while there are areas you can explore by doing this as well as collecting more fruits, it adds a significant amount of danger to all three parties as each would have less Pikmin to take on larger enemies and mini bosses.

The reason fruit is important is because it gets juiced which provides a food source for the captains, one bottle is used each day and if you run out you will get a game over, I feel like this is unlikely considering that on my first playthrough on a hard difficulty I completed the game with 38 bottles of juice still left over, I suppose if you have never played a Pikmin game it might be more difficult, but in my opinion it is by far the easiest game in series due to the abundance of fruit and the fact that enemies appear to be weaker than they ever have been previously.

In the Nintendo Switch version there are various differences but the best one by far is the two side stories that are unlocked through out story mode, both of these see Captain Olimar and louies journey before the events of Pikmin 3 and focus on hitting certain goals such as gathering enough treasures to pay off a debt, beating tough bosses and hitting all goals within a time limit and many more.

I have never played the Wii-U version so I cannot comment on it here nor can I tell you many of differences so please use this link for an accurate list of ever difference between the two games

https://www.pikminwiki.com/Pikmin_3_Deluxe#Changes_from_Pikmin_3

This may be my favourite soundtrack in the series, it is very simple and has a very innocent feel to it, I think this suits a series like this very well, It is not as whimsical as the first games soundtrack but I do prefer over it Pikmin 2’s music, the music is more intense in the games final area the Formidable Oak but it is not so intense that it feels out of place in a game like Pikmin.

Pikmin 3 is a fantastic game, I hadn’t played Pikmin since 2017 before I started this one and it immediately got me hooked and reminded me why I love this series as much as I do, the only real issue I have with it are the easy difficulty and its very short length, I beat the game in less than 8 hours and I am only glad that I got the switch version for the extra content because at least I had more to do after I finished the main campaign. Apart from this the game looks gorgeous and carry’s all of the charm, humour and wonder that this series is known for. I still recommend the game because even though it is short, it has a lot of replay value with its in game achievement system and a more difficult campaign is unlocked after beating the final boss.

I missed Pikmin so much and really hope that a fourth main game is released soon, but for now I think I will give this an 8/10 putting it right in the middle, better than first but cant compare to Pikmin 2 which is still superior and I only wish that those first two games get re-releases on Switch as well.

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Book Review: The Hunger Games – MockingJay

Lets finish this trilogy

Checkout my Review of Hunger Games  https://ragglefragglereviews.com/2018/01/23/book-review-the-hunger-games-by-suzanne-collins/

Checkout my Review of Catching Fire  https://ragglefragglereviews.com/2020/05/11/book-review-the-hunger-games-catching-fire/

The Hunger Games – MockingJay was written by author Suzanne Collins as the final chapter in the story of the heroine Katniss Everdeen in her quest to destroy the Capital and shut down the Hunger Games. The book was released in 2010.

Katniss and her family are slowly adjusting to life in district 13, The district has been turned into a hidden headquarters for survivors of the Hunger Games and members of the rebellion which wants to help tear down the capital scum who have imprisoned other survivor’s of the games including close friend and love interest to Katniss Peeta, unfortunately for Katniss Peeta’s imprisonment and torture is used as a weapon against her since the capital now realises that she is a serious threat to President Snow.

I loved this book, it might be my favourite entry in the series due to the fact that it really puts the stakes up for Katniss, the previous book did as well this but now that Peeta is captured and tortured, it makes her even angrier towards the capital. His mental health deteriorates so badly that he changes as a person. This causes Katniss to question her love for him which goes against what the capital expects, they start to panic and become more violent as the plot progresses.

In the previous books President Snow is really sinister and quite scary but I feel that is the first time he begins to show fear by stepping out of line with his threats, I don’t want to spoil too much but a great example of this is when he blows up a children’s hospital just to send a message to Katniss.

There are a lot of deaths in this and some of them are really upsetting, I honestly feel that Suzanne Collins handled the characters she kills off very well compared to some other authors who feel like they kill people off just for sake of it without it having much narrative on the protagonist or the story.

