Thursday, 30 March 2017

Stickertopia - The Forest


Being a busy parent, it's important to find some me time to destress. Unfortunately as a working mum (stay at home or working outside), we are on our feet almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we will be lucky if we can get a 5 minutes me time. But what do you do during this time that will help you destress?

There was the adult colouring trend last year, but I soon lost interest. I love colouring but not all the time. However, I absolutely love spending time organising my planner. Someone tried to explain to their husband what she does with her planner, and her husband has simplified it to a hobby where she can play with stickers. I think he is quite right about that! I spent most of the time sticking stickers and washi tapes on my week, making it all pretty while keeping things organised (there are functional stickers, not just decorative), and it makes me happy.

But I've already decorated and planned the next 2 weeks, and I'd rather not do anymore because I might like a different colour theme then. So what do I do now?!

A couple of weeks ago Book People has kindly sent me a Stickertopia book to review. It's basically a sticker book but for adults! There are currently 2 versions available: The Forest and The Flower Garden (each RRP £10, but it's £3.99 from Book People), and I was sent The Forest:

Sticker Book for adults, Sticker therapy, forest stickers

Sticker Book for adults, Sticker therapy, forest stickers

Sticker Book for adults, Sticker therapy, forest stickers

Stickertopia - The Forest comes with 30 beautiful coloured pictures, and 30 sticker strips that you can cut out and use for the correspondent picture. You can either follow the example picture in the contents page and stick the stickers the way it's shown, or you can get creative and do it how you want it.

Both me and Abby love stickers and we both like to stick them on the way we like it:

Sticker Book for adults, Sticker therapy, forest stickers

Sticker Book for adults, Sticker therapy, forest stickers

We both enjoyed sticking the stickers on the book, and we are very pleased with the results. We can be arty after all! Some of the stickers can be a bit small, but that's so it'll go with the pictures.


Overall we love the idea, and I think that it's great for those who loves to play with stickers like I do! It's also a much quicker way to destress than colouring, I think anyway. £3.99 for 30 pictures is quite good too! You can also buy Stickertopia - The Flower Garden from Book People, which looks like this:

Sticker Book for adults, Sticker therapy, forest stickers

I think I'll like The Flower Garden more, but I might be tempted to use the stickers in my planner to beautify my weeks! You can buy either Stickertopia adult sticker books now from Book People.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Nintendo Switch Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild

**MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT**

I haven't been this addicted to a game since World of Warcraft, which I left years ago! The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a superb game and even my kids fell in love with it! Abby can't wait to have a go herself when the holiday starts (there is so much she wants to do and I won't do it for her in my game haha), and Clay doesn't even mind just watching me play, while helping me spot the hidden treasure and ways I don't see. They are both really good with the puzzles too!

If you want to know more about what we think, with plenty of pictures to see, please do read on. I've also uploaded a YouTube review last week, which you can watch here:


I was in the middle of a quest so didn't move around (I was hanging around a volcano and you can almost "feel" the heat!), but I talked and showed more of the menu and inventory. I just couldn't show you more pictures of other things, which I have posted here.


Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game
Left: TV screen capture     Right: Nintendo Switch internal screen capture using the screen capture button
Do remember that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was first developed for Wii U, so even though we reviewed the Nintendo Switch version that should have better graphics, everything else on the Wii U version should be just as good. To be honest, without comparison we probably wouldn't notice the difference.

The above picture just shows you the difference between a screenshot of our TV screen and the image taken using Nintendo Switch's screen capture button. The graphics is stunning isn't it! I'll show you more later on.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game
Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game
The legendary sword that seals Ganon - The Master Sword
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (RRP £59.99, pegi 12; bundles and new amiibo figures available) is an open-world role-playing adventure game unlike the previous The Legend of Zelda games, which are linear where you have to follow the story to unlock further places to go to.

But the story is similar, where the player plays as Link, Champion of Princess Zelda who carries the power of a goddess. When the evil Calamity Ganon (incarnation of Ganondorf in previous games) rise, the duo will reincarnate as well and they will have to fight and seal him away to save Hyrule.

Being an open-world game means that players aren't restricted by the storyline anymore. They can freely explore and do what they want to do in the world (there is a lot to do and all are fun too!). They can even explore the whole map before going back to work on the main storyline.

On a side note: I think that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has definitely brought the game franchise a big step closer to the possibility of turning it into a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game)! I really hope that Nintendo can consider, it'll be amazing (and super addictive. I might neglect my whole family for it)!