Definitely a great ending to what is a fantastic trilogy of books, I would highly recommend reading these but I think you should consider how violent they are when deciding if your little ones are old enough to enjoy these stories themselves.

With that I am done with the Hunger Games books, I might discuss the movies one day but for now I am just happy that I managed review all three books.

I hope you enjoyed this review of The Hunger Games: MockingJay by Suzanne Collins

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

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Sonic The Hedgehog (Sonic 06) Review

The 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game was the first Sonic game to be released on the 7th generation hardware and is often considered to not only be the worst Sonic game ever made but one of the worst games ever made period, is this game really that bad?

Following a pattern seen in earlier 3D Sonic games, Sonic 06 has multiple short stories that each connect with each other instead of one campaign, due to this I will discuss each one separately and give my thoughts and opinion.

The plot of the Sonic Campaign mainly revolves around a princess named Elise who is kidnapped by Dr Eggman in order to harness her power and resurrect an ancient and deadly power that is hidden inside of her, he would then use this power to take over the world.

Sonic’s gameplay is fast paced action and 3D platforming that has some serious issues with lag and the game often struggled to keep up with the speed of Sonics character, this often led to either Sonic dying due to slow down or falling to his doom due to textures and platforms not loading correctly.

I played the PS3 version and found lag even in the overworld when I was walking around, this issue resulted in my experience of this campaign to be mainly based on luck, patience and hope rather than skill and compared to previous games in the franchise this was not enjoyable in the slightest.

While Sonic was often too slow due to the lag, other characters in his campaign were extremely light and made flying and hovering really difficult to control and it didn’t feel natural at all, I felt like I had very little control over characters such as Tails and Knuckles, the small segment with Silver actually controlled fine and I will discuss the Silver Campaign next..

Sonic 06 introduced fans to newcomer Silver the Hedgehog, in the game Silvers story sees him travelling through time to destroy Sonic, Silver believes that Sonic is the reason that Iblis an immortal demon of flames was resurrected, due to this he assumes Sonic is a villain who wants world domination, Silver plans to kill Sonic before later teaming up after realising that he is a friend.

Silvers gameplay is very unique as it requires players to take their time and use more strategy compared to other campaigns. Silver has telekinetic powers which he uses to pick up objects and throw them at enemies to damage them, objects take a while to regenerate so players will need to use them wisely trying to damage multiple enemies at once so you don’t need to wait long to get more ammunition. I thought it was really cool that you could also grab enemy bullets mid air and shoot them back at them, Silver is also able to hover temporarily but this is a very short distance so you need to use this wisely as well.

Alongside Silver are a handful of stages where take control of Blaze the Cat, Blaze’s levels are very similar to Sonics gameplay as she can move quickly but she has a heavy reliance on combat similar to Knuckles, in reality she is a combination of the two and it works extremely well and she is genuinely a really fun part of the game.

I really enjoyed Silvers campaign it had very little issue with Lag or glitches, not to say they weren’t there but compared to my experience with Sonic this was much better. I found his story to be really compelling and thought he was a enjoyable all around, in fact I wouldn’t a mind a solo game with Silver such as what they did with Shadow but due to how bad that game was I cant see another spin off happening any time soon.

Shadow’s Campaign can only be described as a train wreck but before I go there lets quickly go over his story.

In the game Shadow is tasked with rescuing the ex villain and now G.U.N agent Rouge the Bat after she has gone silent while searching for the Sceptre of Darkness from Dr Eggmans Base. He finds her at the end of her mission and because of his interference Dr Eggman arrives at the base, a fight for the sceptre ensues and unfortunately it is shattered into pieces releasing Mephilis an evil spirit with a likeness to Shadow who is the other half of Iblis after they were separated by experiments on Solaris.

Shadows gameplay is like Sonic’s but a lot worse, he also moves very fast so the lag is back to maximum levels but on top on this he uses roller skates which give his character a gliding effect when he runs, with the lag spikes it makes the general movement of shadow clunky and also slippery, he is practically unplayable on foot but in vehicles he is slowed down and they play smoothly enough.

There are two other playable characters in Shadows campaign, Rouge the Bat is primarily used for treasure hunting, in a similar style to Sonic Adventure 2 she can climb walls and glide temporality, she generally controls ok but I had always had issue getting off of the walls when I was climbing, whenever I tried to jump off it was like she being held in place and this quickly became very frustrating.

The other character is Omega, his gameplay is mostly combat with little platforming, he uses projectiles to shoot enemies and this works fine, it was the only part of Shadows campaign that was actually fun and had very few issues.

Shadows campaign in Sonic 06 was really bad, the plot was great and from story narrative this may be the best part of the game but unfortunately the majority of this section is almost unplayable to the point that you begin to realise that the developers must have known about the issues because they are so constant.

After completing all of these campaigns you unlock a final story segment which concludes the game.

One of the biggest issues in the game are load times, these are slightly longer than you may wish but for me I was more annoyed with how often they appeared, they play between level segments and even during cutscenes.

In between stages you are often taken to Castle Town, A hub world which separates the levels and often requires the player to complete several side missions, some of these quite fun but again the load times are a little frustrating, the best side mission is the hidden race against Sonic Man, its very stupid but I cannot deny that it did make me laugh.

There are also collectable silver medals hidden throughout the game, I personally wouldn’t recommend going for them as they do not affect you percentage of completion, I played the game on the Playstation 3 and there were no trophies due to this being an early title on the system so I didn’t really go for any major completion goals in the game.

The soundtrack to the game is very good, Sonic Games are known for their fantastic music and this is no exception, I love the main theme of the game, it stuck with through out the whole experience of my playthrough and was always a pleasure to listen too when it played, other great tracks include aquatic ambience, wave ocean and tropical jungle, I do wish there was more vocal tracks but I cannot deny that the soundtrack is not disappointing.

So I finally finished Sonic 06 and it was a lot worse than I honestly expected, I was really hoping to go into this one and find something positive to say about the game but I have to review my experience and it wasn’t good.

Graphically the game is ok and the soundtrack was enjoyable with some very memorable music pieces. Silvers Campaign was a ton of fun and I really liked the new game play style, there was very little issues with his sections and if the entire game was like that I would be a lot kinder than I am being now. Sonic and Shadows campaigns had serious lag problems and were very frustrating, Shadows was the worst because it lagged and had slippery controls.

It sucks that I dislike this game because I think it had a lot of potential, you can tell that it took a lot inspiration from the Sonic Adventure titles but even compared to that first game this really falls short and its not because the story or levels are bad, its because the game isn’t finished and is full of issues, the developers rushed this game and released it knowing that it was an incomplete product, what does that say about the developers and publishers? I really did not want to follow the trend of hating this game but I have to be honest with my self and admit that it is really bad and deserves a rating no higher than a 2.5/10

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

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The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004) Review

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is an action adventure game developed by Flagship with funding from Capcom for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance.

It is the twelfth game in the Legend of Zelda game series and is the first game in the timeline which focuses on the villain Vaati, who’s story is continued in both Fours Swords and Four Swords Adventures. Minish Cap was directed by Hidemaro Fujibayashi.

The game focuses on Vaati a new villain who was previously seen in Four Swords and would appear in Four Swords Adventures later on, This is his origin story and his first evil scheme where he turns Princess Zelda to stone, this event causes link to collect the elements and form the Four Sword in order to save her and defeat the evil Minish wizard.

The game follows a very similar formula to prior games in the series where you will travel across the Land, collect upgrades and conquer dungeons, I found that the game felt closer to the original games as it didnt really hold your hand or drop too many hints on where are you are supposed to go which really helped to encourage players to explore on their own which is the best way to play any game in this series. When you reboot the game after shutting off the power, the character Ezlo (Links Hat in the game) will tell players what the current main quest is, I like this as it is useful as a quick reminder without forcing you to stick to the quest.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers here as there is a lot of side content to discover but one of the most interesting for me at least was when I accidently found a port hole which took me to a house where I was able to help exorcize an evil spirit. Because I chose to do this, later on in my quest the main plot returned me to this house and I was awarded the Light Arrows, unlike other games these are not needed to defeat the boss but are substantially more powerful than the original arrows.