Game Saving:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

There is only 1 save file for the game, but I managed to get Abby to play on her own game (instead of messing up mine!) by logging her onto her own Nintendo Switch account.

The game will auto-save frequently enough so that you won't be thrown too far back in the game (it's very easy to get carried away and do a lot before you remember about the word "SAVE"). You can also save the game as and when you like, except for when you are in the middle of a Shrine trial. You might be able to "save" in some, but when you load the game, you'll be back at the beginning of it.

There are times during challenges where the Save function is completely off. It can add the tension to doing the trial because if you messed up, you'll have to start from scratch. But I wouldn't have it any other way because it actually made me feel really good that I passed the trial without saving in between, which is a bit like cheating if you think about it.

I especially loved completing the Shrine quest: Stranded on Eventide, where I have to complete the whole island with none of my gears (that's when I considered saving the game!) and there was no save option:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

It almost felt like it was me not Link who did it, so I felt really good after, that I passed the test without my gear. I felt even better after getting my gear back of course!


Map:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

With the world so big, you will be referring to your map very frequently. Unlocking the map however is another job for the players, and simply visiting a village won't do. You will have to find the Tower for that region to unlock it on your map:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Some of the towers are located in the middle of danger too, making unlocking your map a bit more challenging. It makes sense though, because the world is in danger right now, and there are enemies everywhere. Although there are many things to do in the game, you will know that whatever you do is still related to the story, keeping you in character (Link the hero!).

I've only just unlocked my whole map, which makes exploring a bit easier. But there is still plenty to do though! And later in the year Nintendo will be releasing an expansion pack for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that will open up new areas and contents, so I'm not done just yet!

The map does a lot more as well. Important places (as well as the place you last died!) will appear on your map, and you can use the map to travel from a shrine or tower to another, so the more of these you unlock, the less you need to leg it again.

You can also place pins on the map to remind you of special locations, although most of the time I forgot what it was because I wasn't sure what the pin meant!

5 of these pins will glow in your radar, which appears on the bottom right of your game screen (see above picture on the right. You can turn this off if you want to see more of your screen, but I found it really useful). These are great for pinning places that you'll want to visit soon (such as a shrine that you can see using your telescope but requires you to travel quite a bit to get to) and track on your radar. You can pin these directly by using your telescope too.


Sheikah Sensor:

Players will also be given the ability to track items using their sensor. This initially will be used for tracking shrines, which will ping when one is nearby. Later on you'll be able to use it to track other items as well.


Tutorial and Tips:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

The first part of the game teachers players how to play the game. A lot is down to the player exploring themselves, but by the end of the first part, players will have learned how to explore the world, interact with others, cook, use basic rune skills (magnesis, stasis, and bombs) and get a paraglider to "fly".

A lot of hints and tips can be picked up by simply chatting with other non-player characters (NPCs), and tips will be replayed on the loading screen as well.


Adventure Log:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

There are quite a lot of main quests, shrine quests (quests that unlock hidden shrines) and side quests (requests from NPCs) to follow up, and most of the time after getting the item requested, we forgot who the NPC was! This is when the Adventure Log will come in handy. It clearly lists all the quests you are doing in different sections with clearer direction on them (sometimes what the NPC says is full of riddles!).

Even more helpful, you can click on the quest you are doing to track it! It'll show you where to go on your map with a golden dot. I normally use this when I need to return to the quest giver.

One of the main quest require players to collect pieces of memories Link has lost. These will be listed under another section. I'm currently finding them in the wrong sequence, but you can watch the memories again, so I'm planning to watch them in sequence once I've collected all of them, because it'll tell you more about the story before Link fell into a coma (I'm telling you too much now aren't I!).


Extending life and Stamina:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

When you start the game, Link has about 3 to 4 hearts and 1 stamina wheel, which is enough in the beginning, but enemies will hit harder later on and you need all the life and stamina you can get to sail through the game.

To expand your life and stamina, you have to collect Spirit Orbs. These are given by completing Shrine puzzles (or for some, combats), and you can swap 4 of them for an additional heart or a quarter of an additional stamina wheel.


Expand Inventory:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Here is a sad fact about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - your weapons (including bows) and shields will break (arrows doesn't break but require stocking up). And once they break, they are gone. So it's important that you collect as many weapons and shields as you can during your adventure, but there is a limited space in your inventory, and you might wish to keep a torch, an axe and a sledgehammer handy too, which also takes up space. So it's good to expand your inventory as much as you can.