In the game you can find items called kinstones, these can be paired with other characters kinstones to unlock secrets and helpful items, almost all NPC’s have kinstones so just try to connect with as many as possible, I thought this was one of the most creative parts of the game and I really enjoyed finding as many secrets as I could and I know that I left a lot behind so I look forward to returning to Minish Cap again to try and find the rest of them.

The main mechanic of the game is the ability to shrink down to the size of a Minish, the Minish are miniscule elf like creatures who live in tiny homes hidden far from the human eye. Link can shrink in many areas of the game and this mechanic is used for discovering further secrets and to defeat some bosses and solving dungeon puzzles, I really enjoyed this mechanic as it added so much more to the game and was implemented really well as it very important to the plot and was genuinely a lot of fun to use.

The game recycles a lot of music from past games and uses a few original tracks as well. The re-used music has been enhanced with some changes so that it works on the GBA and it sounds really nice, the soundtrack may not be as ground-breaking as other games in the series but it is very impressive for GBA title, The music is well composed and has extremely high quality for a game on the GBA, in fact some of the music in this game I prefer over the original versions from games such as Ocarina of Time and a Link to the Past.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap really surprised me because for some reason I always skipped on playing this one, I’m glad I played it now as it was one of the best gaming experiences I have had in a very long time, as it normally is with hand held titles the game was short and after I was finished I really wanted to start the game again hopefully this time discovering new secrets.

I do have some complaints but they are only minor, the first is that while collecting sea shells and trading them in for models was a cool idea I thought it could have been executed better as it took a long time for me to empty my shells so that I could make space for more, the only other issue I had was the fairies, in all games prior to this fairies your trap in bottles would either fully heal you or give you a fair amount of hearts when you die, in this game you only get four hearts back so you really want to focus on buying Red Potion instead. I would not normally complain about this but it is so different to what we got before and it is not explained in the game that they will only give you a few hearts so it is very annoying for regular fans of the series who would not expect this.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is easily one of the best GBA games I have ever played, It was really fun to explore Hyrule in this and the new mechanics such as shrinking, the mole mitts and fusing kinstones gave me lots of secrets to uncover and it felt like a title in the series that really took a leaf out of Zelda’s roots, the complaints I do have with the game are tiny, the fairies are very annoying as it was not stated clearly in the game that they wont fully heal you and while the models took a very long time to empty your shells, you don’t have to do this at all, I know wont be doing this next time I play it. The sound track while mostly recycled was very good and I loved every second of it, graphically the game is stunning and is an art piece throughout, as a Minish when you start to explore smaller areas it is beautiful and I give credit to the artists.

My issues with this game as so small that I think unfair for me to even consider them for my final rating, the worst was the fairies but unless you are a long time fan of the series this probably wouldn’t bother you, so with this in mind I think that this games does everything that a Zelda should and more, it is pratically flawless in its visuals, music, gameplay and story and is now one of my favourite games in the series and it is only deserving of a 10/10 a rating which has only be received by a Link to the Past so hats off to Minish Cap it truly is a wonderful gaming experience.

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Diddy Kong Racing (1997/2007) Review

Anyone who knows me quickly comes to realise that I am big fan of Kart Racing video games and that I can be very critical of their quality. A game in this genre that I have a history with is Rare Wares Diddy Kong Racing which released for the Nintendo 64 in 1997 with a Remake coming out on the Nintendo DS 10 years later in 2007. Unlike most game I actually came to know the game through the remake and have only recently finished the original which is the version I am focusing on today, I will however be addressing differences between the DS version at the end of this review so that I can give a comparison.