To expand your inventory, you have to collect Korok Seeds, which is hidden around the world by some cheeky Koroks, and hand it to the Korok shown in the picture. My advice is to explore everything that catches your eyes, such as a pile of leaves, because chances are you'll find a Korok hiding there.

The good news is that your armor won't break and there is no limit to its storage either.


Abby has pointed out that it's amazing how Link can carry so much stuff around! If only if we have one of these magic bag packs like Hermione in Harry Potter eh?


Cooking:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Foraging, hunting and fishing is part of the fun in the game. You'll learn very early on that cooked food is better for Link's health. Later, you'll discover food that should be cooked with other food to unlock its abilities. Like what this game is all about, it's down to the players to experiment with all the ingredients they found. It's a very fun process, and the cooking animation is really cute too. But I do wish I've noted down the recipe for some really good ones I cooked up before chomping it down in a haste (when I'm dying, for example), to save me from experimenting further!

You can also make elixirs using insects and monster parts that might not be as good with healing, but can have a longer lasting effect for special abilities if you get the recipe right.


Travel:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

As mentioned before, Link can travel around the world either by teleporting (provided that you've unlocked a shrine or tower at where you want to go) and flying using his paraglider. Most of the time Link will be running though (and lots of climbing! I must be spending 1/3 of my game time climbing!), especially at the beginning when you haven't unlocked many portals yet. Link can also try to tame a horse and ride it, which is faster.

Although I love my horse and it's definitely faster than me running around, I don't really like to ride it because I'm not keen in leaving it in the wild, and I also missed a lot of things to pick up while it galloped away. So I have been leaving it at a stable. At least it's with other horses so it must be happy. I think.

There are other very fun ways to travel as well, but I'll leave that for you to explore.


Shrine Puzzles:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game
Bottom left: golf           Bottom right: Electronic engineering

I think this is the kids' favourite part of the game: solving Shrine puzzles. There are shrines that test your combat strength, and the kids have been bugging me for days to show them one, but they never spoke about it again after I did haha (too intense).

But majority of the Shrines test your skills and puzzle solving ability. Each puzzle is different, so I'm really impressed with the Nintendo developers because there are 120 of these Shrines, and only several are combat ones. Then there are those mini puzzles to find the Koroks too!

Some puzzles are outdoor before you enter the Shrine itself, like the Stranded on Eventide I've shown above (under Game Saving section), but most are like the ones in the above pictures. The ones that test your hand-eye coordination (like in the top and bottom left picture) are definitely harder, but I think it's more a patience and "stay cool" test.

We cracked the one in the top picture quite quickly because we went really slow, and adjusted the force used for the last bit a few times (the Joy-Cons sensibility are definitely showing here), but I heard there was a whole hashtag conversation about it where many were driven crazy by it hehe. I can only say, well done Nintendo!


Monsters:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

I think I forgot to take pictures of monsters in the game. They are scattered around the world, which can be easy to deal with if you know what to do, and they have what you need (most of your weapons and shields comes from them), so sometimes you'll just have to fight them for better gear.

Some of these though are extremely irritating! In fact, I think meeting them is the only time I lost my cool in the game (definitely worse than facing the bosses!). These are the ones that either jumps around all the time, fire elemental breath at you and use a long spear or club to attack you (so it's hard to get near or use bow to attack. And they hit hard!), or the ones on horseback that hunt in pairs, which will follow you all the way (until you shoot them off their horses) and run into you (an unavoidable attack!). I think I rather face a Guardian (an extremely hard to take down and can 1-shot you kind of enemy), or Calamity Ganon himself!

Red Moon:

It's very unfortunate that after all the effort downing these annoying monsters, they will come back once every Red Moon (the appearance is quite eerie!)! Yes, monsters in the game do respawn, just make sure that you aren't fighting some when the Red Moon is approaching, otherwise you'll be doing it all over again! I do wonder if they will spawn the mini bosses in the world as well?


Bosses:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

There are these bigger and stronger monsters around the world that sometimes is better to avoid (although they can have a very wide radar!) until you are ready. I call them mini bosses, although I'm not sure if that's what they are. The few rock mini bosses I did attack dropped a really good amount of loot though, so I assume you'll get a decent amount of treasure from the others as well. I have yet to take on one of the others, especially the Lynel in the picture (not the zapshroom!), maybe one day when I'm more brave!


Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Divine Beasts are bosses related to the main quest. I really enjoyed facing these as it's not just about fighting them. We just have 1 more to go and I'm saving it for later!

The ultimate boss is Calamity Ganon himself of course, and I'm trying not to face him any time soon, although I am looking forward to meeting Princess Zelda! I don't think I've ever come this close to a main boss before!


Treasure Hunting:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Treasure hunting is another fun thing to do in the game. My favourite treasure is ores because they sell well and I am always in need for money (arrows are so expensive!) Other treasures are stored in treasure chests and they are every where in the world if you spend the time to look.

There are the obvious ones in the monster camps, but there are others that are hidden, and might require you to use your rune skills (Magnesis, which allows you to control magnetic objects, Stasis that allows you to stop time and Cryonis that allows you to create ice pillar) to get to them.

If you love treasure hunting, make sure you investigate every single place and object in the game.


Fun stuff:

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Although it looks like a fairly serious game, there were plenty of funny moments that brought us giggles! Someone wanting to inspect Link naked for example, or Link being like Linkle!


Overall:

I think, although it has a serious and sometimes very touching storyline, you can play with a light heart as there are plenty of comedy moments. Link even hums and dances while cooking. There are monsters to fight, but you don't have to make it the focus of your game.

From treasure and ingredients hunting, to cooking, questing, puzzle solving, monsters fighting and main quest to follow, there are a lot of things to do in the game, so it will always keeps you interested. Having it on Nintendo Switch kind of made it even more addictive because I can take the game with me everywhere I go! I do however prefer to play it on the big screen, you can see much more on the TV than on the handheld, and for games this big, you will want to see as much as you can!

I've played lots of role-playing adventure games where questing is all about gathering items for the NPCs, which is repetitive and frustrating, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have over 100 different puzzles to solve, and no side quests felt repetitive. Clues and Riddles are interesting too,


Last but not least, I want to show you a bit more of the stunning graphics:

Note in the last picture, it shows you a normal arrow being shot at the fairly far away volcano, and because "it's so hot" there, the arrow lit up. Also, when it rains, rocks will appear watery, but as soon as the sun is out, the rock will gradually dry up visually. It's the attention to these little details that make this game so successful. Really well done Nintendo!

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch, Best adventure game


Monday, 27 March 2017

Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker


Did you get a lovely weather over the weekend? It was (and still is) absolutely amazing! I almost forgot how it feels like having the sun out and not having to wear my winter coat!

It was a good thing that we kept our Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker Character Options has sent us for review in the freezer, so we "squeezed" up a cup of slush within seconds, and it was perfect for this weather! We only made one though and hubby asked if we have another. I think we need one each before Summer!

It's really easy to use, and it doesn't take up a lot of space in the freezer either. There are a few styles (Frozen Brain is just one of them) and many colours available, and they even come as a family pack of 4! We highly recommend it!


Make your own slush at home, Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker, DIY Slush

Make your own slush at home, Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker, DIY Slush

The Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker (RRP £12.99, suitable for age 3+, 4 colours to collect) comes with a spoon straw, and the cup can be taken apart. Only the inner white cup needs freezing.

To assemble:

Make your own slush at home, Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker, DIY Slush

Make your own slush at home, Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker, DIY Slush

The only thing you need to do apart from asembling the cup is to freeze the white inner cup in the freezer, and get your drink chilled in the fridge.

Within seconds after you poured your chilled drink in the frozen cup, the drink will start to turn into ice! So you'll need to get squeezing to make it slushy:

Make your own slush at home, Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker, DIY Slush

When that's done, you'll get a yummy slushy in no time! Look at the kids sipping their first slushy this year:


Make your own slush at home, Chillfactor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker, DIY Slush

Another good thing is that once you made your slushy, it will stay icy cold for long enough! You can simply make it right before you leave the house and have it on the go!

Just because it's a slush doesn't mean that it has to be unhealthy and full of sugar though. With it being homemade, you can experiment with different drinks! You can try yogurt drinks (Yakult is our favourite!), juice, perhaps with fruit pieces, or maybe even a smoothie! You can, of course, make a slushy adult drink out from it too, just don't let the kids mistaken it as their drink! We will definitely be experimenting during the beautiful weather.

You can now buy Chillfactor's assorted Slushy Maker from Character Online's online store and other toy stores.