All is calm in the jungle until Diddy Kong receives a letter from his friend Timber the Tiger, poor Timbers Island has been taken over by a wizarding space hog named Wiz Pig and the only way to get rid of him is to beat him in a race. Diddy quickly contacts his friends Banjo the Bear and Conker the Squirrel (yes these are the same characters you are thinking of) to meet him at Timbers Island and together Diddy, Timber and all of the Island folk team up and practice racing, getting ready for the tough race against the evil Wiz Pig.

The game uses a Hub world as a means of travelling between the different areas of the game and while it is a very basic hub world it is still fun to explore and even has some hidden balloons that need to be discovered.

The main purpose of the game is racing and it is very similar to other Kart Racers such as Mario Kart however this game has a bit of a twist because as well as cars you can also race in hovercrafts and aeroplanes.

All of the vehicles are easy enough to control however finding the strengths of each racer will help you determine the best choice for each vehicle, I personally found that Tip Tup the tortoise was a great choice all around and I mainly used him.

In races players can collect power ups (rockets, speed boosts, oil, shields and magnets) if players hold onto a power up and collect more of the same coloured balloons the power up they have will be upgraded and this can done up to three times for maximum power.

After completing a boss race players will need to repeat all of the races again but now having to collect all of the silver coins and still come first, this becomes particularly challenging in the later worlds of the game.

After beating a boss the second time you can then compete in a trophy race which is not needed but does go towards completion of the game and most people do want this. The issue have is the repetition here, its the same races three times in a row and while still fun it does get a little a bit boring.

There are four main boss races in the game not including the two races against Wiz Pig which I have not included images of in case you want to beat this game yourself. All of the races are actually very challenging and had me stuck a few times, in the end I had to learn the patterns, avoid almost all obstacles and try the race with multiple characters until I could win, these were all very memorable and really satisfying to finish.

Each world hides a hidden key which will open a door to a battle mini game, these are a nice break from the racing and were in my opinion very easy but one my favourites parts of the game if only because it was different. Some of the keys are really difficult to find and don’t worry once you find one you can return to the lobby and the key will still be with you so there is no panic to win the race as well.

There are two secret unlockable characters in the game, one of these is Drumstick the chicken who is easily one of the best racers and the other its T.T the clock who will challenge you to a race if you beat his times for each course, after winning all of the times trials and all of the races against him he will become a playable racer.

The music was composed by David Wise who had previously worked on the Donkey Kong Country series, the music is wonderful in this game and it has that Rare Ware quality that I love, they didn’t hold back here and I feel this specific game focused more on fun music than atmospheric due to the fact that is a racing game and not a big immersive adventure such is the case with other other Rare Ware N64 titles. I really enjoyed the music in the snow world as it reminded of Christmas music but with a more energetic twist.

Diddy Kong Racing is a great game and I have very few issues with it, in fact the only real problem is that it is a little bit repetitive, I would have fixed this by having the second races replaced by either having to do a scavenger hunt or solving a difficult puzzle in the main hub which would eventually unlock one key hole in a giant door and once you unlock this door you can do a boss rush to unlock another secret racer (who ever that may be), this boss rush would replace the second boss races and the puzzles would replace the silver coin challenges.

Apart from this, it has nice visuals, fantastic music and super fun gameplay which shouldn’t be missed and if you have a N64 I recommend picking this one up as it is not too expensive and is a really good time.

The game was remade for the Nintendo DS handheld system in 2007 first change to note is the absence of Banjo and Conker who due to the Microsoft purchase of Rare Ware were replaced by Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong.

The game is practically the same with small differences of course the DS is a dual screen so when you race you now see the map on the bottom screen instead of the screen you are racing on and honestly I prefer this, what I don’t like is that once you finish a race you cannot return to it until you have completed the world so if you want to return for the key you cannot do that without first finishing the worlds boss.

Silver coin races are now replaced with touch screen challenges where the players has to click on all of the silver coins and balloons over three auto driving laps of races and this helps to break up the repetetive game play and is a good change in my opinion.

Wiz Pig and Taj the Genie can also be unlocked as playable racers in the DS version and some race tracks have had modifications to help them feel a little more fair for example in star city there is an additional route beneath the bridge so that if you fall you do not need to back track and in the final race against Wiz Pig the lasers have been removed to make it a little bit easier than it was previously, although for the final boss this change felt unnecessary as it is supposed to really hard.

The DS version is very good and is almost the same game with few differences some of these are great and others maybe not so much but I am finding it difficult to determine the inferior product here as I feel while the strengths and weaknesses differ between games the end products are so close in quality that its only fair I give them a similar score and say for you to decide which version you would like to play.

Diddy Kong Racing 9.6/10

Diddy Kong Racing DS 9.6/10

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Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I wasnt sure that I would be doing one more Christmas review this year but after recently diving back into the Charles Dickens library I thought I may as well do a quick book review in celebration of the holidays.

A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in 1843, it is a short story otherwise known as a novella, but regardless of the books length it has been adapted to screen many times and is Christmas classic known by all.

The story is about an angry elderly man who has a cold heart and not a drop of love within himself, he is cruel to his employee Bob Cratchet who he underpays and has little sympathy for, he refuses to donate to charities and says that he would rather the poor die instead of help them and generally is a very unlikable character.

Throughout the story Scrooge is visited by ghosts one is his old partner Jacob Marley and the others represent the past, present and future who take him through time to see his life flash before his eyes and showing him the error of his ways.

If you cut apart all of the film adaptations and stitched parts together you would get a page for page perfect adaptation of the book and there not a is single part of the book that hasn’t included in any of the on screen tellings of the story.

there are few things in the book that are not often shown, one is the spirits in the air after Marley visits, in the books this shows ghosts all sorts of people who have done wrong and now carry the chains of their sins.

The other is Ebenezer’s sister Fanny who is very rarely put to screen and in the book it is told that she dies young and is the mother of Ebenezer’s nephew Fred.

Funnily enough one of the only adaptations to correctly depict the Ghost of Christmas Past was the muppet version as in the story and that version the spirit is said to be a glowing light.

What really surprised me was that in the original Charles Dickens story there is no part where Scrooge goes to Hell, in fact the story seems a lot more straight to the point than any version that came after it and I think it works better that way, so many of the re-tellings added this part and now I see that it really wasn’t needed as Dickens wrote the story so well without it.

It’s not easy to review this because while the book is really well written and very educational the later adaptations are definitely more memorable, in fact there are so many adaptations of the story that it is quite insane, if that doesn’t go to show that this is one of the most important stories every written I don’t know what does.

A wikipedia link which lists all adaptions of the original story

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptations_of_A_Christmas_Carol

I think I want to end this review by saying that I really enjoyed this book, I didn’t think that I would because I didn’t enjoy Oliver Twist another popular story from Dickens, back then I put it down to his writing style but I have to take that back because this story was wonderful. Perhaps I should check out his other stories in the future but for now I am very happy to say I will be reading this one every single year.

Merry Christmas and God Bless us Everyone !

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The Lord of the Rings – The Christmas Classics nobody ever expected

I want to start by saying that this is not a review, it is a discussion about what these movies mean to me, my history with them and why they remind of Christmas and are Holiday Classics for myself. I am only discussing the Peter Jackson Lord of Rings movies and not the books nor the animated version by Ralph Bakshi.

I don’t have photographs of my childhood with these films so I am using images from google, if anyone has an issue with an image I use please email me at my contact email address in the contact me section of this website and I will change it for another.

Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Fellowship of the Ring was released in December of 2001 and I was eight years old, my grandmother had come to visit the day after her and my Grandad went to the cinema to watch a film called The Lord of the Rings.

I remember asking her to tell me about it and she told me it was load of rubbish and was so boring and stupid that she fell asleep not long into the movie, this may be surprising but keep in mind that when she was younger she grew up with the books and while I haven’t read them myself yet I am sure they are quite different to the film adaptations.

After hearing about this boring movie eight year old me left the room to play and knowing myself it was probably Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 although I cant be too sure.

One year later on Christmas day 2002 I opened up one of my presents and it was that boring movie my grandmother told me about, I left it alone for a while as I was more interested in my new toys but on Christmas it has always been tradition for my family to watch a movie together and that year my mother wanted us to watch Lord of the Rings.

I quickly became obsessed with this movie and would play the tape almost daily, I’m not sure what really got me into the films but I do know that I had recently became interested in Wizardry thanks to Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone which was released in theatres around a year prior to when I was gifted Fellowship.

Gandalf the wizard became a favourite character of mine and even my friends, we all began quoting the famous “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” line while playing games in the garden and I we used to love re-watching his battle with the Balrog time and time again.

Another Scene I remember watching vigorously as a child was the fight with the Cave Troll, definitely one of the most intense parts of the movie and for an eight year old it was very memorable as a battle, again this may be due to Harry Potter which also had a troll fight, I dont like comparing the two but in my childhood this makes a lot of sense now that I look back almost 20 years later.

The movie ended on a fairly un-conclusive note so while young, I was still aware that there was more of the story to be told but at that age I was fairly distracted with school, video games and other hobbies so I never gave this much thought until the second movie ended up in my hands.

The Two Towers (2002)

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers released in theatres December 2002 I remember seeing posters for the movie but I was too young to be allowed to see the movie in the cinema, instead I would have to wait until the following Christmas before the tape was finally added to my collection.

I don’t remember the Christmas that I received this very well but I do have some very fond memories of this film and this is probably the video tape out of the entire trilogy which I played the most growing up.

It was the first interaction that the hobbits had with the creature Gollum here played by Andy Serkis who voiced the character and did live action work before the animation. Gollum is easily the best part of the film, he is very funny especially when he starts arguing with his other personality Sméagol.

I always wanted a Treebeard action figure when I was younger thanks to his scenes in the Two Towers, as a nine year old I was very jealous of Merry and Pippin getting to ride in his arms, I think he was a really lovable character and to this day he is still one of my favourite parts of the film.

I could never understand the whole Gandalf the Grey turned Gandalf the White when I was a child, It’s not that I didn’t like the character It was just a little bit too complicated for me to grasp back then, re-watching the film recently I must say it is really impressive how the cinematography, clever use of lighting and editing makes it seem like its Saruman before the big reveal.

The battle scene for Helms Deep was replayed so many times on the video tape that this section began to wear out before the rest of the video did, me and friends would often rewind this part and re-watch it, it is generally a very intense and fun battle scene, the fellowship only manages to get a 300 man army to take on 10’000 orcs so your really on the edge of your seat watching this.

There is also the competition between Legolas and Ghimli which adds some comedy to the scene and of course how can you forget Legolas riding the shield down the stairs while shooting orcs.

Again the film ends on a cliff hanger leaving me only desperate to get part three with me not realising that it would be the final chapter of this story.

The Return of the King (2003)

December 2003 saw the Return of the King hitting theatres but as per usual I wouldnt see the movie until a year later.

2004 was a tough year for my family, money was running low, savings were non existent and due to the stress of making enough money to feed the family my father had to take up a job abroad. One of the most difficult losses especially for my parents was the loss of our house, we couldn’t afford the upkeep so we were forced to move to an old flat in the city.

Its fair to say that I wasn’t expecting Lord of the Rings that year so I was very happy when it was gifted to me by my Auntie on Boxing Day when we did our usual Christmas greetings of the extended family.

Return of the King is easily in my opinion the best film in the trilogy, I have a lot of memories of this movie and they start from the very beginning, the movie opens with two brothers Sméagol and Deagol fishing on a boat, Deagol falls into the water and finds the One Ring, he refuses to give it to Sméagol for his birthday so he gets strangled to death and this starts the rings corruption of Sméagol and the creation of the Gollum.

I used to hate the scene with Denethor eating as it is really gross, I had a weak stomach when I was a kid so I used to close my eyes at this part, I suppose that’s why it always stuck with me.

The army of the undead was unbelievably cool for ten year old me, I used to love the big fight in this film, it had orcs, trolls, elephants and yes even the ghosts!, even Legolas and Ghimli’s competition was continued in the film and most prominently in this scene, it was tons of fun and both my favourite part of the movie and the videogame adaptation that was released.

There is a part of the film after Frodo leaves Sam he gets tricked into entering the cave of the Spider Shelob where he gets injected with a numbing liquid and wrapped in web, this part used to scare me and is really disturbing, when Sam removes the web from Frodo’s face he looks pale and dead and it isn’t revealed until later on that he is still alive.

For many fans the scene where Sam carried Frodo up Mount Doom is one of the most beautiful and memorable and if I ever review these films I will likely fully analyse this moment.

For me one of the most memorable parts of Return of the King was when Frodo refuses to drop the ring into Mount Doom, the entire trilogy had been building up to this moment so it is difficult to see Frodo be so corrupted that he doesn’t want to let go, of course Gollum jumps on top of an invisible Frodo and bits his finger off, this moment snaps Frodo out of his control and he pushes Gollum to his death in turn destroying the ring and saving Middle Earth.

The ending where Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf go off on the boat I didn’t fully understand when I was younger, I assumed they were going on more adventures, and while this is kind of the case I now realise that they were going to the undying lands where they would settle down until the end of time.

And that’s it, that is all of my fondest childhood memories of Lord of the Rings, as I stated this was not a review but more of my experiences with the films growing up and why I watch them every Christmas, of course they are not Christmas movies but for me they do remind of the holiday and were some of the most memorable gifts I ever received, I know I skipped over a lot of moments in the films and if I ever review them I will do them full justice in a proper review but for now it was nice for me to look back at these epics and why they mean so much to me.

Happy Holidays everybody, I know my Christmas offerings have been less than usual this year, I may try to squeeze one more review out if I am feeling up for it but if not.

Have a great holiday season and I will see you all in 2021 !!

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The Santa Clause (1995) Review

The Santa Clause is a Disney Christmas movie starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin a fairly unfortunate character who wants nothing more than for his son Charlie to retain the Christmas Spirit and believe in Santa very much to the dislike of his wife.

Later on in the film after a disappointing dinner at Denny’s and Charlie still unsure about the magic of Christmas, Scott accidently spooks Santa on his roof causing to him slip and fall to his death!

Scott begins to gain excessive amounts of weight and has uncontrollable facial hair growth, no matter what he does he cannot escape turning into the new Father Christmas.

Tim Allen actually looks really good as Father Christmas, all movie Santa’s pretty look the same but I think its the curved moustache that I like the most about this version.

The movie is pretty good but I don’t love it, some of the visual effects are outdated and are bad even for the time, the visuals of him going down the chimney were particularly unimpressive.

The elves being children is something I haven’t seen much in Santa movies, it definitely feels odd having these kids playing adult roles but it works well enough.

The thing I really don’t like about this movie is actually intentional, in the films defence this is not a criticism and is just something that I dislike. The mother character (Wendy Crewson) and her psychiatrist husband Neil (Judge Reinhold) really want Charlie to stop believing in Santa even though he is just eight years old. I really feel that eight is still very young and this intention while it was supposed to be for the child’s own good came across as really cruel.

Going back to the elves, the head elf of the North Pole is a character named Bernard, at first I did not like him as I thought he came across a little bit mean but I soon warmed up to him especially near the end of the film when his snappy and commanding attitude was shown more in the light of him really caring that Christmas is able to still happen and is as magical as can be even with a brand new, last minute Santa Claus.

The Santa Clause is a good Christmas movie, It is far from one of my favourites, I think the concept is really interesting, you don’t often see Father Christmas die and have the job passed onto someone else especially in a live action feature. I didn’t like a lot of characters in this film and I also found the visual effects somewhat cringeworthy but saying that this isn’t a Christmas Classic for others is untrue. The movie is often on lists of the best Christmas films of all time and many people have fond memories of watching this, It’s just not for me and at some point perhaps I will look at the sequels to see if I enjoy those more but for now this is one Christmas Movie I will happily sit through again but not as an annual Christmas Tradition.

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